Category Archives: cats

Dear Tangerine

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We need to talk.  But since you choose to flee the room every time I enter as if I were some kind of angry torch-bearing villager, this note will have to do.

Here’s the thing, Tangerine, I mean you no harm. In fact, I like you.  I like you a lot.  I mean, if I didn’t would I put up with your paranoid bullshit?  Cut me some slack.  I’ve saved your life twice now.  Admittedly, being trapped was no picnic.  I apologize for that, but my intentions were good.  You were young and I figure you’d get over it eventually.  I’m sorry if you didn’t like the shelter I sent you to.  But, it wasn’t easy finding a no-kill shelter that would accept you, what with your feral background.  It’s not my fault you chose to spend your time there in a paper bag whenever someone came into the kitten room to select a kitten.   I guess you missed the New Kitten Orientation where they explained that when someone came into the kitten compound that you should act cute and friendly so someone would fall in love with you and take you home.  Hiding in a paper bag, really Tangerine, is kind of cute at first, but as a long term strategy?  Not so smart.

Yet, when the shelter said they had to give up on you because of  your shyness and your chronic upper respiratory thing,  what did I do?  That’s right I came and fetched your sneezing introverted ass and brought you into my home.  At the time I already had three cats which, in my mind, was one cat too many. And you made four!  Seriously, I had to take a lot of ribbing about being a cat lady well on my way to being a cat hoarder.  But, you liked my other cats and they accepted you, so I figured I’d keep you since the only other option was freeing you again, and what with those weird sneezing fits you used to have, throwing you back outside in January didn’t seem like the kind thing to do.

When I moved a few months later, apparently my new house didn’t please you, so you choose to slip out a window one night.  I was so worried about you.  You just vanished for a couple of months.  Eventually, you started making yourself known around the times I fed my other ferals.  I thought you seemed a bit lonely.  Your former feral family no longer accepted you.  But, this was your choice and I could respect that.  You’d never go hungry on my watch.

Then you went and got into some kind of fight, didn’t you?  Yup, that’s life out on the streets.  I watched to see if your wounds were going to heal properly.  They didn’t.  So,  I catch you and off to the vet we go.  Look, I was hoping for a quick lance of the wound, maybe a shot of antibiotics and you’d be back on your way.  Nope.  I had to keep your indoors and tend to your wounds for two weeks.  My original plan was to re-release you after you mended.  You were the one who opted to move in under my bed.

So here we are one year later.  You seem pretty comfortable and confident in the house as long as I’m not on the move.  But, when I get up and move around the house, you start doing that annoying fleeing thing.  Really, it’s not all about you.  I just want to get up and go to the bathroom.

Things are weird right now with Alaska gone.  We all have to adjust.  I know you adored him, so did Sasquatch and I.  We’re all a little freaked out.  But, with time we’ll regroup.  You might want to consider befriending me.   Or not.  It’s up to you.  I’ll be here if you need me.

Good by, my friend

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There is something so unnerving, some may say even wrong, about planning and knowing exactly when someone is going to die.  Death is one of those things that we all know is coming, but we know not exactly when or where.  Except in the case of suicide, most of us have no control over when or how we are going to die.   Some say it is all in G/god’s hands, others would say its karma, and yet others may give a more scientific explanation.   For most, it’s simply a mystery and explanations are only useful in making ourselves feel better about the whole thing.

Ah, what in the hell am I talking about?  I guess its easier to ruminate on the mysteries of death than it is to actually say my friend and companion, Alaska is dead.  See, there I go again. I just want to stop crying.

I know I did the right thing by putting him to sleep.  And I know I did it in the most compassionate way I could.   At his last vet visit on Monday, his little body was only a little over 5 lbs – this on a frame that used to be 12+ lbs of chiseled muscle.  He was a most handsome fellow.  I always thought if he were human he would be this charming blonde Adonis – maybe even a movie star since he had both charisma and good looks.   And boy, was he a flirt.   In the first apartment we shared, he loved to lay in the slatted window with his paws draped seductively out of whe window as he took a sunbath.   Chevron workers would always admire him and say hello to him as they walked by on their way to lunch.  At a later apartment,  I learned to withstand the invasion of privacy as either a neighbor or my landlord would be standing by my window talking to him through the screen.  These conversations could go on for quite a while as he could be quite the talker.  He loved the attention and he loved people.

I know I did the right thing.  But, yet . . . There is something so wrong about holding and loving a living being and at the same time counting down the hours and then minutes of his demise.  There were moments when I thought there was still enough life there to call the vet and cancel again.  And then there were those when she couldn’t get there fast enough.  I didn’t want him to suffer, and I wanted his mind to be free from fear and pain so that when he died he could feel my love and be comforted by it.  While many of my Buddhist rituals and such have gone by the wayside, I still do believe in reincarnation and believe the mind that we hold at the moment of our death is a driving factor in what form we take in the next life.  All I wanted was for him to die with a mind of love and peace.  His body was weak, but his spirit was still very present. I think I timed it right . . . but there that is again, me playing god (for lack of a better term).

I feel fortunate that I got to spend his last week with him at home.  Due to my incapacitation because of my sciatica issue, I was able to spend a lot of time with him.  If I was on the bed, he became like this moving growth that had attached itself to my body.  For the last few weeks, he insisted on being right next to me on the bed.  If I moved, he moved.

He knew his time was nearing.  In the last week he became obsessed with wanting to go outside.  He would pace around always ending up at the door.  His instincts were telling him he had to go.  Yet when he gave me a nose bump/kitty kiss I felt he wanted to stay.  But when he stopped eating and drinking altogether, that’s when I knew it was time.  Before, in the period of mixed signals, he still had an appetite.  He wouldn’t eat much, but he would make a big fuss about being fed.  Now, not even a can of salmon interested him.  Water, which he used to lap constantly due to his weak kidneys, seemed repellent to him.  I made the call, this time I knew there would be no canceling as I had two days before.

Saturday, there was a break between the rains, so I got a chance to sit outside with him for a while.  He loved that.  He always loved going outdoors. I had a little harness and lead for him and would allow him to hang out outside on nice days.  But after he escaped for two days a few years back,  his outdoor adventures were rare and supervised.

Mostly we spent the day being quiet.  I read and he was either curled up on me or next to me.  I felt bad as I monopolized his time.  I wanted Sasquatch and Tangerine a chance to say good by, but from watching them with hin in the last week, I think they were also quite aware that his time was short.   When the three of them were on the bed, one of them was always curled up close to Alaska, as if to share their body heat with him.  And for a cat that stopped grooming himself months ago, his fur was immaculate due to Sasquatch’s frequent tongue baths.

The end was quiet and dignified.  I could tell the vet sees this part of her job as not merely providing a medical service, but a spiritual one.  She understood and honored my specific requests, and never rushed the process at all.  She sat with us in silence for several minutes after he was gone.

Words can do no justice to Alaska’s spirit.  Oh god, here I go again.

Good by, my dear beloved friend.

Alaska  1991 - 2007
Alaska 1991 – 2009

My whereabouts

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This has been quite the week:

Saturday:  my sister substitute spent an unholy amount of money to come up with her husband to join me for my 50th birthday bash.  Birthday bash was an incredibly lovely and special evening with my lovely and special friends, and a touching violin performance by Carl, the world’s sweetest and youngest 81 year old you’ll ever meet. Also looking forward to my week off of work to rest and to enjoy my new found wisdom.

Sunday: I am struck with severe disabling sciatica.  Pain is so bad I almost go to the emergency room, but instead got a doctor to prescribe painkillers over the phone.

Monday:  I see my doctor who says I may suffer like this for another 2 weeks, but probably less.

Tuesday-Wednesday: despite the drugs, I am still in a lot of pain and pretty much immobile

Thursday: my elderly cat, Alaska,  signals me that it may be time to go. I schedule a vet to come to my home at 6pm to do the deed.  Spend most of the day in physical and emotional pain. At 5pm, Alaska says “psych!” Dr. Death’s visit is canceled . . for now.

Friday:  my body is beginning to function better now, though Alaska is still giving conflicting signals. Narcotics are only for beddy-bye time.

I need to lay down again.  I’ll write more when I’m more healed.

Thoughts and prayers for Alaska, however, are appreciated.

A less than auspicious start

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It’s official.  The holiday season is over.  Thank Buddha.

Hmmm.  Maybe that is one of the things I like about Buddhism is its conspicuous lack of big holidays.  I mean, think about it.  During the winter months, Muslims have Ramadan, Hindus have Diwali, Jews have Hanukkah and Christians have Christmas.  What do the Buddhists have?  Bupkis, we got bupkis.  I suppose it all comes down to equanimity.  If we are truly trying to practice equanimity, why make one day more important than another?  Besides, shouldn’t giving and love be practiced everyday and not just when it is cold and dark and we have nothing better to do?

Anyway, I’m relieved the official holiday season is over.  It’s just a hell of a lot of pressure on someone who really doesn’t celebrate in general, and who wasn’t into it at all this year.

My geriatric cat, Alaska, has been having a tough time the last week or so.  He was just seeming more frail than usual, and then he started stumbling when he walked.  Never ever a good sign in an older cat.  I was pretty well convinced it was the end, complete with premature mourning crying jags.   I figured there was no need to rush him to the emergency vet since they would just tell me the obvious – end stage rental failure – and suggest I put him to sleep then and there.  I know that decision to euthanize may be in my near future, but I want it done at home.   I feel very strongly about that.  I don’t want his last mind to be that of  fear.  I want the other cats to be able to see and sniff his dead body so they understand what has happened to their friend.  There is nothing more plaintive than an animal who wanders around the house looking for their buddy because they don’t understand what has happened.

Fortunately, I don’t have to make that decision quite yet.  His blood-work  showed he had an infection and as that is being treated he is getting back to his old 17 1/2 year old self complete with his impaired kidneys, GI issues and heart murmur.  But, he’s stopped stumbling and seems a lot stronger, and I’m very grateful.  But, this episode really hammered home the possibility of losing him, and it hurts my heart.

And while I was on this mental path of shedding things I loved, I really started to question my long relationship with the boyfriend.  I’m not sure that is going to last out the year either.  It’s hard when all I can see are the faults in the relationship and he is perfectly happy, and sees no reason to change anything.    On New Years Eve out having dinner at one of our usual haunts (sigh), I asked him if he had any resolutions for the new year.  His answer:  “nope, I’m good.  I’m on the path I need to be. ” Sure, one view of his answer is that he is a very sensible man oozing with contentment.  Or another view is that of a highly delusional man who is complete denial of his various areas of improvement, including his relationship with the person sitting across the table from him.

Maybe I’m still feeling kind of cocky having the thrill of accomplishment from NaNoWriMo and getting a new job that I’m really enjoying.  I mean, I did that, who’s to say I can’t dump my longtime boyfriend and free myself to have this exciting new life? But, would it be?  I’m turning 50 in exactly a month.  And the outlook for finding someone else at my age is, frankly, not promising.   So, do I trade the problems with being in a relationship for the problems of being single?

I don’t need to figure this out this week.   As my friend John reminded me last night on the phone, I’m just suffering from a case of the New Year’s blahs.  This too will pass.

One pet over the line

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Sweet Jesus, am I one pet over the line?* 

I think I may have maxed out on my capacity to take care of all these little creatures under my care. At current count, there are five of them – three cats and two rabbits.  I think the addition of Mr. Peabody (or shall I call him Mr. Peebody since that seems more appropriate) has finally tipped the scales into the unmanageable.

A year ago, I only had two pets who lived with me – my cats, Alaska and Saquatch.  Nomie had recently died, and since Nomie never really got along with the boys, they didn’t miss her much, and were pretty happy with having me all to their selves.  And, I was pretty content too.  I have always felt that two is the ideal number of cats to have.  Any more than that, you start flirting with being a cat lady.  There were no plans to replace Nomie, and besides bringing a new cat into the house would probably stress out the aged Alaska.

But, soon a little red Mini Rex bunny literally hopped into my home.  The first time I put up signs and made a real effort to find his owners.  And they did come, eventually, to reclaim him.  But, a few days later, the little bunny showed up again and hopped into my house.  Something was definitely wrong.  Rabbits are not  supposed to be free roaming in the neighborhood, and to let them do so was completely irresponsible.  So, this time rather than being proactive in contacting the owners, I wanted to see if they expressed any interest in finding the little guy.  They did not.  (And later I figured out that it probably was intentional b/c Mr. Binkles turned out to have a pretty nasty disposition.)  And I had already fallen for the little guy, so I boned up on bunny care and behavior, and made him part of the household.

Read the rest of this entry

Remembering my Nomie

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It was a year ago this week that one of my most favorite living beings died. Noname (pronounced No-na-me) was a little gray Manx cat who was perhaps my closest companion for 17 years. The connection we had was really special. I can’t say I loved her more than the other sentient beings in my life, but in some ways the love seemed purer, less adulterated.

Anyway as a tribute on this anniversary of her death, I just wanted to re-publish the eulogy I wrote for her shortly after she died. I still miss her.

My dear sweet Nomie –

I want to thank you for being my friend for these last 17 years. You were there for me back when I was a drunk, suicidal mess, through my quest for wholeness, and finally for my journey along the path to enlightenment. You were always there quiet, loyal, never judging and always loving.

When we met you were a wee sickly kitten, more dead than alive. I had no intention of keeping you, but didn’t want you to die. You weren’t given much of a chance, but you fought and you made it. Who could resist a kitten with that much will to live?

Through out our years together, you taught me that love does not need to be big and demonstrative, but is quiet and steady. You were happy to just be near me, just to be my companion. You were my friend and my protector. As the years wore on, you slowed down, as we all do. But, still, you always were near, purring loudly.

About a month ago, you got so sick I thought I was going to lose you. But, you had the will to pull through. It’s as if you stuck around to teach me one last lesson about love. You helped me to see clearly the difference between love and attachment. Love makes you strong and calm – able to face the toughest of circumstances. Attachment makes you a complete wreck. You became my practice. When I was with you, nursing you through your illness, and yesterday helping you die, I tried my best to stay with the mind of love – forgetting for a while my own pain and doing what was best for you. It is a lesson I will never forget.

Good night my sweet friend. May we meet again, whether it is Buddha’s Pure Land, this life or a future life. May the mantras and prayers whispered in your ears and on your behalf ripen in your enlightenment, and may you help others on their own journeys as you have helped me on mine.

Thank you, my sweet friend.
Thank you, my sweet friend.

So, you want to see a shaved Maine Coon cat?

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Ever since I wrote this story about an unfortunate grooming experience with my Sasquatch, I’ve had a number of hits from people looking for “pictures of shaved maine coons” or wondering “should I shave my Maine Coon cat?”

So, for those folks who are looking for pictures of a shaved Maine Coon cat, here ya go. Meet Sasquatch:

don't even think about laughing at him

don't even think about laughing at him

Granted, this picture was taking about a month after his shaving, but you get the point. And yes, he’s a very big boy. I mean, check out them paws. Thems are big paws. My neighbor once remarked that Sasquatch looked like a combination of a tiger and rhinoceros. He may look fierce, but he really is a huge mamma’s boy. So, please, be kind. He’s a sensitive boy.

A family visit

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It was after the third time my brother’s phone disconnected on me that I started to get the hint that maybe my brother and his family were not all that excited about seeing me.

As regular readers of my blog may know, my relationship with my brother has recently been upgraded from “nearly non-existent” to “strained”. Baby steps, I guess. This upgrade came when my brother was diagnosed with cancer and I went to visit him in the hospital. While the circumstances were less than stellar, I left with the strange sensation of once again actually having people in my life that I can call family. There were promises to stay in touch, and that we would see each other in July when my teenage nieces were to compete in a regatta at a Bay Area yacht club.

Arranging our time together was not easy. There were awkward phone calls, dropped phone calls, unintelligible phone calls, and even a lack of phone calls. Finally, they were able to fit me for a few hours on Monday, and oh, by the way, the girls are really exhausted and want to get home early. Great. All the plans I had been nervously planning went out the window. I had hoped to take them to someplace cool like the Exploratorium, or the Chihuly exhibit or the East Bay Vivarium. In other words, I was looking for a lot of external stimulation in order to have something to focus our conversations on since it feels like we would have nothing in common to speak about otherwise.

They arrived an hour and a half later than I expected. So now it was really too late to really go anywhere, so ended up just sitting around my house talking, which was in my mind the worse case scenario. Both my brother and I brought along our posses; he had his wife and the two girls, and I had the boyfriend and the animals. I had rather cruelly locked Sasquatch out of his favorite hiding places so that I could use him for show and tell. A 30 lb shaved Maine Coon cat is always good for at least 15 minutes of conversation, and besides having him clinging to me with his paws on my shoulders felt very comforting and safe. I was also incredibly grateful for the boyfriend being there. Unlike me who doesn’t know anything about sailing, he used to work on boats, so he could talk boats with them. And boy, did they like talking about boats. Mostly I tried to focus my conversation on the girls who were thrilled to see the rabbit and my cats, as they are currently without pets.

I did get some time to talk to my brother when we all went out for a walk out at Point Isabel – this awesome several acre dog park on the bay. Again, when all else fails, use animals as a buffer, even when they are not your own. It was weird. We really have nothing in common, not even our shared past. He claims to have forgotten everything about our childhood. Even when I brought up a chicken we had as a pet, he claimed he didn’t remember. Sure, I can understand it with some of the other things he claims to have forgotten, but Cluck Cluck? I mean, she was a mean chicken, but hardly mean enough to bring on a case of PTSD. So, we walked and we talked, mostly about his kids. I also found it very odd how his 16 year old wanted to walk arm in arm with her dad. Their affection towards one another was . . . I found it disquieting. But, my sense is that the girls are pretty sheltered, and they are pretty scared about losing their dad, so I guess I understand it. But, there is no template in my mind for such parental/child affection, so to me it was simply weird.

Overall, I would have to say it was a pleasant visit. They are not the evil holy rollers that I had pictured in my mind for the last decade or so. They are nice people. But, they still don’t feel like family. Or at least what I think family should feel like. I don’t know. I wish I had more time with the girls on their own to see if I can make a connection there. But, every time I tried to engage one of them in conversation, their mom would answer instead. I think one of my nieces, the younger one, was at least curious about me. She and I have the animal thing in common. Unlike when the others touched Sasquatch, when she petted him I didn’t feel him tense up. She also kept leaving the group conversation to go find and pet Mr. Binkles.  Now, that’s someone I may be related to.

Who knows what the future will bring. Maybe as the girls grow up and out of the house, they’ll have some curiosity about their eccentric Aunt LB with the big cat and bunny. I hope so.

End times

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My friend John and I have a new tag line that we now use to end pretty much any conversation where we find ourselves complaining or making note of some dire situation.  The tag line: “end times”.  I’m not sure how it started.  Perhaps it was a discussion about the economy, oil prices, world food crises, Iraq, or any number of depressing topics, which he probably ended with the cynical speculation that we were indeed approaching the end of days.  But now, we use “end times”  at the end of conversations ranging from the oppressive layer of smoke that has been covering California for the past week to the price of avocados at the grocery store to Alaska’s diarrhea.  “End times” pretty much explains everything that is wrong in the world and in our lives.

Behind our cynical laughter is some real fear.  These are scary times.  The economy scares the shit out of me.  I’m a single middle-aged woman with no safety net.  If I lose my job, I’m pretty well screwed. When I was young and unfettered couch surfing while between jobs or places to live was an option.  But at my age with three cats and a rabbit? And the potential impact of the oil crisis also frightens  me.  With the exception of my hellish 20’s, I have done alright for myself financially, or at least well enough to take care of my attachment to comfort and privacy.  I drive alone close to 80 miles each day round trip.  That cannot be sustained.  I’ll have to be making more effort to get work via public transit, or gasp! share a ride with someone.  And while I am nowhere as gloom and doom as the boyfriend (don’t get him started – if I have to listen to another lecture about peak oil  . . . ), I am truly worried.

So, how am I spending my end times?  By obsessively chronicling my cat’s food intake and poo output, of course.  As I explained in the last post, Alaska was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  Medication alone has not seemed to help him, so we’re going the diet route.  It’s been almost a week since he’s been doing the duck diet, with mixed results.  He was doing OK, except we had a minor set back when I decided to supplement his wet and dry “prescription” food with some raw duck gizzards.  I figured, hey, it’s duck.  It’s on his diet, right?  Well, he loved them.  Scarfed them right now.  Oh what a happy boy he was.  But, the next day?  Ah geez, not pretty, not pretty at all.  But, every last gory detail his going into his spreadsheet – what he ate, what he pooed, his mood, his appetite, and whether or not he got his subQ fluids.  No more hemming and hawing when the vet asks me how many days out of the week did he have runny stools.  Oh no.  I’ve got a spreadsheet. And a damn fine one it is. 

The other thing I’ve been doing is spending a lot of time in Asian grocery stores.  This week alone, I’ve been to 99 Ranch  twice, plus a  Japanese grocery story with a Japanese dollar store next store.  I can’t explain the draw for me.  I’m not a cook, so I don’t go to look for Asian cooking ingredients (though it was the first place I thought of when I wanted to find duck parts to supplement Alaska’s diet).  I have no idea what is in 3/4s of those packages, and while I am intrigued, I don’t want to buy something if I have no idea what it is.  So, mostly I look.  I mean, they have a whole aisle for nothing but fish balls!  Fish balls!  Little fish balls, big fish balls, green fish balls.  And then there are the tanks of fish.  Those make me sad, actually.  Such big fish in such small tanks.  But, if you wish, not only can you buy fresh fish there, they will fry it up for you for no additional cost. 

Who knows, maybe going to Asian grocery stores is my cheapo way to travel these days.  Why go to Asia when you can just travel a few miles and you can get a good glimpse of how another culture lives by going to their grocery stores.  Or maybe there is a fear of losing everything I ever knew of  my own culture, so I’m trying to distance myself from it. Or maybe I’m just bored. 

I’m taking the week after the Fourth of July off from work.  No plans, really.  Do some rabbit repairs and then rabbit proofing around the house.  Maybe take in the US Junior Women’s Sailing Championship to watch my nieces compete. Perhaps have the brother and his family over for dinner.  My brother actually visiting me?  Oh my, that truly is a sign of the end times!

Battle of the wills

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Alaska, my 17 year old cat, greeted me at the window as I walked up the stairway to the house. I could see him him meowing at me, though I couldn’t hear him. “Ah, the old boy must be feeling good” I thought to myself. It made me feel good too.

On his good days, when he hears my car he’ll come up and wait for me by the window. Until the last year that was just part of our routine. He is a bit like a dog in that way – vocalizing with excitement at the sight of me, and greeting me at the door when I walk in. But, these days, he’s not always at the window. And when he’s not, I worry. Usually, my fears are allayed when I walk in and he’s making his way to the door to greet me. And now, sometimes, I have to go roust him from his favorite sleeping spot, my office chair. I fear the day when I come home and I can’t roust him. And that’s if I’m lucky and he goes naturally.

OK, I’m getting morbid. Stop that. He’s having a good day. He’s got energy, and there are no tell tale signs of the horrendous diarrhea that’s he’s been having for a while now. The vet has ruled out other causes, and arrived at his best guess – IBS (or IBD) Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, or Disease. The first line treatment of that is strict dietary management with a single protein food that the animal hasn’t been exposed to before. They make special (i.e. very expensive) food to rule out or in the cause being food allergies. I tried it before, I really did. We tried the duck and after a few days, he stopped eating it. Then we tried the venison, and he didn’t like it at all. And I simply refused to try the rabbit, as my rabbit tends to snack on the cats’ crunchies, and that would be just all kinds of wrong. Besides, once you have a particular kind of animal as a pet, they get crossed out as an food option for both people and pets (except for chickens . . . but the story of Cluck Cluck is for another post).

Anyway . . . after I gave up on the diet option, I avoided my vet for a while as my old boy was doing OK. But, when he got the squirts again, I had to put my tail between my legs and see my vet, who put Alaska on Prednisone. The first week seemed really promising and then, ugg, it wasn’t. So, back to the vet we go.

Basically, my vet told me that I had to try the dietary management thing before we really knew what the problem was. And I told him I tried, but Alaska would have none of it. He then basically called me an over-indulgent push-over of a mother and who needed to grow a spine and to practice some tough love with him. So, he gave me some drugs to help with the symptoms for now until the diet change had a chance to take effect. And I went out and dropped $60 on catfood (each small can being $2.20 and a large bag of dry was $35). That was Saturday. I guess it was new enough that it was still interesting, so he ate it without complaint.

But now it is Monday and when I got home he was acting as if I had left him for a week without food. Yet, there was food, both dry and wet still in the dish. Such drama. First the meowing was somewhat plaintive, then he got downright pitiful. He jumped up to the spot where I usually give him treats and just sat there looking sad. Finally, when he recognized I wasn’t going to give in he got demanding. Now he is doing his keyboard dance hoping that if he annoys me enough I’ll relent.

It’s hard, but he’s not a stupid cat. He’ll eat when he gets hungry enough. Or he’ll eat when I’m not looking. Yet, I look at his little skinny body and my inner Jewish grandmother comes out and I just want to break out the Fancy Feast and tell him to “eat, eat.”

Ah, geeze. I gotta go get the rabbit out of cat crunchy bowl. At least someone here likes that shit.

Things that go thump in the night

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When you share a small house with four four-legged creatures you become accustomed to odd noises. Perhaps it is the distinctive sound of the old cat getting ready to hork, or the rabbit rearranging his furniture (he’s VERY fussy about the placement of his litter box), or just Sasquatch jumping off the bed. For seemingly quiet creatures, they can be pretty noisy.

Occasionally, they’ll make enough of a racket to wake me up in the middle of night. My usual practice is to listen for a moment to make sure there is no animal in distress and then roll back over muttering “damn cats” or “stupid rabbit”. Rarely do these noises necessitate getting my sleepy ass out of bed. However, the other night was one of those rare nights where I had to see what was going on.

When I go to bed I always put Mr. Binkles back in his pen for the night, whether he likes it or not. If he hasn’t had enough free roaming time, he tends to stay restless for a while and bang his pen around. He acts like he’s in jail. But it’s not like he’s in a little tiny cage. No, the little dude has about 8 ft by 4 ft of floor space, plus we built him a loft so he survey his kingdom. So, I don’t buy his prisoner rattling his tin cup against the bars routine. Anyway, eventually he settles down into either his loft bed or into his bunny condo and he’ll be quiet all night.

But the other night it was CRASH! RATTLE! THUD! and the sound of multiple paws skittering across the hard wood floors. What the? The ruckus was quickly over, and as each cat then wandered in my bedroom acting as if nothing happened, I opted to just roll over and go back to sleep. *THUMP* 2 . . . 3. . . 4 *THUMP* 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 *THUMP*. What the? I decided to get up and investigate.

There was Mr. Binkles in his loft sitting up on his back haunches looking very alert and more than a little pissed off. *THUMP* 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 *THUMP* . . . The little one was thumping his back legs to make a very pronounced racket. While I know rabbits are known to thump (hence Thumper from “Bambi”), but I’ve never seen my little buddy do it. The thumping either means danger or just to let you know they are not in the mood to be fucked with. I looked around to see if I could find the source of the ealier crashing, but everything looked normal. But, whatever happened either scared or pissed off Mr. Binkles something fierce. So, I gave him his space and just talked to him for a bit until he visably started to calm down and the thumping stopped.

I still have no idea what happened. My best guess is that perhaps Tangerine jumped into his pen to either steal some of his cilantro, play with her little lagomorph friend or because she was bored. Who knows. But it was certainly revealed another interesting bit of rabbit behavior. I would just prefer that these little discoveries not happen at 3:30 in the morning.

The shaving of the big Squatch

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Last week, we had our first few days of record heat. Traditionally, I’ve kicked off the unofficial beginning of summer with the shaving of the Sasquatch.

Sasquatch is my massive 9 year old Maine Coon cat. In addition to lots of fur, he’s also carrying some extra weight, so the heat makes him pretty miserable. He always feels better after he gets shaved and he doesn’t care if others think he looks silly. A few years back I found this very unpretentious grooming salon that would groom cats. Previously, I had taken him to a fancier salon, but I could tell they were more interested in their show dog clientele than my big kitty. Anyway, I was happy with the results of his grooming at the less fancy place, and the groomer/owner really seemed to like “the big Squatch”. When I called to book his annual appointment she would always say “Ohhh. I remember the big Squatch!” Yes, he is indeed memorable. Thirty pounds and 24 toes of Maine Coon usually makes an impression.

Last year around this time, I dropped him off in the morning and the owner/groomer greeted him with her usual enthusiasm. “Oh, look at the big Squatch! He’s such a sweet boy!” After we pried Sasquatch off of me (he gets transported using a harness and leash since he’s too big for my kitty carrier), I left him in their capable and loving hands.

When I returned around closing time, they were only just finishing up his bath and hadn’t even shaved him yet. So, the owner/groomer let me back into the grooming area to help hold and comfort him while he got shaved. She was able to get it done pretty quickly because he was being very cooperative. He really is such a sweet dispositioned boy. After she had finished with him, she wanted to carry him out to the car herself – I guess she just wanted that one last hit of the big Squatch. “Uh, OK” I said even though she had already started walking out of the shop with him. Big mistake.

It’s one thing to have 90 lb, 5’0″ woman handle your very strong 30 lb cat when the cat is behind closed doors. It’s quite another to take him outside and walk him towards the one thing he hates worse than water – the car. So, he freaked out. And while she struggled admirably, he escaped her arms and started running around the parking lot in a panic. We blocked him against going towards the street and got him cornered. The groomer/owner seemed to be dead set on being the one to capture him, because, no doubt, she felt responsible. Even though I asked her to let me handle this, she lunged for Sasquatch, and again, he freaked and dashed. Now I’m yelling at her to leave him alone and let me handle this, but she had lost her ability to understand or speak English and starts yelling back at me in Chinese. Her assistant, a large African-American fellow, hearing the brou-ha-ha comes out of the shop and gets into the act.

Again, we get Sasquatch cornered, this time behind a planter in front of a grocery store. And again, I’m yelling at them to let me try to calm him down and for them to cover the escape routes. Nope. The assistant goes after Sasquatch and grabs his tail. Next thing we know, Sasquatch turned around and latched his very large jaws in the assistant’s thigh. The groomer/owner then grabs Sasquatch tail, so now you have 30 lbs of shaved Maine Coon suspended by tail and teeth. The assistant is now screaming at a pitch I didn’t think possible for a man his size, the groomer/owner is shouting something in Chinese, and me, the fat white broad, I’m yelling at all of them to “STOP GRABBING MY GODDAMN CAT’S FUCKING TAIL!” In all this mayhem, I look up and see a family come out of the grocery store, and then with a look of abject fear, the father quickly leads his brood back into the store and they watch the drama unfold from behind the automatic doors.

Sasquatch once again makes a break for it and this time he heads for the back of the grocery store. As he is being chased by a bleeding African-American man, a foul-mouthed, pissed off fat white chick and a tiny Chinese woman, as you can imagine, we make quite an impression. A local redneck (and yes, there are rednecks in the Bay Area, and El Sobrante is a hotbed for them) asks the assistant what is going on. “There’s a cat on the loose.” To which the redneck drawled with a laugh,” you want me to go get my gun?” I turned around and screamed with all my might “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, ASSHOLE”, which probably wasn’t the best idea to yell at someone with ready access to firearms.

Sasquatch had taken refuge under a car. I take a deep breath, try to compose myself and nicely ask everyone to step back so I can please try and calm my cat down. Too late. The owner/groomer is reaching under the car and grabs -what else? – his tail. The assistant, noticing his torn pants and bleeding leg, got fed up and went back to man the shop. Since the owner/groomer seemed to have a good grip on him, and Squatch looked like he wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to get my car and pull it right next to the car he was under, so that one of his escape routes would be straight into my car. When I got back with the car, the owner/groomer had trapped Sasquatch under one of those plastic milk crates you find behind grocery stores. I moved my car right next to his make-shift cage, she lifted it and he jumped right into my car.

The aftermath: Sasquatch stayed under the bed for several hours after we got home, but eventually he forgave me. I discovered that at some point in all the melee I had also been bitten pretty badly, but fortunately it never got infected. The next day I went back to the salon to pay them for the grooming and to check in on the assistant. There didn’t appear to be any bad feelings, nor were the assistant’s bites infected. But, as I left there wasn’t the usual, cheerful “bye bye! See you next year!”

I got the hint. Anyone know a good groomer in the East Bay who does cats?