Category Archives: cats

Sick Kitty

Scarlett’s been yowling a lot lately. A lot of MEOWWWWWRRR after every meal, and sometimes at random times too, like, on the rare occasions when she’s awake. She sleeps a lot, eats a little, and yowls. Before, we took care of this by treating her for constipation — lots of pumpkin and water in her canned food, some milk, cat treats coated in olive oil. That did the trick for months, but now it doesn’t seem to be enough.

I don’t want to call the vet, because I’m afraid of what she’ll say. Scarlett’s already on meds for seizures, which the vet says are caused by some kind of growth in her brain that’s not going to do anything but get bigger. Fortunately the phenobarbital works, and she hasn’t had a seizure in weeks, but it doesn’t do anything about the underlying problem. Plus, the cat is just plain old.

When Greta died, she just kept slowing down until all she could do was lie in the sun. Breathe, or not breathe. At some point, the question stopped being important. Scarlett, though, was always a pissy little thing.

Crash! Bang! Meow!

We had sirens around midnight. Kid B and I were trying to figure out what was going on. A pretty intense thunderstorm was coming through, but no wind to speak of. The power would go out, then go back on again. I couldn’t get the weather to come up on the internet. Well, I didn’t try all that hard. Since everything looked okay, I went back to bed, and just lay there and listened to it for a while.

Then this morning I went for a run down by the lake, and, dang! I must have seen a dozen whole trees down, either broken off near the bottom or uprooted. Plus quite a few large branches, one of which had taken out the corner of someone’s roof. The homeowner was outside talking to a neighbor about homeowner’s insurance, so I guess everyone was okay. In some places everything looked fine, while in other places everything was a mess of downed power lines and trees and neighbors standing around talking.

All of this was between half a mile and about three miles from my house. I’m pretty sure a tornado actually touched down. Meanwhile in our neighborhood, everything’s neat and tidy.

On my run and subsequent trip to the doctor, I saw:

– A building blown down. The roof had slid off, pulling the walls down with it. It was a printing business in an old corrugated metal building.
– A trampoline (not a little kiddie one, a big one with a mesh cage) blown 50 yards into a park
– A car with a tree on top of it
– Uprooted power poles
– One power pole that had broken in half
– A streetlight sticking sideways out of the shrubs in someone’s yard
– Three park playgrounds with equipment destroyed by trees
– Four stretches of street blocked off so workers could untangle downed power lines from the wreckage
– A public canoe storage rack blown into the lake
– At one home, all the old house paint had somehow blown out of a storage area and into the street, and some of the cans had dumped into the gutter.

So, that was something.

And yeah, I did have to go to the doctor. I usually stay away from those kind of people. But I was brushing Scarlett yesterday and must have hit a bad spot, because she turned around and bit my hand. My right ring finger got a nasty gash, the pinky just a nick. But a few hours later I noticed the pinky swelling. So now I’m on antibiotics.

The doctor, who seemed to be a very nice and competent lady, says you don’t mess around with cat bites. Cats have a number of nasty things in their mouths that love to infect humans.

I seem to be able to type okay, but other things I use my hands for may be difficult, especially writing with a pen.

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Pawprints in the Snow

pawprintsIt’s snowed the last three nights, and every morning when I go out to shovel there are cat tracks in the snow. They always follow the same route: in through the fence at the back corner of the lot, over some drifts (about a foot and a half tall, but iced up enough to walk on), along the compost-pile path, alongside the garage and up the back steps, back down the steps and around the corner past the trash and recycling bins, down the path shoveled along the driveway, hopping up into the planter with the yews against the front of the house, hopping further up to the front porch, then down the front steps and away down the sidewalk.

I haven’t heard Mike yowling at anyone out there recently, though he doesn’t go out as much in winter, and I definitely don’t encourage him to stay out all night when it’s cold. If it’s twenty below he doesn’t want to be out there anyway, but if it’s ten above or better I sometimes have to chase him down and bring him back in the house. Anyway, he’d notice a strange cat on his turf even if he were in the house. So maybe it’s a buddy of his.

Or – and this is what I keeps me thinking about it – maybe it’s Ariel.

We adopted the two as kittens from Friends of Ferals. We think they’re littermates, though it’s possible Ariel is older and just naturally small. Mike’s a big Jethro Bodine of a cat, none too bright but plenty friendly. He couldn’t wait to be somebody’s house pet, as long as wandering privileges were included in the deal. (With him, my self-imposed pledge to keep my cats house-only went literally right out the door. With some cats it just ain’t gonna happen.) He’s a big black bear of a thing, likes to sit on your lap on top of the newspaper, let you play soccer with him, enjoys mauling mice, etc.

Ariel wasn’t having any of the whole pet thing. She was a skinny little thing, mostly black, but with white paws and a white diamond at her throat. I really liked her; she still had a lot of feral in her, and I sort of admired that. She spent the first week at our house hiding out in the heat ducts, and occasionally taking a dainty bite or two of the food we left for her in the basement. After that first week she’d come upstairs and hang with Mike, but she never was a people cat.

One of the first times we found her upstairs, she and Mike were raiding the bread cabinet. They’d hopped up on the countertop and dragged a few loaves of bread down, torn open the plastic, and were eating some of it and making a huge mess of the rest. That was kind of funny, but most of the time she just ran away when anyone was around. Somebody else might have had the patience to do better with her than I did.

Anyway, one day in summer, Ariel was outside with Mike. They never used to leave the back yard. But this time, Mike came back and Ariel never did. We never saw her again, but at that point I felt like trying to hang onto her as a pet was hopeless anyway. Mike was out there constantly for a couple days, crying and trying to find her, but as far as I could tell he never had any luck. The only consolation was knowing she was spayed.

But with this new cat coming around, I just wonder. Maybe Ariel stayed close. There are all kinds of places around here where a cat could stay incognito. I’d be happy to know she was still alive.

First World Problems

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Are we all ready to nominate that phrase for oblivion yet? It was funny enough at first, when it was used for things like not having enough room in your wallet for all your credit cards, but lately people are using it to refer to anything short of starving to death.

Anyway, I’ve spent the morning dealing with my large amounts of stuff: scrubbing all my floors, taking all my houseplants out for their first good drenching of spring, laundry, recycling, scrubbing the cat hair and barf off the furniture and windows (you don’t want to know). It took three and a half hours! It doesn’t seem like I got all that much done, but I was working all that time except for a couple potty breaks. Well, and the time I got a little distracted putting a few refrigerator poetry words up on the freshly scrubbed side of the fridge. But only for a minute!

It does seem like, for just the two of us here, there are an awful lot of floors.

Cats are nothing compared to kids. They used to make such a mess, especially when their friends would come over–they’d have Playmobils and action figures set up in the house, and all kinds of squirt guns and balls all over the yard. I’d get them to clean up as much as possible, of course, but with little boys ever their clean-up efforts make a mess. After a week of homeschooling the house would be a wreck by the weekend. I’d try to spend the entire day Saturday cleaning house, correcting their work and writing up our lesson plans for the next week. It was so good to wake up on Sunday and have everything clean! It was exhausting, but worth it so we could go do family stuff without me having to worry about anything.

The house stays a lot neater now, so big cleaning days are a lot less frequent. It’s so nice to be able to walk barefoot without getting guck on your feet, and have everything smelling like fresh air and grapefruit spray cleaner.

It wasn’t a dream.

Domestic cat sleeping on her head in the sun

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More like a flash, a little sliver of memory. It was about how Dan’s head looked near the end, with little bald spots showed up on the back of his head from lying in bed all the time. Not just that image. It was about me seeing it, touching it. When I woke up I knew it was true. This was the first thing I’ve dreamed in more than a year.

Probably the chemo was part of the hair loss, but mostly I think it was just the very unusual fact of lying around in bed all day. He was never like that, and never would have been, except that he didn’t have any choice.

Since I got home from work on Sunday, I’ve been sleeping and sleeping. Last week, when people would ask what I was doing for my vacation, I’d say, “I’m going to perform radical acts of staying home, and I’m going to sleep in the sun like a cat.”

It’s true! I didn’t know I had this much sleep in me. Since yesterday, somehow, bills got paid, laundry got hung, a review wrote itself, and numerous chapters continue to find themselves inexplicably revised.

But mostly I remember sleeping, taking a nap, then waking up tq sleep some more.

Something familiar about Mike

I’ve had a few cats, but Mike is the first one who sincerely wants to be human.  With him, it’s easy to see how cats got a spooky reputation.  (And yes, he’s a black cat.  Some say they’re the smartest.)  He watches everything I do and then tries to copy it.

I can fill up a bowl with the freshest water in the world, but does he want that?  Noooo!  He’s got to drink out of my glass.  That’s magic water, from which I derive my powers.

After I cut up fruit, he likes to bat the knife around, and has no eyes for any other kitchen utensil.  And if I get out the broom, he knows it’s really magic time, because when I use it a mysterious wind comes up and pushes things across the floor.  Then I brush these things into the dustpan and. . . make them disappear!

He even thinks the vacuum is cool.  And pens, doors, purses, bowls of nuts, anything recently worn, my laptop–or my actual lap, for that matter.  All these are tools of my magic–magic he’s sure can be his, if he only applies his wits to the matter.  He doesn’t consider himself my pet so much as my apprentice.

This morning he watched as usual as I demonstrated my arcane kitchen knowledge–making breakfast and coffee, sweeping the floor, washing a few dishes.  He was especially impressed when I poured a little boiling water into a dirty cake pan and steam came out.  Oooooo!

Then he decided he was going to impress me with all he’d learned.  So he hopped on the floor and opened the bottom cabinet, looked over his shoulder to make sure I was watching, and then batted out an old potato.    After this accomplishment, he got into the cabinet and squeezed between some cereal boxes and watched my face, to see if I would react with awe.