Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Weather According to Cats

Yep, it's raining again. No, wait! It's snowing! No, it's raining ... snowing? It can't make up its mind right now. It doesn't really matter - either way it's cold and wet outside.

Before there was The Weather Channel, people used to predict the weather by watching the behavior of the animals around them. One Wives' Tale I always remember is "Cat on brain, it's going to rain" meaning that if the cat is curled up with her head upside down, then there is rain coming soon. It was also believed that if a cat sneezes it means rain is on the way and that a cat sitting with her back to the fire means a storm is imminent.

I use my cats to tell me the weather all the time, although not in the same way as the wives' tales. If one of the cats sneezes I just figure he's been playing with dust bunnies under the bed. I have figured out the following:

Sign: Tyrone waits in the window instead of coming to meet me at the car in the morning.
Meaning: It's really effin' cold outside!


Sign: Diedra's hanging out on one of the bookshelves.
Meaning: It's wet outside and she wants me to curl up with a book so she can snuggle.


Sign: Bobby is spread out on one of the beds.
Meaning: It's raining and he needs to dry off. Those flannel sheets really soak up water well!


Sign: Tyrone and Diedra both curl up on my bed at the same time.
I know you can't actually see both of them. They stay as far apart as possible.
Meaning: It's below freezing outside and they're willing to put up with each other for the electric blanket.


Sign: My armpit is cold and wet.
Meaning: It's raining and a soggy Tyrone is trying to get warm.


Sign: One of the cats is snuggling with a Fleece/Gortex jacket.
Meaning: Better break out the snow tires!


Sign: Ashi is burrowed into the middle of a laundry basket.
Meaning: It's cold and wet and no one will turn on the dryer for her.


Sign: Tyrone is curled up with something fluffy and pink.
Meaning: This has nothing to do with the weather. He just feels FABulous!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Ashi will put up with the indignity of a hat if there is cheese involved.
The kitties and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy Hogmany. I think that covers everything.

Bobby liked the tree before there were presents. He likes plenty of space.
I tried to get pics of all the cats in the Santa hat. Yeah, that didn't work out. Tyrone tried to eat it. Bobby ran away from it. Diedra kept shaking it off her head, then hid under the bed. Ashi is the only one who sat still - mainly because she was too lazy to do anything about the "indignity" of the situation. Plus, I bribed her with cheese.

Tyrone emerges from his secret hide-a-way under the tree.
I did get some pics of Tyrone and Bobby sleeping under the Christmas tree. Bobby loved the tree at first, but as we started putting presents under it it got too crowded for him. Tyrone, on the other hand, loves hanging out under there. We had to leave a space in the back for him so he wouldn't rip apart the presents trying to move them out of his way. Diedra's too good for that, too, of course. But I'm sure she'll wish you Happy Holidays anyway.

Diedra is too dignified for Santa hats or Christmas trees. She was willing to supervise my baking, though.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rainy Day Blues

There is nothing like a couple of cold, rainy days to make everyone go stir-crazy. That goes double for the felines. My cats are used to being able to go in and out whenever they want to, but the rain has forced them to stay inside. By this afternoon they were literally climbing the walls - Tyrone actually knocked one of the photos off the wall while leaping madly from the couch to the bookcase - and in desperation I finally kicked them all outside, rain be damned.

After about 20 minutes I gave in and let the soggy kitties back inside. They were suitably contrite and, after I gave them some treats (guilty conscience? Me? Never.) they slunk away to various hiding spots to dry off. Two hours later they are all still flattened and moping. I guess getting wet is just exhausting.

Tyrone found the highest spot he could to dry off and rest up. He took over Diedra's usual spot in the potato bin on top of the fridge.

Deidra went for the camouflage approach, spreading herself across the back of the recliner. She blends in rather well.


Bobby got as far away from the outside as possible and curled up on Kassie's bed. 

It took me forever to find Ashi. She definitely found the best spot in the house - and I guess I'll be washing those clothes again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meet Diedra

Diedra wasted no time making herself at home.
Diedra is my miracle girl. She is also a huge part of the reason I advocate the no-kill policy for all animal shelters.

2006 was a rough year for me. I had lost my dear cat Lyvani, who had been with me for 15 years. She had developed intestinal cancer and finally had to be put to sleep to end her suffering. A few weeks after Lyvani crossed the Rainbow Bridge, the vet found a suspicious mass while giving Ashi an exam. It ended up being benign, but it left me scared. Ashi and I both mourned for Lyvani and I finally decided to get another cat to help fill the gap. I adopted a cat named Smoky - renamed Maia - from a local rescue group. She was an older cat and ended up only being with us for a few months before she also passed on.
My sister Kristin and her kids moved in with me a few months after I got Diedra. She was dubious of the kids at first, but she learned quickly that nap time was a great chance for a snuggle. Here she shares a nap with Kristin and Kent.
I was devastated by this point and I decided I would be a one-cat person for a while. Fate, however, had other ideas.

I received an e-mail from a lady I can met a couple of times at animal adoption events. Jeannie told me a sad story about a cat at the Ivins Animal Shelter that couldn't find a home. This cat named Molly had been at the shelter for about a year and a half. She was shy and somewhat reclusive and just kept getting overlooked. Jeannie had tried to take her home, but the cats at her house wouldn't accept her. She ended up taking Molly back to the shelter, but was determined to find her a home. I was working as the Features Editor at our local newspaper at that time and I thought it would make a good story - one of those sob stories about the poor little cat who couldn't find a home.
Diedra will occasionally accept love from someone else - here she lets Kent cuddle a bit - but mostly she's a one-person cat.
I made the trip to the Ivins Animal Shelter (OK, it wasn't much of a trip. It's only about a mile from my house) and talked to Robin, the Animal Control Officer. I took copious notes about the background of the shelter and the problems it had faced trying to switch to a no-kill operation. Then she took me in the cat room to meet Molly. She warned me that she was shy and would probably ignore me. I had done a lot of work with feral cats and had rehabbed quite a few, including my sweet girl Lyvani, so I told her I knew what to do.

I found her curled up on a cat bed in one of the corners. I ignored the kittens frolicking about and the beautiful flame-point strutting back and forth in front of me and concentrated on this forgotten cat. I was struck at once by how unusual her coat was, kind of a tortoiseshell tabby. I held out a finger for her to sniff and she looked at me, sniffed my finger, then gave it a quick lick. Then she rested her chin on my hand and started to purr.
Diedra in her usual spot on my bed. She takes it upon herself to press my jeans for me.
The sob story about the forgotten cat never happened because the next day I went back to the shelter with a cat carrier and took her home. I had a room set aside for her with all the amenities so she could get used to me and Ashi slowly and safely. She wasn't having any of that! She strutted right out of the room and started walking around like she'd always lived there. I renamed her Diedra and she has been my cuddle bunny ever since. She can most often be found on my bed and her favorite place to nap is cuddled into my armpit or snuggled against my back like she's spooning me. She is standoffish with other people still, but she always has a cuddle or head rub for me.
Diedra also enjoys Dan Brown novels and moonlight walks on the beach.
If the Ivins shelter hadn't adopted its no-kill philosophy, this sweet cat would have been euthanized long before I found her. And I truly believe she was waiting for me. I'm just sorry it took me so long to show up and take her home.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snow? No problem

This is what I saw when I got home from work at 7:30 yesterday morning. It had been raining in St. George since about 4:30 a.m. - one of those cold rains that keeps trying to turn into snow. Well, it had tried a little harder at my house in Ivins. The elevation is a little higher and the white stuff was all over the place.

I opened the front door to find Ashi snuggled into Kassie's coat, which she had left on the floor. Diedra had found an even cozier spot on the chair where Kent had left one of his blankets. They both shot me dirty looks saying "close the damn door! It's freezing out there!"

The snow had melted by about 10 a.m., but the cats weren't taking any chances. They stayed in the house all day.

Smart cats.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meet Tyrone

Tyrone is a handsome boy - and he knows it.
Tyrone technically isn't my cat, he is Kent's. But he lives in my house and I feed him, so I guess that makes him a Kate's cat by default.

Two years ago we had a Halloween Party at my place. There wasn't much attendance, but there were a couple people with their kids. We had the little ones playing around in the back yard and, when we went to check on them, found out they were playing with a little black-and-white cat. Kristin had remembered seeing the cat at one of the houses down the street and picked the little fluffball up and tried to take it back. However, the people told her that it was actually a stray that just lived under their shed. Kristin tried to leave it there, but it scampered right back after her. Kent (then 3 years old) was overjoyed and declared that it was HIS cat! We named "her" Boadicea only to find out when we went in to get her spayed that in fact we needed to get him neutered. The name was shortened to Bo.
Bo was our Halloween cat. He was only with us for a few months, but he was well-loved.

Bo lived with us for a while and Kent absolutely loved him. Bo was a big fluffy cuddler, which was perfect for a house with small children. Unfortunately, after he'd lived with us for a few months, he disappeared. He had kept slipping his collar so he wasn't wearing a tag and the signs we posted yielded no results. The kids were devastated.
Kent and Tyrone watch hang out and watch some TV.

The next October, we asked Kent what he wanted for his birthday and he told us he wanted a cat. We kept asking and he kept giving us the same answer. Kristin took the kids to the Ivins Animal Shelter up the street and they spent some time looking at the kitties. They made several visits, then came home with a half-grown kitten. He was white and orange and Kent named him Tyrone after the orange moose in Backyardigans, one of his favorite shows.
Tyrone tolerates some attention from Kassie.

Tyrone is one mellow boy, again perfect for kids. He hasn't gotten very large - he is just a bit shorter than Diedra and he is still as scrawny as a teenage boy. He loves to go out and find treasures and bring them home for us. At first it was leaves and twigs and once a "wild" pipe cleaner that he had found who-knows-where. That upgraded to beetles and grasshoppers and then, unfortunately, to birds. His collar now has a bell on it and his bird captures have decreased dramatically. He still brings in the occasional bug and once he brought in what looked like the drawstring from a sleeping bag (yeah, I don't get it either) but for the most part his offerings are harmless.
Tyrone collapses in exhaustion after chasing a captured grasshopper (the dark splotch on the right side of the photo).

Tyrone loves to be outside and he has a whole flock of cats he hangs out with. We call them his Honeys and we have found them waiting for him on the porch or, once, in the living room hanging out. When I get home from work after a graveyard shift, he will often come running from wherever and meet me at the car, then run inside for some loves and some fresh food. I can hear that bell from a couple houses away and if I'm not fast enough unloading my stuff, he sits on the sidewalk and chitters and meows at me until I get my act together.

We're pretty sure Bobby was one of Tyrone's outside buddies, which would explain how he figured out the cat door and such. It also would explain why Tyrone didn't mind at all when Bobby would come waltzing in to steal food - at least at first. All in all Tyrone is just a laid-back, friendly cat who just wants to get along with everyone.
Tyrone makes relaxation an art form.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Ashi, Diedra, Tyrone and Bobby would like to with everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has always been Ashi's favorite holiday. Here very first day with me was Thanksgiving day and she learned really quickly that I am a messy cook and I'm always dropping yummy things on the floor. She now hovers in the kitchen any time someone is cooking, but she has a special place in her heart - actually it's her stomach - for Thanksgiving turkey.

Ashi actually likes Tofurkey. But I don't so we'll never have it in my house again.
She was no doubt disappointed this year that I did all the cooking at my parents' house. They have two cats but they weren't interested in the whole turkey thing. I spent hours cooking and didn't trip over a cat even once! Fortunately for Ashi, I gathered some scraps off the carcass and took them home for my cats.

BTW, did you know that one of the strangest noises known to man is that of a cat purring while it's eating? It is a strange growling "nom nom nom" sound. Yeah, she likes turkey that much.

The reactions to the turkey offering was mixed. Ashi made that growling "nom nom nom" sound as she scarfed her portion. Tyrone almost knocked me over twining about my ankles, then pushed the little plate all over the kitchen while making sure he got every last scrap. I could almost hear Bobby thinking "OMG! OMG! This is awesome! OMG!" while he sniffed it over then dug in with gusto.

Diedra didn't eat it. She gave it a tentative sniff, then stalked off with a sniff of disdain. That's OK, Ashi finished it off for her ... still making that "nom" sound.

I tried to shoot video of the cats with the turkey but it didn't turn out at all well. Hopefully Santa will answer my plea for a video camera. In the meantime, just use your imagination. :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Friction, Part 2

The kitties continue to "fight" it out for dominance in the house. Kristin sent me a choice photo of Tyrone invading Diedra's new sleeping spot in the potato box. I found him there again today. I have no idea where Diedra is sleeping now. She has found a hidey hole somewhere and is sulking.
Diedra discovers Tyrone in her new sleeping spot in the potato box on top of the fridge. NOT happy!! - Photo by Kristin McCoy
The outright fighting is still pretty minimal. Ashi caused a fuss this morning when Bobby tried to go down the hall into my bedroom and there was some growling over the food dishes this afternoon, but it's mostly just a subtle jockeying for position.
You can almost hear the sides of that box groan under the pressure.
Who will finally win the top spot? Will Deidra ever get her box back? Will the box be able to withstand the pressure of a larger, heavier cat? Will Diedra and/or Tyrone hatch any potatoes?

Stay tuned for answers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friction

Bobby relaxes enough to chase some markers around the dining area.
There is good news and bad news from the van Roosendaal household. The good news is that Bobby is settling in well. He is getting more comfortable in the house and is straying farther and farther into the house and not just sticking by the cat door. He still won't allow much touching - he'll allow a quick ear scratch but that's it - but he doesn't run or cower when we walk by him.

The bad news is, by coming farther into the house he is invading the other cats' space - and they don't like it.

Bobby has taken over Diedra's favorite box in the kitchen - even though he really doesn't fit in it.
Ashi, Diedra and Tyrone were more than happy to let Bobby come in and grab food. It actually surprised me that they never tried to chase him out or block him from coming in - Ashi is our door warden and she will sit by that cat door and block any and all comers for hours on end. But she never stopped Bobby from coming in that I know of and Tyrone and Diedra would just sit and watch him snarf their food.

Now that he is invading their sleeping space, though, they are starting to throw fits. I was woken up at about 6 a.m. the other day because Tyrone was hissing and growling at Bobby outside my bedroom door. And Diedra has lost her favorite box - the one we left for her on the corner of the kitchen counter - because Bobby keeps sleeping in it. I actually found her in the box on top of the fridge where we keep the potatoes. It can't have been comfortable (did I mention it's where we keep the potatoes?) but if Bobby was going to take her box on the counter then she had to find a better box in an even higher spot, comfort be damned!

Ashi love sitting by the sliding door in the back. She can soak up sun and guard the cat door at the same time.
All we can do is wait as the cats try to rework their hierarchy and decide among themselves who is the most dominant and who will get the premium sleeping spots. Diedra's being subtle about it: She hasn't confronted anyone directly but she keeps finding higher spots to claim (the top of the fridge, the back of the recliner, on top of my file cabinet), which is a statement that she thinks she is the top cat. Tyrone is facing the problem more directly and keeps trying to pick fights with Bobby. Bobby isn't fighting back at this point, which is a good sign that they'll be able to settle things amicably at some point. Ashi, of course, only cares about the food and has tried to block Bobby from getting to the food dishes a couple of times. Hopefully she'll realize soon that having him around won't interfere with her food access and she'll settle down.
Diedra peers down from her new spot in the potato box on top of the fridge.
I've been doing what I can to smooth the transition. I will distract them when they start getting into a confrontation and I make a point of feeding them treats when they're together so they associate the good noms with being around each other. The only other thing I can do is wait it out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bobby Boxed

He didn't fit very well, but Bobby just had to try out Diedra's box.
I came out into the kitchen this afternoon to hunt up some lunch and was treated to the sight of Bobby trying to curl up in Diedra's favorite box. Bobby is quite a bit larger than Diedra, and he kept shifting and squirming and moving around trying to get comfy. Bits of him were overflowing the sides, but dammit! He was going to sleep in the box!

I snapped a couple photos, then tried to get some video of him squirming like a 3-year-old. Just as I got the video started, though, Tyrone had to come along and see what was going on. Tyrone was VERY worried that someone else was in the box and he kept getting in the way. Then something remarkable happened: Bobby settled in let me pet him! He has allowed a quick scratch between the ears before, but he let me do the full-head rub and tail scritch. I was so excited I just had to share.

Sorry about the poor quality of the video. It was shot with my cell phone, not a real camera. But it still recorded an awesome moment with Kate's Cats. You can see it on YouTube HERE.

After that I started having WAY too much fun with the video thing. Here is the first episode from a new show called "CSI: Cat Scene Investigation."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

FLOOD!!!

Disaster struck yesterday evening at our house. OK, it really wasn't that bad, but the cats thought for sure it was the end of the world.

Kristin was at work and the kids were at daycare and I put some laundry in the washer before lying down for a nap prior to my graveyard shift. Tyrone and Diedra were being kinda rowdy so I shut all the cats out of my bedroom and turned on my noisemaker to drown out their thudding, yowling and general mayhem.

I got up at 9:30 p.m. and wandered into the living room to find Diedra, Tyrone and Bobby sitting in a row just at the entrance to the kitchen. They all swiveled their heads in unison to give me a frantic look, then turned back into the kitchen. Just then Ashi let out an anguished howl from the laundry room, which is just on the other side of the kitchen. My first thought was that they were out of food ... again. I started my diatribe:

"Seriously, you guys! I filled up the dishes just before I went to bed. There's no way you're out of food already! If one of you spilled the food again, I'm going to ..."

Splash! I hit the kitchen and stepped in about half an inch of water. The washer had overflowed and sent water gushing across the laundry room and the kitchen. The laundry room rug was completely soaked and the cat box was practically floating. Ashi was high and dry on top of the dryer, her eyes wide and staring. She let out another yowl, as if to say: "OMG! It's everywhere! The water is everywhere!"

I waded into the mess and started throwing down towels to mop up the water. The whole cleanup was supervised by all four cats. Diedra sat on the kitchen counter and glared - convinced, not doubt, that the whole thing was designed to inconvenience her personally. Bobby especially seemed distressed by the fact that his new food supply might be cut off. His eyes were wide and he kept coming close to watch, then would skitter away, then come back. I could hear him thinking: "Not cool, man. That's the food!" I finally took pity on him and grabbed one of the food dishes off the dryer and set it in the living room so he could eat. I also ferried Ashi across the lake and put her at the edge of the kitchen. She huddled on one of the dining chairs and watched the whole mopping process, yowling occasionally to make sure I didn't forget her.

Tyrone was probably the funniest, though. He sat there at the edge of the water and would occasionally put a paw out to test and see if it was still wet. He'd shake the water off, back off for a moment, then come back and test it again. "Yes, it's still wet!" I told him. He just looked at me with his head cocked, then reached out a paw and tested it again.

Unfortunately I was too busy dealing with the mess to take any photos of the cats and the water. Yes, I know my priorities need to be reassessed. Those pics would have been hilarious.

Oh, and you'll be happy to hear that the water was successfully cleaned up and the cats had full access again to the cat box and the food. Happy ending!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bring the puppies - and kitty - home

The Puppy Rescue Mission posted an update this morning on its current fundraising. The great news is that Babur and Patches have officially arrived in U.S. and their new homes and Spike has all the funds he needs for the trip. The bad news is there are still five active fundraisers going, including one for Gimpy and her three puppies. They really need a push to get them to safety. The tiniest bit helps. To donate, click on the links on the right side of this page.
Spike has all the funds he needs and will be on his way to his new home soon!
Babur and Patches have arrived on American soil. Yeah!!
If you need extra incentive, just look at these sweet faces. You can see more wonderful photos on the Puppy Rescue Mission FaceBook site.
Gimpy and her puppies - Bear, Samson and Delilah - need a huge fundraising push to make it to their new home.
UPDATE: Oct. 25, 2010

These puppies and kitty received a huge push in fundraising over the weekend. They are SO CLOSE! Even a dollar or two helps. Just think of how much you could donate if you switched from mochas to regular coffee for one week. It isn't much to you, but it literally means the world to these animals and the soldiers who want them home.

Here are the updated numbers from the Puppy Rescue Mission:



Friday, October 22, 2010

Real men rescue cats

I saw an awesome sight today. I was driving down St. George's main drag and saw a barbecue set up in front of one of the fire stations. I don't eat meat, but I was sorely tempted to stop and get a burger anyway. Why? Because there is nothing hotter (pun intended) than a fireman.

Then it got even better: I saw a sign saying that the barbecue was to raise funds for one of the local animal rescue groups. I pretty much had a lust attack right there on the spot. The only thing sexier than a fireman is a fireman who rescues animals. And you don't necessarily have to be a fireman. Any animal rescuer or shelter volunteer will do. You could be hunchbacked and covered in boils and you would still be sexy if you are helping get a kitten out of a tree.

Several months ago I found a bumper sticker on the Animal Rescue Site that I absolutely fell in love with. It says "Real Men Rescue Cats." I posted a link on my FaceBook and declared to the world that if I ever saw a vehicle with that sticker, I would track that guy down and marry him on the spot. That offer still stands.

So it's no surprise that when I heard of NOWZAD and the Puppy Rescue Mission I was immediately attracted. NOWZAD is a rescue group that helps bring dogs and cats out of Afghanistan and Iraq. These are animals that were found and rescued by soldiers serving in the area. The soldiers care for and love these animals, but when they are restationed they have to leave them behind because military transportation does not allow animals. NOWZAD and Puppy Rescue Mission raise funds for civilian transport out of the war zone and provides safe shelter for the animals until they get on the plane. You can check out the links to both groups on the right side of this page.

You know, soldiers who rescue animals might be even hotter than firemen. It's definitely a toss-up.