Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Funny Cats

One thing I love about cats is the way they can make you laugh or even just smile. They are cute and they can be downright funny. Their sense of curiosity, their penchant for play, their flexibility—it all plays into making them one of the clowns of the animal world.

Here are some links you might enjoy showing funny and interesting cats. http://www.funnycatpix.com and http://www.lolcats.com

Here are some videos reflecting cats doing some catlike, yet clever and hilarious things—so entertaining. http://funnycatvideos.net and http://badsentinel.com/category/funny/cats

You know that laughter is good medicine. Here’s a heavy dose of it. Enjoy!

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Newsday Tuesday – Cats Cleaning Up the Rat-Pack

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Chicago is known as the rattiest city in the country. Some businesses and neighborhoods are simply overrun with gnawing, disease-spreading rats. Evidently, this problem is beyond the capability of professional pest control and many business owners and home owners have called in the big guns—cats. They’ve recruited some of the 3,600 cats in 650 colonies around the city for help.

The Tree-House Humane Society, who manages the colonies, will deliver cats to the property along with a cushy crate “apartment” for the cats (so they’ll want to stick around) and they say that they’ve had nearly 100% effectiveness in ridding these areas of rats. Some of the rats are eaten and some leave when they sense there are cats about.

Makes sense. Cats were the world’s first pest control, having been relied upon for their hunting prowess some 10,000 years ago. It’s an interesting story. Read it here: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/cats-chicago-rat-patrol/index.html

Is your pussy-cat a hunter? Or does she simply watch you dart around the room trying to chase down a lizard or a mouse that sneaks into the house? Most cats certainly have hunting instincts. Some are more keen than others. But did you know that the ordinary house-cat and yard-cat are considered better hunters than wild cats such as tigers? Here’s an interesting site on that topic: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2785323/Cats-better-hunters-TIGERS-Domestic-felines-agile-powerful-cousins-experts-claim.html

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Mindful Monday – Is Your Cat an Adventurer?

Smokey, the inspiration for this series

How daring is your cat? Does he have access to the great out-of-doors? Does he disappear for hours at a time only to return with a lizard gift for you or smelling of mint or jasmine or something funky like barbecue smoke or maybe tomato plants? (Love the scent of tomato plants.) Do you know where your cat goes every day? Do neighbors report that they’ve seen him visiting with their children, playing with their dog, climbing their tree, trotting down the street toward the fish market? How adventurous is your cat, anyway?

Rags, the star of my Klepto Cat Mystery books, is definitely an adventurer. He has escaped, been catnapped, pawed a murderer in a line-up, rescued a child, saved an ill cat who had been stolen and abandoned, and so much more. Yes, Rags is an adventurer.

If you like reading about adventuring cats, you’ll love Laura Moss’s new book. Adventure Cats: Living Nine Lives to the Fullest. It features cats who could be considered adventurers. For example, there’s a cat who surfs, one who has sailed to 16 countries, a cat who goes along with his owner when she cross-country skis. Read the interesting interview here: http://www.courant.com/features/pets/sc-adventure-cats-hike-surf-family-0523-20170518-story.html

 

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Frivolous Friday – Raising a Feral Kitten—My Experience

It was May. I stepped out into my garden just in time to see the shy black cat I’d seen many times before dash over the gate into our woodshed. I enjoyed having this young cat join me in the yard, although she always stayed her distance. I’d never touched her fur or heard her purr.

This day would be no different except that today, the shy black cat was not alone. Three perfect kittens followed her along the top ledge of the woodshed fence. When they saw me, the whole family lunged for cover into the crevices of the woodpile where unbeknownst to me, they planned to set up housekeeping.  I’d been chosen custodian for the newest generation of neighborhood feral kitties.  Now what?

I would tame them, that’s what! The kittens appeared to be about four-weeks old. If I spent a lot of time nearby talking to them, they would surely get accustomed to my voice and my presence and soon come around. A couple of times a day for nearly a week, I perched myself on a bench outside the woodshed gate and watched the kittens play chase and hide-and-seek games through the woodpile. But when I spoke, moved or came too close, they’d disappear into the dank darkness under the scattered logs.

Braveheart, the smallest and most timid, was the image of her mother with sleek, black fur. Bella, the most curious wore a long black-and-white coat. Max was adorably stocky with lovely soft brown and white fur.

Ten days later, I realized that my loving overtures were not changing the kitten’s feral ways. In order to save them, we had to capture them.

We borrowed a large cage, donned leather gloves and moved the wood piece-by-piece by piece until we uncovered the three kittens huddled under a pallet. One by one, we placed the three frightened kittens into the cage and took them inside the house.

After leaving them alone for a couple of hours, I began to make regular visits.  I spoke softly to them and touched their fur through the wire cage. They were terrified, but not aggressive. They were interested in their food and water, but didn’t seem to understand the reason for the sandbox.

Max and Lily Sharing Space

The next morning, I picked up each kitten and moved them to a bathroom where they had more room. The kittens didn’t bite, scratch, or even hiss, but it was clear that they were very frightened and that they did not enjoy my touch.

The kittens now had access to a carpeted cat tree with a circular bed on top, two sandboxes, kitten toys, kitten kibbles, and fresh water. I closed the toilet lid, removed all toxic cleaners and tied the mini blind cord safely out of reach. My plan was to visit the kittens often throughout the day every day until they were comfortable with the human touch. Then I would find them good homes.

The first time I went into the bathroom to spend time with the kittens, I couldn’t find them. I feared the worst—that they’d torn through the window screen and escaped.  But I finally found them huddled deep inside an overturned wastebasket.  This was to be their secure haven for the next seven days.

Since I work at home, I was able to keep a close vigil over the kittens. I visited them often—partly out of obligation to them and partly because I couldn’t stay away.  I loved spending time with them and did so many times every day.

After about a week, when I’d go into the bathroom, I’d find them sleeping, not deep inside in the plastic wastebasket, but in the little bed on top of the cat tree. Yet, while the kittens had calmed down, they were still not returning our affection. They allowed us to touch and hold them, but they didn’t respond until one Friday afternoon.

During a routine visit to the bathroom/turned kitten room, I found the three kittens curled up together in their bed.  I began petting them when all of a sudden, Max rolled over onto his back, looked up at me and started to purr.  I was so touched that I began to cry. This was the first time any of the kittens had responded to my touch.

To give the kittens more space and more opportunities for socialization, we’d bring them into the living room at night.  I’d also bring out things that were familiar to them like their cat tree, their food and water and, of course, their sandbox.

The kittens had a grand time playing in the larger area and we loved watching them. This also gave the resident cats (Katy, Dinah, and Winfield) the opportunity to become acquainted with the kittens under our supervision. The kittens kept a wary eye on us, though and were quick to dart for cover, should we move toward them.  This made it difficult to recapture them and return them to their safe haven.  Our goal was to make their life as trauma-free as possible, but we weren’t always successful.

When the kittens were about 7-weeks old, I took them to see the veterinarian.  He was

Max

surprised at how healthy they were, given their precarious beginnings. They got their first shots and a clean bill of health.

About the same time, I spoke with animal behaviorist, Anders Hallgren. I told him that, although I’d been working with the kittens for three weeks and that they were more gentle, they were still not really responding to us.  He said, “You’ve got to separate the kittens.  They’re bonding with each other and as long as they have each other, they may not bond with you.”

Now that made sense. I tried to figure out a way to separate the kittens and work with them myself. My first step was to bring Max out and let him have the run of the house. On that eventful day, I held Max for a while—he was beginning to enjoy petting now. I fed him a couple of small pieces of chicken by hand and then, when he wanted down, I let him go.

He played, explored, peed in a basket of firewood, and tried to get to know the resident cats. After thirty minutes or so, Max looked around the room, spotted me and came trotting over to where I was sitting. I reached down, lifted him onto my lap where he lay contentedly for a while before rushing off to pursue more adventure. By then, I knew that I could not give up on Max. Whether he was bonding with me or not, I had certainly bonded with him. That night he slept next to me on my bed and did every night after that for nearly eighteen years.

In the meantime, my veterinarian had told me about a couple of people who were looking for kittens and had homes that he felt were suited to these special needs kittens. Within a day and a half, both kittens had just the sort of homes I’d imagined for them.

Max became a lovely pet and a totally indoor cat. He was sweet, affectionate, funny, eager to please and clever. He responds when he heard his name almost every time. Except for his ability to dive for cover at top speed when hearing thunder, the garbage truck, the vacuum cleaner, or a sneeze, and the joy he derived from the blanket tents and box caves we build for him to play in, one would never guess that he had such humble beginnings.

I ask myself if I’d go to the trouble again to rescue feral kittens.  My answer came easy when I’d look down at Max resting contentedly, relaxed and trusting in my lap.  Yes!  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

 

 

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Thoughts for Thursday – Do You Know a Feral Cat You Can Help?

Not every kitten is born into the folds of a loving human family nor will they all eventually be adopted by people who care. Some kittens grow up knowing only fear, starvation, illness and discomfort. Many of them die young. Those who survive, may never have the opportunity to eat their fill, curl up on a clean, soft bed or enjoy the soothing touch of a human. These cats are known as feral or wild cats. They’re the “alley cats” of yesteryear—the offspring of domestic cats that are living on the streets.

We’ve all seen feral cats and kittens in our neighborhoods. Each of us has known about a

Neighborhood Garden Cat

litter of untamed kittens hidden away in an auto body shop, a nursery, or in someone’s backyard, for example. And we’ve all said, “Those kittens are going to grow up wild just like that mother cat.” Or “It’s such a shame no one can touch the mother cat and take her in to get her spayed.”

Well the good news is, there are now many agencies and individuals throughout the United States working long and hard to identify and feed feral colonies, to participate in spay/neuter and release programs and to domesticate and find good homes for feral kittens.

It’s surprising to note that veterinarians can now spay and neuter kittens as young as 8-weeks old. And kittens captured at a very young age have a remarkable chance of becoming a trusting pet. I proved out that point quite accidentally three years ago.

What can you do to help the feral cat community? Locate local feral cat agencies and get involved. Volunteer to feed a feral cat colony or to help socialize kittens in shelters that attempt to place feral kittens. Donate funds and/or goods. Become a foster “parent” for feral kittens or cats. Take responsibility for domesticating and placing feral or near-feral kittens that you might find in your neighborhood.

There are estimated to be millions of feral kittens fending for themselves throughout America and, without intervention, that number can grow at an alarming rate. One pair of cats after the age of 6 months old can produce several litters per year. Over a five-year period, these two cats and their offspring can be responsible for as many as 250,000 kittens. As you can see, taking responsibility for just one litter of kittens or one kitten or arranging to have one adult spayed or neutered, will make a huge difference.

For additional information contact the Feral Cat Coalition in San Diego at http://www.feralcat.com and/or Alley Cat Allies at http://www.alleycat.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Odd Habits of Cats

People wonder how I came up with the idea for the star cat in my Klepto Cat Mystery series. You see, Rags, a part-Ragdoll cat, who doesn’t look a thing like a Ragdoll, steals things and sometimes the things he takes turn out to be a clue in the current mystery.

I fashioned Rags partly after our torbi, Lily because she carries things around in her mouth. She actually brings me my slippers and her toys and drops them at my feet. Not once in a while, but this is a daily habit of hers. So charming.

I’m also fascinated by stories of cat burglars—cats who sneak into apartments at night and take things or roam the neighborhood in search of interesting items (clothing, jewelry, toys, etc.)

What unusual or not so unusual habit does your cat have? Does she eat your living plants, bring you lizards and birds, rub against walls and furniture, chew on plastic, eat ribbon? When Lily was a kitten she used to scratch the paint off the walls in the hallway. The paint under the white paint was orange and it was as if she was creating art. (Yeah, we were going to paint anyway—we waited until Lily found another hobby.)

Here’s a link where experts explain ten behaviors of cats. Better check to see if your cat’s behavior is listed. It might give you some insight into why she does what she does.

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/10-strange-cat-behaviors-explained

 

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Newsday Tuesday – Celebrities With Cats

Are you interested in what kind of pets celebrities and other celebrated people are

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attracted to? Martha Stewart is often photographed with a couple of white Samoyeds and Himalayan cats. Former President Franklin Roosevelt was known for his Scottie and former President Truman for his Cocker Spaniel. Oh yes, and isn’t former President Johnson famous for picking up his Beagles by the ears?

Today, I’d like to share some sites I found featuring well-known personalities and their cats. You might be surprised to see John F. Kennedy, Hugh Laurie, and George Harrison cuddling with cats. Also pictured are Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Taylor, and Penelope Cruz—among several others. Nice pictures! And I’m sure you’ll find a few surprises among those featured. https://www.buzzfeed.com/rebeccae/celebrity-pussy

http://izismile.com/2010/02/25/celebrities_are_cat_people_too_67_pics.html

Of course, there are some cats who are celebrities themselves like this cat pictured here today. This isn’t Morris, it’s Stubbs, the mayor of Talkeetna, AK since1997. I hear he’s still alive, but not well. I stopped in to see him a few years ago and learned he is no longer entertaining guests.

 

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Mindful Monday – The Secret Lives of Cats

We’ve talked before about the secrets roaming cats keep from us and how interesting it would be to put a camera on them and find out where they go every day and what they do. Guess what, someone has done that. Check out the secret lives of outdoor cats here. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2340714/The-Secret-Life-Cat-What-mischievous-moggies-gets-owners-backs.html

The GPS maps of the cats’ meanderings are really rather stunning. It might surprise you to learn that your cat is probably staying close to home. When you go out to call him and he doesn’t come, that’s probably because he doesn’t want to. He’s not ready to leave behind the adventure. He’s most likely watching you from a nearby vantage point and he’ll come back inside when it suits him.

Would you like to understand your cat better? Alley Cat Allies is offering a free webinar to help with that. Mark your calendar. It’s May 25 at eleven (Pacific time). Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1702477589688202499

Do you have a specific question about your cat? Go to http://www.justanswer.com and click on “vet.” Here, you can also ask questions about your own medical issues, as well as legal, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and more—of course, by clicking on the appropriate link.

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Frivolous Friday – Have Fun With Your Cat

You’ve probably noticed that your cat loves to play—but not all the time. With a cat, there’s a time for play, but also a time to sleep. Around here, the cats often decide to play after dark when everyone’s asleep and all is quiet. That’s when you’ll hear a thunder of paws racing up and down the hallway, or you become aware of a cat pouncing and bouncing on the bed with one of her toys.

Cats should have playtime. Especially inside cats need exercise. And it’s good for the human-cat relationship when the two of you play together. First, it’s a good idea to understand how your particular cat likes to play. For some, fun means a fast and furious game of chase—chasing a light beam or a feather toy or a ball, for example. Different cats become attached to different types of toys. In our house, Sophie loves a stuffed toy with a tail so she can pick it up by the tail and toss it in the air. She can entertain herself (and us) this way for several minutes. Lily gets all excited when I toss wads of paper high in the air for her to jump after.

Some cats like to hide and jump out at a feather-wand toy that’s wriggling enticingly, for example. Kittens will create their own games of stalk and attack, sometimes leaping and attaching to your leg with their claws. Cute. Painful, but cute.

For the health of your cat and your relationship with your cat, it’s recommended that you provide them with opportunities for exercise both on their own and with you. Experts recommend that you not play with a kitten using your hand, but you should use a wand toy of some sort. I don’t care for those with strings involved, especially if you’re trying to make friends with a standoffish cat. When Sophie was a kitten, she got tangled in the cord on one of these toys while we were playing and it frightened her.

There are few rules when playing with a cat. An important one is to let the cat win sometimes. Yeah, they enjoy the chase. They get excited about leaping after the feather, racing after it, etc. But they aren’t always good sports. If they never get a chance to catch the thing, they may simply walk away. Yeah, they can be bad sports. Or the cat might decide to attack you. It happens.

Here are a few sites where you can get ideas for having fun with your cat.

http://www.wikihow.com/Have-Fun-with-Your-Cat

https://www.petcentric.com/02-10-2017/having-fun-with-your-cat/

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-play-with-your-cat-552014

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Thoughts for Thursday – Klepto Cat Announcement

Just to let you know, we’re still working toward more books in the Klepto Cat Mystery series, more quality in the books, more convenience for those who want to locate us and learn about the books, and more choices in the way you enjoy the books.

Announcement coming soon. In the meantime, please visit my brand new Klepto Cat Mysteries website. http://KleptoCatMysteries.com

Book 23, “Cattywampus Travels” will be ready for purchase as a print book by Monday (maybe before). I’ll share more information about this story on Monday.

Lily is scrutinizing the new cover art. Even in her relaxed state as she lolls in front of the heater this morning, I think she’s excited about Rags’s latest adventure.

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