Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – A Cat By Any Other Name

Do you wonder sometimes how your cat knows her name? You know that she (or he) does because the right cat in a multi-cat household generally responds (at least by a quick look) when they hear their name. Sometimes they even come to you. Of course, you can train a cat to behave in a certain way when they hear their name or a command, I’m afraid I haven’t reached that level of sophistication with my cats. Lily used to come when I called her name almost every single time—almost. But it puzzles me that cats do respond to their names because, if your household is like ours, you cat has many different names.

Around here, it is Kitty-poo, Baby-love, Pretty girl, Sweet-thing, Punkin, Princess, Missy-poo, but mostly it is O-LIV-iAhhh, and Sophie.

What do you find yourself calling your cats? Nice or naughty names? I’ve been known to put the word, “stinker” or “naughty” in there when I’m speaking to Olivia a time or two.

It occurred to me that how I speak to our cats says more about me than them. Is this true in your household?

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Newsday Tuesday – State Catz

Every state in our union adopts various items and even mammals, birds and reptiles to represent what they’re made up of, what they take pride in, and what they offer. Some cities do the same. California’s flower, for example, is the California poppy. For Colorado it’s the columbine. The mammal representative for California is the California grizzly bear. Alaska’s is the moose. South Dakota chose the coyote, and the grey fox is the mammal of Delaware.

But did you know that four states have chosen a state cat? You’re probably aware that Maine acknowledges the Maine coon cat. Maryland has adopted the calico. The tabby is the state cat of Massachusetts and the bobcat represents New Hampshire. Florida has chosen several mammals, including the Florida panther. Some states recognize all cats and dogs adopted through their shelters.

Here’s an interesting site that lists the various mammals chosen by each state. Check it out—it might give you some fodder for your next social gathering.

https://www.netstate.com/states/tables/state_mammals.htm

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Mindful Monday – Cats of a Different Color

We talked about the peacocks of the cat world last week—the calico and the tortie. While researching for those posts I came across a site I thought you’d be interested in. Anyone with a quirky cat or who has questioned their cat’s sluggish or spirited or aggressive or sweet behavior or who has an interest in cat genetics will have a good time spent at this site.

https://www.catster.com/cats-101/different-cat-colors

Here I learned some interesting things. Did you know that cats are black unless they have inherited the sex-linked orange masking gene, which means they’re red (orange)? Yeah, in catdom, red is orange, dilute red is cream, grey is blue.

Dig this, male cats can only be black or red or a variation (grey, cream)—but what about white? Oh yes, white is piebald or lack of pigment. Female cats can be both black and red (back to our calico and tortie discussion).

Check this out, according to the experts, all cats are tabbies. Yeah, read the article. It is fascinating. Here’s another fact, in order to get a pointed cat (like the Siamese) the gene must be present in both the male and the female. Bicolor or tricolor cats are created by the incomplete dominant piebald white spotting gene.

Scientists took this study a step farther and had observers (not scientists) observe cat behavior among various cat colors and styles. They reported that long hair cats were more docile and short hair cats more energetic. Orange cats were friendly, white cats aloof, torties and calicos feisty and unpredictable (maybe unless they have long hair???).

When I was writing Book 41 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries—Cats of a Feather, I wanted to have Rags’s (the cat character’s) parentage revealed. This story featured a genealogy search for Rags’s father. I actually consulted a real-life cat DNA expert to find out what color cat would most likely produce a grey and white cat—along with a calico, and two kittens that had markings like their Ragdoll mother, Angel. Yes, Smokey, the cat I patterned Rags after, came from a Ragdoll and no one knew who the father was. My sister-in-law (who owned the female) had told me years earlier that she saw a black-and-white cat around at the time Angel escaped and came back pregnant. She always figured he was the father of the litter.

However, the DNA experts suggested that Smokey’s father was probably red (orange). Yikes. That was a surprise. I checked with my sister-in-law. Without telling her what I’d learned, I asked, “You said you saw a black-and-white cat around when Angel got pregnant. Did you see any other cats on your property during that time?”

She thought for a moment and finally said, “Well, there was an mangy-looking orange cat that I figured was a male hanging around.” Bingo!!!!

Do visit this site and enjoy.

 

 

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Frivolous Friday – Lets Make Cat Toys

Cats have different experiences with different toys and from those experiences seem to choose favorites. Olivia likes toys that she can carry around in her mouth and that skid nicely across a smooth floor. She generally carries toys to our entry way at the front door and she bats them around, slides and skids and has a blast all by herself—in her own little world.

Lily loved her large collection of stuffed animals, but she rare played with them. She simply carried them to me and dropped them at my feet. If she wanted to play, it was usually with a wand toy that I wriggled for her or a ball. She liked chasing and batting balls.

Sophie goes crazy for stuffed mice with tails. She tosses the mouse in the air by the tail and pounces on it over and over, then she’ll lay on it. Eventually the tail disappears.

What does not work for our cats are wands with toys at the end of a string. Sophie became tangled in one when she was a kitten. Being formerly feral and still skittish, it was a setback in her socializing process. She also eats ribbon and string, so she’s changed our way of gift wrapping and our choice of cat toys.

There are a lot of fun things you can make for your cats. I once made a cubby-tent for one of our cats who liked to tunnel. I’d seen one at a cat show and decided to make him one. While working on it, though, one of our other cat, Dinah, stayed by my side, watching and helping. As soon as it was finished she took it over. So I had to make two of them that day.

Here’s a site with some interesting toys and instructions as to how to make them. This site shows you how to make tantalizing toys from toilet paper rolls and catnip treat toys and even how to create useful and attractive scratching posts. Now that’s an interesting weekend project for you. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Cat-Toys

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Thoughts for Thursday – The Quirky and Sweet Purrsonality of the Calico Cat

We talked about the calico cat earlier in the week. I find it fascinating that even though calico is not a breed, but a color, and calicos are not related in any sort of gene pool, they still share a reputation for having a quirky, Jekyll and Hyde-type personality.

I’ve had five calico cats over time and all of them have been quirky. They can be ornery, defiant, and oh, so sweet and affectionate—even within the same few minutes. They’re the clowns of the cat world. And don’t count on any sort of consistency in their behavior or temperament.

Cat experts and behaviorists agree that the calico can

Daisy

be sassy but loving. They are generally independent and stubborn, but barrels of fun and extremely affectionate (on their terms).

Calicos are thought to be brave as heroism has been credited to several over the years.

Sure, the personality traits I’ve mentioned here can be attributed to most cats, but just let me say that the calico (or most calicos) take these cat-like traits to the next level. They are not just stubborn, but obstinate-mulish. A calico isn’t simply independent, she will actually appear to divorce herself from you at times—short periods of time, thank heavens. And while all cats can be sassy, the calico takes her impudence to the next level. Now let’s talk affection. Calicos can be the best snugglers when they want to be. You can’t count on a calico to cuddle or even come near you on any sort of consistent or reliable schedule.

Their intelligence is the pretty bow around their array of traits as they know how to wrap themselves around your little finger and your heart. Yes, the calico is not for everyone. Adopting a calico is sort of akin to taking in a Beagle or a goat. It takes a lot of love and a good sense of humor to bring one into your home.

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – How to Feed a Cat

One thing cats like to do is mess with you at feeding time. At least some cats do. Feeding time can be a challenge—especially when you bring in a new cat or kitten or you have numerous cats.

I signed books once at a cat café. At feeding time I asked if I could watch the feeding frenzy. I was stunned to witness each of the dozen or so cat accepting his or her own portion of the food and eating it without bothering any of the other cats or walking away and sulking because it wasn’t the food they had hoped for, as sometimes happens in this household.

Feeding time can really a problem when you have cats on different diets. Here, it used to be Sophie on regular food and Lily on a special kidney diet. Now it is Sophie on regular food and Olivia on kitten food. They want what the other has. Olivia bothers Sophie when she eats. Sophie quits eating if Olivia comes near. For sure the cats need supervision at meal time.

It’s getting better as the two girls learn their boundaries. Sophie is learning to eat no matter what is going on around her. Coming from a feral background, this was difficult for her to learn. She could not eat amidst activity in the room or when a kitten was trying to eat from her plate or even when Olivia would sit at a distance and watch her. Sophie has also learned to circle around and try to sample Olivia’s kitten food when she thinks no one’s looking.

Yes, I’ve had to add lunchroom monitor to my list of jobs around here. So far, we haven’t had any violent food fights.

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Newsday Tuesday – Book 50, Kindle Version is Here!

For you e-book readers—and that seems to be most of you—the Kindle version of Book 50 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries, A PAWsome Encounter is ready for your reader.

In the story, Rags joins some unusual friends for high adventure. What does a mountain lion, a cowboy, a lost cat, a therapy horse, and a chicken have in common with Rags? Enough to create one of the most exciting stories in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. The Ivey family has four more days at the dude ranch in Colorado. While relaxing was their goal, circumstances tip the scales in a whole different direction. Rags risks his life to save a chicken. He also helps to reunite a beloved cat with his family, thwarts an attempted kitten-napping, diagnoses a deadly condition threatening a treasured therapy horse, and connects in mysterious ways with a dangerous wild animal. This is edge-of-your-seat reading as Rags breaks all the rules in order to follow his instincts—or is he just being naughty?

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Mindful Monday – The Calico Cat

You see a lot of photos here of calico cats—most predominantly, lately, photos of Olivia. Isn’t she a beautiful specimen of a calico? Sophie, who most people would immediately identify as a tortie (tortoiseshell) is technically a calico. Despite the seemingly all-over black and orange mottled pattern of a tortie, Sophie has one white toe and a patch of white on her tummy. If she were lost and I needed to give a description of her, I would identify her as a tortie, but that white patch, it seems, qualifies her as a calico.

What is the technical description of a calico? This may depend on where the calico lives. Here, a calico cat is basically a domestic cat of any breed with a tri-color coat. The calico cat is typically 25 percent to 75 percent white with large orange and black patches; however, the calico cat can have any three colors in its pattern—most often brown, grey, black with some shade of orange. A calico with a tabby pattern is called a caliby

Outside North American, the calico might be defined as tortoiseshell and white or brindle or tricolor. The Dutch call them lapjeskats. Calicos with dilute shades of color are sometimes referred to as calamanco or clouded tiger.

Calico cats are thought to bring good luck. In fact, Japanese fishermen used to take a calico cat on their fishing voyages to ward of harsh storms and ghosts.

Most of us are familiar with the Japanese good luck cat, known as the Beckoning Cat or Maneki-neko. This cat dates back to the 1870s. I have one, do you?

Experts say that 99.9 percent of calico cats are female and that you cannot breed for a calico. Sure, you might get one or more randomly. Olivia (our striking calico kitten) had two black-and-white brothers in her litter. Smokey, a grey cat with white and the model for Rags in my Klepto Cat Mysteries, had a calico sister. Their mother was a Ragdoll, the father was (according to a cat DNA expert I reached out to) probably orange. Smokey had another grey brother and two siblings with Ragdoll markings.

Hey, did you know that if you have a wart, you can rub the tail of a calico cat over it and it will disappear? Old wives tale? Maybe.

Read more interesting data about the calico here: https://www.thesprucepets.com/calico-cats-photo-gallery-4031810 (Later in the week I’ll discuss the temperament and personality of a calico cat.)

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Frivolous Friday – Cats in Trees

We talked about cats in boxes yesterday—another charming vision is cats in trees. I often photograph cats in trees as I walk the neighborhood and hike through a wilderness area. Just watch a cat in a tree. It’s as if the cat is in a world unknown to us—like when you used to play cowboys and Indians as a youngster or cops and robbers or humans and aliens. When you found the ideal hiding spot you felt safe and superior. In my early childhood backyard it was a huge tree I loved to climb. Later we moved close to a field of blackberry bushes where we’d carve out hideouts.

One of our kittens once climbed our gigantic oak tree and she was unable to get down. It happens. Cats are designed to climb up, but not down. Their claws are not made to climb down. So a friend climbed up after the frightened cat. She wrapped her paws around his leg and he climbed down with her attached.

That cat still enjoyed tree-climbing as an extracurricular sport when she was allowed outside. But she only climbed a small plum tree in the backyard after that. We eventually  removed that messy tree, and I guess Dinah-kitty didn’t get the memo. One day after that, she got frisky and started tearing around the yard. She raced across the lawn, like she used to do, heading for that little plum tree, but stopped dead in her tracks when she saw that the tree was gone. She was one confused cat. That’s one of many times I wish I had thought to turn a video recorder on. With cats you rarely get photo do-overs.

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Thoughts for Thursday – Cats in Boxes

Is there anything as cute as seeing a cat peering at you from inside a box? She may be in full view, but she sits there as if she thinks she’s invisible. She’s sitting in a box, after all, so she must be hidden from view.

Some cats will crawl or ooze into boxes, bowls, or baskets, that are too small. Why? Some say it’s genetic. Even a tiger in a zoo, when given a box, will hop inside and sit. It’s a matter of feeling secure and safe.

A few years ago there were people suggesting that you make a circle or a square on the floor using whatever is handy—string, blocks, straws, pencils, it doesn’t matter. Your cat will see this and immediately (or eventually) step inside the circle and sit down. I tried it with my cats and my mother’s cat and all of them did it.

The fact is that cats like enclosed spaces and it doesn’t matter if it’s the kitchen sink, a suitcase—even a baseball cap.

 

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