Newsday Tuesday – 5-year-old Super Hero for Homeless Cats

Have you read about the five-year-old with a knack for taming street cats? Evidently even the most cantankerous scaredy cats love Shon Griffin, especially when he’s wearing one of his many super hero outfits. And maybe the cape and sword give Shon the confidence to help these cats.

It all started when Shon’s aunt took him along one day when she was taking care of her cat colony in Philadelphia. She had one cat who needed meds and wouldn’t take them. Shon, in his Superman (or maybe it was his Spiderman) costume at the time, tamed the cat—made him feel so comfortable and safe that Shon’s aunt was able to administer the medicine.

From then on, Shon, dressed as a Ninja Turtle, Batman or ??? would accompany her occasionally to help with the cats. And they love him. He is definitely the cats’ super hero. But what the homeless cats are probably tuning into isn’t the attire, but the heart of a little boy who loves the cats back. Check out this site. The photos are adorable.

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Mindful Monday – Cats Walking on the Wild Side

I think it’s interesting to see a mostly indoor cat like five-month-old Mollie (pictured) changing into her outdoor persona. Here she is swaggering down her driveway, obviously feeling her ancestral oats. She’s conquered everything inside the house, now she’s out to dominate what’s outside. Watch out grasshoppers, lizards, and butterflies, Mollie’s on the prowl.

I remember seeing the shift in Smokey, my mother’s part Ragdoll cat (who looked nothing like a Ragdoll), when he’d get outdoor time. He still had that, “I own everything” cat-titude inside or outside, but he seemed to put on a different air when he’d step outside those sliding glass doors. He became king of the backyard, overseer of all things wriggly, slithery, feathery, or blowing in the wind.

I see cats in the neighborhoods I walk every day. I watch them crouch in the shrubs peering out in hopes of capturing an unsuspecting cricket or moth. They hide out in tree branches surveying their domain often secretly. Most people walking and driving past don’t even notice and that’s the way they like it.

Even when you spot a cat and stop to admire it, she pretends she’s not there at all. No, she’s not posing for your invasive camera lens, she’s invisible. It’s a game she plays with humans, dogs, and birds.

Cats who go on the prowl even if for a few minutes each day come home with skills and dreams that indoor cats like Sophie and Lily can only imagine. Although if you watch your indoor cats closely when they sidle up to a window or screen door to feel the outside air, they sometimes are caught up in the same dream. They take in the scents, watch birds flit and bugs skitter and they enter that world of wild, unexplored places, if only in their minds. When I watch Lily and Sophie enjoying a sun puddle or feeling a natural breeze, I can sometimes see a flicker of desire and maybe familiarity with their wild side.

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Frivolous Friday – How Well Do You Know Your Cat?

A week ago today I determined that Lily might have an ear infection—maybe even mites. Ick! Where do mites even come from? So she got another trip to the veterinarian the following Monday. I’d noticed that she was paying more attention to her ears—washing them over and over again. She wasn’t shaking her head or drooping her head like a cat will do sometimes when her ear hurts, but I sensed something was wrong, so I took a peek. Yuk. There was black stuff in there. I checked the other ear—beautiful—clean. So yes, that confirmed, there’s something going on with the one ear.

We saw a new veterinarian who had recently joined the group where I’ve been taking my cats, dogs, sheep, horses for over fifty years. Although I only have cats now and even though the original veterinarians are no longer at this clinic, we are still clients and my kitties are patients. The newest veterinarian (sorry I didn’t catch her name) said it’s a yeast infection and we are treating it with drops twice a day. Lily is behaving like a lady—in fact seemed to ask for the drops yesterday, which isn’t all that unusual because there are treats involved with the treatment.

 I’m so glad I noticed there was a problem, but I really should have noticed this sooner. We talked yesterday here at the Catscapades blog about how well cats conceal pain. It’s often impossible to know when your cat is in distress. They’re amazingly skilled actors. As I said yesterday, this is something cats have carried with them for many generations—it’s part of their survival instinct.

However, since we take cats into our homes and our hearts and vow to care for them unconditionally, it’s up to us to pay close enough attention to them to make sure they’re not suffering in any way. And this isn’t easy since cats will often hide out and be very quiet when they’re suffering. As busy humans we often tend to just let them be hidey cats if that’s what the cat wants to do.

However, this in and of itself is a clue that something’s wrong. Other clues include not eating, avoiding being petted (especially for those cats who generally love attention), any change of habit, including those related to the litter box. When you finally realize something might be wrong with your cat and you take her in for a checkup, the veterinarian will ask, “Has she been eating? Is she drinking water? Is she using the litter box?” You should be able to answer all of those questions.

I had a frail Persian cat once and I recall taking her to the veterinarian several times when there were no visible or tangible symptoms for him to diagnose. I’d have to bring her home and wait for a symptom: a fever or difficulty urinating, for example. I was so tuned into that little cat that I knew when she was sick about the same time she must have started feeling bad. But it was too early for a diagnosis. Maybe you’ve done that too.

So here’s today’s lesson—watch your cat carefully. Pay attention to everything about her. Yeah, you might feel a little paranoid at times, determining, “I think she has lost a whisker,” or “Did she break a nail?” or “She left a bite in her food dish tonight, maybe she’s ill.”

Now let’s not get carried away. What I want you to do is this:

  • Watch for a change in habits
  • Pet her all over every day looking for abnormalities
  • Check her paws and under her tail when you get the chance—you don’t have to hold her down to do this, just wait for her to lay down, then take a peek.
  • Look at what appears in the litter box.

You might be surprised what you find. A sore spot on her shoulder, a claw curling around and starting to poke into the pad, lots of tiny clumps of urine in the litter box instead of one nice size clump, more vomiting than the usual occasional fur ball. You’ll know when something’s different and whether or not it requires a trip to the veterinarian.

What’s the alternative? I think we’ve all lived it—a cat who has probably suffered more than she needed to if only we’d taken one of her cues more seriously.


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Thoughts for Thursday – Is Your Cat Suffering?

We lost a beloved neighborhood cat last week. The Smurf was a beautiful Maine coon cat of just fifteen years. She had recently been diagnosed with advanced bone cancer. While she was an indoor cat for most of her life, when rescued dogs began joining the household, she began joining them out of doors for part of the day. In fact, she accepted the dogs without issue—often curling up and sleeping in the dog pile on the family bed.

The Smurf didn’t venture far, but she had her roaming routine, always returning home where her heart was. She was a familiar part of our neighborhood, often seen sitting at the edge of her driveway watching people walk past with or without an accompanying dog. I often stopped to photograph this rather regal cat.

When she began looking a little scruffy around the edges and walking away from her food dish without eating, her humans took her to the veterinarian and that’s when they got the awful diagnosis. Two days later, she was gone.

Don’t Leave Me Behind

We had a wonderful cat we called Winfield. He was a white odd-eye cat. When he was fourteen, we noticed he was rejecting food and treats, we took him to his veterinarian and learned that he had a cancer in his throat. Winfield was an indoor-only cat, so only visitors got to know him and most of them simply adored him for his friendly demeanor and sweet disposition. He loved people and petting and just being admired.

Many of you reading this have had something similar occur with your own beloved cats. When we get a dire diagnosis for our cat like this, it usually comes as a shock. We wonder, How could the disease have become so serious without us knowing about it? Could we have thwarted it if we’d known about it earlier? Why wasn’t I paying closer attention?

Does this sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever known a pet to suffer, certainly you’ve pondered these questions. But could The Smurf’s or Winfield’s cancer have been prevented—probably not. If we’d discovered the cancer earlier, would there have been a cure? Most likely not. However, there certainly are steps we can take to prevent suffering in our cats. First, we must understand that cats are extremely skilled at hiding their pain. Experts say that this is part of their survival mechanism. So we mustn’t beat ourselves up for not noticing something was wrong when the cat is doing her best to mask an ailment or injury. With this in mind, if you notice any changes in your cat’s routine, demeanor, habits, etc., it’s time to start being super focused on the cat. Check him for obvious lumps, sore spots, changes in eating, sleeping, and litter box habits. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s probably time for a professional opinion and don’t be surprised if you learn your cat has been suffering for a while. She just didn’t want you to know. But there are subtle and sometimes blatant signs that your cat is in trouble and needs professional help. This site spells them out succinctly for you. Please spend some time here and note the highlights. You never know when you’ll need this information.

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – When Cats Make Up the Rules

Lily has a mind of her own—well, she’s a cat. And she thinks that everything in this household revolves around her—I guess it kind of does. Lily (and sometimes Sophie) creates the challenges and I have to figure out a way to work around them. For example, Lily gets a special diet because she has kidney disease. Since Lily prefers Sophie’s food, I feed her separately from Sophie. The cats can’t see each other while they eat, but I can see Lily. I have to keep an eye on Lily because she’s sneaky.

Often Lily will leave her dish after eating only half of her meal and walk slowly and quietly toward where Sophie’s eating. Sometimes, when I’m on the phone or handling something at my desk she manages to stay under my radar. But if I see Lily trying to sneak away, I will get down on the floor next to her bowl and call her back. I tell her, “Lily, you haven’t finished. Come on, girl; eat your yummy food.”

What does Lily do? She stops in mid step with her back to me and swishes her tail. I say, “Lily, come on, let’s finish your supper. Yum, it looks so good; come on, let’s eat.”

She swishes her tail again.

I try to keep from laughing, but am rarely successful. She’s so darn cute.

I get closer to her bowl and call her back again.

Most of the time, she will actually turn around, return to her bowl, and eat more of her meal.

I wonder if she returns to her bowl because she’s concerned that I’m going to eat her food. She is competitive and she’s protective of her food and treats. Or maybe she just enjoys having my company while she eats. Or is it that she simply knows she’s been busted and it’s no use to keep going because I will catch up to her and bring her back. Heck, maybe it’s simply one of the games she plays with me—to amuse me. It does!


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Newsday Tuesday – You’re Not a Crazy Cat Lady After All, and More Cat News

People send me some interesting stories about cats who are out and about and I also search the internet and other sources for fascinating tidbits about cats. Here’s one I got a kick out of. In Japan, guards at the Onomichi City Museum turn away two would be visitors several times a week. They won’t give entry to Ken Chan and Gosaku no matter how they try. Why? Because they’re cats.

Evidently, ever since the curator included a photo exhibit featuring cats back in 2016, Ken Chan (a black beauty) and Gosaku (an orange tabby) have been trying to get in to see it, but so far they haven’t made it past the front door.

Here’s good news for the widow or divorced middle-aged woman with a cat. It’s been determined that there is no such thing as the “crazy cat lady” stereotype. Heck, I’m a little offended by this finding. Wouldn’t you consider women who gather to talk about cats while wearing cat ears a little bit crazy—in a fun way? As you know, I belong to a group like that. But the consensus is after this study that the typical, traditional crazy cat lady is thought to be a lonely, depressed, and anxious older woman with a cat and now they say this woman doesn’t exist. Interesting.

And here’s the story of a cat who was reunited with her family after missing for eleven years. No one knows what she was up to over most of that time, but during the last three years, an SPCA member has been monitoring this stray in her neighborhood. When she finally gained the cat’s confidence, she managed to check for a chip and sure enough, she had one. Boy was her owner surprised and happy to have her cat returned. Another happy-ending story and all because of a cat person who went out of her way and a family’s foresight to have their beloved cat chipped. It’s a shame, however, that the owners missed out on eleven years with their kitty and that the poor cat had such a rough life most likely on the streets of New York.

Here’s an article with tips for what to do when your cat goes missing.


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Mindful Monday – Are You Rubbing Your Cat the Wrong Way?

Everyone knows how to pet a cat, right? You just dive in there and start running your hand over the cat’s fur. Wrong! Well, wrong for some cats, maybe right for others. The thing is, not all cats come from the same cloth—or fur. Different cats have different tolerance levels for being touched. While some will practically turn themselves inside out begging for more petting, others will duck and squirm and dive avoiding the hand.

In our household we have one cat who can’t seem to get enough of the human touch and another one that is very particular about who, when, where, and under what circumstances she will or will not be petted. And she’s the one with the yummy fur you want to dig your fingers into and the adorable cheeks you want to kiss. That’s Lily.

In contrast, Sophie has rather coarse short fur and a wet nose that she’s always eager to rub against your cheek. She also loves to be combed, whereas Lily can’t stand it. She will tolerate a gentle brushing with a rubber brush only once in a while.

Can a shy, untouchable cat become a cuddly love bug? Yes. Sophie was one aloof kitten when we rescued her. Petting? Uh-uh—not on her watch. She avoided the hand at all cost. I guess the cost of avoidance became too high for Sophie because eventually she began to allow brief petting, then an occasional fur-ruffling. Now Sophie is often in our face begging for petting and even belly rubs.

Have you ever met a cat that seemed to eagerly invite your petting, then suddenly turn on you and even bite and scratch? Why does he do that? Well, probably because you’re doing something wrong—at least where the cat’s concerned. So what’s the answer? How can you enjoy cuddling with your sweet kitty when she shuns you and even attacks you? I found a site that might help. It offers some great ideas for approaching the timid or reluctant cat—the cat who, perhaps, is more in touch with his wild side or who maybe had a bad experience with a human that caused her to become overly cautious. Keep in mind that your cat might also have pain issues that you’re not aware of.

Lily has kidney disease and I have to wonder if a full-body petting-massage is actually uncomfortable for her. Is her body ultra-sensitive to the touch? But all is not lost. Lily has taught me how to express my affection for her so that she can accept and enjoy it. Lily prefers a nice scratching around the neck as opposed to stroking. Her response to my gentle neck scratches is almost equal to Sophie’s exuberance over any sort of touching you might offer. She loves it—most of the time.

Do you have a touchy cat who often walks away from your attempts to pet her? Do you wonder why she does that? It might boil down to your approach. Perhaps you need to pay more attention to her mood. It could be she’s dealing with pain that you aren’t aware of. Or maybe there’s something in her history that causes her standoffishness. Study this guide and see if you can find a happy medium with your cat so you can both enjoy some cozy togetherness time.

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Frivolous Friday – Some of my Favorite Kittens

What a nice way to end the week—with adorable pictures of some sweet kittens.



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Thoughts for Thursday – Tire Shelters for Cats

Say what? Yes, it’s evidently a new concept and quite a good idea for keeping feral cats safe and warm in winter. People rehabilitate old tires and create shelter for homeless cats. Here’s a picture of a kitty tire condo:

And if you really have a lot of old tires and time and you love rubber yard ornaments, you must check out this site. It shows 40 things you can do with tires—for example, make decorative birds, a horse and cart (no kidding), some adorable snails to welcome guests. Seeing is believing:

Here’s another method of protecting feral cats in winter using Rubbermaid storage bins


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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – More Cats I Know

I continue to collect pictures of cats from friends and take pictures of cats I see out and about. Here are some you might enjoy. This is Tommy. He had a horrendous bout with a mysterious illness a few years ago. It took a while to diagnose it and get him back on track and his humans spent a lot of money in the process, but just look at the results. Tommy is healthy, happy, and he’s still king of the house.

This little cutie is Joy. She lives next door. She’s petite and has only part of a tail. She’s been a little lonely since her longtime Maine coon buddy passed on, but is a bit overwhelmed now by a couple of kittens who have joined the household. Her humans say it has certainly brought out the kitten in Joy to have Annie and Mollie around.


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