Category Archives: Cats

Entries where I mention or talk about my cats.

A Thought for the Ontologically Inclined

The other day I was watching Mighty Mouse (one of our foster kittens) playing with a little felt ball in the kitten room. She’d pick up the toy in her mouth, run around with it for a bit, drop it, bap at it, run after it, pick it up again, then run around like mad with it in her mouth again. It was incredibly silly, and very cute.

So I got to thinking about the toy itself and what it represented in Mouse’s brain. Cats are primarily predators (except possibly for Nutmeg, our 16-pound “potato cat”), so many of their play behaviors would be hunting behaviors in the wild. So what, to Mouse, did that little felt toy represent? A bug? A bird? A mouse? Some other small mammal? I mean, she clearly knew it wasn’t food, since she wasn’t eating it, but something about that toy was definitely triggering her latent hunting behavior.

From there, my brain, as it is wont to do, spun on to the same question but about human brains. What high-level behaviors of ours are actually representative of something else? I don’t mean simple symbology, such as looking at the Washington Memorial and thinking of — Well, you know. I mean those higher-level “noble” pursuits that we make so much of. Let’s say science, for example. We as a civilization1 pursue science pretty doggedly (cattedly?), and we’ve made great strides in our understanding of the cosmos and how it works.

So, my question to you is: are there yet higher-level orders of consciousness that could look down on us, view those ideals which we strive for, and wonder what they represent for us? We humans watch the cat play with a felt ball, and figure that the felt ball represents a bug; what would the aliens of Trafalmadore think we’re pursuing when we think we’re pursuing science?

Watching cats frequently makes me ponder the nature of human intelligence and the limits of our consciousness.

I know, this question is an easy one, one that should go up on Facebook or Twitter. I just want to save it here on my own blog.

More adventures in spam

About a week ago, I received an email in my spam folder that had the subject line “rscrawford: XXXXXXXXXXXX” where that long line of Xs was the deprecated password of a website I rarely visit and which I knew had been compromised at one point. The email was wordy and poorly written, but the gist of it was something along the lines of, “I know what you did and I recorded it and I’ll send it out to every person in your contacts list unless you pay me $7,000 in BitCoin currency,” along with a link were I could send that currency.

This amused me, since, really, I have nothing to hide. I thought about writing back with a message to that effect — “Go on, do your worst!” — but I know it’s never a good idea to engage with these kinds of people. I mean, I know President Trump is doing his best to end unfair and unjust discrimination against the idiotic criminal class, but, still.

Meanwhile, I’ve had bronchitis for something like two weeks now. The breathing is better now, though the cough remains. The Prednisone remains fun stuff to take. When I get sick for this long, I tend to get emotional. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa runs away and Homer holds her saxophone? Yeah, that one did me in.

And yesterday while working I had Young Frankenstein playing in the background. And when it came to the scene where the creature, having just performed “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, panicked at the sight of a flame and was dragged away by the police… Yeah, I started crying at that as well.

A co-worker of mine tells me that their reaction to Prednisone is exactly the opposite of mine: for them, the drug causes euphoria, energy, and hyperactivity. This is unfair. I’m going to file a complaint somewhere.

We’re still fostering kittens. After Delilah and Fern were adopted, the fostering agency sent us eight (8) to foster. That was about a month ago, I guess, and now we’re down to one. Mouse is a feisty orange and white kitten, lots of love and lots of energy and personality. I was sure she’d be adopted her first week at placement, but that didn’t happen.

The writing is continuing. I’ve finished the Evil Barf Draft of my fantasy story involving fossil hunters in America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century. I am going to be pushing it to get The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster and Padma done by their due dates, but that’s okay. Last minute panic is a great motivator.

I’m also drafting a contemporary (well, set in the 1930s) fantasy involving jazz music and baseball, and I’m in the early stages of putting together a “noblebright” (as opposed to “grimdark”) fantasy story for an anthology that I’d love to be published in. All that, on top of my goal of keeping six active submissions going all at the same time, is keeping me mighty busy. Good for me.

What’s on your plate or your mind?

 

Adventure Time!

Last Saturday, Sherman got sick. After a normal morning of running around, picking fights with Ingrid, and generally getting into trouble, he started crying, then threw up. Then we noticed that he was straining and crying when he was in the litterbox. Jennifer told me, “Something’s wrong with Sherman,” and we decided that she would take him to the emergency vet while I went down to my parents’ house to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

The vet couldn’t find anything wrong with Sherman, even though it was obvious he was in a lot of pain. Cats are not good at telling us humans exactly what’s wrong with them or where, exactly, the pain is, so Sherman was not forthcoming. Finally, the vet sent Jennifer home with some pain meds and instructions to feed Sherman a bland diet and keep him isolated for a few days.

Sherman’s a pretty rambunctious little cat, so being holed up in the library for a few days sounded risky. Would he go stir-crazy and start ripping apart all the books? Cry nonstop, keeping us awake at night and triggering our guilt feelings?

Fortunately he did not do any of those things. He was quiet the whole time. We went in to visit and play with him several times a day, and we fed him baby food for the first couple of days. Tuesday we reintroduced him to canned cat food, which he wolfed down, having gotten bored of the baby food, and yesterday we let him have some kibble, which was OH MY GOD THE BEST THING!

Today we let him out of the library. I was worried that the first thing he’d do was go charging at Ingrid but nope. He took a few tentative steps through the library door, then wandered around upstairs for a bit.

But the real proof that he’s better came this morning. Usually when we open the front door we have to make sure Sherman’s nowhere near since he has a documented history of trying to run outside. This morning, I didn’t see him when I opened the front door, so I figured it was safe to open the door. But the moment I did, Sherman charged out of nowhere and shot through the door.

I shouted after him, of course, but that never does any good with a cat. Usually when he goes outside he gets distracted by something — a neighborhood cat, a stranger jogging by, or (once) the gravel in the neighbor’s yard, which, for some reason, really confused him.

But nope. Today Sherman was intent on having an Adventure. I chased him for half an hour, around the block and around several houses. I thought I had him for sure when he ran into a shed in someone’s back yard, but he crouched low and ran on his belly when I tried to grab him.

Fortunately, he ran under someone’s truck, and that’s when he stopped. For some reason, cars frighten him, even if he does invariably run underneath them when he gets outside. He sat, hunkered down and crying, like he always does, and I managed to grab him by the tail and pull him out. I know you’re not supposed to grab cats by the tail, but I figured in this case any handle would do.

I carried the squirming and fussing cat home (did I mention that we call him “Squirmin’ Sherman”?) and tossed him atop the cat tree in the living room, where he immediately settled in and started bathing himself. Stupid cat.

So I was a bit late to work, and I only now just realized that I was going to take the trash can to the curb, but completely forgot because of the stupid cat.

At least he’s feeling better now.


‘Tis the season for Holidailies. Check it out.

[A-Z] S is for Short and Sweet

I got nothin’ for you tonight just because I’m tired, I have a headache, and am beset by kobolds.

So here’s a picture of Rufus, one of the kittens we’re fostering. Notice he has eyes. This picture is a couple of days old, so those eyes are wider now, and he is more exploratory. He’s gonna be a handful when he gets older.

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This brief entry brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

[A-Z] F is for Fuzz!

fuzz

Our friends L and G seem to have the ability to attract stray and feral cats in the neighborhood. This is through no fault of their own; they just happen to have huge neon “SUCKER” signs attached to their heads

So while L and G went off to visit family back east a couple of weeks ago, one of the strays in the neighborhood, a chunky young she-cat that they hadn’t gotten around to naming, gave birth to six tiny kittens.

“Kittens!” Jennifer squealed at me. “They have kittens! We have to visit the kittens!” I figured this was a good idea, not just because I happen to like kittens as well, but also it would help get my mind off of Rosemary.

Then this morning L was talking to Jennifer about how fostering another six kittens would be a serious chore. Jennifer turned to me and said “It’s too bad you’re not interested in fostering kittens, you know.”

So I thought about it and realized that it might not be so bad. “Why not?” I said. “Let’s do it.”

We, too, have bright neon SUCKER signs on our foreheads.

So, basically, we have acquired seven new cats: a young mama cat (we have no idea how old she really is, and cats are notoriously reticent about giving out their age when asked) and six babies — five orange, and one tuxedo. We’ve decided to dub them the Supernatural Kitties, and name them after various characters from the show Supernatural. And hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a LiveStream account and a webcam so that we can peek in on the kittens any time we want.

Right now the kittens are incredibly young, a week or two at the most. Their ears have popped up, but their eyes have yet to open. The mama cat — Ruby — is still very protective of them. She’s also a bit shy and nervous with us, and we haven’t been able to coax her out of her box to eat or drink water or use the litter box. We’re confident, though, that she’ll come around. She’s not feral, and must have been exposed to people at some point in her life.

The other cats are somewhat perturbed by this state of affairs, but only because the new kittens are currently being kept in the spare room where we used to feed Rosie. Azzie and Rupert are still convinced that yummy wet food lies just beyond the closed door, even though Rosie isn’t in there any more.

Brand new kittens. New fuzz in the house.

Yeah. This makes me happy.


This fuzzy wuzzy blog post brought to you by the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

[A-Z] G is for Goodbye (RIP Rosemary, 1999-2015)

Rosie-closeup

I remember losing my one of my first childhood pets: Herman the mouse. I woke up that morning and went straight into the den where he lived to check in on him, and found him utterly unresponsive. I tapped on the side of his cage, said his name, and so on, but nothing happened.

That day I couldn’t concentrate at school, and probably started crying at one point because my teacher, Mr. Walsh, took my into the hallway to ask me what was going on. “Herman d-d-d-d-died,” I sobbed. Mr. Walsh was very understanding and went easy on me in class that day.

It doesn’t ever get easier; losing a furry member of our family is always hard. And today I’m still having trouble processing that last night we lost Rosie. I’m sitting here at work (well, technically on break at the moment), unable to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

Rosie was a good kitty, one of the original seven that came into the marriage with Jennifer. I liked her, and had a pretty good relationship with her. She never sat on my lap or anything like that, but she often did sit on the cat tree in our office, purring and occasionally meowing at me. Sometimes I had treats for her: cream cheese from my bagel, bits of turkey from my sandwich, or French fries, which she loved (she would even sneak a fry from a pile of them).

Last night, knowing it was time, I gave her lots and lots of cream cheese before we took her to the emergency veterinary clinic. This resulted in her farting the entire trip, making the car smell like cat poop. It was kind of funny — because, admit it, cat farts are funny — but I couldn’t laugh.

At the hospital, Jennifer had to do all the talking, because I just couldn’t say anything. I tried to be all cool and manly, etc., but I suck at that sort of thing. We didn’t even bother asking for an emergency vet to look at her. We knew what was happening. The vet tech at the counter was very understanding, said they were going to do a “code seven” instead.

They took us into a small examination room, then took her away to put in the catheter. She was gone for half an hour while they did this, and Jennifer and I fretted that Rosie would get stressed feeling sick and away from us for so long, and Jennifer went to the front counter to ask what was taking so long.

When the vet came in with Rosie wrapped up in a blanket, we were relieved to see it was the same vet who had identified the fistula before. It meant that she could see personally how far the tumor and bone infection had progressed. She was impressed by Rosie’s halitosis, brought on by the infection in her mouth.

Rosie purred the entire time. It was her way. The whole time Jennifer held her wrapped in the blanket. She purred a lot. She was generally a happy kitty.

Purr.

Breath.

Purr.

Breath.

Silence.


A-Z Blogging Challenge

[A-Z] C is for Cats

tangerinecloseup

This post is a day late, and for that I apologize. I’ll catch up tonight.

Currently, we have six: Rosemary, Azzie (which is short for Azrael), Nutmeg, Ingrid, Rupert, and Sherman. Originally, we had seven when we got married. They were all Jennifer’s, which, I suppose, made them my step-cats. That particular pack consisted of Allegra, Azzie, Rosie, Sebastian, Zucchini, Rebecca, and, of course, Tangerine (pictured here). Over the years, our feline family has changed and reshaped and mutated and so on. Of the original pack of seven, only Azzie and Rosie are left.

And, sadly, Rosie isn’t doing well right now. She’s an old lady cat at sixteen years old, and we don’t really long how much longer she’ll be with us.

Azzie, on the other hand, is also sixteen, and is still going strong. He whines a lot (and I mean a LOT), but he appears healthy and happy. Mostly happy, at least. He’s certainly the dumbest cat (Jennifer says we should say he’s “dim”, not “dumb”, because “dim” sounds cuter). He’s the cat who got lost behind a see-through shower curtain once. It was kind of pathetic.

At any rate, when Azzie and Rosie are both gone, it will be the end of a particular era: the era of the marriage cats. It won’t be the end of the marriage, because all the cats we have acquired since then are cats we’ve chosen together. How can the choosing of new cats NOT strengthen the bond between a couple?


This post brought to you by the letter C, a bunch of nearly normal cats, and the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

O Tannenbaum (mit Katzen)

Last night we put up our Christmas tree. As you can see, we had supervision (click on the pictures to embiggen).

Sherman&Rupert Investigating

Sherman and Rupert had to investigate the tree before it was out of the box. For quality control, of course.

SomeAssemblyRequired

Sherman made it to the top before we even finished assembling the tree.

BranchInspector

Nutmeg checks to make sure the branches are all in order. She’s a useful cat.

IngridIsUnimpressed

And Ingrid, of course, is unimpressed.

It’s a fake tree, of course. Years ago, when we lived in Dixon, we would go to the Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm every year, hunt down an unsuspecting tree, cut it down, net it, and bring it back to our house, like mighty hunters. The last year we went to the tree farm, though, we just kind of sat in the parking lot and looked at a tree that was already cut down and netted and leaning against the fence. We asked the elf about it and were told that it had been cut down, purchased, and taken home, only to cause sneezing and hives to the family. So it was brought back.

“We’ll take it,” we said. For some reason, we just didn’t feel the urge or even the desire to cut down our own tree that year. The next year, we just decided to go with an artificial tree and be done with it. So we went to Target and bought the nicest one we could find. Nowadays, we just take the tree down from the attic and assemble it (with supervision, of course).

What about you? Fake or real?

‘Tis the season for Holidailies

So, this happened…

So, over the weekend we went to the animal shelter in Sacramento, and adopted this fuzzbutt:

Another picture of Sherman

Of course we dithered over names for awhile. He’s part Russian Blue, we think, so we tossed around variations of Russian names like Boris and Ivan, then more colorful names like Blueberry. But now I think we’ve settled on Sherman as his name.

Sherman the cat

So far the other cats seem to be unimpressed. Rosemary hissed at him and Ingrid growled (brave kitty!), but the others are pretty mellow about the new interloper. Rupert wants to be his buddy. Nutmeg isn’t too sure. And Azzie couldn’t care less.

This brings our household up to six cats. I think we’ve reached our limit.

Checkers: 2003 – 2011

We got Checkers when she was three years old, and she was a small bundle of nerves. She hid in a box in her foster home’s spare bedroom, and we had to chase her to get her into the carrier we’d brought with us. We knew going into this that she was a neurotic cat, but we were used to cats with issues.

When we got her home, we put her carrier into the library and she immediately ran and hid behind the books. For days we barely saw her, though we have pictures of her peering out at us between books of Lovecraft stories (I really wanted to make a lolcat with one of these pictures and caption it, “Lovecraftian Cat Lurks In The Library”, but we figured not many people would get the joke).

For weeks, she stayed in the library. Then she moved to the linen closet, and that became her new lurking spot. It was a good spot for her, because it was unmolested by the other cats, and it was easy for us to play with her. She didn’t play much at that point, but she did enjoy catching her claws on a dangled shoestring.

Eventually, she moved on from the linen closet to the office. It was here that she and I connected, as much as we did. She hid on one of the shelves, behind one of our miniature gargoyles. I’d throw small toys at her — sparkle balls were her favorites — and she would bap them back at me. This game could go on for hours. And every now and then, when I would walk into the office, she would throw one of her toys at me to get my attention for another round. We were becoming buddies. But then she started to pee on my desk, and the time I caught her doing it — I picked her up quickly and darted to the litter box — more or less marked the end of our relationship. She didn’t throw the toys at me anymore after that, and she became less enthusiastic about the toy bapping game.

When we moved to our house in Sacramento, she quickly marked out the lower level as hers. We never saw her upstairs. She didn’t interact with the other cats, and we joked that she would have preferred to be an only child. She was happy like this, living downstairs, spending most of her time on top of one of the cat trees, occasionally (and only half-heartedly) playing the toy bapping game with me.

Jennifer noticed that Checkers was losing weight and becoming lethargic, so we took the cat to the vet, who found tumors in her intestines and diagnosed her with lymphoma. She wasn’t in pain, the vet said, and there were some pills that might hopefully shrink the tumors. We tried the pills — or, rather, Jennifer tried, because there was no way Checkers would let me near enough to pop a pill down her throat. Soon Jennifer was unable to administer the pills either, so she took Checkers back in for a shot that would hopefully do the same thing.

It didn’t work.

We came home from a play late Saturday night, and Jennifer found Checkers lying under the bed. She’d thrown up, and was struggling to breathe. We bundled her up in a thick towel and headed off to the emergency veterinary hospital so that they could administer the last relief, but it was too late. Checkers died in Jennifer’s arms. Tearfully we left her body at the vet’s for disposal — there simply isn’t room in our back yard at this point.

Checkers’s death was a milestone of sorts for me. She wasn’t the first of our cats to die, but she was the first of the cats that Jennifer and I chose together after our marriage. So even though she and I did not get along that well (aside from that brief time in the office in our old house), I miss her. She used to yell at us from downstairs whenever we put out wet food for the cats, and now that hollering has been silenced, and it’s hard. It’s strange to go downstairs, look at the cat tree where she used to lurk, and not see her there.

So long, Checkers. I’ll miss you.