Tag Archives: Cats

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.


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


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


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

Tangerine: April 1995 to September 2009

Tangerine: April 1995 to September 2009

Here’s all I can really say about Tangerine.

She was a beautiful cat. She really was my favorite. I bonded with her in a way I’d never bonded with another cat. We both had respiratory issues; I have asthma and allergies, and Tangerine was permanently sniffly due to some upper respiratory issues she had as a kitten. We described her funny little noises as “snorfles”, and we could always tell when she was coming by her snorfles and sniffs. She was not a stealhy cat. And every now and then she would seem to get “oversnorfed” and would end up in a sneezing and sniffing fit that we could hear all over the house. Because of her breathing problems, she had a very loud and squeaky purr that we could hear from just about everywhere in the house.

Most mornings after waking up I spend half an hour or so puttering around on my computer. Tangerine would often jump onto my lap when I was doing that, and sometimes she would crawl onto my chest and lay ther purring, which would prevent me from sitting upright or standing up; she was a great excuse for avoiding my morning chores. If she didn’t jump up on me, she’d rear up and put her front paws on my leg, or just wander around the office, making her silly snorfs and squacking noises. Feeling her settle in on my chest and curling up and purring was one of my favorite parts of the morning, and it never failed to cheer me up.

She wasn’t much for playing or overt affection; she liked being on me, but she wasn’t too keen on being carried around or held. She hated being on her back, but sometimes she liked being on her side. Let’s say she liked affection but it had to be on her own terms. And even though she came with Jennifer to our marriage, Tangerine and I really bonded to the point where it was clear that she was really my cat more than she was Jennifer’s.

When she had her first seizure on Tuesday morning, we both panicked. I called the vet and brought her in as soon as I could; it was an hour until they opened, and during the entire time I worried. I took the day off work so that I could take care of her when she came home, and check in with the vet for the half day that she was there. When I went to the vet, the vet informed me that Tangerine’s heart was enlarged and she had some fluid buildup in her lungs, as well as a significant heart murmur. But we thought maybe it was something that could be managed at home, so Tangerine came home with me.

That night, while Jennifer was at her class, Tangerine had another seizure. Panicked, I call an emergency veterinary hospital. I took Tangerine in and let the ER techs take care of her while a vet took a complete history (every vet who’s examined Tangerine needed assurance that her “snorfles” and sniffles were normal for her). We worried and waited all day Wednesday while the hospital staff examined her and tried to figure out what was wrong.

By the end of the day on Wednesday, we had an answer: endocarditis. Endocarditis is essentially a bacterial infection of the heart valves. Bacteria build up, and as the heart beats, bacteria can break off and enter the blood stream and end up establishing colonies elsewhere in the body. The best theory is that bacteria or a clot had entered Tangerine’s brain and was causing the seizures. They started giving her antibiotics and some other medications, but she showed no improvement. Despite two rounds in an oxygen tent and continued medications, Tangerine showed no improvement; in fact, she was declining pretty rapidly. And on Thursday morning I asked the vet what he would do if Tangerine were his cat; and he told me that he would honestly consider euthanasia. And I knew it was the right choice. Tangerine would not get better. And the time she had left would not be pleasant. So I asked the vet to just keep her comfortable until the evening when Jennifer and I could be there, and I spent almost the entire day in tears; I honestly don’t remember when the last time was that I cried so much in a single day.

Last night we went to the veterinary hospital. The vet let us have a few minutes with her before it was time. I held her on my chest the way she occasionally liked to be held. She didn’t purr. She couldn’t purr; it was too hard for her just to breathe. We stroked her and gave her pets and told her how much we loved her. The vet let me hold her on my lap while he gave her the injection, and it was almost like the mornings and evenings when she would sit on me and purr and accept friendly pets. We both gave her pets and strokes while the injection did its work, and I take some comfort knowing that she was being held and surrounded by people who loved her when it was time for her to go.

There’s so much more I wish I could write about Tangerine: the little games we played; the way she sat on a pillow in the middle of the couch, staring at the back of the couch for hours on end; the friendly way she engaged people whenever we had gatherings or parties by sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room; the way that everyone who met her seemed to want to take her home; how proud she seemed to be of her very fluffy tail; and so on. But writing this so far has been painful enough.

So long, my snerky and snorfly fuzzy friend. You’ll always be my fuzzy buddy, and words can’t express how much I miss you.

More random updates

The vet called back today with the results of Sebastian’s bloodwork and fecal workup. As I predicted, she told us that he was amazingly healthy, especially for an older cat. She also said that he was the loudest cat he’d ever treated. Not bad for a cat who is basically a geriatric.

Also, tonight we beat the final boss in House of the Dead 3. Basically, you just keep shooting at him. The game’s origins as an arcade game were certainly evident. Just keep shooting as you move through. And the zombies splurt green goo at you. Fun!

Exsanguinating the Cat

At eighteen years old, Sebastian is the granddaddy of our household’s cat population. He’s had some hard times, he’s been through rough patches, he had to spend some time on meds because he was damn near homicidal at one point (I could make a joke here about how he’s the John McCain of our cat population, but that would be in poor taste and disrespectful to the cat). He’s also the noisiest cat I’ve ever known, yowling and howling at inconvenient intervals (again, a McCain joke suggests itself). Every time we’ve moved to a new house, he immediately went to hunt down the best places to yowl, for the best acoustics. He’s been known to yowl in the shower, in the stairwell, even down the bathtub drain. Here’s a cat who really loves the sound of his own voice (no more McCain jokes, I promise). I’ve threatened to record his yowling on my digital voice recorder and turning it into a ringtone.

Most impressive of all: this cat is NOT deaf. He just really likes to talk. And no, as far as we know there is no Siamese in his background.


Since he’s an old guy, and because he has developed a weird tic in his head, shaking his ears violently at intervals and scratching at them, we decided to take him to the vet today. It was going to be a pretty standard checkup; we didn’t even have to bring a stool sample, if we couldn’t easily procure one. After perpetrating all of the humiliations that vets usually perpetrate on cats — palpating the belly, checking the mouth, taking the temperature — Sebastian decided he’d had enough, and went to lurk inside the cat carrier I’d brought him in. He yelled the entire time, of course. The vet and the tech both commented on his impressive feline lung capacity.

But then the worst hit. The vet took the cat into the back to draw blood for the bloodwork. And then there commenced a yowling that Edgar Allen Poe would have gladly put into one of his stories. I’d never heard anything so impressive, not even from Sebastian. I’ve been to the San Francisco Zoo on days when all of the primates from all over the zoo, from the lemurs to the howler monkeys, were all going off at once, and I could swear that Sebastian’s yowling was louder and more desperate sounding.

The walls shook. The room rattled. I sent a note to Twitter saying that I was waiting for the vet to exsanguinate the cat, because if Sebastian’s yowls were anything to go by, then that was exactly what the vet was doing to him.

A few minutes later, the tech finally returned, bringing the deeply traumatized cat with him. “That was amazing,” he said. “He scared some of the other techs.”

I looked at the cat who, at this point, was obviously the worse for wear: annoyed, humiliated, and dangerously pissed off. “Really?” I asked. “That bad?”

“Yeah, he hated every second of it. However, there was a bright side.”


“Yep. He gave us a stool sample while we were trying to draw blood. Should we do a fecal workup while we’re at it?”

I shrugged. “Sure. Might as well, as long as you have it.”

The tech blinked at me. I think he thought I was joking. But I wasn’t. I’ve tried getting stool samples from cats like this and it just isn’t easy. Take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves, I figured.

The vet pronounced Sebastian a very healthy senior cat, with the exception of a slight ear infection. She’ll be calling tomorrow with the results of the blood workup and the fecal workup. I expect that she’ll find nothing, that Sebastian will be perfectly healthy. That he’ll live for another eighteen years, at least.

The most annoying and the loudest cats are the ones who live the longest, after all.

I dunno. What do you think the cat might be trying to communicate to us?