Tales of the
Moggy Horde
cat face
How I learned
To Stop Worrying
And Love Bast

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cat line drawing
Thu, 03 Jan 2002 20:04:17 GMT
Last night, Randy and I were having our usual evening time on the sofa with Unicom between us. Uni was relaxed and happy. Randy was giving him hugs and kisses, marvelling at how calmly Uni accepts such things.

"He doesn't even mind me kissing him."

"Oh oh. Watch out, Uni. He's gay."

Whereupon, Unicom immediately jumped off the sofa and ran off.

We laughed until the tears were streaming down our faces.

Okay, so Uni often will unexpectedly decide to jump off the sofa and grab a bite to eat (which he did). It was just the *timing* of it that was so hysterical.
Fri, 04 Jan 2002 22:16:20 GMT
I just made a rather disturbing discovery while vacuuming my office -- a cat's fang. Not just the tip either, the whole tooth all the way down to the very root.

I've been grabbing cats one after another and doing a fang check. What I've discovered is that Tosca has a badly broken fang I didn't know about, but she's lost maybe 70% of the exposed fang, while this is the whole thing well below the gum line.

Only a couple of cats have eluded me so far, but I have a hunch this may be an old cat's tooth (it looks old) and perhaps it was lost by Achilles before he disappeared. Hard to know for sure. It would mean I had to have missed it when I vacuumed several times before this, though it could have been lurking underneath the cardboard box it was next to.

Achilles wasn't eating very well before he disappeared. Losing a tooth to this extreme would certainly go along with him having a problem eating...though I think I would have noticed that.
Sat, 05 Jan 2002 00:56:32 GMT
I found the suffering moggy and it's poor old Kate. She has a terribly sore hole where her right fang used to be.

Which also explains something else I was worrying about for the past several days -- a slightly bloody-pus discharge from her right eye. I've been watching it, debating whether it was something minor or something that needed a vet visit and had just earlier today come down on the side of a vet visit.

Now I know it must be part of an overall infection on that side of her face, starting with the infection that destroyed the tooth. I called the vet immediately, but this late in the day on a Friday, it was impossible to get her in. I talked it over at length and we agreed I can start her on Amoxicillin over the weekend. If it's not looking better by Mon., I'll have to bring her in.

All in all, she doesn't seem too sick. She's not acting like a cat with a bad fever or anything like that. She ate some dry food a little while ago, so I put out some canned food to help her along.

I notice she also has a small patch of fur scraped off her left front leg. Hmmm...wonder if there was a fight somewhere at the bottom of all this? I've never seen her fight, ever, but it's possible.

I commented to the clinician (who knows me well) that I had just finished giving Diva her last pill today, so *naturally* I had to get another cat that needs pills. She laughed.
Sun, 06 Jan 2002 06:18:17 GMT
Kate seems to be doing pretty well, though it takes all the years of experience and practice I've acquired to get a pill into her. But at least once the pill is down, she's fine with it and is right back purring in my face again.

I've decided to take her to the vet regardless. I'm very concerned about *why* her fang rotted away like that. I think it would be better to have all her teeth checked, in case there's some more extensive problem I need to know about.
Mon, 07 Jan 2002 04:41:45 GMT
Owl and Blue were going at it in the battle for dominance this evening. It's noisy and distracting and I'm not happy about it.

My dear old Querida is feeling slightly thinner and a little more frail these days. In a couple of months, she turns 17. She's getting up there. She and son Tribble insist on following me up to the house, then sitting around waiting for me to come out and back to the office after lunch, no matter what the weather's doing (except for extremes). Tribble whines a lot at the doors and windows, in case I forget they're out there.

I'd say Tosca is probably the alpha female now, not that I've seen her overtly asserting herself. It's just the sense I get. She's quite a dominant female. When she and daughter Diva play, they play *rough*.
Tue, 08 Jan 2002 03:01:49 GMT
It was a tough day for poor Kate, stuffed into a carrier and hauled to the vet's. I am always amazed to hear an actual *voice* come out of this cat when she's in a carrier. It's the only time she emits more than a tiny squeak. She's not a full-voiced moggy like some others, but she does have a Secret Voice which she saves for only the most desperate occasions.

The vet poked, prodded, tapped her teeth, subjected her to a range of torments which she took without a struggle and not the least sound, even a squeak. And she was very happy to hide in the carrier again. She weighed in at a hefty 14 1/2 lbs.

The rest of her teeth look fine except for the one right next to the fang she lost. Swami says "there is a dental bill in your future." It may be 6 months or 2 years or some other indeterminate time, but sooner or later that tooth will go bad and need to be taken out. I'll just have to keep an eye on it.

Earlier in the afternoon, Diva played a game of catch & release with a gopher. I stepped out of my office and Diva was trotting up the driveway with a mouthful of struggling gopher. She dropped it, let it threaten her for a while, then the gopher made a run for it. Diva let it get a good way down the driveway, then raced after it and trotted back up the hill with it. She repeated this ridiculous act a couple more times, then let the damn thing escape down a hole. Tch tch.
Thu, 10 Jan 2002 05:39:09 GMT
Artemis had an altercation with the water bowl this morning. I heard a PWANG KUHSPLOOSH! The bowl was all but empty and the carpet was soaked with half a gallon or so of water. That girl has some strange issues with water.
Fri, 11 Jan 2002 19:40:28 GMT
Eating sounds finally penetrated my consciousness and I turned my chair around just in time to see Theseus swallow the last of something. I have no idea what, except it was a critter of some kind, maybe a lizard. Not quite enough crunching to be a rodent.

These are the sort of things one learns having a horde of cats.
Fri, 18 Jan 2002 05:20:08 GMT
I returned from lunch to find a large gopher head and one gopher foot awaiting me on the office floor. Good moggy, whoever it was.
Wed, 23 Jan 2002 05:51:48 GMT
I have figured out why Theseus always wants me to let him in and out of the door myself. He is so broad in the beam, he's actually wider than the cat door! I saw him struggle to squeeze his bulk through the cat door today and he barely made it.
Sat, 26 Jan 2002 04:53:04 GMT
One of my cats, I think Tribble, has learned how to start the Norton Virus Checker. This is about the third time I've suddenly spotted an unusual icon flashing on my status bar, opened it and discovered Norton merrily checking its way through every file on my disk.
Mon, 04 Feb 2002 05:29:41 GMT
I have two new reasons to worry about the cats being outside.

The neighbors at the bottom of my hill have a bunch of mutts and one or more of them is coming all the way up here to my house. Unicom is extremely cautious about going outside these days and I'll bet that's why.

The other reason is the presence of bobcat tracks. We have lots of mud now where we had to grade the road down to the new well. It's a handy way to see what creatures are crossing the property. We've found a couple of sets of bobcat prints, as clear as can be in the mud. One set we found only a couple of days ago right next to my cistern, which means they're not afraid of coming close to the house.
Tue, 05 Feb 2002 02:36:59 GMT
We committed squirrel rescue today. Randy came down to get me with the news that Tribble had cornered what looked like a baby tree squirrel. I rounded up all the cats that were outside and finally coaxed Tribble into the office.

With the moggies out of the way, we checked out the rockrose bush up against the house, under Randy's office window. It might have been a ground squirrel, but it looked grayer that those usually do and it had a fairly long tail. So it was either a grayish ground squirrel, or a young grey tree squirrel with spots.

We left him in peace for a while and when I checked later, he was gone.
Thu, 14 Feb 2002 22:59:29 GMT
I got fed up with seeing bald patches on Owl's back, so I hauled him off to the vet's today. Poor Owl. He truly hates being put in that carrier and taken to strange places.

I had to struggle to get the carrier onto the table and with good reason. Owl has gained weight. He's up to a whopping 18 pounds! That makes him the heavyweight of the Moggy Horde.

There's no way to figure out what's causing Owl's allergy. Whatever it is, it's chronic now. He's had a cortisone shot and is going to be on a light regimen of Prednisone to see if we can get him healed up.
I have become very creative about cat boxes. When I moved most of the cats into my office, I found the ultimate cat boxes -- the black rubber/plastic utility tubs sold in the hardware store, the kind you use to mix up a small batch of cement, that sort of thing. They're big, have rounded edges and low sides. Ideal for large numbers of cats.

This week, I put my attention on a new solution for the two house cats. We've had a regular sized cat box in the back hall and one in the guest bathroom. They weren't getting much use before, but Unicom has become mostly in indoor cat now and that changed.

Having the cat box in the guest bathroom was rather unpleasant, plus it's close to Randy's office and he's been having asthma problems from the type of clumping litter I was using.

What I needed was one extra-large cat box of some kind that could fit into a long narrow space in the back hallway. I searched the hardware store, but I found the solution by accident at the grocery store -- a kid's plastic toboggan. Rounded edges, tough plastic, long but narrow. It fit into that space perfectly.

And Randy pointed out that if we get enough snow, we can dump out the litter and go sledding. ;)
Sat, 16 Feb 2002 19:21:15 GMT
I looked outside this morning and spotted a young orange tabby. He lives with my first neighbor on the hill, which is a fair distance down from here. Randy and I have tried to pet him during our walks, but he's too shy. He looks somewhat like a younger version of Unicom.

He was on the patio right next to the steps to the back deck, with his tail all pouffed out. Soon he ran off beneath the deck and we discovered it was Nefreet who had been stalking him. She has this aggressive prance she does when she's being tough. Then she stood straight up on her hind legs like a meerkat. She always amazes Randy when she does this. She can hold it for a long time, too.

There haven't been any altercations, so I'm guessing young mister tabby beat a retreat home. I hope he doesn't come around again and get into fights with Uni. Or Nefreet. I can do without that aggravation.

I'm worried about Querida. She's been losing weight and suddenly looks much older, plus she has that lump on her forehead. She's already booked for a trip to the vet on Mon.
Tue, 19 Feb 2002 22:57:43 GMT
Querida and Unicom were loaded into their respective carriers late yesterday afternoon and off we went. We sang all the way into town. Querida provided the main harmony in full voice while Unicom provided syncopated accompaniment of his raspy "Ow! Ow! Ow!" I joined in, though I don't think my efforts were appreciated. I was the only one having fun.

Querida gets badly stressed out from being in a carrier. She has what would amount to a panic attack in a human. She gets hot, she pants, she sheds, and generally is deeply miserable, poor old girl. Even after the vet had spent some time going over her, she would continue to break out in bursts of panting, which concerned the vet slightly. Fortunately, I only see her do that if she's heavily exerted herself and when she's stressed like this.

She's lost a couple of pounds, as I could tell. He thinks the most likely scenario is hyperthyroid, which is common in old cats. He took a blood panel, so I'll know by Thurs. He's hoping that's what it is, as it's easy to treat.

The lump on her forehead is benign, the same type of cyst her son, Tribble had. Because of her age, we're going to leave it be.

He also spotted a white "scar" of some kind on her left eye. Because she's so cross-eyed, it's nearly impossible to see it. I'd never spotted it before. It could be an old scar or a cholesterol deposit. He wasn't worried about it, but told me to try and check on it periodically.

Unicom was up next. He'd pissed all over himself and the carrier, which was delightful. The wonderful staff took the carrier away and cleaned it. Uni was mainly there for his 3-year rabies shot, but we also wanted him to have a general check-up and a check on his joins. He favors his right shoulder a lot. As it turns out, there's something wrong with the right shoulder. The vet wasn't able to get Uni to bend it nearly as well as the other. It's hard to tell what might be the cause. Could be a touch of arthritis. He recommended baby aspirin twice a week.

They have recovered from their traumas and all is well.

Owl's back is slowly starting to look better. Come Sunday, I start him on the Prednisone. If we're lucky, no more bald Siamese!
Thu, 21 Feb 2002 01:27:58 GMT
The vet just called with the results of Querida's blood tests. Her thyroid levels are way up there, but the kidneys look fine. My days of cat-pilling freedom are over. I have to give her thyroid-blocking pills twice a day. Ah, well, she's worth it.
Sat, 23 Feb 2002 19:26:31 GMT
Querida's being very good about the pills. No hassle so far. And she seems to be doing well. The doctor warned the thyroid blocker could make her go off her food at first, but she seems as interested as ever.

Which reminds me, must get to the feed store and buy more cat food today!
Mon, 25 Feb 2002 06:09:44 GMT
It was a day of pillage.

Unicom got his baby aspirin (he gets that twice a week now).

Querida got her pills.

Owl got his pill.

I told Randy to watch out or I might pill him by accident.
Tue, 26 Feb 2002 04:59:44 GMT
Theseus is a big, silly tugboat of a cat. As soon as I try to comb out Tribble or Kate or anybody else, Theseus is right in there demanding to get his share of attention, except that he gets royally snarked at me when I try to actually deal with his dreadlocks. His long fur is hell to keep unmatted during the winter.

Tribble and Kate both love being combed. They stand there and purr and don't budge an inch. I don't comb them nearly enough. Fortunately, the rest of the Horde is short-haired enough to not really need it.
Wed, 27 Feb 2002 22:33:52 GMT
As we sat eating breakfast, we heard the unique "Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt" machinegun sound of the roadrunner.

He was perched on the corner of the railing on the back deck and he was apparently giving Nefreet a warning or lecture. She was crouched on the deck watching the roadrunner, which is easily as big as she is, with no small amount of trepidation.

The roadrunner then trotted down the railing, flew up to the peak of my house, trotted along the top peak and dove down the other side of the house. Nefreet turned tail and slunk into the house.
Thu, 28 Feb 2002 01:03:01 GMT
I was having the most bizarre computer problem. Suddenly, I couldn't get the left or right mouse buttons to work properly. Not on the mouse, but on the screen. Dialog boxes or other things would flash on and off the screen instead of letting me click on them. Icons wouldn't respond at all.

It was driving me nuts. I rebooted and rebooted. I gnashed my teeth and pulled out my hair trying to debug the problem. Then I realized...

Owl was sleeping on the "escape" key.
Thu, 07 Mar 2002 00:48:31 GMT
Poor Querida is snurfling and wheezing worse than when I took her in. She seems to be doing fine with the thyroid control medication. Her appetite is good and all that.

I called the vet to ask what to do about the snurfling and he had me buy some Chlortrimetron, the same stuff I take at night -- a standard over-the-counter anti-histamine. I'm to give her half a tablet of the 4mg dosage twice a day.

Great. Four pills a day. Like she isn't already avoiding me like the plague as it is.

Owl is sitting to the left of my keyboard with his back to me. He's been sitting there like that for about ten minutes, sharing his large impressive back with me. Impressive except for the ratty part where he pulls the fur out. He's plotting something, that's my guess. Now that I'm onto his escape key trick, he's thinking of the next way he can subtly torment me as pay-back for going to the vet and having to take pills.
Fri, 08 Mar 2002 19:17:30 GMT
I wondered why I was having trouble with my phone headset, why the sound kept shorting out. Finally, it went totally dead. I tested it out on another phone. No good.

I had already forgotten my FIRST RULE: First look to see what the cats did.

They chewed through the wires. I mean, what cat could resist a nice piece of floppy black wire?
Sun, 10 Mar 2002 00:09:34 GMT
Owl's trying to pull his escape key trick again, but I'm onto him now.
Sun, 10 Mar 2002 00:13:04 GMT
Querida made a new and determined effort to avoid me this morning. As soon as she sees me, she begins slinking around the office making me follow her around and around. This usually continues until she finally decides to try out a hiding spot and that's when I'm able to catch her.

But this morning, she flattened herself out and squeezed into an itty-bitty space between the top of a box of comics and the shelf above it. You just can't believe how flat a cat can get until you see one do this. Luckily, all I had to do was pull the box out from under her and she was mine to torment! Uh, I mean, I was able to give her the morning pills.
Sun, 17 Mar 2002 05:36:39 GMT
The past few days, Querida has made mostly half-hearted attempts to elude me. I think she's realized it's inevitable.

I can't quite decide whether the Prednisone is doing Owl any good at all. His back looks as patchy as ever, though it's possible some of the hair is growing back and it's just taking a long time.

The rest of the moggies are good. Theseus is sporting more and more dreadlocks on his hindquarters and refuses to let me work on them. I can't believe what a mess he becomes in the winter.

There are heaps of them sleeping head to butt and back to back next to the heater at the moment while Kate settles in on the printer and Tribble props himself against the scanner to have a bath.
Sun, 17 Mar 2002 23:27:03 GMT
I noticed today that Querida is improving from the thryoid control meds. She's put on some weight and her coat looks better. She's looking more like her sturdier self.
Thu, 21 Mar 2002 18:59:11 GMT
Querida goes to the vet today for a recheck on her thyroid. I hate having to do it to her because she gets so stressed going in the carrier.

I also need to talk to the vet about Owl, since the Prednisone doesn't seem to be helping his skin problem. Sigh...
Fri, 22 Mar 2002 03:26:28 GMT
Querida occupied the passenger's seat so she could see me. She complained plaintively the entire way. Owl's carrier had to go on the back seat. He only make an occasional weak noise.

At the Torture the vet's, Querida weighed in at 9 3/4 lbs. which is excellent. She's already gained back a whole pound since starting the thyroid therapy. They drew the blood for a recheck, but it'll be a few days before they have the results.

The vet and I conferred long and hard over Owl's mysterious problem. Given how long he's been denuding the fur from his back end, and the lack of results with cortisone and Prednisone so far, both of us are leaning more and more heavily in the direction of obsessive neurotic behavior.

First, though, we're going to increase the Prednisone for a couple of weeks to see whether we get any results at all. We recalled what a stuggle it was to get Diva over her skin problems.

If that still doesn't help, I'll wean him the Pred and consider what to do next. The vet mentioned a form of kitty Prozac, but neither he nor I like that option very much.
Fri, 22 Mar 2002 04:00:05 GMT
Guess what I discovered? Owl's desire to eat plastic bags has a name. Here's what I found at:

Does your cat nibble your wool sweaters down to fuzzy nubs? If he does, you're not alone. Enough animals eat nonfood materials that the behavior has been given a name-pica. While pica generally isn't dangerous, it can cause intestinal obstructions if your cat eats too much. It also can mean the destruction of blankets, clothing, furniture, and more if it's not controlled.

Pica is defined as an abnormal compulsion to eat things that aren't usually eaten. It occurs rarely in humans, usually kids who eat the occasional handful of dirt. It's also a relatively rare phenomenon in dogs. Some cats, however-particularly Oriental breeds like Siamese and Burmese-will repeatedly chow on everything from phone cords to shower curtains, though their most common snack is wool and other fabrics.


There are several theories on why cats like to chew on wool and other materials. Some behaviorists and veterinarians believe that it starts when kittens are weaned too early or too abruptly. The kittens then suck on fabric to soothe themselves; the sucking gradually turns into chewing. Other veterinary specialists think that dietary deficiencies, such as a lack of fat or insoluble fiber, drive cats to seek the missing nutrients in strange foods. Eating inappropriate things may also be a result of stress, anxiety, or boredom. Neurological disorders and illnesses such as pancreatitis can also cause this behavior. Pica may even be caused by a combination of two or more of these factors.
Mon, 25 Mar 2002 22:23:24 GMT
While Randy and I were gone over the weekend, Unicom and Nefreet had to be locked in the house together. This is bad enough when we're around, but when we're gone it must be a pure torment for them.

They always get wild and crazy when we come home. Last night, they decided to burn off that extra energy by fighting with one another. It's over very own private Middle East in the living room.
Wed, 27 Mar 2002 19:44:08 GMT
The vet called to say that Querida's recheck on the thyroid came out low this time, so I can cut back to giving her only one pill a day. I was hoping for that, as she really hates these pills and has taken to avoiding me. I don't want my poor old girl to avoid me!

Owl also hates taking pills. Yesterday morning, he nearly bowled me over as he made a mad dash out the door to freedom before I could give him a pill. Fortunately, I was able to casually stroll up to him a few minutes later and perform a surprise pill-otomy. There is no escape, not even in the great outdoors.

Last night, Randy and I were relaxing on the sofa with Unicom in his usual place between us, and Nefreet curled up to my right. A coyote suddenly yowled quite close by, as they often do. Both cats immediately jumped up and growled. Unicom then ran up to the loft to hide. Nefreet ran over to the glass doors to glare at the night.

I think if they were ever unlucky enough to confront a coyote while outside, Unicom would wisely go up the nearest tree, while Nefreet would try to beat the crap out of the coyote. She is so nuts.
Thu, 28 Mar 2002 05:34:48 GMT
I've decided that Theseus' true name is Sherman, because he's built like a Sherman Tank -- wide, heavy and dense.
Mon, 01 Apr 2002 00:05:32 GMT
Uni caught his first gopher of spring last night. He ate the front half and we left the rest on the back deck in case the roadrunner came around looking for breakfast. Apparently, the roadrunner didn't make his rounds and the gopher parts were still waiting for me this morning. Ah, the joys...

Theseus is such a clown. He loves to be combed until I try to work through the matted tangles at his butt end. Then he dances around until I give up, but the minute I turn to walk away, he lashes out and whacks me with a swat to the leg. This little ritual is repeated until I've had enough.
Tue, 02 Apr 2002 02:19:20 GMT
I looked out the dining room glass doors and saw the roadrunner on the deck. Then I was Blue in stalking mode. The roadrunner jumped onto the rail and Blue eagerly followed along, watching him from the deck.

I decided to step outside to make sure Blue didn't get lucky, but the roadrunner had it well in, wing. He simply jump-flew onto the roof, leaving a frustrated cat behind. I suspect he was never very worried.

Poor Diva is suffering from springtime allergies. Her eyes run and run and ooze liquid. I have some drops for her. By Bast, she *hates* that. It's better than runny eyes, though.
Fri, 05 Apr 2002 19:45:18 GMT
The Gopher Slayer Brigade was in good form yesterday. I came out of my office to find Tosca crouched over a fresh gopher, though she walked off after sniffing it and Theseus was right there, too. He's such a good hunter, it may have been his kill. Or hers. Hard to say.

Then Uni caught another one last night. He left a pile of guts and a hind piece on the back deck. Something cleaned up up the hindquarters. I'm hoping it was the roadrunner. But lucky me got to clean up the pile of guts.

I'm so pleased with how much better Querida looks now. She's back to a normal weight, her coat is full and soft again, and she's acting more like her old self. She seems to have resigned herself to the morning pill and hasn't made me chase her for a while.

I think I'm seeing some improvement in Owl's back. His fur grows rather slowly, making it hard to be sure, but it does look like it's growing back.
Thu, 11 Apr 2002 17:51:12 GMT
A pretty good gopher tally:

Tosca - 2

Knobby - 1

Knobby just finished crunching his up to the left of me in the office. I can see he left me tidbits to clean up.

Go, moggies!
Fri, 12 Apr 2002 19:24:50 GMT
Blasted Artemis has been playing her water games. Twice this week I've come down to the office to find the carpet soaked and the large water bowl almost totally empty. I'm not sure how she accomplishes this. It's a large metal bowl, so it's not lightweight. It's never turned over. But the water has been removed down to the bottom all the same.

This means *all* the cats went without water for Bast knows how long, depending on when during the night Miss Thumbs committed her liquid pillaging.

It's not doing wonders for the carpet, either.

I'm wedging it with bricks to see if this helps.
Sat, 13 Apr 2002 04:39:03 GMT
I've been too busy to mention the stray cat.

It was two days ago. I noticed that Nefreet was acting oddly on the back deck. She was in stalk and defense mode.

I went over to the dining room doors and saw a handsome young tomcat perched on the back deck. He was your standard gray&brown tabby, not very big yet, but in good shape and very definitely a tom.

Nefreet was searing him with her blinkless laser vision. Young Tom was arching, expanding, doing the defense thing but not with any vicious intent.

When I stepped outside, I expected him to take off, but he didn't. He let me come right over and made no hostile moves toward me even while in defensive posture. After we hustled Nefreet inside, Tom instantly relaxed and let me pet him all up. He rubbed my legs and was as sweet as anything. This was a very well socialized cat, one that must have been around people a lot.

But I knew he didn't come from any of my neighbors, which means he made a long trek from somewhere. He may have been driven off by a more aggressive tom of one of the dozens of mangy dogs down below.

I had Randy bring out the carrier. Tom went right up to it and stuck his head in, which made it easy to get the rest of him inside. He was totally calm. He didn't freak, panic, scream or even get terribly upset.

I called my vet's and arranged to bring him in instantly. He curled up in the back of the carrier and didn't make a peep. I left him to be fixed and picked him up yesterday.

Once again, he was completely calm and quiet. My first neighbor on the hill, who has a couple of outdoor cats, agreed to take him. I had a very hard time forcing myself to leave the cat there. I made Randy a promise to whittle down the Horde to a more manageable size, but damn, this was such a nice cat.

Anyway, we took him into the garage/workshop where my neighbor keeps the cat food. Tom let us pet him up, then wandered around, not terribly upset about anything.

I meant to call and ask how he was doing today, but got too busy. I figure he'll either hang around there and I'll see him from time to time, or he'll find his way home minus some of his apparatus and less inclined to roam the next time.
Wed, 17 Apr 2002 04:41:34 GMT
I stopped by my neighbor's house today to see how it was doing with the gray tabby I left there. My neighbor said he kept the cat inside for a couple of days, but as soon as he opened the door, it took off. I hope he found his way home.
Wed, 17 Apr 2002 18:08:20 GMT
We had some rain last night, but Unicom was wired up and determined to be outside. He said in the dry section under the eaves on the back deck, his senses attuned to the night. He ignored all offers to let him back inside.

I said to Randy, "Uni wants a soggy gopher."

I went outside a few minutes later and he was nowhere in sight. I stood on the deck smelling the fresh scent of the rain for a minute, when I suddenly heard one, short SQUEAK! Immediately afterwards, Uni trotted out from under the deck with a fresh gopher to chow down.

He still didn't want to come in after that. Eventually, I had to stalk him to the end of the deck and grab him before he could jump off. The Gopher Lust was upon him.

This morning, I found a poor, drowned lizard waiting for me in the cats' water bowl.
Fri, 19 Apr 2002 18:44:31 GMT
For a change of pace, Uni caught a mouse last night, which he decapitated. The roadrunner apparently had the rest for breakfast.
Sun, 21 Apr 2002 18:55:35 GMT
Uni left the roadrunner half a gopher for breakfast. The roadrunner has taken to hanging out on the roof. I heard his distinct "brrrrrrt" call this morning. When I went onto the back deck, he launched from a big oak tree and glided away for a long distance. That's the most time I've seen a roadrunner spend off the ground.

Tribble had a gopher for brunch, here in the office, of course.
Fri, 26 Apr 2002 18:29:12 GMT
Cat Door Antics.

I now realize why Theseus will wait and wait for me to let him in or out of the door. I watched him come in the cat door this morning. About halfway through, he had to squeeze and struggle and wiggle to get the rest of his chunky self inside.

Owl, who is a larger cat than Theseus overall, makes elegant jumps through the cat door. The problem Theseus has is that he's a wide-load cat.

Artemis hardly ever goes outside anymore. She used to love the outdoors, but now she hardly budges outside except to go a few feet outside when I'm holding the door open. She only wants to snatch a mouthful of grass and that's it. I suspect the real reason is that she's too fat to use the cat door and doesn't like getting trapped outside.

What she will do instead is pry open the flap and stick her head out. That way she can watch the outside world while the rest of her ample self is safely inside.
Sun, 28 Apr 2002 18:35:58 GMT
Diva has caught herself a cute little Diva-sized gopher and is running around the office with it, growling and hissing just in case another moggy should even think of taking it away from her.
Fri, 03 May 2002 00:51:53 GMT
My office has stacks of empty boxes. Well, some are empty, some contain packing material such as styrofoam peanuts or air-pocket cushions. Some used to contain peanuts which were then scattered hither and anon by Owl and other culprits.

Anyway, lots of boxes. I heard a suspicious sound coming from one box that seemed pretty well closed. I went over, pried up one flap and gleaming golden eyeball looked back at me. It was Diva, who had efficiently boxed herself up and seemed quite happy about it, so I put the flap down and left her to contemplate whatever mischief she will get up to next.
Sat, 04 May 2002 21:12:14 GMT
I came out of my office to an incredibly funny tableau.

As I stepped up toward the road, I saw Querida, Theseus, and Blue lying across the road in a line, with their attention riveted up the road.

I looked and fifteen feet or so up the road stood the Roadrunner, facing off with the line of cats. He didn't seem excessively bothered, even when I appeared. As I began my walk up the road, he considered his options, gave me a Roadrunner raspberry (Brrrttttt!), and flew into the nearest oak tree.
Thu, 16 May 2002 00:35:27 GMT
The Sad Saga of the Unfortunate Owl

When I left home Sun. morning, Owl seemed fine. I guess I didn't look hard enough.

When I got home late Mon. afternoon and began giving the moggies their "Hi, I'm back" scritchies, it was instantly apparent that Owl had a big abscess on his right cheek, almost under his chin. I cleaned the area with hydrogen peroxide, hoping I could reopen the wound myself, but no such luck. He was hurting and that original injury had closed up too well.

That left me just barely enough time to cram the unhappy boy into a carrier and race into town to catch the vet before the office closed. I felt so bad having to come home after being gone, give him a few pets, torture him, then abandon him overnight for more torments.

He's a Frankenstein cat, with a tube in his cheek, but glad to be home. I was surprised that after all that, last night he still came around and begged for love and attention. I am forgiven.

Or was. That may be past tense, since this morning I had to shove an amoxicillin down his throat and clean the wound, and will have to do that twice a day for a week or so. I suspect Owl's forgiveness won't last that long.
Sat, 18 May 2002 04:46:28 GMT
Somewhere in my office, there is a large, doomed lizard.

I knew there had to be something because Blue was going berserk this afternoon, romping through a pile of old cardboard sheets. I finally went over to investigate, but couldn't find the object of his interest.

Later, I went to pick up some of the scattered cardboard and the large lizard skittered across my foot and raced for the small space underneath a large tool chest cabinet. Instantly, a half a dozen very interested moggies honed in. I looked for the poor thing, hoping to rescue it, but it's vanished.

Which means it's doomed. Either a cat will eventually get it, or it will dry up and become yet another petrified lizard carcass to be found one day when we finally move out of here.
Sat, 18 May 2002 18:28:45 GMT
Randy and I stood on the back deck enjoying the stars last night. The quiet of the night was interrupted by a wild rustling in the tall grasses, followed by the pathetic "WEEJ! WEEJ! WEEJ!" death cries of a gopher. Unicom proudly trotted up to the deck to show off his catch, then retired to the patio to eat it. We were thankful we were out of hearing range when he began crunching.

I was told that Owl's "drain pipe" could come up in about three days. It was only a bit of rubber tubing which they'd tied in a knot, so I figured I could spare Owl and myself another trip into town. I snipped apart the knot and it came out easily. After a few dabs of peroxide, he was done. He even paused to sniff at the tubing, rather than running full tilt to escape, so it couldn't have been too bad.

He's been very good about taking his pills, though when he decides to squirm, he's a major handful. I looked at what he weighed when I brought him in this last time and he's up to a hulkish 18.7 pounds! I should probably put him on a diet, but there's no way to do that without putting all the cats on a diet.
Tue, 21 May 2002 04:35:24 GMT
When I opened the office door, the usual batch of moggies ran up to get outside, apparently oblivious to the fact that it had been raining all morning.

Tosca crashed to a stop at the threshold, saw the vast wetness outside, let loose with a verbal insult in meowese and came right back in. Tribble and Theseus stood just outside the door thinking about it, but after a minute, they turned around in disgust and came inside.

So no moggies went outside today. Which is just as well, because if they do go outside on a wet day, they delight in tramping with their wet muddy paws all over my desk.
Sat, 25 May 2002 04:31:06 GMT
I only had one pill left to give to Owl. One of the tricks I've been using to catch him is to stand next to the door when I'm letting the other mogs out first thing in the morning Owl eventually makes a run for the door and I nab him.

But he anticipated me this time. He put on a spurt of speed coupled with his most effective Slippery Force Field, and got right past me.

No problem. He always comes back inside later, so I gave it to him then. He can delay, but he can't escape.

Next up, I discovered poor little Diva has a puncture wound immediately above her right eye. It was still open, so I was able to clean it out, and it's a bony area so not likely to abscess. sigh...

We have taken to referring to Nefreet as Unicom's Doorbell. Uni seems to have figured out that if he picks on Nefreet and gets her to yowl loudly enough, we will come running and open the door, whereupon Uni can stroll inside.
Sun, 26 May 2002 20:57:43 GMT
We had a strange experience with Unicom during lunch.

It's a fairly common routine for us to sit on the couch and eat lunch off tv tables while we catch up on some news. Frequently, Uni gets on the sofa between us. He loves to knead and drool, so Randy has an old towel that he folds up and places on his leg. We jokingly call it Uni's security blanket. Uni will happily knead for a few minutes, then usually curl up for a nap.

That's what he did. He was curled up, seemingly asleep and content, when he suddenly jolted upright, acting as though something was terribly wrong. We muted the tv, but couldn't detect anything. I guess Randy somehow moved the blanket slightly and instantly Uni was in full battle mode -- puffed out to HERE! He watched that blanket as though it were a coiled rattlesnake. He delivered a lightning fast killing blow with his right paw -- WHAP!! -- and retreated to the back of the sofa.

I could see he was completely freaked out. When I tried to pet him, he jumped to the floor where he delivered a whap to the sofa. He slowly came around to the front where he kept his distance, while sniffing the air intently. Randy laid the towel flat on the floor as we tried soothe Uni, but he wasn't having any part of it.

Nefreet watched the whole thing from a distance, then came and touched noses with Uni. She clearly couldn't figure out what the fuss was about.

My guess is that he had a nightmare and didn't fully wake up enough at first to tell the difference between the dream and reality. He did finally calm down and was anxious to go outside, where he seems fine, if a bit disgruntled.

I've never see him do anything quite like that before. It was very odd.
Thu, 06 Jun 2002 04:12:05 GMT
Nefreet welcomed us home from the daily errands with a dead lizard in the dining room.

It's been so hot, even my sturdiest moggies haven't done much romping outside. Theseus is down to his summer coat which is a relief for me. He only gets the serious dreadlocks when he has his winter coat. His summer coat is shorter and much easier to care for.
Thu, 06 Jun 2002 18:55:10 GMT
I had a close call. The moggies could have burned my office down.

Usually at night I leave a small fan running next to one of the windows. This is a very small fan that I had mounted on an old camera tripod.

Something -- I'm guessing a cat -- knocked it over during the night. The fan fell face-forward, knocking the protective grill off so that the fan blades ground to a halt in the carpet. But of course, the fan motor kept trying to run.

When I found it, the motor was burning hot. Luckily, nothing combustible came in contact with it during the night.
Sun, 09 Jun 2002 18:05:50 GMT
Owl has taken to long meditation on the doorstep.
He does this specifically when I've opened the door for him and am standing there holding it open while he thinks and ponders and thinks and ponders upon that most difficult of cat philosophical questions: "Will I enter this door? Or will I sit here forever?"
Sat, 15 Jun 2002 04:41:04 GMT
Owl decided to use a variation of his "sleep on the escape key" trick tonight. Since I've been foiling the escape key trick, he decided to sleep on the other side of the keyboard where he can craftily hit the sleep mode key with his foot. Sigh...

He and a couple other cats were peacefully asleep until I sneezed. Then they vaporized. I had no idea a mere sneeze could be so terrifying. If they were cars, you'd label them as 0 to 90 in a split second.
Sun, 16 Jun 2002 04:17:47 GMT
Tribble had me terribly worried this afternoon. He went out in the morning as usual, but then didn't show up in his usual places at the usual time. He didn't answer my call in the office, so I went hunting and calling for him outside.

I made a more thorough search of the office and finally found him utterly ignoring me, tucked away in a crate under a towel beneath a pile of boxes. Yeesh.

Only much later did he come out to greet me and I have to say he doesn't look like he feels very well. There might be a trip to the vet in his near future. I'm beginning to wonder if he suffers from the same thyroid problem as his mother. He's getting that lean and scruffy look that she had.
Mon, 17 Jun 2002 05:09:07 GMT
Tribble was back to his usual self today. Maybe he just had an off day, or ate something that disagreed with him (and I don't want to think about what that could be).

I just had to rescue yet another tiny lizard, one that had lost its tail in the past and was starting to regrow it. Tosca flushed it out and was kind enough to let me have it while it was still undamaged.
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 05:23:26 GMT
This isn't about the Horde, per se, but it does involve a feline.

We saw my petsitter as we were driving to the post office. She stopper her car and gestured for us to come over. Fortunately, this was in a large, mostly empty parking lot.

She opened the cat carrier on the seat next to her and brought out a tiny, 4-day old kitten, eyes still closed, mewing piteously. It was a little Unicom. Someone found it in her driveway and brought it into the vet clinic where Tisa works. Naturally, Tisa ended up with it (she who already has about 50 cats and feeds nearly every stray in town). Poor little guy is so tiny, but if anyone can save it, I'd bet on Tisa.

I may be a servant of Bast, but Tisa is a High Priestess.
Tue, 25 Jun 2002 20:39:14 GMT
Having now seen LILO AND STITCH, I think I can safely say that Nefreet is the feline version of Stitch: small, smart, occasionally affectionate, otherwise testy, defiant and frequently nuts.
Wed, 26 Jun 2002 05:05:03 GMT
I was about to head out the door this afternoon to run a large batch of errands in town when Nefreet began to howl. Randy and I rushed into the back hall where Nefreet was running, yowling, stopping to bite at her rear end, then running, yowling, stop to bite, etc.

The last time I saw her exhibit this behavior, I had to rush her to the vet who extracted a foxtail from her vagina. (For those who don't know, a "foxtail" is a native grass that grows everywhere around here and sheds infinite numbers of sharp, spear-like seeds we call foxtails, which are designed to pierce then burrow. They pierce and burrow with hideous effect into dogs and cats, everything from between the toes to in the eyes. Unicom nearly lost an eye that way. They are horrible things.)

So we scooped her into the carrier, I notified the vet I was on the way and off I went. I dropped her off around 3:30, and came back after doing all my errands at 4:45 to learn, a) there as no way Nefreet was going to cooperate, so they had to give her happy gas, and b) they didn't find a blasted thing wrong. Either she got rid of whatever was hurting her before I got her to the vet, or perhaps she had been stung or something temporary that couldn't be detected. The vet scoped her, examined her and couldn't find any health problems, except for a rather bloated belly (which she always has).

On the one hand, I'm glad she was all right. On the other hand, it cost me $99 to find that out. That's one hell of an expensive false alarm.

I swear, it must be revenge for calling her Ms. Stitch.
Fri, 28 Jun 2002 18:20:52 GMT
Owl had decided that shredding the flattened pile of stored cardboard boxes is just the coolest thing a Siamese can do. Consequently, I now have shreds of cardboard added to the decor of the office.

Said decor being Casual Cat Debris a la Mess.
Sat, 29 Jun 2002 18:00:24 GMT
The moggies have created a couple of favorite dirt bath locations outside the office. Obviously, something about rolling around in fine powdery dirt feels *wonderful* to cats. It wreaks havoc on my desk, but oh, well.

This morning I happened to see Theseus happily rolling around with Tribble lying nearby batting at Theseus' tail and feet. I thought, "How cute. Tribble is playing with Theseus." Then I realized Tribble was actually, in his laid-back way, telling Theseus to get the hell out of *his* dirt bath. Theseus quickly got the message, leapt up and ran off, whereupon Tribble instantly dived in and started rolling.
Wed, 03 Jul 2002 03:20:06 GMT
We stepped outside onto the back deck to say hello to Uni, who was lounging there, when I realized the roadrunner was on the deck with us, only about 7 feet away. We talked to him and he went "brrrrrttt!!!" to us. He walked along the railing toward the patio, taking his time, not in the least intimidated by us.

Nefreet appeared on the patio. She saw the roadrunner, froze in place, and began making her "birdie!" chatter noises. The roadrunner utterly ignored her. He hopped down onto the patio, walked around her within a few feet and picked a couple of beetles off the adobe bricks. Nefreet wisely did nothing.

But catching the beetles got Uni's attention. He crept down the steps toward the roadrunner, who hardly cared. When Uni got too close, the roadrunner trotted off and stood on the corner of the railroad ties at the far end of the patio.

That happens to be Uni's favorite spot. He loves to lie there and look over the valley below. He kept pretending he was about to make a leap for the roadrunner, wiggling his butt and making feints. Eventually, the roadrunner decided enough was enough and hopped off into the oak tree. Uni settled into "his" spot.

Those birds know no fear.
Thu, 04 Jul 2002 05:28:51 GMT
Big Cat day.

I was coming home from running errands in town around noon. As I passed my first neighbor's house (first house on the hill), a large, lanky, dark brown mottled bobcat loped across the road in front of me.

Around 7:30, Randy was coming home from town and as he got to bottom of our driveway (where it splits from the road), he saw a cougar walking up the middle of the road. It headed down toward the canyon on the north side of my property.

I'm so jealous. Everybody around here has seen a cougar except me.
Sat, 27 Jul 2002 05:18:29 GMT
When we got home from the two-week absence, the moggies were very happy to see us. Unicom has been very glad to have his people back. He's now making a regular habit of sleeping much of the day at Randy's feet under Randy's desk. Here's poor Randy with his long, long legs already at a disadvantage, but he loves that cat so much, he doesn't care. He loves having him there.

Many weeks ago, Unicom had that weird nightmare or whatever it was the spooked him so badly while he was sleeping on the sofa between the two of us. Since that time, we'd had no luck at all coaxing him back into that spot. He would lie on a table right behind the sofa to be close to us, but wouldn't get back on the sofa. But since we've come back, he's voluntarily returned to his old spot between us on the sofa, back to the drooling and kneading like before. *That's* how happy he is to have us back, I think.

Nefreet was also a very happy girl. Long minutes passed before she got around to biting me.

When I went down to my office, I was mobbed by most of the Horde, especially the affectionate ones like Tribble, Theseus, Sly and Tosca. Most of the rest followed in a second wave with a few exceptions. Querida, I suspect, simply doesn't hear very well these days, so I don't think she even realized I'd come in until I came over to the desk where she was lying. She accepted the affection, but I could see the wheels turning in her little furry head -- she feared I was going to give her a pill and she'd better escape. Which she did as soon as she could. She still *hates* getting that thyroid pill every morning.

Owl sat up on a high spot and looked down upon me, not deigning to forgive me right way for abandoning him for two whole weeks. My coaxing fell on deaf ears.

I couldn't find Artemis either. I figured she probably forgot who I was. So it seemed, until I got around to cleaning the cat boxes. Suddenly she remembered and appeared for her round of petting.

Owl did finally decide to forgive me and demanded his share of the attention. He's gotten slightly more talkative lately, not that he has much of a voice. He's just using it more.

Diva and Tosca sang and yodeled. Diva had a bite on her shoulder that looked rather nasty. I cleaned it up, whereupon she was careful not to let me get within reach of her for days. Fortunately, it didn't abscess.

I looked out the dining room doors the other morning and saw that Unicom was hunched on the deck in an entranced pose, staring at the patio. I went over to a window to see what had him so interested. It was a pair of bunnies grazing on the clover that grows between the adobe paving stones. Uni made no attempt to go after them. He's nearing the end of his hunting days, I suspect, though I'm sure he'll continue to catch gophers now and then. But he has a bad shoulder that makes him limp heavily (he gets baby aspirin twice a week for that) and we suspect he has a depth perception problem.

Many years back, he very nearly lost one eye to an infection brought on by getting a foxtail in his eye, then being treated with medication to which he was allergic. Although it miraculously healed up, that eye has always been more clouded than his other. We notice that when he's on the back of the sofa, he is uncertain of the depth to the seat of the sofa, even though it's only a short distance. We also notice that he lands damned heavily from even short jumps. That doesn't help his shoulder either. I hate to think of it, but he's getting older.

Aren't we all?
Sun, 28 Jul 2002 18:03:33 GMT
I have all the materials relating to my current writing project cleverly organized into handy three-ring binders.

Which I keep lying next to my keyboard for quick reference.

Which Owl has decided are the perfect bed. Just his size, nice and sloped, obviously comfy.

Anybody want to hazard a guess I often I get to use my reference?
Wed, 31 Jul 2002 21:13:12 GMT
Back in mid-April, a lovely young dark tabby tomcat showed up at the house. He was friendly and sweet and I had no clue where he came from. I had him fixed, then took him to my first neighbor on the hill. A week later, I asked after him and my neighbor said the cat had taken off and not come back.

He showed up this morning on the back deck, outside our bedroom doors. I wasn't sure at first. When I went out, I walked slowly toward him and as I got close, I knelt down. He came right over, rubbed vigorously all over me, rolled at my feet and made a total lover-boy of himself. I took a look and yup, I'm pretty sure it's the same boy. He was in excellent condition--clean, healthy, obviously getting food.

Then Unicom and Nefreet got out. Unicom went into Giant Inflation Mode, growled, was ready to rumble. Nefreet is always ready to rumble, of course. Tabby-boy puffed up and growled back. I grabbed the tabby-boy firmly by the scruff, held him and carried him past his enemies. He was very good about it. I headed down the driveway and relaxed my grip. He didn't struggle or panic. He snuggled onto my shoulder. I set him down by my office, figuring he could find his way back to wherever he was living from there. After a few minutes, he began to make his way through the grasses and down the hill.

If I didn't have so many in the Horde, I'd adopt him in a heartbeat.

I just realized I missed Owl's anniversary. He arrived in my care on 7/24/97. Wow, it's been five years! He's nine years old now, roughly, so he's been with me over half his life. How strange. It occurs to me that Randy may be the first man he's gotten to know. Since Jo was a single woman and the people caretaking the cats while Jo was in the hospital were mostly female (I think), it's possible he's only known women. The cool thing is that Owl really likes Randy. Owl comes over to him for attention and talks to him, quite a major step for the elusive Owl. Mind you, Randy is the soul of gentleness and wonderful with animals, so that helps.
Sat, 03 Aug 2002 00:33:38 GMT
Tribble managed to turn my computer off, totally off -- not once, but twice. He was sleeping next to the APC (battery back-up unit) and hit the off switch with his foot.

You'd think I would have been smart enough to move him the first time, right? Wrong. First, moving Tribble is a no-win proposition. You move him. He comes back. You move him. He comes back. You move him...and he's such a sweet cat that I can't bring myself to get truly irritated with him.

But the second time around, I *did* move him. He's currently right back in the same spot. I've put something in front of the off switch. Sigh...

And of course, both times I was on-line in the middle of writing long, complex emails and dealing with meeting a deadline, then have to suddenly sit through rebooting, running scandisk, etc.

Tue, 13 Aug 2002 18:48:53 GMT

As I enter the office, cats race for the door to get outside.

I turn on the computer. While it's booting up, I give Querida her morning pill, dump out the water bowl, wipe it clean it and fill it with fresh water.

I start the dial-up procedure. While that's happening (which for some reason, takes a long time on my machine), I sweep the floor around the cat boxes.

I open Eudora and start downloading my email. While that's happening, I clean the cat boxes.

With all the cat tasks done, I sit down contentedly to read email. Whereupon Tosca races in from the outside, jumps onto my desk and shakes herself. Ten pounds of fine, gritty dirt settles upon the desk and keyboard. Cat is hastily, but gently (so as not to shake off more dust) lifted to the ground and told to go shake herself somewhere else. Keyboard is turned upsidedown and shaken. Desk is wiped off.

And so it goes.
Thu, 15 Aug 2002 04:36:54 GMT
You know how often you see someone in a movie or tv show who has bad dream and sits bolt upright in bed? I always laugh at that bit of nonsense. It's so overdone and far from reality.

Except I did it the other night. What made me sit boltupright to startled wakefulness at 3 am was the sound of Unicom and Nefreet having a vicious altercation. Except that once I was upright and awake, I didn't hear a beep anywhere in the house. Silent as the tomb. I could NOT figure out whether something had actually happened or I'd had a dream about it. I did see the humor in doing what I what I would laugh about if on tv.

However, during the course of the next afternoon and evening, Randy found and removed no less than three claws sheaths that were stuck into Unicom's skin and fur on his head and neck area. Plus he has bloody scab on the inside of one ear. So I think it's safe to say they had a nasty, but brief tiff and I really did have a good reason to bolt awake.

For years, I nurtured along a poor little peach tree that I inherited with my house. It struggled and barely managed to produce a few small peaches, but I kept it going. Then Randy took over and spent the last year waging a losing battle with the damned gophers who were destroying the tree's roots. The gophers won and the tree is dead.

Today, Randy had his revenge. He was watering near the tree and lots of water was going into the gopher holes. A soggy gopher poked his head up. Randy waited, poured in more water, waited and sure enough, the gopher finally popped out of the ground and made a run for it.

Randy stomped the sucker good! Then he gave it to Unicom. Uni was quite happy to have a fresh, if waterlogged, gopher treat.
Fri, 16 Aug 2002 04:22:32 GMT
Theseus decided to make a jump for my desk, but for one of those inexplicable reasons known only to cats, he must have changed his mind right around the same time he sent the signal to his legs to jump.

As a consequence, about half the command to jump got through and he fell short. He grasped desperately with his front paws at my desktop, but found nothing he could grip onto. He slid butt-first into my large wastebasket, which then majestically toppled over to spill Theseus and half the contents across the floor.

It was rather like watching a slow-motion disaster, but I was laughing too hard to do anything about it.
Fri, 16 Aug 2002 17:44:51 GMT
Sigh...5 am I had to leap out of bed, jolted from sleep once again, stagger into the living room and break up a fight between Unicom and Nefreet. Uni strolled over trying to look innocent, except that his tail was PUFFED OUT TO HERE. I checked them out to make sure no damage was done before staggering back to bed.

What with Nefreet being a petite psycho and Uni being a big tough guy, there's no hope for peace between those two.
Sat, 17 Aug 2002 05:02:12 GMT
We had a lot more excitement than we bargained for after dinner.

It was full dark because we ate late, and we stepped out onto the patio to give Unicom some petting. He likes to hang out on the far corner of patio. He came over and he petted him up, then he moved closer to the steps to the back deck.

We started for the back steps when I noticed Uni was suddenly behaving as though deeply alarmed, with his attention toward the corner of the house. We stopped at the bottom of the steps and listened. Immediately to Randy's left and adjacent to the steps and corner of the house, is our huge outdoor combination A/C-heating unit that was running. It makes quite a bit of noise, but I quickly picked up another sound running in tandem with it. It's a sound I've heard many times before, the sound of a pissed off rattlesnake. The shadows were too dark to make out anything.

I went to pick up Uni and bring him inside. Big mistake. Uni was NOT going to held, not matter what tactics I tried. He was in full-blown panic mode, claws flailing. Now I knew for sure that I was right. I called for Randy to run for his gun and flashlight. I lost my hold on Uni after he nailed me several times in the arm, after which he ran off.

I dashed into the house, grabbed the large flashlight as Randy came up with his .22 pistol loaded with snakeshot (I also keep a .22 pistol loaded with snakeshot, but one was enough).

We went down the steps, keeping a safer distance this time. There's a small space between the house and the A/C unit, with a large metal connector that has a cozy little space beneath it. There he was, curled up and shaking his tail in full wrath. He could have easily struck and bitten Randy when we were standing there before, and Randy wearing shorts and no shoes.

I held the beam on him while Randy carefully pumped three shots into its head, having to find an angle that wouldn't damage the equipment the rattler was next to.

He measured exactly 3 feet from snout to tip, with 8 rattles and button. Far from the biggest I've ever dealt with, but big enough. Randy located Uni hanging around down at my office, still pretty freaked out, so we're leaving him alone to calm down. But it does answer something we've been wondering about. Lately, we've seen him react several times to electrical cords or anything large and snake-like lying on the floor. He's been pausing and batting very apprehensively at it before moving on. We've speculated that he might have had a close encounter with a snake recently.

As for me, the inside of my right arm at the elbow looks like a battle field. In one place, it looks like a very clumsy nurse tried to take blood from the vein, missed by a hair and left a big puncture wound behind. It hurt like hell when Uni did it and only feels slightly better now.

But that's okay It's the second time I've been saved from a potential rattlesnake bite by a cat. Uni did good.
Sat, 17 Aug 2002 22:31:53
Unicom remained a very spooked boy for the rest of the evening and even this morning. He was extremely dubious of Randy's feet and kept checking to make sure they were really a part of Randy's body. Last night, any strange sound or sudden movement would spook him. This morning, he spooked when Randy poured more food into his bowl.

Good thing he's not a horse I had to ride.

Now had Zorro or Achilles been there, they would have done the Dance of Death with the rattler and killed it. I sure do miss those cats. I even dreamt about Achilles last night. I dreamt I found him and brought him home again. Sigh...
Tue, 20 Aug 2002 11:39:02
Unicom continues to have problems telling that our feet belong to us.

Randy and I were sitting on the sofa with Uni between us. I did something I don't usually do and tucked my foot up under one knee. This left my big toe sticking out. Uni have been peacefully dozing when he suddenly spotted my toe and decided it was an Unknown Entity of Dangerous Intent. He sat up and whacked it a couple of times.

I decided to relieve Uni's anxiety by moving my foot so that he could see it was, indeed, only my foot. But as I brought my foot across, Uni reared up, hissed and leapt over the back of the sofa.

We were hysterical. We tried to coax him back, but he just looked at us with big, round eyes and was even nervous about Randy's hands.

Hysterical laughing aside, though, I find it slightly worrisome to have him react in such an extreme manner. He's never done that before. It's led us to theorize he could be suffering a form of post-traumatic stress, though I wonder what could have caused him that much trauma without us being aware of it.
Thu, 22 Aug 2002 22:35:17
I've decided I need to get Querida to the vet as soon as I can manage. I want my long-time, beloved vet to see her. This time I'm not going to settle for anyone else.

Lately, Querida's been drinking excessive amounts of water. She'll lie next to the water bowl, with her chin resting on the edge, and drink and drink. That could be a sign of kidney trouble, diabetes, or who knows what. She is, after all, quite an old girl. There are a few other things that need to be looked at as well.

Poor Querida. She *hates* the carrier and gets stressed out from it. She's a cat that has never ever liked to be caged or restrained.
Fri, 23 Aug 2002 15:45:06
Querida went to the vet, vocalizing vociferously the entire way. She also panted and drooled excessively from the stress. I carried her into the vet's office where she proceeded to make eardrums flinch. Her voice is a blend of a Siamese yowl and an enraged duck. A woman walked in off the street and pleaded us to do something for that poor cat. It was truly a performance of high pathos.

The most likely answer is exactly what I expected--not quite the right dose on the thyroid meds. Querida's lost about a pound since I had her there last in March, and I could tell she was losing weight. The blood work showed no kidney problems, no diabetes, but elevated liver functions, which she also had back in Feb. when I first brought her in. That points toward the thyroid problem.

The test for thyroid had to be sent out, so we won't have the results for that until next week. I'm guessing she needs just a bit more of the thyroid medication than she's getting now.

She also has a couple of fairly rotten teeth that need to be removed which would account for her running eyes and nose problems (underlying irritation), but neither the vet nor I am willing to risk that procedure on her at this point. Querida is a 16 year old cat, after all, so being put under is risky. Once we get her stabilized (and I get caught up on the blasted vet bill), I'll think about getting the teeth removed.
Sat, 24 Aug 2002 11:55:18
The blasted moggies managed to knock my scanner off the desk. This isn't a small object, it's a full-sized tabletop HP scanner. I found it lying upside-down on the floor.

HP makes them tough, I guess. It's still working. But some cat had to work pretty hard to get this thing all the way onto the floor. Maybe one of the hefties, like Artemis, used it for a launching pad in a moment of panic.

I'd like someone to hire me to design a line of cat-proof desks. Lots of protective areas for equipment and additional space purely for cats to sleep in where they won't interfere with the equipment.

Of course, cats being cats, they'll sleep anywhere except where you want them to.
Sat, 24 Aug 2002 17:54:16
Now for some light amusement, I've added a new page to the Moggy Horde site: The Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

Come join the contest!
Sun, 25 Aug 2002 21:02:18
I replenished the bird feeder this morning. As is my custom, I also leave piles of bird seed on the patio for the blue jays and other birds that don't use the feeder.

This morning, Unicom decided to sample the bird seed and find out whether it made a good cat snack. He looked amusing with bird seed on his nose. I shooed him away from it, but I don't think he found it very interesting anyway.

This evening, after dusk, we looked out to see a bunny snacking on the bird seed. No wonder we have so many bold bunnies around the yard this year. I didn't realize I was feeding them, too!
Mon, 26 Aug 2002 21:20:37
The vet called early this morning to let me know the results of Querida's thyroid test. As we had both anticipated, her thyroid levels were far too high. Lucky me, I have to start giving her meds *twice* a day. That will be so much fun...

Owl's trying to sleep on the blasted escape key again. That's because Tosca's sleeping in his usual spot on the other side of the keyboard. Sly has occupied the printer. Theseus is sprawled alongside the scanner. Querida and Kate are behind my chair. I'm in here somewhere.

Many years back, a friend of mine, Bridget McKenna, gave me the most wonderful picture. It's an illustration by Gorey. In the center, a person sits working at an old fashioned typewriter. You can't tell if this person is male or female because a large cat is draped over his/her shoulder, obscuring the face. Another cal is sprawled on top of papers on the desk, one sits on more paper, one is pulling papers off the desk, one is standing up on the back of the chair to look out the window, two more sleep on a bookcase nearby and a picture of a cat hangs on the wall.

I can so relate to this illustration.
Fri, 30 Aug 2002 21:28:53
Poor Unicom continues to be a badly spooked boy. The other night we couldn't find him when it was bedtime. Randy and I were outside with flashlights calling him and searching everywhere. This is the sort of thing I'm used to, but turns Randy into a nervous wreck.

Randy finally found Uni way up the oak tree next to the patio. We coaxed him down and brought him in. Since he's not the type to go up a tree for no particular reason, something must have given him a serious fright. He's been much less inclined to go out and stay out at night for the past couple of evenings. It could be one of the dogs from down below. They do wander up the hill sometimes.
Wed, 04 Sep 2002 22:00:23
I had a very strange bout with Artemis. I only saw the cats briefly this morning, just enough to give them fresh water, give Querida her pill and clean the boxes.

When I got back and came down here around 8:30 pm, I got the usual greetings from a happy horde. Then I began to hear a cat crying in distress. I tracked it down to Artemis, cowering in a dark, protected corner behaving as though she were terrified and had no idea who I was. It was deeply unsettling.

I couldn't coax her to me. When I went toward her, she would try to escape, then retreat to her corner. I very gently talked to her and gave her scritchies which she quite seemed to appreciate. I couldn't see an injury, but she wasn't going to budge either.

I finally decided to leave her alone for a while. It's been about an hour and she's finally lying out in the middle of the room in one of her usual places and looking her normal self. In fact, when she saw me looking at her, she gave me her usual mrow-wow-wow and headed this way.

I sure wish I knew what that fit of fear was all about.
Fri, 06 Sep 2002 21:31:39
I opened the sliding glass door in the living room to let Uni in. The door peeled up a long, thin strip of something (silicone or whatever) which curled up across the threshhold.

Uni did a double-take. He verrrrry carefully checked out that snake. With slow intent, he investigated. With one lightning strike of his paw, he killed the snake. He make sure it was good and dead before he strolled inside. I removed the "snake" and praised Uni, the Mighty Snake Killer.
Mon, 09 Sep 2002 11:58:05
Nefreet left us three gifts yesterday. I suspect both were a way of letting me know how much she hated getting her weekly anti-allergen rubdown. One was a nice, juicy hairball. The second was the lower half of a lizard on the kitchen floor. The third was the upper half of the lizard along with all the cat food she'd eaten earlier in the day. Ah, yes, cats.

Cats is a four letter word.
Wed, 11 Sep 2002 14:51:18
Tosca seems to have set herself up as the alpha-female. She's become quite bossy. Her favorite trick of late is to attack the tail of another cat as it lies minding its own business on my desk. When said cat takes umbrage, Tosca clearly feels entitled to wallop away. In self-defense, of course.
Wed, 11 Sep 2002 22:40:27
Argh...either the young tabby-boy has returned (the one I had fixed) or yet another stray cat has shown up. I haven't gotten a good enough look to determine which is the case.

Uni was pulling his usual Finnegan routine tonight where he comes in for a few quick bites of food, then goes out, then comes in, then goes out. We call it the "in-again-out-again-Finnegan".

Anyway, I was about to let him out onto the back deck when he began to growl. I spotted a dark tabby-type cat disappearing under the deck. The reason I have my doubts is that it seemed to have two very white back feet and a fluffy tail. The other tabby-boy didn't. However, it was somewhat dark and I didn't have my glasses on, so I could be wrong about my impression.

We've kept Uni inside rather than risk him getting into a fight. I'm keeping my eyes open for the stray.
Thu, 12 Sep 2002 21:49:42
Here I am with a perfectly large desk with nice, flat spaces and I'm looking around for a place to put my papers.

That's because the nice flat spaces are filled with nice, sleeping cats. Do I move the nice, sleeping cats? Of course not. I keep looking for some other non-existent place for my papers...
Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:49:25
Bast has had her way with me again. This time, she worked with the most cunning deviousness, a slow build-up and a twist ending.

The stray tabby-boy, the one I had fixed months ago, has made the occasional appearance, including a couple nights back. He's a brown/black/tan tabby with a little bit of a white chin. I really liked this cat from the beginning because he was such a sociable, affectionate and apparently good-natured cat. But I made Randy a solemn promise -- no more cats.

So you can imagine my total shock when Randy went out onto the front porch after lunch and came back inside carrying tabby-boy. The cat was trapped on the porch by Uni who was ready to defend his territory.

Randy carried him into the back hall so we could close the door and keep him confined. Tabby-boy was totally relaxed and wildly affectionate. He had some of the cat food we keep in an extra bowl on top of the dryer, then rolled around and purred and made an adorable spectacle of himself. We noticed his tail has an oddly triangular shape rather than being round like most cat tails. Poor Randy was already suffering asthma and allergic reactions from petting the stray. But once the cat turned his big, green, hypnotic eyes on Randy, it was all over.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but do you think he'd get along with your other cats?"

I could hear Bast's evil chortle of triumph.

He seems to have quite a Puckish nature, so his name for the moment is Puck. We'll see if it sticks.

I don't think Puck wanted Randy to leave. As soon as Randy closed the door behind him, Puck went into a frenzy of leg rubbing, toe-biting and made an impulsive swipe at my face that left me with a couple of minor scratches on the inside of my lip.

I carried him down to my office, having gotten the rest of the Horde inside and closed the cat door. We're now going through the usual round of yowling, wailing, hissing and fussing that is the initiation process. Puck instantly found himself a cave-like spot in a set of shelves next to the cat food where he has curled up. He yowls and hisses if anyone gets too close, but other than that, he doesn't seem too bothered. I go over and pet him every ten minutes or so.

The other cats are having their usual range of reactions from curiosity to bafflement. They're keeping their distance. It's been pretty peaceful so far. Mind you, this is only the start. Puck will have to come out to eat, drink and use the cat box eventually and that's when the real fun begins.

This puts me back up to 14 cats. No longer a coven. The toughest part is that I'll have to keep the cat door closed and keep Puck inside for at least a couple of weeks, or he'll simply run off the first chance he gets. Then he'll show up again and maybe get into a fight with Uni and so on and so forth. That means also keeping most of the other cats inside and cautiously letting them in and out myself without letting Puck get out.

I just hope they don't destroy my office during the night.
Fri, 13 Sep 2002 20:59:20
I had to go into town for a few hours. When I got back, everything was the same down here. Puck was in his "cave" and the rest of the cats were leaving him alone.

When I went to see him, Puck came out and rolled around on my feet and did figure-8's around my legs. He's not really intimidated by much. He wasn't at all bothered when I swept the floor around him. He still yowls and hisses at any other cat that gets within three feet of him. I've put some food and water near his cave, separate from the other food and water, until he gets more settled in.

Randy came down to see how Puck was doing and Puck did the whole wild affection thing for him, too. Poor Sly made the mistake of wandering over to say hello to Randy. Puck jumped up and chased Sly halfway across the office. I hope this aggression phase doesn't last too long or cause a spate of abscesses.

Now that I'm back at the desk, Puck has returned to his cave. It's quiet, for the moment.
Sat, 14 Sep 2002 11:27:09
When I came into the office this morning, I let a few cats dart outside then looked around for Mr. Puck. I finally found him lounging on top of a box on the highest shelf in the office, a favorite lounging spot of several of the cats.

He came readily over to me, but Diva was on top of another section of the shelves. They had a face-off. I think she was only curious, but Puck is still in defensive mode so they hissed. I patted a couple of lower shelves on a workbench right next to the shelves he was on. He's a smart boy. He got the idea instantly and bounced on down to the workbench where I gave him lots of attention.

But he also turned and attacked Diva, driving her back across the shelves. He makes a lightning fast lunge and a swipe with a front paw when he does this. Not enough to do serious damage, but enough that I will have to keep a close watch for face abscesses in case one claw connects. I checked Diva out later and she seems fine.

However, I'm also severely chastising him every time he shows aggression to the other cats. When he was on the floor, I could see that he was going to make a lunch at Artemis, so I held onto the end of his tail. The amazing thing is that he *let* me. He didn't growl at me or turn and attack me. He let me hold him in check. It's a rare cat who would allow that from someone he hardly knows at all.

I saw him use the cat box, to his relief as well as mine, I'm sure. He hung out next to me while I was cleaning the cat boxes, though he did wallop Blue who made the mistake of getting too close. Actually, I don't mind if he wallops Blue. Blue has been a bully and needs someone to keep him in line. I can easily see Puck becoming the alpha male in spite of being only about a year and a half old and not very big. He's all long, lean sinew at this point.

I'm guessing from his reactions that he's led a rough and tumble life. He must be accustomed to having to fight for everything he gets.

He did make one run for the door when I was letting cats in and out, but wasn't frantic about it. He's eating from the main food bowls, so I've done away with having special food and water in a separate location.

Shortly after I sat down to do email, the Puckster discovered my desk. He came and rubbed my legs and hung around at the base of my chair. I had to discipline him a few times about not attacking Querida or Owl. Then he discovered the top of my desk. He rubbed up the monitor, sniffed around, plopped down on one side of the desk, got into my lap and tickled my chin with his tail, started to growl and hiss at Kate who was sleeping on the printer, but I put a stop to that.

A few minutes later, in a sign of great progress, he settled down between the keyboard and monitor. Kate had relocated to the left side of my keyboard, so they were now almost nose to nose, maybe less than a foot away, and there was no trouble. Mind you, I was there to make sure of that, but it's still progress. Kate decided not to push her luck after about five minutes and left.

Now Puck has curled up on the printer as though he owns the damn place, which I suppose he does, and is having a nice bath.

I should mention that Randy has made it clear that he only broke the "no more cats" rule because Puck is clearly a unique and wonderful moggy, not some ordinary old cat.
Sat, 14 Sep 2002 21:51:33
Slowly, slowly Puck is getting settled in. He seems to be accepting Kate more easily than the others. Maybe she looks like mom?

I notice he has the most aggressive reaction to the black cats -- to Sly, Tosca, Diva and Knobby. My guess is that he had a nemesis that was a black cat.

Puck is pretty defensive with Owl and Theseus, though I suspect that may be a matter of their large size seeming like a threat. Poor Theseus has gone into self-imposed exile off in some cranny of the office.

While I've been at the computer tonight, Puck slept on the desk next to the keyboard and has now shifted over to the printer. If somebody wanted to design the ideal cat bed, all she would have to do is make a mold of the top of this flat-top HP printer. Every one of my cats loves to sleep on it. Yes, it has a nice heavy plastic dustcover over it.

Randy came down earlier to spend some time visiting Puck. Puck was ecstatic to see him and rolled around at his feet and charged at any other cat that dared to get near. MY HUMAN, MINE!!! What a performance. Puck does a half-somersault where he tucks his head under and his butt up, then plops over onto his side on top of one's foot. Randy stayed as long as he could (which is about 5 minutes). Puck did the same thing he did yesterday when Randy left -- he got all crazed and bit my toes! It must be his way of letting me know he's not happy that Randy goes away.
Sun, 15 Sep 2002 11:04:05
Things are remarkably peaceful this morning. There are still the occasional flare-ups, but they grow fewer and less vociferous. I saw Puck do some fairly close mingling this morning with no hissing on either side.

I think Querida finally realized this morning that there's a strange cat around. She's been rather oblivious to the whole thing up until now. Poor old girl. It's possible she's entirely deaf by now. I can't quite tell for sure. At the very least, her hearing is impaired.

Puck was exploring the office, but now he's curled up immediately to my right. He sure is a sweet boy.
Sun, 15 Sep 2002 13:57:12
Puck is looney. He gets crazed for attention to the point where I can hardly walk around the office because he's throwing himself on top of my feet and biting my toes.

He chased Blue into hiding. I reprimanded Puck for that, but I don't mind if he stays dominant over Blue.

Then the merry Puckster decided to balance on the back of my office chair and lean on my neck. After which he sort of slide down between my back and the chair and savaged my pony tail.

The rest of the office Horde is not terribly happy at the moment, but this is only day 3. Things should settle down soon.
Sun, 15 Sep 2002 22:20:04
I wish I had someone down here with a camera to get a photo of this nutso cat perched on my shoulder, nibbling my ear. Maybe I should rename him Casanova.
Mon, 16 Sep 2002 21:27:56
I had a pilling contest with Owl last night. Owl won. Every night for nearly two weeks, he has obligingly taken the anti-histamine, but last night Puck was right there and Owl became completely uncooperative. I tried to get that pill down his throat about five times, nearly losing a finger in the process. By then, the bitterness of the pill made Owl foam. Long, ropes of drool poured from his mouth. I gave up.

Puck's acceptance in the Horde is proceeding well. It was one step quieter today. When I came down this morning, Puck was up in Diva's favorite spot, the place where she almost always hangs out. He came bouncing across the cat bridge as though he's done it a thousand times.

When I came down after lunch, he was on top of another set of shelves hanging out very close to Knobby. No significant spats took place, at least not while I was here. He hangs out close to me, his preferred place being between the monitor and the keyboard. I'm beginning the "don't step on the keyboard" lessons. He also decided that lying on top of my mouse was wonderful...even if I happened to be using it at the time. I've had to move him three or four times from that spot. He likes my lap, too.

Mid-afternoon, one of my rotten moggies knocked a large box down from the top of some bookshelves. It was large box filled with styrofoam packing stuff, like the peanuts except more squarish. There is now a large pile of styrofoam packing stuff on the floor and a million pieces of packing stuff EVERYWHERE, like a styrofoam blizzard has descended upon me.

I am steadfastly ignoring it, in the vain hope it will somehow evaporate or being carried off by fairies.
Tue, 17 Sep 2002 12:01:37
Owl is back to taking his pill nicely. I'm relieved, because I think this treatment is actually working. I must thank Judy Tarr for this. I recently exchanged email with her and she mentioned having a cat who pulled his fur out. Her vet managed to stop it with a combination of Prednisone and Chlortrimetron.

I tried various Pred regimes with Owl to no effect. And I even had my vet recommend the Chlortrimetron for Querida. But it never occurred to me to try it on Owl. So I've been giving him one every night for going on two weeks. And by damn, I think it's working! It takes a while for the fur to grow back, so it will be another couple of weeks before I can be positive. But I sure hope it works and he gets his gorgeous coat back.

Meanwhile, things are quiet in the Horde as the moggies slowly relax and accept Puck.

But the damn styrofoam chips are still there. And there. And there and there and there and OVER THERE. They're proliferating! Argh.
Wed, 18 Sep 2002 12:06:11
Years of experience have taught me not to get bodily parts in the way of cats whacking at one another, but I do it anyway. Things seemed to be going so well. Puck and the other cats have calmed down a lot, but I think it's mostly still on the surface with tensions lurking beneath the shallow calm.

Puck was on the desk when Sly came over to say hello. I was delighted to see Puck present his head in a friendly fashion to Sly. They rubbed heads and sniffed a little bit. Puck laid down while I petted Sly. Everything seemed fine. Then a couple of minutes later with no warning, Puck suddenly attacked Sly. I instinctively threw my hand in there to stop it. Poor Sly vaporized to elsewhere. I castigated Puck while nursing my sore hand.

I have a couple of minor scratches, which are no big deal at all. But Puck must have gotten a claw tip into a nerve and damaged it. By the time I got to the gym in the afternoon, it hurt like hell to close my hand or make a fist. The area on the back of my hand around the second knuckle was swollen and painful.

It's about fifty percent better this morning, but it still hurts. I think I'm going to find a time when Puck is nice and relaxed and trim back his front claws until he stops lashing out unexpectedly like that.
Wed, 18 Sep 2002 21:35:58
It's official. Puck now has his own webpage.

For a view of the Puckster, click on his cute face on the Moggy Horde page:
Thu, 19 Sep 2002 17:45:22
Poor, long-suffering Kate. She was lying to the right of the keyboard while Puck is lying in "his" spot between the keyboard and the monitor. So he started to play with her tail.

Kate gave me the most pathetic look. It was a look that said, "Mooommm, look what he's doing!" She got up, readjusted herself, laid down, whereupon Puck began to play with her tail again. Another pathetic look. She got up, etc. This happened about four times. By the third time, Kate opened her mouth AND MADE A SOUND. She was so aggrieved, she actually complained out loud. This is Kate of the Silent Meow, the girl who never utters a word. She finally gave up and went elsewhere for her nap.

Owl has come to take her place. The tip of his tail is flicking mere inches from Puck's nose. Luckily for all concerned, Puck is now asleep.
Thu, 19 Sep 2002 21:34:15
Puck is learning his way around the office equipment. He hasn't quite gotten the message about the keyboard yet. I was trying to do a quick update on a webpage when a cascade of actions happened, thanks to Puck stretching his legs.

I used my CD burner a lot today. He thought that was fascinating. He sat and listened to it with his big ears perked toward the sound.

The printer, however, has him slightly flummoxed. He's not quite sure what he thinks of that, as he watches paper disappear in one slot and slide out the top.

He has no qualms about chasing a ball, however. He knew instantly what chasing a ball was about. ZOOOOMMMM!
Fri, 20 Sep 2002 21:59:41
Puck is chasing Sly around the office. I *think* he might be trying to play, but Sly's been whacked by Puck too many times to be playful about it.

The Puckster is full of energy and needs an outlet. I wish Diva would learn to play with him. She's as wired as he is. They'd be hell on wheels if they got going as playmates.
Sat, 21 Sep 2002 11:05:39
Puck is working out his energy by savaging one of the cat beds. Mischief incarnate.
Tue, 24 Sep 2002 11:09:30
I'm sitting here minding my own business when I suddenly find cat paws wrapped around my neck and clinging to my ears. Puck decided to jump up from the floor onto the back of my neck. I count myself lucky he didn't entirely shred my ears in the process.

He has too much energy to be bottled up inside, but I'm not ready to let him outside yet. I want him thoroughly acclimated and settled in before I risk that.

Though things are generally pretty calm, Puck still has a bad habit of suddenly attacking one of the other cats. He chased Artemis around yesterday. This morning, he jumped on Knobby. That could have turned into a real fight if I hadn't been here to intervene. I have some work ahead of me to break him of his bad habits. [p;;;;;;;;;

Hmmm...I think Puck was trying to spell his name there...or it's his editorial comment on bad habits.


As of today, 26 Sept. 2002, I have shifted the Tales of the Moggy Horde over to a blog format. You may have found your way here from the Moggyblog, but if you haven't, here's the link for it. This is where the Tales will be posted from now on.
I'm new to this blogging business and still feeling my way around, so pardon me if I don't get this quite right the first time around.

The purpose of this blog is to post the Tales of the Moggy Horde.

What is a moggy, you might ask, let alone a horde of them. Moggy is a British/Scottish/Australian slang word for "cat", supposedly derived from "mongrel". I am currently the personal body slave to a horde of 14 cats.

To become acquainted with the Moggy Horde in more detail, please visit their page. You will find Artemis the Polydactyl Princess, Puck the Merry Prankster, Owl the Siamese Sumo Ninja, Tribble the lovemuffin, Unicom the Mighty Gopher Slayer, Nefreet the Psycho-kitty, Theseus the fluffy tank, Querida the Dowager Empress, the mother and daughter singing duo of Tosca and Diva, and enough moggies to satisfy any felinophile.

There are years worth of previous Tales linked to the main Horde page. If I could figure out how to archive them here, I would, but that seems beyond blog-ability at the moment.

You should also enjoy the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

Unicom was in a bad mood yesterday. He was aloof and disinterested in his people. He didn't give us one single purr the whole day. He did finally get on the sofa with us in the evening, but only because hewanted to knead and drool for a bit.

He seems to be back to normal this morning, though anxious to get outside.

Puck and Diva can't seem to decide whether to play or fight. She was going bonkers on top of her favorite shelf and boxes. Puck got on the cat bridge (which spans the wide space between some plan files and the shelves) and watched her. Then he oozed below the bridge onto a lower shelf. As he was doing this, Diva jumped down hard onto the bridge and Puck hastily vanished.

He emerged from the other side of the shelf and jumped to the top ofthe boxes. Now Diva was between the bridge side and Puck's position. They had a long stare-down. Then Diva would pounce over and they'd bat away at one another, back off, sit uneasily about four feet apart, have another batting session, etc. Finally Puck had enough and made the long jump to the cement floor rather than try to get past her.

It looks more like fighting right now, but I have hopes it may progress into actual play.

I've learned not to leave my office chair exposed if I step away from the desk while Puck is there. He loves to jump onto the chair and exercise his claws on the seat.

I tried to get a photo of Puck and Kate asleep head to head, but naturally the minute I try to focus in on them, they move.

Nefreet has bursts of insanity in which she becomes a rocket-butt and races around the house. Look at her sidewise and she bursts into high speed. She was racing around the house last night when she collided with one of the food bowls. The result was an empty bowl and a lot of cat food on the kitchen floor.

Puck the Mighty has slain the featherduster. He alternates between sleeping in the cat bed and trying to disembowel it. He's prowling the office looking for mischief to get into.

Puck and Tribble had what started out as a friendly interaction. Tribble was even licking Puck's head. They both plopped down sideways on the floor. Then Puck made some kind of playful swipe, but Tribble took it as non-playful and suddenly they were in a whacking battle, paws flying in a blur until I broke it up.

Puck was so defensive when he first got here, it's made the other cats respond in kind. I think that will eventually pass. Except for minor incidents like that, it's been pretty quiet amongst the Horde. He really needs a playmate. He's off batting something or other around on the cement floor part of the office.

Querida is looking good on the higher does of thyroid meds. She's put her normal weight back on. She still hates taking the pills, but she has pretty much resigned herself to having it happen.

Nefreet provided us with some amusement last night. She was on the sofa next to Randy when I came in and he'd been playing "squeaker toy" with her. Everytime he lightly squeezed the tip of her tail, she'd meep. Squeeze tail. Meep, meep. Squeeze tail. Meep, meep. She never bothered moving her tail, of course. I think she only got up and moved because we were laughing so hard.

The greatest cat I ever had, in the early 1970's, was Elric, a long-haired ragdoll with ice-blue eyes. He was amazingly smart and he absolutely *hated* being laughed at. He wouldn't tolerate it at all. If you laughed at him, he whacked you in the head.

Puck greeted me with a very nice purr this morning. He has quiet, steady-state, soothing kind of purr.

Then he decided to chase Artemis full-tilt around the office. I yelled sternly at him, but I noticed that Artemis waddled right back into the open again afterwards. I'm thinking she's not all that worried about being chased. Given how fat she is, being chased around the office a few times might do her some good.

Theseus brought half the yard inside. He doesn't mind that I use a broom to brush him off. That's right, the regular broom I use on the floor. Theseus is so broad, the broom works just fine. He hardly seems to notice it.

Theseus also loves being combed. If I'm combing another cat, he'll push his way in. He only loves having his head, neck and chin combed though. As soon as I reach his hindquarters, which is where he desperately needs the combing, he gets persnickety. Now that his dense, winter coat is growing in, I need to comb him more often. Every winter I have to combat the dreadlocks he grows on his butt.

This got me to thinking about the wide range of quality in cat fur. Nefreet is the queen of magnificent fur. She is as soft, glossy and sleek as mink. Her fur is a sensual joy to stroke. I notice her fur easily absorbs water, too.

Whereas Unicom's fur resists water with a fierce passion. Giving him the bi-weekly rubdown with anti-allergen liquid takes a lot of application, with Uni grousing the entire time.

Kate has the second-nicest fur of the Horde. It's luxuriously thick and beautifully ticked in browns and blacks. Owl has fur like a plush toy, when he isn't pulling it out.

The rest of the cats have fairly nice, kinda average fur, except Theseus. His fur is in some other category unto itself -- thick, tough and stubborn.

When I came back out of my office this afternoon, I found the tiny remnants of a bird. There wasn't even enough left to identify what type of bird. I hate it when one of my cats snares a bird. I wish they'd focus on the mice and gophers instead.

Artemis is lying with her big, white belly in the air...snoring.

I heard Puck meow twice this morning for the first time ever. He never makes a sound, but I hadn't really stopped to think about it until he uttered a couple of small meows while going after something in the corner of the office. Then he raced around, bouncing like Tigger off the furniture and ran along the top of the bookshelves, after which he suddenly stopped and licked himself.

The rest of the moggies are all fine. The settling in is nearly accomplished, I think.

As I left the office late this afternoon, I took a few strides and stopped dead at the sight of a young rattler lying just off the corner of the building. I hurried back inside to fetch my .22 Ruger auto. Unfortunately, I didn't have snakeshot in it.

I went back outside (luckily, all the cats were inside both in the office and at the house) and very carefully eyed it off. It wasn't very big, but the problem is that it's extremely difficult to tell the gopher snakes up here from the rattlesnakes. They look nearly identical, and the gopher snakes have developed a defense of behaving like rattlers...which might be good against animals but is a really bad idea around humans.

I couldn't see any buttons on the tail, but as I said, it wasn't very big. Very young rattlers don't have buttons yet, but I'm not sure at what size they grow them. I moved around it looking and looking at the head, trying to be as sure as possible. I hate killing snakes, even rattlers, and I especially hate the idea I might kill a harmless and beneficial snake by accident.

The only feature I could use to judge by was the shape of the head. The more I looked, the more I thought it looked wedge-shaped, but it's so hard to be sure. I decided I couldn't afford to take the chance.

I took aim at the head, but I haven't practiced shooting for a long time. My aim must have gotten awfully rusty. Not to mention getting a bead on a snake's moving head is tricky. I missed three times, blasting the snake backwards each time without apparently harming it. It was mightily pissed off, though.

Finally, it turned and started to race down a hole that was right at the base of one of the garage doors (my office is converted from a large garage). I only had seconds to react and I had no idea where this hole went. It might have given the snake access to the office, for all I could tell. Since its head was down the hole, I moved right up to it and pretty much blew it in half.

While that brought it back out of the hole, it amazingly wasn't dead. I refuse to let any creature suffer, so I raced up to the house, got my .22 Ruger revolver that's loaded with snakeshot, and dispatched it.

It may have been necessary, but I'm still sorry I had to do it.

I'm getting extra exercise these days from having to get up and down from my desk numerous times during the morning to let cats out and in the office. Normally, I'd just open the cat door and let them come and go as they please. I'm not ready to risk that with Puck yet. He wants to go out, very much so, but I'm worried he'll revert to his wild ways and run off. He'd probably come back, provided no predator nabbed him in the meantime, but I'm now thoroughly attached to the boy and don't want to lose him.

He sits and looks out the window. He'll head toward the door when I open it for another cat, but doesn't make any mad dashes for it. He's not *desperate* to get out, in other words. So for now, I'll accept the extra exercise and jump out of my chair when I hear the cats outside "knocking" on the closed cat door.

I still feel bad about that snake, dammit.

Puck has been a total snot this morning. He attacked Diva, chased her around, jumped on her and behaved not at all like a gentleman. I had to grab him by the scruff and give him a Severe Admonishment. Then I had to do it two more times because he just wouldn't quit.

I got fed up enough to grab the cat nailclippers and snip off the needlepoints at the end of his front claws. He didn't give me the slightest bit of resistance when I did this, even though it meant holding his paws firmly enough to push the claws out and then snip them. He's an exceptionally tolerant boy.

Unicom was more vociferous than usual when he got his mid-week rundown. You would have thought I was ripping his ears off. Of course, to most cats getting wet is about the equivalent of having their ears ripped off. Randy could hear him all the way out in the living room while listening to CNN.

I could just see PETA at my door to investigate. "No, no, nothing wrong here. We sacrifice a cat to Satan every Wednesday. Sorry about the howling."

There's a new competitor in the Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics and I must say she's very talented. Miss Dinah opened her eyes at the last second when the photo was taken, but I decided to bend the rules. You'll see why.

I had to keep jumping up and running intervention between Puck and Diva again this morning. It's a good thing the Horde settles down and sleeps during the afternoon. Peace descends on the land of snoozing moggies.

Blasted Puck has been harrassing Tosca and Diva again. As I observed from his arrival, he seems to have a big problem with black cats and I'm guessing a black cat has caused him grief in the past.

I had to run intervention several times. I'd pick him up and carry him to another part of the office, set him down and he went BOUNDING OFF to continue the confrontation.

I finally opened a window and plonked him down next to it, hoping that would distract him enough to break the cycle he'd gotten into. So far, so good.

Nefreet has a passion for birds. More correctly, I should say Nefreet would passionately like to catch a bird. I haven't seen her succeed in this particular quest yet, but she will sit at the glass doors or a window and chatter enthusiastically. When I let her out this morning, she was surrounded by birds: quail, woodpeckers, jays, sparrows, finches, nuthatches, titmouses (titmice?). I'm not sure whether she was thrilled or frustrated. So many birds, so uncatchable.

She is equally obsessed with lizards. Unfortunately, she's too good at catching lizards. We do what we can to discourage it, since eating lizards is supposedly bad for cats.

Sounds like the Puck and Diva show is gearing up again. Sigh...

Puck did chase Blue around yesterday, but I notice they don't growl or get into a fight at the end of it. They might actually be heading toward becoming play-buddies. That would be an excellent thing since Blue hasn't formed much of a friendship with another member of the Horde.

Querida caused me to lose about ten minutes searching for her with the morning pill in hand. She found an entirely cunning new place to lay low, or in this case, to lay medium-high on a shelf of stacked posters. But I found her, eventually. There is no escaping the dreaded Thyroid Pill.

Shortly before lunch, I heard Tribble whining and whining outside the door. That's his normal voice. He just happens to have an extremely whiny sort of meow. At any rate, I went over to let him in and instead found him standing guard over an acquisition. I leaned in and rescued a lizard, unharmed and very much alive, though playing dead. I carried him to a stack of old wooden pallets behind my office where he quickly scuttled off to safety.

We have three main kinds of lizards around here. The most common ones have a long, thin body, long tail and smooth scales, and they're quick to lose large sections of tail when they need to escape. They can get pretty big. The cats catch those a lot. I will sometimes find just the tail, or I will rescue one that has barely started to grow its tail back.

The kind I rescued today is closer to the appearance of a horned toad with a squat, round body, short wide tail and scaly bits that stick up. Then there's another kind with a bright, irridescent blue stomach that are quite beautiful to see, but more rare.

I saw Puck rub his head up against Tribble's head this afternoon. Tribble was a bit unsure about it at first, but he's such a mellow boy, he let Puck do it.

Unicom has been frozen in place on the patio. Apparently, there's a gopher tunnelling beneath the thick, square adobe tiles. He can hear it, but can't do anything about it. It's driving him nuts.

Tosca went outside this morning and became one with the yard. She was so thoroughly coated with dust and bits of dry grass and weeds that she looked like a piece of battered chicken ready for frying.

I decided to let Puck outside briefly. I stepped out and he followed. He didn't run off. Instead, he sniffed around the outside of the door and only went a short distance away. He kept coming back to rub up against me, then went off to sniff some more. He brushed past a couple of the other cats in the process and there was total acceptance. I stayed outside with him for about five minutes, then decided to bring him back in. It's a good first step, though. I feel more comfortable about the prospect of giving him access to the cat door pretty soon.

After lunch, I stayed up at the house to get some accounting and bill-paying done. Randy went outside to continue digging a trench for some pipe we need to lay. Then one of my neighbors drove up the hill on a noisy old ATV to fix some barbed wire.

The end result is that Tribble and Theseus are deep in hiding under the back deck and not about to come out until they're good and ready. I usually have them inside by this time of the afternoon. I called and enticed, but they were having no part of it. "In our own good time," they said.

I had high hopes for Owl after I started giving him Chlor-Trimetron. His hair was growing back and he was looking much better. Now he's either found a way to get rid of the pill even though I think he's swallowing it, or he's become immune to it because he's denuding his backside again, as badly as before. It's discouraging.

It took a couple of hours, but Theseus and Tribble were finally persuaded to come out of hiding and follow me down the hill to the office where they immediately plonked their noses into the food bowls.

Puck continues to have minor skirmishes with Tosca and Diva. Tosca doesn't help. She's such an aggressive alpha-female. But Puck just jumped, or rather bounced, onto my desk and plopped down to sleep against Querida. She ignored it for awhile, then shifted herself to remove the weight of his head. She hasn't left though.

I'm still fighting the battle with Puck over the need to keep stray paws off the keyboard, though.

Theseus came in from rolling around in the largest burr-patch he could find. He was literally untouchable. A large fluffball stuffed with burrs from one end to the other. These are especially nasty burrs because they're very small and have infinitesimally tiny hair-needles that come off at the slightest touch. They're virtually invisible, nearly impossible to get out of your skin, and they hurt a thousand times out of proportion to what the are. They hurt like hell.

I combed Theseus out as thoroughly and carefully as I could, then spend another half-hour with tweezers trying to pry the blasted burr-needles out of my hand.

I got home from a two-day business trip and went down to check on the Horde, clean the cat boxes, etc. The cats crowded around for attention and ear-scritchies. Puck got exuberant about it all and began harrassing Diva and Tosca, the little bugger.

He was equally crazy this morning, literally bouncing off the walls. I haven't worked up the nerve to let him outside yet, but I think it will help when I do.

Puck is currently alternating between attacking the cat bed and leaping into it.

Randy, softie that he is, has been letting Unicom come into the bedroom and sleep on the bed. The original idea was not to let any cats into the bedroom so there would be at least one room that was as free as possible of cat allergens.

At first, we were only letting Uni in there right after he'd had one of his rubdowns, when he was as allergy-free as he could be. Then Randy discovered the enormous pleasure of taking a nap on the bed with Uni curled up next to him. Now, Uni is spending nearly every day sleeping on the bed. Last night, he was already there when we came in to go to bed. We spent a long time petting him and rubbing his belly and scratching his chin before putting him out and shutting the door.

Now the djinn is out of the bottle. Unicom has already figured out that he can bump open the bedroom door. For some reason, the latch doesn't quite catch. Around 5 am, we heard Uni scratching at the carpet outside the door, followed by a soft but firm FWUMP! as he forced the door open. We could hear him pad, pad, pad around the room. Then he landed on my legs, got between us and proceeded to knead, purr and drool.

That's all very nice, except when you're both short on sleep and desperately tired. Randy had to get up and carry him out. Five minutes later, FWUMP! Pad, pad, pad. Back on the bed.

Randy evicted him again. Followed by "No, Uni!" when he made another attempt. Then Nefreet had to get involved. We finally managed to get the point across. It didn't do much good for a full night's sleep.

Uni's been sleeping on the bed all day again. This time he's curled up on a throw that I put on the bed that is a bright gold sun surrounded by stars and comets on a midnight blue background. Uni's golden coloring against this was gorgeous. I ran for my camera and tripod, flooded the room with a much natural light as possible and shot off an entire roll of film. Uni cooperated beautifully by lying very still for the long exposures and shifting position every few minutes. I hope I get some great shots out of that batch.

I had a dream about kittens. Not ordinary kittens, however. In the dream, I discovered two, fairly new litters of kittens that were lurking in the backs of shelves in a store, or something to that effect.

In one litter, there was a tabby kitten whose stripes and markings were of sky-blue.

In the other litter, there was a kitten that had green fur. I was thinking of calling it Emerald something or other, when Randy showed up and said, "No. No more cats."

So no blue and green kittens for me. ;)


When I came down to the office and opened the door, the usual batch of moggies raced out and this time I let Puck go with them. Since it was a lovely day out, nice temperature but no insects to worry about, I simply left the door standing open most of the morning.

I stood outside for a long time at first. Puck sniffed around and investigated the entire outside of my office. He hung out with the other cats with no problems. He plopped into the Rolling Trough, where all the moggies love to take their dust baths. He came over to me a couple of times to be petted and he didn't run off when I would come over to him.

Then Unicom got curious. He strolled down the driveway to his favorite rolling spot, about halfway between the house and my office. Puck instantly came to attention. He went right up to Uni. They sniffed noses. I watched Puck's tail expand and expand, which made Uni begin to get his back up, so I quickly stepped in to cool things off. Puck was ready to defend "his" territory and Uni was ready to keep Puck from heading up the hill. Fortunately, nothing came of it.

I shot off a short roll of film of the mogs. Since things were going so well, I came inside to do email. Some time later, I decided to look for Puck and couldn't find him. I called a bunch of times, but wasn't too worried. After alll, the reason we ended up taking him in is because he kept coming back to our house. About ten minutes later, Randy came down to see how Puck was doing. I knew Unicom was inside at this point, so my guess was that Puck might be hanging around the house somewhere.

Sure enough, Randy found him under the back deck and brought him inside. I shut the door, unblocked the cat door, and headed up to the house for lunch. When I came out after lunch, Puck was under the car right outside the back door. He either knew how to use a cat door already or took no time at all in figuring out how to use it. Smart boy.

I brought him and the rest of the Horde inside for the day (their outside time ends around 1 or 2 pm).

There was a "gift" waiting for me in the office...a headless bluebird. GAAAAHHHHH! My cats have killed the Bluebird of Happiness! I am so doomed.

This morning I opened the cat door and let the moggies come and go as they pleased, including Puck. He was one of the first ones out the cat door.

I stepped outside, closed the door and sort of "helped" him to go back inside via the cat door, just to make sure he understood that it works both ways. Then I said, "Ok, you can come back out." And out he popped.

I focused on my work for the next hour and some before checking on Puck's whereabouts. He seems to like to hang out under one of the cars next to the house. As I walked up the hill, Uni strolled over to me from the direction of the dumpster. I looked over and saw Puck lying next to the dumpster, very relaxed. This means they were in relatively the same vicinity without fighting!

I also saw Nefreet come over to check out Puck. She wasn't too sure what she thought, so she was somewhere halfway between warily friendly and ready to defend herself. Since I was there, I mediated things and that went pretty well, too.

One of my favorite things in the morning, before letting Uni and Nefreet out of the house, is watching the birds. I've been more attentive about putting out birdseed and keeping the birdbath filled lately. Randy heard a specialist say that this was an important time to put out food and water for the birds because many birds that get sick with West Nile virus have a hard time foraging while they're sick. The extra food and water could make the difference between life and death for the sick birds.

So far, I haven't heard of the virus getting to the west coast, but I imagine it inevitably will. Besides which, I love watching the birds and identifying the many different kinds that show up. When I went out to fill the birdbath, I found a dead bird, a very small sparrow, lying next to the house. Mindful of the virus, I used a plastic bag to pick it up and dispose of it. I don't think I can blame the cats for this one, because it was untouched. I suspect it flew into the bedroom window, poor thing,

During breakfast, I was astonished to see a bird I've never seen before. He was large, about a third larger than the acorn woodpeckers and almost the size of the roadrunner, with beautiful, unusual markings. He had a gray face, black eye and red stripe running back from the eye. Light brown stripe on the top of his head, black patch on his breast at the base of the neck. Brown and white barred feathers on his back, white breast with black spots all over it, a hint of red in the lower part of the feathers, and white at the base of the tail. Long, strong, slightly curved beak.

I had a hunch it was a type of woodpecker and I was a right. It was a Red-Shafted Flicker. Really a gorgeous bird. I hope he shows up again.

When Randy opened the front door to let Uni and Nefreet out, a gopher had poked its head up in the front yard. Both cats raced over and staked out the gopher hole, to no avail.

Puck was the first out the door this morning. I checked on him a couple of times and he's hanging around nearby. I'll feel better when I see him coming in the cat door by himself, though, and when he's gotten into the routine with the rest of the cats of coming inside after I come down from lunch.

My old Querida is no longer going outside at all, not even when I set her down at the open door and encouraged her. She used to love to go outside. Now she mostly sleeps. I'm afraid old age must really be catching up to her.

Interestingly enough, Puck wasn't with the usual batch of eager moggies who rush out the door. That batch includes Tribble, Theseus, Tosca and Diva. The second batch tends to be Sly and Owl. Blue and Knobby take their time.

This time, I found Puck lazily stretching on the workbench. I gave him a bunch of love and scritches. He eventually wandered over to the cat door and stuck his head out it. He looked around briefly, then backed up, went over and sat next to Knobby looking out a window. I concentrated on my morning tasks and I think he's finally gone outside since I don't see him around. I suppose now that he knows he can get out, he's not desperate about it.

Part of the morning routine is changing the water bowl. I don't have water in the office, so I have to carry down gallon jugs. I dump out the old water, wipe out the bowl with a paper towel, then fill it from one of the jugs. Artemis waits for me to do this. As soon as I put the empty bowl down, she rushes over and positions herself so she can lap from the stream of falling water. She loves drinking water that way. One of these days, I'll have to buy her one of those circulating fountain-type water bowls.

I must be getting thick in my old age. It should have occurred to me right away that Puck would be likely to have tapeworm. I hadn't seen any signs yet, but Randy was giving Puck some attention on the front porch yesterday and definitely saw it.

Because I have so many cats that catch rodents, I keep some tapeworm-killing pills handy. Puck wasn't happy about having pills popped down his throat, but he wasn't too difficult about it and he didn't run away afterwards. He let me pet him and love him up instead. He's already put on a little bit of weight, but this should help a lot.

I got back the photos of Uni on the cosmic rug and they're gorgeous. Really gorgeous. I'll post some on-line in the next day or so.

Relations in the Horde have become even more peaceful now that Puck goes outside with the rest of them. First stop is the Rolling Trough for a good morning dust bath. They take turns, but Puck has been getting there first.

Some of the others follow up the dust bath with a breakfast of grass-eating. I'm sure they do this so they can present me with the upchuck later on as a gift.

Theseus has a bad scratch on his nose. Wonder who gave it to him?

Yesterday, I was surprised to find Puck already inside the office when I came down from lunch. I didn't have to find him and carry him down. This is working out very nicely.

Nefreet killed a small sparrow yesterday. Randy happened to look up from his window just in time to see her nab it. He was deeply upset with her for the rest of the day. I hate to see my cats catch birds, but it's in their nature. We can try to prevent it and that's about all.

Which made it disturbing to get up this morning and not see any birds around. Usually there are lots of them on the patio and in the birdbath. Hardly a one. I hope there isn't some sort of bird telegraph marking us as a cursed place.

All is quiet and happy amongst the Horde. If you don't count Unicom and Nefreet having to suffer through their anti-allergen rubdowns.

Uni has become a bed addict. He scratches outside the door as we're waking up. He rushes in first thing in the morning and hardly budges from the bed until late afternoon when he's finally refreshed enough form his all-day nap to go outside and romp a bit. He caught a gopher a few nights ago.

Then he wants to return to the bed at night. Randy had to remove him the other night and Uni sulked for the remainder of the evening and kept on sulking right into the next morning.

"You've created a monster," I said.

Puck is an exceptionally smart cat. He's already catching on to the daily routine.

When I came down from lunch and headed for my office, about five cats fell in around me. I always call for the cats to come in at that time, but most of them know enough to simply follow me down and into the office. Tribble and Theseus wait for me near the house, Owl and the others tend to wait for me closer to the office.

I came inside with those cats and closed off the cat door. I looked around and realized Puck wasn't inside. But a minute later, I heard a cat "knocking" at the cat door. I opened the door and there was Puck who promptly trotted inside.

Smart, smart boy.

Before I let Nefreet out this moring, I spent some time checking out the birds to see who had shown up. At one point, there was a bluebird, goldfinch and red finch in the birdbath together. It would have made a great photo.

I was delighted to see a pair, male and female, of that unusual woodpecker, the Flicker, I spotted a few days ago. They're beautiful birds. The only difference is that the male has the red markings on his neck and the female doesn't.

One of the differences between these particular Flickers and other woodpeckers is that they also eat ants and their feet are designed to let them move around on the ground. This pair were hard at work spearing their beaks into the ground, I presume looking for ants or insects.

The moggies left me a gift at the doorstep of the office -- the very tip of a rodent snout. Go moggies!

I let the Horde out and stood watching for a couple of minutes. Knobby came around the corner with his tail all pouffed out for some reason. Puck saw that and did the Sideways Dance across about ten feet. He arched up, fully pouffed his tail and dance-glided the whole distance sideways in an instant. It was a performance that Barishnikov would have envied.

Usually this a lead-in to a fight. Instead, Puck and Knobby just sniffed noses, then Puck instantly deflated and relaxed and strolled on his way.

Diva has a small puncture wound over her right eye. Nothing serious. I cleaned it with some peroxide last night. I suspect it might have come from playing with Tosca. Mother and daughter get into some very rough bouts of playing.

We didn't barricade the door, so at 7:20 am, Unicom butted the door open, padded into the bedroom and made himself at home on the bed between us where he purred loud enough to wake the dead.

This sounds like a pleasant thing, and it is, unless you desperately need that last half-hour of sleep. We weren't about to toss such a divinely happy cat off the bed, but we really need to do something about that door.

You never know how the cats will greet you after an absence. Even though we were only gone a day and a half, the office Horde mobbed me. But Unicom rather snubbed us. All he wanted was to get outside. Of course, he was locked up inside with Nefreet while we were gone, so I can understand that.

We decided to leave the bedroom open to Uni while we were gone, so he could sleep on the bed. The downside of that is that we knew he would be demanding about sleeping on the bed last night. We barricaded the door as a precaution.

Sure enough, around 4:30, Uni threw himself against the door with a heavy WHUMP, then complained when he couldn't get in. He tried again about five minutes later, and again around 7:20.

When we finally got up and let him in, he commenced to drool all over the bed. Actually, he always drools when he first gets on the bed, but this morning he was a prolific drooler. We joked about needing to get him on an IV drip so he wouldn't dehydrate. Uni grossed us out, however, with an inch-long piece of drool hanging from his mouth until we wiped him up with a tissue. He was a happy boy.

I was only gone one night and already Owl has removed patches of fur from his back. I have a sitter who comes twice a day to make sure Querida gets her pills, but I told her not to worry about trying to catch Owl. Now I'm left wondering if Owl did it because he didn't get an anti-histamine, or if he did it because he was neurotic over my absence.

I had to run into town this morning to do a bunch of errands that had piled up. I spent some of the time petting other people's animals. While waiting to have a battery put in my watch, I had a delightful time with a sweet, German Shepherd-mix. She adored having her chin and belly scratched.

In the feed store, buying 20 pound bags of cat food, I discovered the store's mascot, Oscar, demonstrating a piece of cat furniture by sleeping in it and peeping over the edge at me. He's a lovely cat, a pale gray tabby with a peach nose and green eyes. There I stood, with 14 cats at home wanting attention, while I scritched Oscar around the head and played "catch the hand" with him.

In the grocery store, a woman had the tiniest dog, a baby Chihuahua only 7 weeks old. It was so damned cute. My fingers got thoroughly licked.

Artemis has once again positioned herself between my keyboard and the monitor. I can't seem to get through to her that her big, fat body doesn't fit there and no, I can't type with the keyboard being pushed into my lap. She's as stubborn as she is fat, so it's a tough battle.

There are gophers tunnelling under my patio. The patio is paved with thick square adobe bricks. It's driving Unicom nuts. He can hear the gophers under there, but can't get to them. I saw him trying to stick his paw between cracks in the bricks last night. Poor frustrated Gopher Slayer.

Owl is doing his best to make me mental. I've tried everything to overcome his obsession with removing the fur from his back. He's had cortisone shots, he's had courses of Prednisone, I've rubbed him with bitterapple lotion, he's had flea treatment, and I've been giving him Chlor-Trimetron every night for weeks. Just when he seems to be doing a bit better, he relapses. Today he has several bald streaks where he removed the fur. If it's not a physical problem, it must be an emotional/mental one. One vet suggested kitty-Prozac, but I really don't like that idea much. I'm stumped for now.

This was the first day I couldn't find Puck after lunch. He's usually lounging around on the back deck and comes right over so I can bring him inside for the day. I walked all around the outside of the house, calling him and looking for him. Then I went down and looked around the outside of my office. My eye happened to fall on the shadow of the roof and there was the shadow of a cat strolling along the edge of it. I looked up. Puck looked down from the roof.

He showed no interest at all in finding a way back down. I fetched Randy. Randy fetched a ladder. Puck came readily over, then purred in Randy's ear as Randy brought him down. I'm sure Puck would have found his own way down eventually, but I didn't want to work with half my mind worrying about getting Puck inside.

We let Uni outside before we had breakfast. By the time we finished and stepped outside, Uni was having his own freshly served, hot gopher breakfast. That's one less gopher to tunnel under the patio. Go Unicom!

Now he's on the bed having a stuffed-stomach nap.

Later today, however, he goes to the vet to have his shoulder examined. We're worried about the limp, plus the strange shrugging motion he makes when he's falling asleep.

Unicom was an excellent boy. He hardly made a peep on the trip to the vet's (though he wasn't wild about being put into the carrier). He was a perfect gentleman for the vet, even though she had to move and manipulate that sore shoulder a lot. She could tell that moving it a certain way was hurting him a lot. There's no sign of any other problem and he seems healthy in all other respects. He's lost close to two pounds over the past couple of months, but that's actually a good thing as less weight will put less stress on the joints. At 15+ lbs., he's not exactly a small cat.

The best guess this time, as before, is arthritis, probably aggravated by an old injury. Because of Uni's weight, she recommended giving him the baby aspirin three times a week, roughly every 48 hours, but not over the weekend (to give his system time to clean out any excess). Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of long-term pain medication for cats.

I talked to her briefly about Owl. Because of his hefty size, she recommends giving him the anti-histamine twice a day. It might even help calm him down. Failing that, as I've already noted, the only thing left to try would be kitty valium.

Owl's not thrilled about the extra pill.

I went looking for the Puckster yesterday after I'd gotten the rest of the cats inside. He was under the back deck, too interested in something to pay attention to me. I walked around the outside of the deck, which is lined with thick rosemary bushes and big, overflowing rockrose bushes, but still couldn't get his attention. I walked back over to the patio when suddenly a bird zoomed from under the deck and past my knees, with Puck in hot pursuit. He gave up at that point and was content to let me carry him down to the office.

We neglected to barricade the bedroom door last night. Come 6:30 am and WHUMPH! Uni pushed the door open and jumped onto the bed. I dragged myself up and carried Uni out. Being half asleep, I grabbed the easiest thing I could find, a basket full of laundry, and put that against the door.

Ten minutes later, WHUMPH! Uni pushed open the door and the basket and was back inside. I took him out again. Randy got up and put heavier stuff against the door. Uni pushed at it and whined for a while, then finally gave up.

Obviously, a sore shoulder is no impediment to a determined cat.

After we got up, Randy told Uni the bed was available. Uni promptly trotted in and settled down for a loud purr & drool session.

Most of the moggies are out romping on this lovely autumn day. Querida mostly stays in now, which is good given her age and impaired hearing. But Sly is also staying inside and hardly venturing out at all. This is a change for him. When I first brought him home, he had been entirely an outdoor cat. He's always enjoyed going outside. For the past month or so, I've noticed he's had less and less interest and more anxiety about being outside. He seems totally healthy. Maybe he had a close call or something else has put him off. Not that it matters much, as he's a sweet, quiet boy that never causes any trouble. If he wants to stay in, that's fine with me.

First thing this morning, I noticed that Nefreet had expressed her displeasure over the Unicom-on-the-bed routine by spraying the wastebasket in the bathroom. I never knew female cats could spray until she came along. Sigh...

I let the cats out after breakfast, then went into town to have a workout at the gym. Got home around 2, had lunch, then went down to my office, gathering up cats as I went. Tribble was hunched intently over a gopher hole and didn't show up for a while, though he did eventually come knocking at the door.

But there was no sign of Puck. I searched all around outside the house and my office (even the roof) and called and called for him. I went back to my office and looked more carefully in case I simply missed seeing him before.

I started calling outside and searching around the house again. Randy heard me and joined me in the search. On a hunch, I suddenly decided to check the two shed-housings, one of which covers the pressure pump and outside pressure tank for water, the other of which covers the water filtration tanks.

The small shed that covers the pressure pump only has one opening, a small door in front. It's cracked open just enough to allow a hose to come out of it from a tap, and we keep a chunk of wood propped against it to keep the cats from getting inside.

I opened this little door and there was the Puckster, all big-eyed and innocent, sitting right inside. I have no idea whether he somehow got in and then found himself trapped, or whether he was sitting there having a grand old time watching two people run around calling his name for minutes on end. I suppose he was waiting for us to become truly frantic, at which point he would casually saunter out.

"Cats" is a four-letter word.

Oh, and in the course of counting ears in the office while looking for Puck, I discovered that Knobby has a huge abscess on his cheek. I thought he was acting as though he didn't feel well for a couple of days. I'll have to get him to the vet's first thing Mon.

Meanwhile, I must dig out my stand-by stash of Amoxi and attempt to get him started on it. Knobby is a damned hard cat to catch and pill. Highly neurotic and very elusive. He's the only cat who ever drove me the point of actually dumping him at the vet's in a completely frazzled state, saying, "Here, YOU get pills into him!"

At the moment, he's retreated to the highest, most difficult-to-reach place in my entire office. Of course. Where else would he be when I need to get hold of him.

Knobby was distinctly unhappy about going to the vet's. I had no trouble giving him another pill and getting him in the carrier. I was relieved that he didn't decide to wail or caterwaul on the way into town, though he did complain a little. He also ripped up the newspaper I put on the floor of the carrier. I dropped him off first thing in the morning, with his poor face puffed out the size of a goose egg. He can stay there overnight for some r&r, and I'll pick him up tomorrow.

Cats do make some funny sounds when they sleep. A couple of mine snore. Diva was making a loud clucking-suckling sound. It was so strange I walked over to listen to her. She opened her eyes and sat up, but must have been still mostly asleep, because she kept doing it until she suddenly woke up the rest of the way.

Knobby is glad to be home. He complained more on the trip home than he did on the trip to the vet's. He's got his Frankenstein face with a big drainage tube in it. I thought he would avoid me this evening, but he actually got up on the desk and begged for attention, something he doesn't do very often.

Theseus is growing his winter dreadlocks. I really should be combing him every day, if I could just find the time. And he hates it when I try to untangle the thick knots on his hindquarters, which is exactly where he needs the most work. It's a challenge.

It's a cool, rainy day. The first wave of moggies -- Tribble, Puck, Theseus, Tosca and Diva -- rushed for the door only to come to an abrupt halt on the doormat as the wetness of the day met their noses. A few have braved the outside for short forays. I like the way Puck sticks his head and neck out the cat door and surveys the outside. He thinks it over, then backs up and stays inside.

Knobby has been surprisingly easy to deal with. I do have a couple of claw marks from yesterday. I was trying to get a grip on his neck and he got a grip on my neck first. But I'm managing to get the pills into him and keep the wound clean.

Kate has become a heavy lump in my lap with her head resting on my left arm, which makes it quite an exercise to type.

Uni isn't happy about this wild and stormy night. He sleeps most of the day, then wants to do his romping at night. For some odd reason, he spent the afternoon sleeping *under* the bed instead of on it. Now he's stuck inside and is clearly a little disgruntled about it.

I heard the oddest sound while sitting at my computer. A rapid THRUPP-THRUPP-THRUPP, like someone playing an old-fashioned, corrugated washboard. I looked around. Theseus, bored to distraction, had wrapped himself around the ridged plastic hose of the vacuum cleaner and was trying to disembowel it.

With heavy rains all night and morning, and a nice big pond forming outside the house and the office door, it was no great surprise that Unicom showed no interest in going outside and that no horde of moggies rushed to go out when I came into the office.

I opened the cat door anyway. Tribble was the only one who, after sticking his head out and thinking about it for a minute, finally decided to go out. When I opened the door, he was sitting on the one high spot that wasn't underwater on the doormat.

Naturally, when he decided to come in a bit later, he came straight onto my lap. Nothing like having a long-haired, wet cat in your lap to spark up the day.

They've all pretty much settled in for a rainy-day nap. I had to pursue Diva back and forth across the bookcases, shelves and cat bridge (between the shelves and bookcases) until I could catch her. She's been scratching at the bare spot under her chin and keeping it raw instead of letting it heal. I rubbed it down with something the vet gave me to desensitize raw spots.

Twenty-four hours later and it's still raining. Unicom insisted on going outside a couple of times tonight in spite of that. I took to referring to him as the soggy moggy. After a while, we stop letting him out because we then spend half our time peering out the door going, "Uni! Don't you want to come in? Uni?!"

Down in my office, Puck is prowling around in need of play or mischief. I happened to glance up as he was sitting on the cat bridge fascinated by something large, dark and many-legged on the wall. I thought it was a monstrously gigantic spider, so I ran over. It turned out to be a skunk beetle. They may be harmless, but they live up to their names and the last thing I needed was to have Puck set one of those off to smell up my office. I fetched the dustpan and escorted Mr. S. Beetle to the wet outdoors, much to Pucky's disappointment.

I also added a new photo to The Silly Sleeping Pose Olympics.

It was time to remove Knobby's Frankenstein face. I've been through enough of these now to not bother going back to the vet's. Fortunately, the vet had tied this tube off with a knot and hadn't used any stitches. I softened and cleaned the area with peroxide, snipped the knot and the tube slipped right out, no problem. Only a couple more days of giving pills and I won't have to catch Knobby twice a day. Though I must say, he's been remarkably cooperative about the whole thing.

Puck has been exuding Cuteness Mojo all day. He came bounding up to me when I called him in a happy Tigger bouncing dance. He hung out with Randy while Randy continued working on the ditch for the propane lines. Randy said Puck did a funny thing. Randy took a step and Puck would rush up to his forward foot and rub against it. Randy took another step and Puck rushed up to that forward foot and rubbed against it He did this for every step Randy took all the way across the patio.

I haven't had much luck treating Diva's chin problem due to her astounding telepathic ability to know exactly when the thought enters my mind to catch her for that purpose. I can pet her as much as I want, but the instant That Thought occurs, Diva vanishes at light speed.

The evening pill-giving has become a group event once I began giving out treats. Now as soon as I take pills in hand and look around for the intended pillee, the entire batch of moggies gathers around demanding *their* share of the loot. Tosca is most insistent about it, asking incessantly until I give in. Tribble simply follows me around so closely underfoot that I have to give him something just so I can move without tripping over him.

Okay, I should know better. The minute I posted how cooperative Knobby has been was the instant from which he became totally and utterly non-cooperative. Last night was a hunt to find him and catch him.

This morning required the use of a stepladder and a broom. He was up on the boxes on the highest shelf, but the minute I brought over the stepladder, he took off. He then squeezed himself into a Flat Cat in a tiny bit of space between the top of a box and the bottom of another shelf. That's where the broom came in as I gently herded him out. As he oozed into the open, I nabbed him. You'd think I was committing heinous torture when all I did was give him a pill and clean up his face a little bit. I even let him go outside.

I sat cleaning the cat boxes, reciting my new mantra, "Only two more pills to go. Only two more pills to go." Five minutes later, Knobby, who had finished eating grass outside, popped in through the cat door and promptly threw up the pill I had just given him.

Next time, I think I'll just let his face explode.

I'm free! FREE! After five minutes of following Knobby around from one hiding spot to another, I finally caught him and gave him The Last Pill. Thank Bast that's over.

Querida has gained back a lot of weight from being on the thyroid medication, so once I can afford it, I need to get her in and have her teeth taken care of.

I've noticed Nefreet has atrociously bad breath. Her teeth don't look all that bad, but her breath is simply terrible. She had a grand old time batting a spider around last night. I guess it was a mouse substitute.

Artemis has taught me a new phrase in Feline. "Waow-waow-WAH!" means "pour the water now!"

When the ponderous, noisy truck lumbered up my driveway this morning to install the new propane tank, I was pleased to see that Puck ran straight for the office and dove into the cat door. That means he has this place fixed in his mind as home and safety.

Later, I saw Puck and Blue playing together. I'm really happy about that. Puck needs a playmate and Blue desperately needs a friend.

I'm gratified to see how much Owl has changed in his years with me. When Randy came down to my office, Owl actually went over to Randy and *asked* for attention. The Owl so rarely speaks, let alone approaching someone. I've also gotten Owl to play with the feather toy recently. That's the first normal cat-playing activity I've ever seen him engage in.

Tribble was lying by my keyboard with his stomach making the most outrageous sounds -- gurgling, squeaking, burbling away. I hope that's not a bad sign. You don't usually hear a cat's stomach making noises.

Around 9:30 this morning, I was in Randy's office before heading down to my office when we both glimpsed a good-size animal in front of the house. We raced to the front doors where there are full-length windows and slatted blinds that we could see through.

It was gorgeous bobcat, maybe 30 feet from the house on the steep piece of slope that forms my "front yard". He might have been a young bobcat because he wasn't as big as others I've seen. Possibly 20-25 lbs. He had beautiful markings -- spots on his body, stripes on his face. His short tail was heavily curled and the underside was like a neon white glowing in the overcast, misty morning.

He strolled up the bushes that line the road that runs past the house. He paused to do a split-second blip of spraying on one of the bushes before moving down the road and off into the canyon wilderness.

This is the first time we've seen one so very close to the house. It does make us nervous about letting the cats out. The reality is that any time we let the cats outside in this area we run the risk of a cougar, bobcat, coyote, owl or who knows what getting them. I've had many cats disappear over the years without knowing what may have gotten them. That's the price of freedom and living next to the wild.

There haven't been any particular moggy antics to record for a few days. Other than the usual, daily moggy antics. Like Puck deciding to harass Tosca when he gets bored with being inside. Though lately, it's been interesting to see him hang out a lot more inside. He's also put on a couple of pounds, though he's still svelte. He's definitely a part of the Horde now, though we have to keep a careful eye out when Uni and Puck are outside at the same time.

I heard loud growling the other morning and figured it was Puck bothering Tosca again. Instead, it was Tosca who had Blue cornered in a box. I chased Tosca off, whereupon Puck bounced up with puffed tail to defend his friend, Blue. I had to intervene yet again.

When I opened my office door this morning, I was hit in the face by a wall of stink. One of the cats much have found and annoyed a large skunk beetle during the night. They are damned stinky things. I was lucky to have a relatively warm, sunny day so I could leave the office door open and air it out. Blasted skunk beetle must still be in here somewhere, too.

After lunch, Diva decided to play hard to get instead of coming inside with the rest of the Horde. She hid under one of the cars and led me on a merry chase. Randy finally came out to give me a hand as we tried alternative herding or enticing her. I finally managed to entice out from under the car by playing with a stick, but I didn't get a grip on her neck. Instead, I got hold of her back leg.

This was a very bad move. My usually sweet girl turned into a snarling, writhing ball of fangs and claws. I futilely tried to hang on and get hold of her neck, but had to let go before I took serious injury to my right hand. I got off with a few light puncture wounds as it was.

"I'm going to leave her alone for a while," I said. Randy suggested that he get the car keys and I could grab her when he started the car. Diva clearly got the gist of this, because as soon as I said OK and Randy started for the house, Diva bolted like a black fiend and ran straight to the office door where I let her in.

My office stank of skunk beetle again this morning. Wish I could find the miserable thing.

Blasted Puck and Diva just got into a nasty fight. A real fight. The kind where they rolled around in a yowling ball of fur together. Diva made the mistake of running from the original encounter. I've seen that Puck is very aggressive toward a cat that runs. I had to race over and stomp around to break them up. I'm highly miffed with Puck about it.

Diva was badly freaked out, which has made it nearly impossible for me to give her a close examination. I couldn't see any obvious damage, but it doesn't take much to cause an abscess. Sigh...I'll let her calm down for a while and then try to have a closer look.

Owl has come to sprawl over all my reference materials, overflow his butt onto my keyboard, and purr happily all the while.

Some of my cats have very definite forms of locomotion that distinguish them.

Artemis waddles. There's no other word for it. Owl slinks. Imagine a Sumo wrestler slinking and that's Owl. Unicom stumps along like an old lion. Knobby skitters. Puck bounces. Diva scoots. Tribble does the caterpillar gallop. Nefreet stalks. Theseus barges. Querida has a stealth mode that defies description.

No big doings in moggyland. Blue had a go at the catnip. He's always been a catnip junkie. I have a large pot of catnip on the back deck which I had to protect by encasing it with wire fencing, or there would have been none left at all. But most of the cats have figured out they can stick their heads through the squares of the wire and nip off with a few leaves.

I had to break up a fight between Uni and Sly. No damage done.

And I have a huge Siamese curled up in my lap making it very hard to type.

I came down to my office after lunch and Tribble was happily munching away on a rodent. I think it was a gopher, but Tribble started with the head so it was hard to be sure.

I tried to sit at my desk and work. The loud crunching of bones right behind me was rather off-putting, so I did something outside for a while until he was done. When I came back, there was only a tail left. I have praised him for being a Mighty Hunter.

I have been chagrined the past couple of days to come across three thyroid pills lying in the carpet. In spite of my care and best efforts, it would seem that Querida is managing to spit out some of her pills. Possibly Tribble has, too. I just decided to start giving Tribble a half dose of what Querida is getting. I'm convinced he's inherited the condition from her. At 14, he's certainly old enough to be hyperthyroid. He's gotten too skinny and he has these absolutely manic attacks of energy where he yowls and races around the office nearly bouncing off the walls.

At any rate, in both cases I will have to be sure to shove pills even further down the moggy throats.

While even one cat can be a horde, IMO, I wanted to raise an issue for those of you with a significant number of cats. The issue litter. With 14 cats, I clean a lot of very large cat boxes. I go through tons of cat litter. I've tried various kinds and have settled for using a clay-based clumping litter. The companies claim to make these things "99% dust free!"

Like hell.

Anyway, my purpose here is to advise any of you who use a clay-based litter and have to clean more than one cat box, to wear a dust mask. I was having tremendous sinus, nose and throat problems that I never associated with cleaning cat boxes. I'd be on the verge of nosebleeds, I'd lie in bed and cough at night, I had inflamed sinus and so on. This has all stopped now that I'm wearing a dust mask. Nothing fancy, just one of the cheap little throwaway kind that are only about $ .20 apiece at the hardware store. I bought a whole box of them and use one a week. It feels a little strange at first, but trust me, if you have any kind of similar problems, consider doing it. The difference in my health has been profound.

Unicom and Nefreet decided to have an altercation shortly after 6 am. I had to stagger out of bed and play referee. I didn't get any real sleep after that, so I'm not in great shape today. That didn't stop Unicom from coming in around 8 am so he could get on the bed for his usual round of petting and adoration (accompanied by large amounts of drool--no, not us, the cat).

I'm pleased to say that Owl's back has improved even though I've only been giving him one Chlor-Trimetron at night. He stills maintains a few bare patches, but not as extensively or as badly as he used to. He's ensconced in my lap right now with his chin resting on my right arm. Typing is a challenge.

Randy came down to my office earlier and had some fun playing with Puck and Tribble and the other cats using the feather toy. You've probably seen them--a plastic wand with a plastic cord attached to one end and feathers at the end of the cord. Tribble is absolute death on the "birdie". At one point, he took the "bird" in his mouth and trotted away, leaving Randy to follow as though being walked on a leash.

I had just finished lunch and was enjoying the view of the patio. I'd put out birdseed and there were dozens of birds enjoying it: sparrows, finches, juncos, doves and quail.

Suddenly, the birds exploded upwards and I saw a dark, flashing shape move faster than I could register. I stepped outside to see who the culprit was.

Puck strolled over to me, shaking his head and spitting feathers out of his mouth. Ptui! Ptui! I didn't find a feathered victim, so I concluded that some bird had one hell of a close escape.

I heard an insistent meow outside the door. I was involved at the computer, so I ignored it at first. It wasn't a distress meow. But it continued and had an odd note to it, so I was forced to investigate.

I opened the door and there was Theseus on the doormat, with a small lizard at his feet. I guess he was calling me to come see his catch. "Look, mom!" The lizard was in perfect shape, so I scooped him up, gave Theseus a scritch and scooted him into the office. I let the lizard go in a nice, safe pile of lumber in the sun, where many a lizard before it has also been sent to safety.

Not much to report on the Moggy Horde front lately, which in some ways is a relief since it means I'm not hauling anybody off to the vet. Though it does look like we need to take Uni back for further evaluation of his shoulder. The poor boy limps pretty badly just about all the time now, even when he's had his aspirin. He's still fast and ferocious when he plays, but we worry all the same.

During the heavy rain, Puck worked out his boredom by doing the romp-chase with Blue, or his other favorite time-waster, harassing Tosca.

Which reminds me of something extremely cute I saw the other day as I was driving home. One of my neighbors has several large mules and recently added a young, small burro. As is typical of most people around here, they also have a lot of goofy dogs. I looked across their field and saw one of the dogs bound up to the burro and prance around it, so the burro began to bound and dance around playing with the dog! That dog ran off, the burro paused, then a second dog came bounding up and the burro danced and played with that dog. What a funny sight. The dogs seemed to enjoy it as much as the burro.

The moggies had a good xmas. I gave them some canned food for lunch, then I brought down a heaping plate of goodies from the goose we had for dinner. They converged on the goose bits with tremendous enthusiasm.

Tribble is the most cunning pill-spitter I've ever faced. He's a true challenge to get a pill into, without it coming back up.

Uni goes to the vet today about his shoulder. I'm not sure there's much more the vet can do, but we'll see.

Unicom endured another trip to the vet's yesterday afternoon. He did NOT want to go into that carrier and he peed all over the towel on the way there. Other than that, he only made a few feeble meeps during the drive.

Randy came along. He had Theories he wanted to throw at the vet, who laid them all to rest. Once again, we were unable to get Uni to cooperate by walking around enough for the vet to see his limp. He curled up in an unhappy ball and did a small amount of slinking and that was it.

We opted to have x-rays done rather than keep guessing what the problem was. The x-rays showed that our poor boy has fairly bad arthritis on both elbows. His shoulders are pretty much all right, though. It's the elbows that are bad.

And so...::heaving weary melodramatic sigh::...I have yet more pills to give. He's getting a Prednisone every other day, alternating with his aspirin. I have to give him half a Pepcid tablet with each pill to protect his stomach. Finally, he's getting two capsules of tuna-flavored Glucosamine sprinkled over some canned food every day.

We bought little cans of Fancy Feast for this purpose, and Uni scarfs it down. Since we can't just give it to Uni without giving it to Nefreet, she gets the bonus prize of having canned food, too. After trying to interest her in every kind of food and treat under the sun for years, we've finally found something she loves. She's probably thinking, "It sure took you long enough to figure out what I like -- Fancy Feast!"

The vet commented that Uni was a well spoiled cat. Randy said, "I keep trying to come up with new ways."

Puck with ball
Puck says, "Could I get any cuter?"

Unicom asleep
Unicom at rest

Artemis the Great White Belly.

Kate the Wild Abyssinian

Nefreet the psycho-kitty.

Unicom in feather-slaying frenz

Owl says, "Can't a guy lick his crotch in peace around here?"
Puck in window
The Puckster

Tosca, Tribble and Puck
Tosca, Tribble and Puck


Diva and Puck
Diva and Puck face off.

Diva and Puck
Diva and Puck decide to think twice about it.