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

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cat line drawing
Tues., 5 Jan. 2010
I wanted to use the first post of 2010 to announce the winners of the SIMON'S CAT BOOK CONTEST. Here's how the selections were made. First, I printed up the names of everyone who entered, then I cut the names into strips and folded up the strips so I couldn't see the names.

I chose Saffy to do the actual selecting because she loves to play with paper and is always ready to "help" us file papers by diving into them and spreading them across the floor. I figured this made her the perfect one to pick names. I tossed all the pieces of paper into the air in front of her. On each toss, she would choose one or two. I would remove those and toss the papers again. By the end of that process: a) I had the five winners, and; b) Saffy thought I was completely nuts.

The lucky winners are:
Erin Barrington
Tony Bauman
Karen DiCicco
Jennifer Jones
Jeremy Preacher

Winners, you should have received email from me, so let me know if you don't. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. I'm sorry I can't send books to all of you!

Sun., 24 Jan. 2010
Where the heck has January gone?

One of the best cat toys ever are ping pong balls. Our tortie girls love them (Pippin stoutly ignores such trivial distractions 99% of the time), but the balls tend to disappear quickly and remain lost for a long time until Randy finally locates one under a chair or the sofa, or I find one behind the toilet in the bathroom. Last night, Randy was looking for a ping pong ball to toss and couldn't find one. He gave up after saying to Opal, "Where's the ball?" Two minutes later, Opal obligingly found a ball and batted it into the open.

Who says cats don't understand us?

Wed., 27 Jan. 2010
Ouch. Had an expensive trip to the vet, but nothing like the one coming up. I hauled Tosca, Jetta and Zoe to the vet for vaccinations and check-ups. They're all in good shape, except that Tosca fairly urgently needs to have a tooth removed and her teeth cleaned. That'll run between $450 - $500, but the vet said the tooth is causing her pain, so I'll have to deal with it. Hopefully Bast will send some work my way soon.

Thurs., 28 Jan. 2010
In case you ever wondered how the internet came to be, wonder no more.

Sun., 31 Jan. 2010
Poor Pippin is having another flare-up of his diarrhea. He was in good shape for such a long time, I thought he was past those intestinal problems. We had to do some emergency clean-up last night with Randy holding Pippin in his arms and me doing the nasty part. Pippin got so upset, he bit and clawed Randy's hands. He's usually such a sweet boy, but not at that moment.

I went to the store this morning and picked up some pumpkin puree. Fortunately, he seems to like it and polished off a serving of pumpkin-laced cat food.

Wed., 10 Feb. 2010
The pumpkin puree did the job for Pippin. It solved his diarrhea problems very quickly and as an unexpected bonus, he loved having the pumpkin added to his canned food. I've never seen him lick his bowl clean with such enthusiasm. I must check with the vet and see whether it's okay to give him the pumpkin all the time.

I have Tosca scheduled for her tooth-pulling and teeth-cleaning next week. The vet said that bad tooth is probably causing her pain, so I can't let it wait.

Fri., 12 Feb. 2010
Tosca finally horked up the hairball she was working on for days, and with unerring precision she coughed up that and a large pool of vomit onto the power cables to my computer equipment.

I was combing Jetta, scruffy girl that she is, and she finally got so annoyed about it that she tried to bite the comb. I didn't push my luck and set the comb aside. A minute later, I heard THUNK. Jetta had located the comb and knocked it into the trash bin. Complaint noted.

Sun., 14 Feb. 2010
Apparently, the cats are holding a contest to see who can throw up in the most inconvenient place. Jetta was on one of her favorite perching spots -- the top of my computer -- when she decided to throw up with her projected path being the top and front of the CPU. You've never seen me leap out of my chair so fast. That was enough to spook Jetta who jumped down in time to throw up on the floor instead. It was a close call.

Zoe in green blanket
Usually the cats like to sleep on top of this old blanket, but Zoe decided to nest inside it.

Saffy goes nom
My sweet man gave me roses. Saffy says they taste fine. Nom nom!

Tues., 16 Feb. 2010
Poor Tosca had a rough day. I dropped her off at the vet's at 8:30 am to have a bad tooth removed, her teeth cleaned and a smallsubcutaneous lump on her back removed. The vet had given me a verbal estimate of the cost, but the written estimate I was given to sign today was about $400 higher! Ack! I told them I simply couldn't afford to do that and we'd have to forget about removing the lump. It's been there a long time and never gotten larger. A bit later, the vet called and urged me to have the lump removed. She would revise the prices so that I could manage it. I figured if she thought it was important, I'd have to bite the bullet and do it.

The vet called hours later to let me know that Tosca had come through beautifully. The good news is that the lump turned out to be an encysted hair follicle and not a tumor. That's a relief. The bill was a smidgen below $600, a painful chunk from my savings, but we do what we must for our beloved fur-friends.

I picked Tosca up around 3 and she was an unhappy girl. She has a big square bald patch on her back with an incision sealed with staples. She's happier now that she's home again and has had some canned food and lots of love.

Fri., 19 Feb. 2010
She's a tough girl, our Tosca. She's bounced right back from the surgery. Here's what her Frankenstein back looks like, held together by four staples.

Sun., 7 March 2010
I've just returned from a week-long business trip to Lugano, Switzerland at the southernmost Italian end of the country. The day before I left, Tosca had the staples removed from her back. It's healing up well and she's doing fine.

The flights to Switzerland are gruelling -- a 20 hour day with 12-13 hours of that spent on planes. The trip itself was fantastic. The moggies missed me and have were happy to see me back. Zoe and Jetta have been glued to my lap. Pippin decided that we needed to get up at 8 am this morning instead of letting us sleep in. He used two of his main techniques. First, he gets affectionate and cuddly close to our faces. Usually that's all it takes. When that didn't work, he looked for mischief to get into and found it by sticking his head in the wastebasket and chewing on something plastic. That worked. Sigh....

On my last day in Lugano, I took a bus ride up to a small, gorgeous mountain village called Bré. Down in the city, I only saw people with dogs, though I did see a cat-themed boutique called Il Gato. But in Bré I did finally see some cats, so I thought I'd share a couple of them. The Swiss-Italians seem to prefer tabbies, especially orange tabbies. They all looked dubious of me, though one pale orange tabby nearly let me pet him. Judging from the reactions, however, I don't speak Meow well in Italian.

Swiss cat

Swiss cat

Sun., 14 March 2010
I'm making another attempt to wean Zoe off the tranks. I have to do it slowly and carefully because this isn't the kind of med you can suddenly stop giving. Also, I need to closely monitor her aggression level. It's been several days and so far I've only seen one spark of aggression that I nipped immediately. I'd like to be optimistic, but last time I tried it took several days before she started attacking Tosca again. Now that I'm working at home, I'm around to police the situation. I'm really hoping for better results this time around.

Tues., 16 March 2010
I had a small spot of trouble with Zoe this afternoon, but she wasn't going after Tosca. She was going after Jetta. I immediately defused Zoe's attempts to harrass Jetta, but good grief, now it seems like any black cat is enough to set her off. Zoe's been peaceful since, but it's not a good sign.

Thurs., 18 March 2010
All quiet on the western front. It usually takes about a week for the lower dosage of tranks to affect Zoe's behavior, so this is a critical time. I'll hold her at this dosage for a couple of months until I can be sure she isn't getting aggressive again before I try to cut back any further. Also, the vet warned me that weaning off Amitriptyline has to be gradual.

I heard a cat getting ready to vomit in the office. I hurried over to see who it was and arrived in time to see Tosca throwing up...and missing the inside of my shoe by half an inch. Because of Randy's allergies, I change both my clothes and shoes when going between the office and the house, so I had my house shoes sitting there in the line of fire. I got lucky.

Amusing moment in bed. I was woken in the wee hours by a chorus -- Randy and Pippin snoring together. Neither one of them snores very often, but this time they were in sync.

Sun., 28 March 2010
Part of the morning routine is that Saffy joins me at the bathroom sink while I'm washing my face, then I leave a small pool of water in the sink for her to drink from. She has two water bowls to choose from downstairs, but she loves drinking from the sink. This morning, I gave her a cuddle and when I stood up and faced the mirror, I found a smear of blood across my chest. I had the typical reaction you can imagine to seeing unexpected, bright red blood where it doesn't belong. I wiped it off and confirmed it wasn't mine, then began looking Saffy over carefully. I found a bead of blood on the outside edge of her left ear. She'd obviously been playing whack-a-paw with one of her siblings and gotten lightly nailed on the ear. Nothing serious.

Pippin has developed a new physical reaction to having a certain part of his back scratched. It's the area just past his shoulders. He reacts the way I've seen many dogs react -- he smacks his lips and if you scratch long enough, he tries to scratch with his hind leg. It only started about a week or so ago and we're both wondering what could be causing it.

Speaking of Pippin, my big sweet boy bit me. I was giving him the once-a-week rub-down with the anti-allergy liquid. He never likes it much and usually gives me a hiss or two, but this time he actually bit me. It wasn't hard enough to break the skin, but enough to hurt. I gave him a whack on the head and a lecture. A couple of hours later, all is forgiven. I'm fortunate that he doesn't hold grudges.

Things are going pretty well with Zoe. I had one other moment the other day when I caught her at the earliest stage of stalking Jetta and I cut that off instantly. What makes me happy is that Zoe looks brighter-eyed and is more playful. I hope, hope, hope the peaceful trend continues.

Thurs., 1 April 2010
Zoe planted herself to the left of my keyboard, gulped a couple of times and started to throw up.

My friends, this is the ultimate test of one's reflexes. I wasn't quite fast enough and she tossed a couple of chunks onto the keyboard, but it could have been a lot worse. The rest was diverted elsewhere, barely missing my folders and paperwork. There's a reason I put a large Rubbermaid container over my keyboard any time I leave it.

Maybe it's Zoe's idea of an April Fool's prank.

Fri., 2 April 2010
Five years ago right around this time, four kittens were born to a feral Tortie mother in the tiny crawlspace beneath an old, ramshackle cabin in the mountains. A few weeks later, Randy happened to pass the cabin and hear tiny mews coming from under the cabin. A few weeks after that, we trapped them and the rest is history.

Happy Birthday to Jetta, Opal, Pippin and Sapphire.

Thurs., 8 April 2010
Whoever got these shots is The Best Cat Wrangler Ever!

How to Store and Organize Your Cats

Sat., 17 April 2010
We heard a THUMP in the night from downstairs, but we were too tired to haul ourselves out of bed to investigate. In the morning, we found one of the plants had been knocked off the top of a bookshelf. The pot didn't break and the plant may survive, but we had a mess to clean up. The obvious culprit is Opal, who insists on jumping up there in spite of our best attempts to make that difficult...hence the broken plant.

Randy and Opal have a ritual which they both enjoy tremendously. Randy asks Opal if she wants to go for a ride, then he bends over so she can jump onto his back. He straightens up slowly so that she can easily make her way onto his shoulders and there she perches happily while Randy gives her a ride around the house. She'll even ride his shoulders up the stairs to the second floor. Opal "goes for a ride" every day.

Unfortunately, lately she's gotten too enthusiastic, taking advantage of any bent-over back presented to her -- like mine -- except that I don't have the shoulders for a good perch. Worse than that, she's decided a couple of times now that she's going to take a ride whether Randy is ready for it or not. This morning I was making breakfast when I heard from behind me "Agggh!! Get her off!" I turned around to find Opal clinging to Randy's back as he stood at the sink. Naturally, she sunk her claws in to get a grip because Randy was standing straight up. He was a man in pain. We patched him up with Bactine and bandages, but we need to find a way to convey to Opal that a straight back is NOT an invitation to go mountain climbing.

I would say that Opal wins the Mischief Lottery this month.

Mon., 19 April 2010
Things had been going well with Zoe until today when she took off after Jetta again. I put a stop to it immediately. It's odd that she's shifted her aggression to Jetta from Tosca. At least Jetta seems able to deal with it better. If/when I find another full-time job and am not here to supervise it could be more of a problem.

A blog reader sent me a link to a site she's created with family-safe cat videos culled from the web. It's a nice-looking, well-organized page, so enjoy Cute Cat Videos.

Sat., 1 May 2010
Happy Approximate Birthday to Zoe! She's now five years old, too. It's odd to have all but one cat be the same age. Tosca's the only elder in the group.

Zoe's watching the color printer turn out pages, fascinated by the whole process. You'd never know to look at this big healthy girl that she was the runt of the litter. She was a rescued kitty, like all of mine, brought to me when she was about six weeks old by people who were so clueless they didn't know how to set up a cat box for the kittens they wanted to keep.

She's gotten bored with the printer and is settling into my lap for her afternoon siesta. She just complained that the keyboard is in her way, which leads to cat-induced typos. Now she's purring herself into a doze. If I'm not careful, she may purr me into a doze, too.

Tues., 11 May 2010
Interesting article interviewing a woman who has written a nutrition book about the quality of pet food.

Here's the first paragraph of the article:

After examining how people buy food in an aisle-by-aisle guide called What to Eat, Marion Nestle picked up a can of pet food to see how its ingredient label compared with the ones on human chow. Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, found the pet-food ingredient label incomprehensible. This led to her latest book, Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat (Free Press, 2010), written with Malden C. Nesheim, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. Nestle spoke with TIME about navigating the maze of pet-food products in what has become an $18 billion industry in the U.S.
Read the rest of the article.

Mon., 17 May 2010
Pippin is lusting after the squirrels, birds and yes, rats in the back yard. One squirrel came too close to the glass doors in the kitchen and Pippin make a lunge. Sadly, there was this problem with the glass being in the way, so he had to pull himself short, but he WANTED that squirrel.

Things have been going well with Zoe, so I've decided to try cutting her dose of tranks one more cautious step downward. It looks as though I'll be working from home for the next few months at the very least. That means I'll be here to supervise, which makes me feel safer about doing it. I reduced the dosage a few days ago and so far, so good.

And now, just for fun, some piccies.
Opal at five.
Pippin dreams of squirrels. This picture doesn't convey the beautiful green color of his eyes.
Pippin at five, and weighing in at 21 lbs.

Sat., 22 May 2010
The Great Furry Alarm Clock aka Pippin let us sleep in until 9 am! Woot!

Once he has gotten us up, however, he then goes between Randy and me as we're doing our morning prep and "encourages" us along as he watches to see which one of us will make it down to the kitchen first. His encouragement takes the form of rubbing against legs, brushing tail across human's face and piteous meeps that are meant to convince us that in spite of weighing in at 21 lbs he really truly is about to die of starvation.

The landlord sent painters around to paint the outside back wall of the duplex. One of the painters was at work doing finishing details around the kitchen glass doors and Saffy found this fascinating. She sat and watched his every move.

Zoe threw up a hairball last night, but it was a glitery green hairball. She had eaten a long strand of green metallic tinsel. It came from a cat toy that was bundled with one of those rod and string toys, but I didn't like the one that was made of streamers of tinsel. It didn't look like something healthy for a cat, so I took the streamers and hung them up for decoration in a place where, theoretically, it should have been impossible for a cat to get to it. Somehow she managed.

The Moggyblog now has a Facebook page! I'm only posting a link to posts that I make here, but it will make it easier for people to post comments.

Facebook Moggyblog

Thurs., 27 May 2010
Not wanting a repeat of the green tinsel vomit, I took down the tinsel tassel thingy and threw it into a large waste bin in my office. Yesterday, I came into the office and found that Zoe had extracted it from the bin and was halfway through chowing down a strand of gold tinsel. I quickly grabbed her and managed to get the gold tinsel from her mouth. A couple of hours later, she gifted me with a red tinsel hairball. Hopefully, that is the last I will see of it.

I've been sorting through boxes of comics and magazines in a big reorganizing project. I pulled a thick wad of newspapers stuffing from one box and set it aside to throw out later. Zoe has claimed this new "bed" as her own and loves sleeping on it. Needless to say, it hasn't been thrown out just yet.
Zoe: "You can have it when I'm done reading it."
- Zoe
Zoe: "Hmmm...maybe a distraction tactic...LOOK! What's that up there?!"

Mon., 31 May 2010
Positive signs:

Zoe is down to half a trank only at night and things are going well. No significant signs of aggression. Yesterday, Tosca and Zoe took a few whacks at one another in passing, but it clearly wasn't more than minor irritation and didn't look like it was going to escalate. I'll maintain this dosage for a while yet, but I finally have hope I may be able to wean her off the tranks completely.

We've broken the 21 pound barrier! We weighed Pippin and he's down to 20.4! He whines for more food, of course, the poor boy, but this is progress, so we're sticking to it. Ideally, we want to get him down to 18 lbs. and keep him stabilized around that weight.

Sun., 27 June 2010
I am shocked, and I do mean shocked, to discover that I haven't made a single Moggyblog post in June. I don't know where the time goes. Whoosh! Oh, was that June?

Jetta gifted me with packaging tape vomit. Why do cats like to eat bizarre things that are not good for them? My Siamese boy, Owl, was obsessed with plastic bags. He would chow down on plastic bags like nobody's business and I had to take great care to keep them away from him.

Amongst the current cats:
  • Jetta loves packaging and duct tape.
  • Saffy eats my long hairs that she finds on the floor.
  • Pippin will gnosh on cardboard boxes.
  • Opal loves the spider plants.
It's been hot today and I suffered numerous split-second power failures in my office. The power would flash off and on, then off and on. I was glad for my battery back-up unit. Then I grew suspicious. I discovered that the cause was actually Tosca tossing in her sleep on my power strip's on-off button.

Sun., 4 July 2010
Zoe: "Yes, yes, Happy Fourth of July! Now rub my belly!"

Fri., 9 July 2010
I have slowly, carefully weaned Zoe off the Amitriptyline. It's been 24 hours since her last small dose. There haven't been signs of aggression during the weaning phase and things are going well. I'm so incredibly happy about this.

As for Zoe, it seems as though a year or more of suppressed energy has erupted and she's been wildly playful. She's become obsessed with the fuzzyball toy. She grabs Fuzzyball and leaps onto my desk with the string and stick knocking along behind her. This is really cute until she's done it a dozen times in a row while I'm trying to work. LOL! I try to take a minute and play with her and let her chase Fuzzyball around. She catches it, then a minute later she's lofting onto the desk with it yet again. That's okay. I'm delighted to have her active and happy and back to being a normal cat.

Sat., 10 July 2010
I made the mistake of giving Zoe a mousie today. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing Fetch-the-Mousie with her. I lost count of the number of times I threw the mousie for her. She bounces onto my desk and drops the mousie between my keyboard and monitor. I threw the mousie until I was worn out. Finally, she settled in my lap for a nap. After the nice nap, it was back to fetching the mousie.

And now it's evening, after dinner, and as I write this, Zoe has brought me the mousie and is chirping at me to throw it yet again.

Sun., 11 July 2010
It's been more crazed Fetch-the-Mousie around here. One time Zoe either couldn't find the mousie or was finally too lazy to find it, so she jumped on my desk and started to make off with my reading glasses which are in a nice lightweight brocade-cloth holder. I had to put a stop to that right quick!

Sat., 17 July 2010
Jetta actually played Fetch-the-Mousie with me! She brought it back to me several times before getting tired of it. That's unusual. However, she is even more fond of playing Dunk-the-Mousie and most mornings I find the mousie resting on the bottom of the water bowl. Maybe the secret is that they like catnip-flavored water.

So I brought out a second mousie, thinking they'd have one mousie to play with while the other one was drying out. The problem is, they dunk them faster than they dry out. I'm afraid there will simply have to be days of no mousie, a drought of drying mousies, if you will.

Sun., 18 July 2010
As soon as I came into my office this morning, I knew something was wrong. First, there was no sign of Zoe and Zoe is always right there at the door clamoring for me to give her attention. She didn't show up after I came in. Next, I saw that Tosca and Jetta were both skulking around looking worried and upset. I began looking for Zoe and couldn't find her.

Then Jetta began nosing around the washing machine as though something was back there. As I stepped close, I heard the rustle of a plastic bag coming from behind the machine. "Zoe? Is that you?"

Zoe appeared from behind the washing machine with a plastic bag looped around her neck. I quickly removed it and spent several minutes soothing her and calming her down. It turns out she's another plastic bag muncher and in the process managed to put one of the handles around her neck (like ten zillion other silly moggies) and obviously panicked over it.

Must keep plastic bags out of her reach, same as I did with Owl.

She's fine now and is instead trying to munch on my freshly washed and dried hair.

Wed., 21 July 2010
I do believe Jetta set a new record for Dunk-the-Mousie. I put catnip into a dried mousie and gave it to her around 10 am. By 11 am, I noticed the mousie on the bottom of the water bowl.

I bought a package of shoelaces and left it on the dining room table to take upstairs later in the day. When I finally remembered that night to get them, Saffy the Pilferer had struck! They were gone. The search began as I tried to think the way Saffy would think. Where would she take her new prize? I finally found them under the coffee table in the living room.

A couple of weeks ago, I washed out a pill container for reuse later, left the plastic bottle and cap on the kitchen counter to dry, and I'm still looking for the cap to that thing. Saffy did an expert job hiding it.

Mon., 26 July 2010
Furry Potpurri

Zoe has been using my printer to print out numerous test pages. Thanks to her dedication, I know my printer works. It has also, oddly, run out of paper.

One of the cats threw up a hairball on the bedroom floor, then snagged a pair of Randy's underwear and used them to cover it up.

It can be a challenge to identify the "gifts" cat leave for us. I found one such unsavory gift on my office floor and after a great deal of close scrutiny, I finally concluded that it had once been a slug.

Zoe gave Jetta a five minute head-bath. This is a good sign!

Wed., 28 July 2010
Today the must-see on Cat TV was The Rat Family, featuring Mama Rat, Papa Rat and introducing the All-New, All-Adorable Baby Rat! In today's episode, the Rat Family gathered to eat seed while three cats drooled heavily at the glass doors.

Wed., 4 Aug. 2010
Zoe has lost weight. Not in a bad way, so far. She's at a good, trim, svelt weight that is just right. Hopefully, this is because she's off the tranks and her natural energy levels have kicked her metabolism back up.

Pippin, meanwhile, has developed dandruff. He goes crazy when we scratch his back -- puts his head up in the air, rocks his head back and froth and licks the air. I'm guessing his back must itch a lot, which would go along with the dandruff. He goes to the vet next week for an annual check-up and we'll see what the vet has to say about it.

This is a lot of fun. Big cats getting stoned!

Sun., 8 Aug. 2010
I've had a lot of cats over the years, entire hordes of cats spanning decades. And yet it took a couple of years and Randy's insight to solve a puzzling behavior that Opal had developed. It started when we moved to the Bay area. At the previous house, the kittens had a room set up just for them and they were closed in there at night. At the new house, which is also two-story, we elected not to close our bedroom door, and so the cats have access to us all night.

This was a new thing for them. They settled into a pattern. Pippin sleeps at the bottom of the bed up against my feet. Opal sometimes sleeps curled up next to Randy and sometimes in a cat bed beneath the bed. Saffy has a cat bed in front of a heating vent near the bed.

But Opal began to carry on in an odd way once we got into bed and turned off the lights. She'd be downstairs on the first floor and begin to yowl. To human ears, it sounded like a complaining yowl of distress, as though she was confused and didn't know where we were. We would call to her and encourage her to come upstairs to us and eventually she would.

We couldn't figure out why she would be distressed and confused because often she would be in the bedroom with us, but would yowl from the first floor. This made no sense and for the longest time, we simply couldn't figure out why she went through the ritual almost every night.

Along with this, when Randy would wake up the next morning, he'd find a mousie toy lying on the floor next to the bed. We thought this was quite endearing, that she should bring an offering during the night.

Finally, Randy put the two things together. He realized that Opal was going downstairs to find a mousie. All her carrying on was about finding the mousie and letting us know she had found it for us. He clinched it by turning on the light shortly after Opal went through the yowling ritual and sure enough, she would be there by the side of the bed with the mousie offering. Randy would praise her and let her know what a good girl she was for bringing the mousie.

That seemed to do the trick. She has calmed down quite a bit recently and doesn't carry on nearly as much as she used to, but she continues to bring mousie offerings and makes sure we know about them. We call it Opal's Mousie Song.

Occasionally, Saffy will do a similar thing. She'll bring a mousie to Randy while he's working in his office and yowl to let him know about it.

And most recently, ever since I took her off the tranks, Zoe has been bringing the fuzzy ball toy to the steps of the door to my office when I'm inside the house, then yowls and yowls until I go into my office and acknowledge her gift.

They're getting us well trained.

Tues., 10 Aug. 2010
It took the two of us to round up Pippin and he gave us a major hiss when he put him into the carrier. I wasn't able to go on this visit to the vet because of a heavy writing deadline, so Randy took him. He said Pippin was perfectly well-behaved and quiet throughout the entire rest of the trip and the exam.

Much good news. At the vet's office, the Pipster weighed in at 19.5 lbs. We broke the 20 lb. barrier! The vet was impressed that we've gotten Pippin's weight down and said he wouldn't mind seeing it come down to 12 lbs. Randy and I can't see Pippin getting down to 12 lbs. He's too big a cat underneath for that little weight. His head is twice the size of his sisters' heads and his shoulders are huge. We'll see how it goes.

The vet thought he was in great shape. The dandruff is most likely from not being able to groom himself properly back there, as I suspected. Other really good news, the vet did a blood count and Pippin's red cell count (and the entire test) was completely normal. The vet thinks the previous high red blood cell count may have been due to Pippin being born and living his first couple of years at high altitude (5,000 feet). Now that he's been living at around sea level for three years, everything is normal.

Opal had her usual, but bizarre reaction when Pippin got home -- she hissed at him. And kept hissing at him for hours. It's as though she's convinced we've brought a strange cat into the house. Wacky girl.

Thurs., 12 Aug. 2010
I had a PTSD incident with Zoe last night. Things have been going fine and I'd done the usual routine for the night where I hand out treats to Zoe, Tosca and Jetta. They took their turns as usual, no problems. After I'd turned out most of the lights and the office was dark, I accidently stepped on Tosca and she let out a shriek of protest as cats will do.

Zoe snapped. In a split-second she reverted to her aggressive behavior and attacked Tosca. I broke it up quickly, got a firm hold on Zoe and made it clear that this was not acceptable. But I could see that she'd had a flashback and wasn't back to normal. She had crazy eyes and when I set her down, she was still on the prowl to attack.

Although it was late, I stayed in my office another ten minutes or so to monitor the situation. I spent time soothing Tosca and making sure she was all right. She's a dominant cat in her own right and was transmitting her agitation, which were the wrong signals for Zoe at that moment.

I was worrying that I'd have to give Zoe tranks again, but she gradually calmed down. I gave her petting and finally she settled down peaceably near Tosca who was purring.

Happily, everything has returned to normal and Zoe is fine today, but clearly she has issues beneath the surface that I need to watch for.

Sun., 15 Aug. 2010
Poor Pippin didn't react well to visiting the vet, I think. He has diarrhea. When he gets too stressed or upset, his IBS flares up. At least, we're hoping that's all we have going on here. And he gets VERY pissed off about having his butt cleaned, too. The pumpkin puree has come out of the freezer and tonight he gets gooshy food a la pumpkin for a treat. Fortunately, he likes the pumpkin.

Mon., 16 Aug. 2010
Love this cat. I actually LOL'd watching it.

Wed., 18 Aug. 2010
Pippin hasn't been interested in eating is food with the pumpkin added to it, but yesterday we got him to eat quite a bit of pumpkin with turkey baby food mixed into it. For a few days, he wasn't eating much of his dry food either, but now his appetite has come back. Things are looking better in the catbox, too. He's on the mend.

Unfortunately, yesterday was a bad day on the Zoe front. I had two altercations with Zoe attacking Tosca. I was able to stop both fights quickly, but it's a distressing sign of slipping back into the old pattern. Before I left for the night, I gave Zoe half a trank. I'm undecided where to go from here, whether to continue light doses or not. I'll see how it goes today.

Thurs., 19 Aug. 2010
Everything was quiet in my office yesterday. No more altercations, so after a brief internal debate, I decided not to give Zoe any more trank as yet. I will watch and wait.

And now, for your amoozlement and edumacation: Studies upon the locomotion of cats.

Sun., 22 Aug. 2010
Zoe has settled back down again, so I haven't had to give her another trank. Instead, I gave her a mousie stuffed with catnip. Two hours later, I was fishing it out of the water bowl, as usual.

Now and then, Opal likes to come into the bathroom with me and get petted up while I'm on the porcelain throne. But sometimes she immediately changes her mind. Last night, she came in with me, waited until I was settled, then as I reached down to pet her, she jumped onto my back, got on my shoulders and then stretched her two front legs to rest them on the lever door handle. She didn't manage to open the door, but she got the message across.

Sun., 29 Aug. 2010
We were visited by a cat I've never seen before around here. She was checking out the back yard. She had the coloring of a tortie on her torso, but had calico markings on her head and legs. Large patches of white here and there on the legs; white muzzle and forehead stripe, black patch on the head. The minute she realized we were in the kitchen watching her, she took off over the fence. I hope she's someone's well-loved moggy and not a stray. She's awfully pretty to be feral.

I was in the kitchen preparing something when Saffy spoke up behind me. I turned around and found that she had personally delivered a mousie to my feet. Such a thoughtful girl.

I've been finding chunks of Pippin's fur around the house. This is actually a good thing because it means he's lost enough weight to start grooming parts of himself that he couldn't reach before. Yay!

The plushy tentacle toy has fallen out of favor. Jetta has no interest in it any more. I brought out a new feather toy and Jetta is going completely crazy over that. She catches it and proudly carries it all around the perimeter of the office, then brings it back to me for another bout of play. Zoe likes to follow after and attack the trailing stick and string.

Fri., 3 Sept. 2010
I've being bitten to death by something, leaving little red bites that itch like crazy. Sounds like flea bites, but I haven't seen any indications at all of the cats having fleas. No scratching, no obvious signs of fleas on them. In the past, I could easily catch fleas if they got on me and started biting, but I haven't been able to spot a single one. Randy isn't getting bitten, though, and he's as susceptible to flea bites as I am. That leads me to suspect that the girls in my office have fleas once again, even if they aren't showing obvious signs.

I had to deal with a minor flea problem last summer after at least one baby rat (quickly deceased) got into the office, so I can't be too surprised if that's what it is. I made a quick visit to the vet's office and Zoe, Tosca and Jetta have had their Frontline treatment for the month. Hopefully, it means my own misery will slowly come to an end.

Tues., 7 Sept. 2010
It looks like I need to take Zoe to the vet. She's continued to lose weight, rather than settling into a slightly lower weight. Also, I've been finding lots of vomit around the office, but couldn't catch who was doing it until yesterday when I found Zoe throwing up. I don't know for sure it's all coming from her, but combined with the weight loss, it has me worried. Oddly, she seems fine in every other respect. She's energetic, playful, eats well, etc. But always in the back of my mind is that worry about FIP because she was around Zeebeedee as a kitten. I foresee blood tests and a big vet bill in my near future.

Randy and I sat down to watch an episode of Warehouse 13. It's a chilly night, so I was wearing a heavy flannel shirt over a turtleneck. Saffy loves to worm her way inside my shirt, wrap herself around my back and pin me down to the sofa while snuggling in her "cave". When it was finally time for me to get up, I surrendered the shirt and left her as she was, happily hiding inside it.
Saffy in shirt
Thurs., 16 Sept. 2010
Ikea performs an experiment in cat-herding. They let 100 cats loose in one of their stores overnight.

Your laugh for the day: Advanced Cat Yodelling. If you didn't see their first video, you should watch that one, too: An Engineer's Guide to Cats.

Sun., 26 Sept. 2010
Randy has spotted the pretty calico around the yard a couple of times in the past few days. She always takes off in a panic once she's been seen and she always runs off in the same direction. I suspect a neighbor's cat has discovered that our yard is full of yummy critters.

I haven't taken Zoe to the vet as yet. I've been weighing her to see whether she's continuously losing weight or whether this is a more normal weight for her. When she was on the tranks and getting tubby she weighed around 12.4 lbs. The first time I weighed her, she was at 11.4. About a week later, she weighed in at 11, and a fews days after that (today) she was at 11.1. There's bound to be some natural variation, so I'll keep doing this and see how it goes. I haven't found any sign at all of tapeworm.

I'm still getting bitten by fleas. The three office girls had a Frontline treatment at the beginning of the month and will get another one at the beginning of next month. I hope I don't carry them into the house!

Tues., 28 Sept. 2010
Yesterday, the landlord had a contractor come around and rat-proof the outside of the house. He replaced the hatch to the crawlspace beneath the house, fixed other holes in air vents where rats had chewed openings, and replaced the exterior vent for the dryer.

But what this also means is that we have some rats trapped under the house. And the baby rats have found a way into my office. This morning, Ferocious Huntress aka Jetta caught a baby rat. She then played Torment & Release with the poor, little squealing thing. Then Tosca got hold of it and played with it. Finally, I put on some leather work gloves and with the aid of a flashlight, a box and long rod I went to the rescue. I hauled a bunch of junk aside until I could get at the shelves where the rat was hiding. I used the rod to flush it out and it ran into the box. It didn't look terribly mangled, so I took it ouside and let it go in the garden. Yeah, we're softies like that.

Now it's mid-evening and Jetta just caught ANOTHER baby rat and once again has lost it at the same set of shelves. I will confess that this time I'm letting the situation be. I'm not in the mood to go hunting baby rats again. I suspect one of them will catch it during the night.

But I must say, Jetta is quite the good mouser. Tosca has always been a good mouser. Zoe seems mildly interested and not sure what to do about it.

Wed., 29 Sept. 2010
As I expected, I found the baby rat dead when I came into my office this morning. The cats had left it next to the water bowl. Considering how much they like to drown their toy mousies, and recently I found the fuzzy ball dunked in there, I should be glad they didn't leave the baby rat IN the water bowl.

By Bast, Jetta is a demon mouser. By mid-morning, she flushed out baby rat #3. I managed to snare this one a wastebasket while Jetta was toying with it. It was in much better shape than the previous one I rescued. He went outside into the garden.

Now it's mid-afternoon and she's flushed out baby rat #4! This one is holed up in a safe place for the moment where neither Jetta nor I can get at it. Eventually, it will have to move and then I'll either get a chance to rescue it or Jetta will score another kill.

Norway rats can have litters of anywhere from six to fourteen pups, so this may go on for a while.

Thurs., 30 Sept. 2010
Baby rat #4 met its demise during the night. It was waiting for me at the bottom of the steps into my office. I carried it outside and left it in the back yard where it quickly became breakfast for a lucky crow.

The day has passed quietly with no more baby rats making an appearance, but somehow Zoe managed to snag a teeny-tiny, itty-bitty skink. I rescued it and placed it in the garden where it lay limp and looked like it was in bad shape, though it could have been in shock. I went out to check on it an hour later and it was gone, so hopefully it's alive and well somewhere in our garden.

Sat., 2 Oct. 2010
It has been prey-free in the office since last Thursday. No more baby rats, no skinks, nada. This is fine with me.

Opal decided that she needed to have my attention while I was doing something at the sink. She did this by stretching up and jabbing her claws into my butt. I don't think it was exactly the kind of attention she expected.

Then later, while I was brushing my teeth, she quite unexpectedly leapt onto my back, once again relying on her claws to steady herself. She usually does this to Randy, not to me. He has the back and shoulders to support her and he loves giving her rides all around the house, up and down the stairs, on his shoulders. I kept brushing my teeth until she finally realized she'd chosen the wrong transporation platform and this train was not leaving the station.

Mon., 4 Oct. 2010
The body of baby rat #5 was waiting for me this morning. Go Demon Mouser! The crows had a nice meat snack.

Over the weekend, I was thinking I might have to take Tosca to the vet. She had clearly not been feeling well for many days. She was moping around, not greeting us as usual, not interested in her treats. Then I came out to find six piles of vomit waiting for me, including a hairball. Now she's back to her old, happy self. I must find a way to get more Petromalt into her.

I weighed Zoe yesterday and she was at 11.2, so she's holding steady around that weight. This morning she was zooming around the office like her butt was on fire, so I suspect she's doing all right.

Fri., 8 Oct. 2010
I gave Zoe half a trank earlier this evening. She all-out attacked Tosca for no provocation at all that I could see. I've noticed a few hints of returning aggression recently, but I wasn't expecting this level of attack. Hopefully the trank will cut short her return to the bad behavior.

Mon., 11 Oct. 2010
I only gave Zoe the half a trank one time on Friday and things were quiet over the weekend, but this morning I caught her chasing Tosca in about-to-attack mode. I'm putting her back on a light dose of tranks for a few days.

Some old friends of Randy's have a moggy that's even bigger and fatter than Pippin was. I present the feline largeness known as Mr. Fuzzy Fur Fur in the Five Gallon Cat blog.

Sun., 17 Oct. 2010
Zoe had a few days on only half a trank at night, then a couple of days where I didn't give her any. But tonight she attacked Tosca again. Plus I found a scab on Jetta's left ear that has to be from a fight of some kind.

As much as I hate the effect the tranks have on Zoe, I'm going back to the half a trank at night for a longer period of time, more like a month or so. It could be that she will simply never get better. An unhappy thought, but Tosca is an old girl now and may not have a lot of years left. I'm not going to have her last years be miserable because of Zoe's problem

Thurs., 21 Oct. 2010
According to the nightly ritual, Randy made sure there were mousies downstairs for Opal to fetch after we go to bed. Instead, about two minutes later, Saffy trotted up with a mouthful of mousies. Randy started laughing, "I saw that she had a tail sticking out of her mouth, then she turned around and I saw another tail sticking out of the other side of her mouth." Yes, Saffy brought us two mousies! Oh talented moggy! I wonder if she qualifies for the Guinness Book of Records?

Your laugh for the day: Maru, one of the funniest cats ever.

Mon., 25 Oct. 2010
While I was brushing my teeth, Saffy announced loudly that she had brought me a mousie. And she kept announcing it until I turned away from the sink and praised her.

Meanwhile, deprived of a mousie to dunk in the water bowl, Jetta (I'm guessing) resorted to dunking Mr. Fuzzy Ball in the water bowl.

Your fun link for the day: how to pet a kitty.

Thurs., 28 Oct. 2010
We've had some backsliding on Pippin's weight. He's gained about five ounces. Not terrible, but we want to keep getting that weight down. He's at around 19.5 and I'm aiming for 18 lbs. The problem is that we have to closely monitor food time because Pippin gets his diet food in his bowl, while Opal and Saffy get regular food in their bowls. But usually we're busy making dinner or doing something else at the times the food bowls are put out. Pippin cunningly uses any opportunity he can to sneak over to the girls' bowls and inhale as much food as he can while he has the chance. He knows he isn't supposed to do it, but his stomach leads him unto evil. We must be more vigilant.

The weight loss has been great for him. He's twice as playful as he was before, going so far as to romp and toss mousies around. It's wonderful.

Another amusing link to share: The Nine Most Ridiculous Tabloid Headlines about Cats.

Mon., 2 Nov. 2010

Not being satisfied with putting one twist tie in the water bowl, Jetta has upped the ante to two twist ties in the water bowl.

We continue to have a serious problem with Saffy's notorious hair-eating obsession and its consequences. She continues to produce turds strung on hair and regularly freaks out when she can't leave everything in the cat box because of the...ummm... attachment. I'm trying not to get too graphic here, but it means she races around the house or up the steps leaving a trail of "beads" in her wake.

I spend a lot of time trying to find and pick up as much of my hair as I can from the floor, but I lose lots of hair. It's not unusual for a person to lose 100 hairs a day. The carpet is sand-colored and my hair is dark blonde, so they're invisible on the carpet. The one solution I can think of is to buy some sort of small hand-vac and vacuum that part of the floor a couple of times a day. Because trying to stop Saffy from eating hair just ain't gonna happen.

Sun., 7 Nov. 2010
Usually, Opal spends her time burrowed beneath the bed blanket or the sofa cover like a lump and sleeps the day away. I don't know what got into her yesterday, but she was brimming over with energy and mischief. She trounced Pippin after a bit of bouncing around, then she romped with Saffy until Saffy was routed. Then she chased the string and the ball and tossed the mousie. Much fun all around.

Thurs., 11 Nov. 2010
Scientists study how cats lap water. Because clearly they have nothing better to do. The scientists, that is, not the cats. ;)

You know you're in the right relationship when it's a two hairball-vomit morning and you each clean up one pile as a fair division of labor.

Fri., 12 Nov. 2010
Literally laughed until I cried: Maru and the challenge of the small boxes.

I've seen Pippin do a similar thing. One time the only thing he could fit into the box was his head, so that's what he did.

Sun., 14 Nov. 2010
Hah! I caught Saffy in the act of Dunking the Mousie. I was in the kitchen, turned around and there she was, sitting at her water bowl. The mousie was floating on the surface because it hadn't been there long enough to sink yet and she was lightly batting at it. Then she deftly caught it with a claw and flicked it back out of the water. It's now drying on the kitchen windowsill.

Wed., 17 Nov. 2010
In the category of Not A Fun Way to Start the Day: I came into the office and found a small bit of diarrhea on the concrete floor. Fine, that's easy to deal with, but that's not something the cats usually do. Then I saw Tosca in the cat box and began to watch her closely, wondering if she was the one with the problem. She definitely was having problems, but of the opposite kind. She strained and strained and nothing happened.

She jumped out of the box, came back a minute later and tried again. After much straining, she managed to drop one tiny deposit, then ran off. She tried a third time, with no results, ran off and threw up a bit of foamy liquid. By the fourth time, I was getting quite worried and thought she might be badly constipated.

But her overall behavior indicated something else and sure enough, I saw that Zoe was quietly stalking her. While I was discouraging Zoe from that, Tosca finally took a large, healthy dump...on the carpet behind my desk. Sigh....

Luckily, my desk isn't up against a wall, so it wasn't hard to clean up, but I sure don't want a repeat of the problems I was having when I first brought Zoe here and Tosca was too intimidated to use the cat box at all. I decided to go ahead and give Zoe another half a trank this morning, just to get things under control.

I was able to leave Zoe almost completely off the tranks from early July to early October, but at this stage, I'm not sure that I will able to do away with the tranks for as long as Tosca is still around.

Sun., 21 Nov. 2010
Poor Zoe. She keeps climbing into my lap for a nap and I have to keep jumping up to attend to various chores. She's back for her third try now.

Your laugh link for the day: Seagull steals from lazy cat.

Tues., 23 Nov. 2010
Jetta is a happy, purring, lap fungus at the moment. She's come a long way. She's still neurotic, though.

Wonderful lolcats photo.

Mon., 29 Nov. 2010
A Maine Coon breeder in Beaverton, OR is losing her home and desperately needs to find new homes for several of her cats. Spread the word.

Wed., 1 Dec. 2010
It was time for the monthly ritual of the weighing of the Pippin. I have an expensive scale (the same one my vet uses) with no moving parts, totally unthreatening, but the first time I brought it out, Pippin took off running.

I tried a few days later and he was perfectly well behaved. He weighed in at 19.10...the exact same weight as last month. It's good that he hasn't gained weight, but we'd still like to see him drop another pound or so. Which means we must be more vigilant to keep him from sneaking extra food from the girls' bowls.

Mon., 6 Dec. 2010
Randy has been befriending squirrels and crows for three years. He puts out seed and peanuts twice a day and has a huge clan of crows and a generations of squirrels that know him well now. Along with bluejays and many other birds.

One squirrel is a pretty female we call White-ears because she has two white spots behind each ear. She's become so fearless and enamored of the peanuts, that she's taken to asking for them. She'll come up the steps and to the glass doors, sit up and inquire within. Lately, she's even taken to climbing up the screen door to make sure she gets our attention! I called Randy this morning while White-ears was hanging on the screen, peering into the door and clearly saying "Hey, any peanuts in there? More peanuts!"

Randy hurried in to deliver the peanuts and White-ears scuttled down the screen door, which put her half an inch, separated by glass, from Pippin who was going crazy. He made valiant attempts to get his paws on her. White-ears seems either oblivious to this or totally sure that she's beyond reach. She has no idea how lucky she is that Pippin can't get through the glass.

Armor for Cats and Mice. Beautiful work, but imagine trying to get a cat into it! Scroll down the page to see the cat armor.

Wed., 22 Dec. 2010
I had to take a short business trip last week and while I was gone, Randy called to say he'd found a scabbed-over bite on Tosca's neck. I checked it out as soon as I got home and it was healing fine, but it's a bad indicator. I have to assume Zoe was fighting with her again.

Right after that, I found a patch of thin fur near the base of Jetta's tail. She licked it even more bare by the next day, so I searched the area for a bite. I couldn't see anything obvious, unfortunately, but I cleaned the bare spot thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide and I'm keeping an eye on it. It looks like she might still be licking the fur off that spot, even though I can't see a problem there. Which means it could also be a nervous reaction.

I haven't seen Zoe act up in the past week while I'm here, but I'm about to start a new job and will be away from home a lot more. I may have to increase her tranks again, ever so slightly.

Sun., 26 Dec. 2010
Today's blog is a photo feature of Opal, the Tortie Princess.
Opal chatters
Here Opal is chattering at birds through the window.
Opal happily burrowed under a towel, until I bothered her.
This photo came out with strange flash effects, but I like it because it managed to capture the brilliant sparks of orange amidst her black fur that inspired her name.

Tues., 28 Dec. 2010
Today's blog features Pippin the Magnificent, at 19 lbs.
Lately, Pippin has been cracking me up with a new bath routine. He rolls belly-up (a favorite position), and then lazily rolls back and forth from side to side licking his front paws and other easily-reached parts of himself.
Pippin: "Doesn't everyone sleep like this?"

Wed., 29 Dec. 2010
Jetta, Ferocious Huntress, strikes again. As I was leaving my office late last night, I saw Jetta was intently stalking something. I got a flashlight and looked around the shelves she was interested in, but couldn't see or hear anything. I left her to it.

I came out this morning expecting possibly a baby rat, but her prey turned out to be the sad carcass of a small lizard, probably driven inside by the rainstorm.