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

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cat line drawing
Tues., 4 Jan. 2011
Happy 2011. The Tales of the Moggy Horde have been around now for thirteen years.

My dear Saffy girl was waiting for me as I went into the bathroom to have a shower. She had left a mousie gift right outside the shower door. I showered her with love and appreciation, but she quickly left when it was time for the actual shower.

Wonderful pictures: Lynx and Calico fall in love.

Sun., 16 Jan. 2011
The new job is keeping me terribly busy and sadly I don't get to be around my cats very much, except on weekends. I'm not happy about it and the cats aren't happy about it, especially my poor office cats.

I decided to give Jetta a catnip mousie this morning, even though I know the inevitable outcome. She goes on high alert the instant she hears me open the velcro on the underside of the mousie to insert the catnip.

Sure enough, within the hour the mousie was lying at the bottom of the water bowl. I changed out the water and wrung out the mousie, then put it up in a hidden spot where I was sure she wouldn't find it. Yeah, right. She managed to find it in the afternoon and the mousie was soon submerged for a second time.

This one batch of female cats, mainly Saffy and Jetta, are obsessed with the whole toy-in-the-water thing. I'm wondering, has anyone else seen this kind of behavior in your cats? If so, feel free to leave a comment at the Moggyblog Facebook page.

Sun., 30 Jan. 2011
I swear, Jetta is every bit as much of a Precious Princess as her sister, Opal, when it comes to food. It has to be exactly the right canned food or Jetta walks away from it (leaving more for Zoe to scarf down). And if the placement isn't just right and the mood right and the stars in proper alignment, she will also turn up her nose and walk away.

I weighed Pippin yesterday and he's exactly the same weight he was back in August - 19.5 lbs. We'd gotten him down to 19.1, so he's backsliding a bit. We're going to reduce his amount of food slightly to see if we can get him past this plateau. We have to watch him like hawks when the girls' food bowls are out, though. He knows very well that they are Forbidden, but he can't help himself.

Mon., 31 Jan. 2011

Sun., 13 Feb. 2011
I made the mistake of opening a can of food that was not in Jetta's preferred flavor of fish. She sniffed the food in her dish, gave me a look that clearly said, "What is this crap?", and walked away. Not to worry, nothing goes to waste with Zoe around. She hoovered it right up.

Fri., 25 Feb. 2011
If we dare to sleep in on the weekends, the cats are forced to pull out their bag of tricks for waking the humans. They'll even take turns, with each cat having an individual approach. Last time, it went like this:

First up was Opal. Her favorite technique is Clawing At The Blanket. One of us usually rouses enough to lift the blanket so that she can get under it as she loves to do. In this case, she's not really interested in getting under the blanket. When her technique failed, she left the bed.

Next up was Pippin. Pippin is subtle. He simply walks up and plonks his 19 pound body in between us near our faces and exerts his Irresistible Cuddle Emanations. We are compelled to give him head scritchies and love him up. On this particular morning, we were both so tired that we gave him some scritchies, but didn't get up.

That meant it was Saffy's turn. Saffy's approach is blunt and direct. It's the Running Flyover. She leaps onto the bed, usually landing on my hips, and runs across us to jump off the other side of the bed. She's not a huge cat, but she's solid and hefty enough that this is hard to ignore. But we were really tired and didn't budge.

And so it fell to Opal to pull out her final and most annoying tactic - Banging the Bathroom Cabinet Doors. That was when we finally gave up and got out of bed and fed the little buggers.

Sun., 6 March 2011
An unknown cat has come around late at night yowling right outside my office. Zoe and Jetta were quite freaked out about this and I witnessed Zoe taking out her misplaced aggression on Jetta by taking a swipe at her because she couldn't do anything about the other cat. It made me pause and consider how often I see this behavior in humans as well. People often strike out at the wrong targets only because they're unable to strike out at the real target for one reason or another.

The last time we heard the cat yowling was a miserable cold and rainy night. We tried to find it, but of course it vanished every time we'd open the door. Poor thing. I hope it had a home somewhere.

Tosca had her annual check-up on Thurs. We did a full blood-panel, plus FIP titres. The vet thought she looked very good, especially for her age, though he thinks she could afford to lose a couple of pounds. She clocked in at 12.5 lbs. and has the bowling ball of a stomach that she's always had. The blood work came back good except for a spike in her liver functions, which he fully expected because she's been on steroids for months now. He wants me to slowly wean her off the steroids. Her thyroid was high, so we're increasing the Tapazole. And her FIP titres were in a low range that indicated exposure, but nothing to worry about. The old girl's in pretty good shape.

A couple of fun links:
A cat's wild imagination.
Cravendale Mile: cats with thumbs
Mon., 14 March 2011
It's hard to resist cuddling up close with Pippin. He's like an overstuffed, giant plush toy. He endures being hugged and nuzzled with a sort of weary patience. The other day I was nuzzling him up close and he gave me a robust sneeze right in the face. Delightful.

He did something the other night that was a remarkable first, something his sisters do routinely, but which he has never done -- he fetched something. In this case, it was a ping pong ball! Though it's also fairly rare for him to play with a ping pong ball (or anything else), he was batting it around and decided to carry it all the way upstairs to where we were. The fact that he can carry a ping pong ball in his mouth is another indication of what a big cat he is. I rather doubt we'll see him perform like that again any time soon, though.

Wed., 16 March 2011
It was another miserably wet, rainy night and the unknown moggy came yowling piteously at our front door. Pippin, Saffy and Opal freaked out and ran off in all directions. Randy and I tried to make encouraging sounds before opening the door, but it was instantly gone before we could even glimpse it. What broke my heart was seeing the wet pawprints left behind on the porch, which has some shelter from the rain. So I got down a hooded cat bed that our cats don't use any more, cleaned it up, put a clean towel in it, and set that out on the porch.

I wasn't surprised this morning to find that it hadn't been used, but we're going to leave it out there during the bad weather anyway.

Tosca is being weaned slowly off the steroids, but she may be constipated, whether it's because of that or not. I saw her squatting and straining in the catbox twice in the space of five minutes without results. I immediately got the pumpkin puree out of the freezer. Last night, she had a treat of cat food, pumpkin puree and bits of turkey lunch meat. She seems to be feeling good, but I'll keep up the puree treatment for a few days.

Sun., 20 March 2011
The three girls from the same litter -- Saffy, Opal and Jetta -- share a decided preference for fish-ingredient cat food. In fact, I've given up buying any form of chicken or turkey-flavored cat food because they will sniff at it with disdain and walk away. I currently feed them the fish flavors of Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance and they love it.

These three girls also share another trait -- they love to "drown" their mousies and other play objects in their water bowls. I figure this is the same as dunking prey in water. So I find myself wondering if there could be some kind of a fishing gene in these girls, and whether there could be connection between the water trait and the prefer-fish trait. I doubt I'll ever get an answer, but I suspect a connection.

Sun., 27 March 2011
Jetta & Tosca
Two-headed Moggy! Jetta and Tosca in Hydra Mode.

Sat., 2 April 2011
Cats do disgusting things sometimes. Saffy threw up a large amount of dry food, then wanted to eat it. This isn't unusual and hardly passes for disgusting anymore. I cleaned up the vomit with a paper towel and tossed it into the small wastebasket in the downstairs bathroom where the cat boxes are. What did pass for disgusting was coming in there later and discovering that Pippin had fished the paper towel out of the trash, so he could munch on the vomit. I didn't catch Pippin in the act, but he's the only cat who is so obssessed with food that we have to watch him every minute the food is out or he steals food from Saffy's or Opal's bowls.

Meanwhile, Her Picky Highness Jetta has decided that she wants her gushy food served warm. I've found that the best way to get her to eat gushy food that isn't her favorite is to give it about ten seconds in the microwave first.

Sun., 3 April 2011
Celebrating birthdays! Sometime at the end of March or the beginning of April 2005, four kittens were born to a feral Tortie mother in the small crawlspace beneath an old mountain cabin. We trapped them and they ensnared us. Happy Sixth Birthday to Pippin, Opal, Sapphire and Jetta. Our lives would be far more empty without you.

Mon., 11 April 2011
Christopher Smart, born in 1722 in England, wrote this appreciation of his cat in a poem entitled Jubilate Agno. I love his lines about peace at rest and brisk in motion, and "a mixture of gravity and waggery" and even lines where I'm guessing at the words and yet the meaning comes through, such as "spraggle upon waggle". Separated by centuries of time, the love of a cat's qualities shines through.

"For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry. [...]
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defense is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord's poor, and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can sit up with gravity, which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom."

Speaking of beloved moggies, Pippin is showing more and more interest in the ping pong balls. He treated us to another "first". Randy heard a cat making the "I've got a mousie" song, but he could see that it wasn't coming from Saffy and it wasn't coming from Opal. He finally realized it was Pippin who was in the living room with a PP ball in his mouth, announcing his catch. We've never heard him do that before. Did he learn it from his sisters?

Amusing side note: the PP balls are developing a lot of fang punctures.

Sun., 17 April 2011
I had some leftover chicken, so I picked it into small pieces and mixed it into the favorite fish gushy food. Both Jetta and Tosca walked away from it. For Jetta, that was typical. I was a bit surprised that Tosca did. That left Zoe to live up to her rep as Hoover Supreme. She had three servings of dinner. At this rate, she's the next fat cat I'll have to put on a diet.

I'm a bit concerned about Tosca, actually. She's been doing more poorly on the higher dose of thyroid meds and weaning off the steroids. She's become completely inactive, has more problems with her respiratory system, and has lost most of her voice. For such a talkative cat, that's disturbing. I'm afraid another trip to the vet may be coming up.

Wed., 27 April 2011
Tosca has managed to avoid a trip to the vet so far. She seems to be improving, doesn't sound quite as congested and is slightly more active. She's still not as active as she was before, but that may have come from the steroids. I've nearly finished weaning her off the steroids now, so it may be a matter of her body adjusting.

I've had some problems with my fancy new LCD monitor. Strange things would happen. It would suddenly go into a sleep mode that I couldn't seem to undo. Now I suspect it's a corollary on the Law of Unintended Consequences -- that is, the Law of Unintended Cat Consequences. In order to have the monitor at the right height, I have it up a fair distance from the top of the desk. The controls are on the front in the lower right corner. Zoe and Jetta want the monitor to know it belongs to them, so they do what cats do to lay claim to something -- they rub against it. This came home to me with particular force last night when Jetta rubbed against the monitor and the next thing I know, I'm staring at a black screen. She had turned it off. Clever girl.

There's not much I can do about it, so I'll simply have to watch out for UCC (Unintended Cat Consequences).

Sun., 1 May 2011
Joyous Beltane! It is the season of renewal.

Tosca's definitely feeling better. She's perkier, talking more and overall seems healthy. I still have a handful of the steroids left, but I've decided this is a good time to stop giving them. She was going a week inbetween and now that's she adjusted, it doesn't make sense to continue giving them to her.

Today was wash-the-sofa-cover day. While I was at it, I decided to pull the sofa away from the wall and see what I would discover. I don't as a rule do this because it's a big, heavy, fold-out sofa-bed and weighs a lot, but I managed it. And then I stood there and had a good laugh. As I suspected, all the lost ping-pong balls of the universe were under the sofa. I've recovered at least ten of them, which will, in due time, probably find their way under the sofa again.

Sat., 7 May 2011
I had a pile of laundry on the bed and went to haul it downstairs to the machine, only to discover that Saffy had burrowed deeply inside the pile and was snuggled in for a long afternoon's nap.

The laundry can wait.
Saffy in laundry
Saffy: "Do you mind? I'm sleeping here."

Sun., 15 May 2011
Saffy consistenly brings me her favorite mousie. It's mosly denuded -- she's pulled off half the fur -- and has only one, big purple ear left. But this is the mousie she brings me over and over. She brings it to me in the kitchen. She brings it to me when I'm cleaning the catboxes. She brings it when she wants me to stay in the house with her rather than going into my office. She brings it to me in the bedroom. She's my girl.

Fri., 27 May 2011
I really haven't been happy with Tosca's condition in the last couple of weeks since the vet had me wean her off the steroids. I hadn't seen this particular vet before and I should have been more specific about her history. I've seen her have wild swings in how she reacts to changes in thyroid doses and when he said to double her dosage, I had misgivings, but went along with it.

She's been lethargic, with no interest in playing, lost most of her voice, has bad nasal congestion and is straining to make a solid dump in the catbox. Two days ago, I decided on my own to slightly reduce the dosage and this morning I hauled her back to the vet's. I made sure this time that I saw one of the vets I trust and one that has seen her before.

He agreed that's she probably over-reacting to the higher dosage. We're retesting her thyroid level and I'm keeping her on the lower dosage for now. Plus he agreed with me that she was previously benefitting from the Prednisolone, so I'm putting her back on a very minimal dosage of that as well. At her age, it's a balancing act of what provides the most quality of life vs. the risks.

She's already looking and acting perkier than I've seen in weeks.

Thurs., 2 June 2011
Yay! Tosca has her voice back! She's talking and is more active and in much better general condition.

Meanwhile, Jetta says "If you're not going to give me mousies to dunk in the water bowl, I'll find something else." I found Mr. Fuzzy Ball sitting in the water bowl, string trailing over the side. Jetta will not be denied.

Thurs., 21 June 2011
Between my last post and this one, I lost my desktop to a crippling malware infection. I've been slowly getting my data backed up, so that I can reformat my hard drives and start clean. I'm backing up a lot of material onto my laptop and finally reached the point where I can access my website files again.

Zoe's been...ahem...helpful in this process, as she's being at this moment, by sprawling across the desk to encompass both the laptop and the keyboard. I must pause to rub her sweet upturned furry belly.

If you've lived with moggies long enough, you will have had this experience: you see something that you just KNOW your cats will love and you buy it. I bought a round catbed with nice sheepskin lining and tall sides and I was sure Opal would love it. But no, she had no interest in it and none of the other cats would show any interest in it. I ended up taking it to the Peninsula Humane Society, along with one of those long, crinkly tubes that I was so sure the cats would love. They lost interest in that after about ten minutes. Hopefully, there will be cats at the shelter who will appreciate them.

Sun., 3 July 2011
Part of the daily routine is for Opal to go on a ride on Randy's shoulders. I wouldn't dare to say which one of them enjoys it more. I think it's about equal. When Opal gets onto Randy's shoulders in the kitchen, she always wants him to head for the fridge, so she can get on top of the fridge. We let her get away with this until she knocked down and broke a couple of fridge magnets that had sentimental value to me. I'm big on fridge magnets. The entire fridge is pretty much covered with them, and when Opal tries to "walk" her way down from the fridge, it leads to disaster. Plus, it's not such a good idea to have moggy feet on the kitchen counter where we prepare food.

That's why the top of the fridge has become forbidden territory. We put a small cooler up there to block the way, and we store the reusable shopping bags up there. But of course, we all know that "forbidden territory" is irresistable to a cat.

I came into the kitchen the other day and found some of the shopping bags on the floor. I knew instantly what that meant. In my mom-is-stern voice, I said "Opal!" I looked up to see Opal squeeze herself out of a high cubbard above the fridge and make off like greased lightning. We never would have found her up there, so it's a good thing she was able to get out!

I hadn't weighed Pippin since May and I'm pleased to report he weighed in this time at 18.15 lbs. He's lost an entire pound since May! We've been vigilant about keeping him away from the girls' food and it's paid off. He could probably stand to lose about another pound. One vet wanted us to get him down to 16 lbs., but we both feel he's reaching a reasonably good weight now, so we're not going to push it too much.

Wed., 13 July 2011
I've had to clean up a lot hairballs and hairball-induced vomit lately, in spite of giving out Petromalt. I should probably give out more of it. I'm amused to note that the cats fall into three distinct camps as follows:
* Pippin and Zoe: "Yumm! I love this stuff! Gimme! Gimme more!"
* Opal and Tosca: "Well, okay, I'll have some if you coax me into it."
* Saffy and Jetta: "What is that? Yuck! Get it away from me."
Life would be so much simpler if they all fell into the first category.

Thur., 21 July 2011
Came into my office tonight after dinner to find an enormous turd on the carpet, another piece of turd around the side of the office, and a pile of vomit. Just what I wanted to deal with after a long day of work. Actually, my bigger concern is the cause behind the abnormal behavior. In the past, when such a thing happened, it was because Tosca was being intimidated by Zoe and was afraid to be vulnerable in the cat box. If it was Tosca, I'm kinda happy on the one hand because I've been worried that she's suffering constipation; but of course, I'm not happy because it would mean more problems with Zoe. I don't really know who left it, so there's not much I can do except clean it up and worry a little.

Sun., 24 July 2011
We've achieved a milestone with Pippin: he's lost enough weight to once again clean all parts of his body. He can even lick his nether regions now. This is a good thing.

Sadly, at the same time Tosca seems to have lost the ability or interest in grooming her hindquarters as she used to. I'm feeling the kind of mats forming back there that Pippin was getting so badly (and which are now entirely gone). I spent some time combing out Tosca's mats, but she became quite agitated with me about it. She yowled and hissed at me, something I've never seen her do when I comb her. That had the severely negative effect of causing Zoe to attack her -- a full-on aggression attack. I had to give Zoe another half a trank to get her calmed down.

My guess is that Zoe has a form of PTSD and the sound of the yowling and hissing triggers a defensive aggression reaction. It doesn't happen often any more with her on the tranks, but an incident like this shows me that it's still there, ready to resurface with the right trigger.

I need to keep working on Tosca's hindquarters, so I'll have to find a safer way to do it. Hmm...I have a clever idea. I'll take Tosca into the bathroom and completely separate her from Zoe. She can hiss at me to her heart's content in that space.

Sat., 30 July 2011
Mr. Pippin thinks that if I'm doing something in the kitchen, this means that I should feed him. But Mr. Pippin weighed in at 19 lbs. this morning, meaning he's gained back a pound, so he can forget about a mid-afternoon snack.

Sun., 7 August 2011
I've been having an intermittent problem with my wireless mouse. It would suddenly become unresponsive or barely move. I'd check the batteries and puzzle over it, until I remembered that dense, furry cat bodies have away of blocking a wireless transmission. Zoe or Jetta would plonk themselves down on my desk in a position that was directly between the mouse and the transmitter. Mouse no work with thick cat body in the way. I moved the transmitter. Problem solved.

I give the office cats treats at night, and they love one of the salmon-flavored commercial brands. Those brands are made of unhealthy ingredients, stuff that's not good for cats like chicken by-products and corn meal. So last time, I tried another brand of organic cat treats made of actual salmon. Zoe will eat anything, so she's no problem. Tosca decided they were acceptable. But Jetta said, "Bleh." and walked away. For that girl, it's junk food or no treat. I gave in, of course. I figure as long as it's only a few treats a night, a tiny bit of junk food won't be the end of the world.

Mon., 15 August 2011
So yesterday was moggy bath day. By "bath", I mean that I put an old cotton sock over my hand, saturate it with the anti-allergen liquid and rub down the cats with it. Saffy and Opal are no problem. Pippin gets quite pissy about it.

But he went beyond his usual bit of a hiss. He actually got vicious and turned on me. Luckily, I wasn't scratched or bitten, but it was like dealing with a feral cat. I tried to grab him by the scruff of the neck. No luck there. He has such a thick, muscular neck that it's impossible to grab onto it. Impasse. Pippin won this round.

I swear, it's disconcerting when my usually placid, cuddly cat turns into a snarling jaguar. We've decided that Randy will give Pippin his rub-down next week. Pippin hangs out all day next to Randy on his desk and they have a wonderful bond. Hopefully, Pippin will be more tolerant if Randy does the evil deed.

Wed., 17 August 2011
Dear Opal,
You are our darling girl and we love you. Most of the time, we love to hear you sing when you bring us a mousey. It's sweet when you serenade us with the mousey song. But not at 5:30 in the morning. And not at the top of your operatic lungs.
Sincerely yours,
the (very tired) management

Mon., 5 September 2011
I need to groom Tosca more to get out the mats in her hindquarters. She's also developed a bad case of dandruff back there. Tosca doesn't like the comb or the old-fashioned wire brush, so I picked up a new type of brush that works great. It's a Soft Slicker Brush from Top Paw. The wire bristles are for short hair, so they're not quite as stiff. The head is smaller, so that's better for a cat. The handle is comfy. But the best thing is the "self-cleaning" feature. The base has two parts. There's a button on the back and when I press that, part of the base raises up, bringing the hair with it to the top of the wires, making it easy to get the brush clean. The hair lifts right off.

Tosca doesn't like it, though. I think she must be pretty sensitive back there, so I don't think she'd like anything I could find.

Sun., 18 September 2011
Saffy shows off her collection of ping pong balls.
Fri., 7 October 2011
I've been out of the country and I've been insanely busy, so I've neglected the Moggyblog.

The last week of September, I went to the Netherlands as the Guest of Honor at JemCon, for fans of Jem and the Holograms, the animation series I developed and wrote. My moggies were quite glad to see me when I got back.

Immediately upon returning, my Aussie stepdaughter arrived to visit for a few days, plus the game project I'm working on at Zynga is in crunch mode, so it's been nuts.

Randy had a scare with Pippin just before I got home from the trip. Pippin's had a couple of incidents over the years that seem neurological in nature. This time, his head shook with a tremor for ten to fifteen seconds. It stopped and he's been fine since, other than having a touch of intestinal unhappiness. He's such a sensitive cat, the intestinal upset could come from me being gone and then a stranger in the house. We're giving him pumpkin puree to try and get that settled down.

One time when we had to clean his rear end, he got so furious and worked up about it that he actually gave Randy a nasty bite on the hand.

We took Pippin to the vet for a full blood work-up. His weight is back down to the 18 lb. range. There are two liver enzymes that are way too high. From the research I did, it indicates some form of muscle damage rather than liver damage. His red blood cell count is high, as usual, but it's been that way pretty much his whole life. We have an appointment next week with a feline neurologist.

We're feeding a stray cat, as of tonight. About four nights ago, during a storm, we saw a long-haired black cat hunched up in the back yard beneath the bird feeder. I'm surprised it's taken this long for a cat to stake out our yard full of birds, squirrels and rats.

She reminds us of Jetta. She's shy and takes off as soon as we open the door or try to talk to her. She's been showing up every night, so tonight I took out bowls of food and water. She ran off, but obviously not very far. As soon as I was inside, she returned to eat. She polished off the first small serving. I took out more, she ran off and then came back and ate the second, larger serving.

We haven't seen her around before and she doesn't have a collar, so we'll probably continue to feed her and try to catch or trap her before winter sets in, then take her to the Peninsula Humane Society. I'd better check around with a few neighbors first, though, just in case it does turn out to be someone's cat!

Sun., 9 October 2011
One of the girls, either Saffy or Opal, pulled one of my sleeveless tees from the pile of laundry, then left a mousie next to it. I found the offering when I got up this morning.

Stray Cat is spending a lot of time in our back yard. We've been able to get good looks at him/her in the daylight now, as well as night. I'm leaning toward Stray Cat being a male, because of the shape of head and neck, but it's impossible to be sure. He has a huge, fluffy tail and never lifts it. He looks quite scruffy. Then again, so does Jetta, and she's an indoor cat. I could spend hours brushing Jetta and she'd still look scruffy.

Stray Cat remains totally scared of us and Pippin. He slinks away when he spots Pippin glaring at him from the kitchen door. But he comes back within a couple of minutes after we put out the food for him. He seems to know the sound of dry food being shaken in a dish. Oddly, we've never seen him touch the water.

Yesterday morning, Stray Cat provided his own breakfast -- a rat! Go, Stray Cat, go! Help yourself to the rats. Of course, he also goes after the birds and that's not a good thing.

It may be too difficult and time-consuming to win Stray Cat over with food and patience before winter arrives. We may have to resort to a trap.

Tues., 11 October 2011
Pippin made a visit to a cat neurologist today. Not a cat who is neurologist, but a nice expensive specialist. Randy had to take him, which was just as well because Randy was the one who saw Pippin have the episode with the tremor. Unfortunately, there are no many possiblities and so little in the way of symptoms, that we didn't come away with anything helpful. That is, unless we want to pay around $3,500 for an MRI and other tests that still might or might not show anything. Not to mention being terribly stressful on poor Pippy, who would have to be knocked out for the procedures, with the risks that entails. So for now, it's wait and see and hope nothing serious develops.

Thurs., 13 October 2011
We reached the turning point with Stray Cat already. We're now leaning toward Stray Cat being female, though she's too fluffy and long-haired to tell for sure. She's coming around regularly for feedings and gradually becoming less afraid of us. Today, Randy said she began to talk to him when he brought the food out and didn't run too far away. She even relaxed enough to stretch before coming to the food bowl.

This evening, when I talked to her from the door, she rolled around on the patio. I sat down on the back steps to see if I could entice her over...and she came! She was slightly hesitant, but not for long and I was able to pet her. I was shocked at how boney she is under all that fur! Just skin and bones, the poor thing, but she's getting plenty of food and water now. A little later, Randy did the same thing. He sat on the back steps and had a long petting session with her.

With luck, we should be able to get her to the Humane Society pretty soon, get medical treatment for her and hopefully find her a good home. A shame it can't be us, but we just can't do it.

Sat., 15 October 2011
Last night, we gave the Stray Cat canned food for the first time. I was surprised that she/he only ate part of it and left quite a bit behind. For a cat that's so skinny, it's odd she didn't gobble it down. We didn't want to leave it out there for too long, but wanted to give her a chance to come back for more. About twenty minutes later, I came back into the kitchen, looked out back and found a damned raccoon polishing off the last of the food. It took off so fast, I mostly only saw its tail. That's the first direct sighting I've had of a raccoon around here.

This morning I talked to a woman at the local Humane Society and got the info about bringing in the Stray Cat. She turned up this morning for food. I'd already set a carrier outside with the door open, off to the side. We sat outside on the steps while she ate and gave her lots of petting and attention. When she seemed relaxed, I got hold of her by the scruff of the neck and began to put her into the carrier.

She freaked out, did a 180 degree u-bend and zoomed out before I could shut the door. Off she went. I totally blew it. We bemoaned our failure all day and worried about whether she'd come back, what it would take to win her trust again, etc.

She showed up in the early evening as usual. We gave her dry food and canned food. She demanded lots of petting and attention. Whew. We've left the carrier where it was, covered with a towel in case she might decide to sleep in it. Highly unlikely, but it can't hurt. I'll make another attempt to catch her in the morning.

Sun., 16 October 2011
The saga of the Stray Cat has come to a bittersweet close. To our surprise, she used the carrier to sleep in, going in and out of it freely when we gave her some final scritchies late last night. She was out there this morning and eagerly chowed down a bowl of dry food. I went outside, sat on the steps next to the carrier, and gave her lots of attention. She purred away. After a bit, I put more food in the bowl and placed the bowl deep inside the carrier. She was hesitant, but eventually she went in, grabbed a single piece of food and quickly backed out to eat it. I petted her and told her how good she was. She went back inside and began to eat. I gently moved her tail inside and closed the door.

She was quite unhappy about that, but to my relief didn't go crazy like some cats I've had. I once had a tuxedo cat named Sly who would become totally psychotic if he was contained in any kind of cage or carrier. This girl remained pretty quiet all the way to the Humane Society. Once there, she was docile and easy to handle. The woman who checked her in confirmed that she's female and that she wasn't chipped. I have info that will allow me to check on her progress. It hurt me to leave her there and I nearly cried. If we didn't have a rental situation, we would have kept her, but it just isn't feasible here.

We had debated continuing to take care of her as an outdoor cat, but winter will soon be here and I know myself too well. I couldn't bear to leave her outside in cold, wet, miserable weather, no matter how well we were caring for her. This way she's safe, sheltered, well fed, looked after medically and has a chance to be adopted. She has such a loving, affectionate personality. I hope she finds a good home soon.

Sun., 30 October 2011
One of those quietly disturbing things is when you're lying in bed and somewhere nearby you hear a cat hacking and hacking, but when you get up in the morning you look and look and look and can't find a hairball anywhere. Where is the invisible hairball?!

And now, your smile for the day: the world's most patient cat.

Tues., 2 November 2011
I went to refill Zoe's prescription for tranks and discovered they couldn't refill it because it's been too long since she was last at the vet's. As with human prescriptions, vets are required to see their patient at least once a year in order to refill certain prescriptions. This meant I had to scramble and make a last-minute appointment to take Zoe in for a check-up this morning.

The vet pronounced her to be in good condition...except that she's gaining weight at an unhealthy rate. She's over 13 lbs. now and that's getting to be too much. I'd noticed this and had already been cutting back somewhat on the food, but after discussing it with the vet, I'm going to do controlled feeding. The office cats will get food put out in the morning before I go to work, with no food left out during the day, then I'll put the food out for them again at night, then put it away during the night. He said that sort of pattern is more natural for them anyway. However, Zoe was in a pretty pissy mood by the time I got the food out tonight! Hoover Cat will have to cope with sucking up less food.

Thurs., 10 November 2011
The office cats are not enthralled with the change in feeding pattern. I put the food out for them for an hour in the morning before I go to work, and then leave it out for about three hours after I get home at night. But I only put out a limited amount of dry food, so when they run out, that's it.

They also get a bit of canned food at night. Tonight, as an extra treat, I mixed in some pieces of leftover chicken. I mixed it into Jetta's favorite food. She sniffed at it and refused to eat it. I don't think I've ever had a cat that would actively refuse to eat chicken. What a nitwit.

Tues., 15 November 2011
We received distressing news today. The Humane Society called. Randy was home, so he talked to them. They decided to euthanize the little black cat that I turned over to them. They said she couldn't be socialized; that she would only bite and scratch anyone that tried to pet or handle her. Randy explained that she wasn't that way with us at all and that she probably needed more time. They've had her since Oct. 16th, so she should have calmed down by now. I know she's not a feral, but I've known many otherwise tame cats that simply cannot cope with being trapped and caged.

He had no luck changing their minds. I feel betrayed and I feel like a betrayer. I tried to save her and instead condemned her. I know it's impossible to save every cat. I know I was trying to do the right thing. I know the Humane Society is up against an overwhelming situation with limited resources and hundreds of animals being dumped on them. My head tells me that.

My heart feels differently. My heart wants me to never give them money again and never entrust an animal to them again. I feel horrible and miserable and angry all at once. I can't change the situation, but I'm damned upset about it.

Sun., 20 November 2011
I found something worrisome in the cat box -- a blood clot and some blood in a stool that was half-diarrhea. It wasn't large enough to be Pippin's. We speculated that the most likely one would be Saffy because of her obsession with eating hair that passes through her gut. But only moments later, Saffy used the box and left a solid deposit. So -- pun alert -- by process of elimination, it must have come from Opal.

Opal's behaving normally and not showing any signs of a problem, but she's Randy's precious girl, so he plans to take her to the vet as a precaution

In other news, I found that if I mix a little bit of fish-flavored gooshy food into the chicken-flavored gooshy food, I can trick Jetta into eating it.

Thurs., 24 November 2011
We haven't taken Opal to the vet. She seems perfectly normal and we haven't seen a repeat of the problem. Hopefully, it was a one-time thing caused by something she ate that she shouldn't have.

This morning, Tosca was not doing well. She didn't rouse herself to come eat, which is unusual. Even when I brought food to her, she wouldn't touch it. She's been wandering around the office, squatting and leaving individual turds around the room. This is becoming a recurring problem for the poor old girl. All she wanted to do, after having no luck in the cat box, was curl up and sleep.

I thawed out some pumpkin puree, mixed it with a bit of soft food, warmed it up and tried to get her to eat it. She had no interest. Again, very unlike her. I put bits of the food on my finger and gently forcefed her. She wasn't thrilled, but she got it down.

Around mid-afternoon, she tried her luck in the catbox (no success), so I quickly mixed up another small batch of pumpkin and cat food while she was up and about. This time she ate it on her own. She had a steroid pill this morning, so that may have helped. I'll have to watch her carefully the rest of the day and night. If she doesn't improve, I may have to get her to vet on Friday, if I can even find a vet that's open.

Fri., 25 November 2011
I managed to get three doses of pumpkin into Tosca yesterday. She's bounced right back to her usual talkative self. She's eating well and drinking water, alleviating any concerns I had about whether she was sufficiently hydrated. She's a resilient girl.

Sun., 11 December 2011
I was gone for a while after my father passed away around Thanksgiving. I went home to Illinois to attend the funeral service and spend a little time with family. The cats are always happy to see me when I get back.

Saffy has suddenly decided to change the morning ritual. She still waits by my side of the bed for me to get up, but rather than being petted and greeted there, she's decided to get her morning affection with me in the bathroom where I'm a captive audience.

Tosca is doing pretty well on the pumpkin treatment, but she continues to snurfle and wheeze and have problems with her nose or breathing. Time for another visit to the vet, I think.

Thurs., 29 December 2011
I had a cat cold make the rounds of the office cats. It started with Jetta. The poor girl had vicious sneezing fits for a few days, then it cleared up. Zoe had a minor touch of it, not nearly as bad. Somehow it skipped over Tosca, who is always snurffly and congested. It baffles me how these colds flare up in a group of cats who don't go outside and are never exposed to other cats. At least it cleared up pretty quickly. Fast than human colds, that's for sure.

Fri., 30 December 2011
I turned away from my computer last night and found a good-sized lizard, sans tail, in the middle of the office floor. It had somehow found its way inside, into the lions' den, became a toy and was left, more or less intact, behind my chair. It wasn't moving much, but was still alive and didn't appear badly damaged from the outside. The missing tail actually looked as though it had happened some time ago and was starting to regrow, rather than my cats doing it. I rescued the poor thing and put it in the bushes outside. My Sierra foothills Moggy Horde, who had experience as outdoor hunters, would have eaten it, but these indoor moggies haven't learned that particular skill. Just as well. I rather like lizards and would rather have them whole and well in the yard.