Friday, August 29, 2008

Tomato Cat.

Pets eat human food opportunistically. Leave the turkey unattended, or forget to rinse out your cereal bowl, and someone's up on the counter getting the good bits.

Mickey's actually pretty good about it. Yes, if you leave a glass on the floor while watching t.v. he'll stick his head in it every time, and last night he did take a snatch at the roast beef I left on the couch. (hmmm, seems like all our problems stem from eating in front of the t.v. doesn't it?) but he stays clear of the dinner dishes, and doesn't even lick dirty plates we leave around (which is a mixed blessing, because it might help husband and I to clean up more promptly if he did).

Unless it has a tomato on it. Slice a tomato, and leave it on the kitchen table to get the salt, and he will have spirited a chunk away to nosh on before you can say 'what happened to obligate carnivore?'. If there'd have been a chunk of fish on that same plate, he'd have done nothing but sniff the air optimistically, but apparently tomatoes are his weakness.

How did I end up with a wannabe vegan cat?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why 'no kill?'

First, I know there are a lot of 'flavors' of 'no kill' out there. I honestly, don't know the difference, and whether the crazy PETA people or the hoarders are nokill or no-kill or No Kill or any strange amalgam of such.

I think that's part of the problem.

The premise that I do support is increased adoption. You know, more convenient hours for working families, better advertising, better behaviour analysis and training. All those things that help get animals out the door, so they don't have to go out the back. Really, 'pro-adoption' cuts to the point much better. You don't get anywhere by saying you're against something and leaving the alternatives in the details. You make progress, and earn mindshare by supporting something.

Because, really, if all you cared about was 'no more killing cute fluffy animals' it'd be fine if you warehoused them, or turned away all but the best prospects, or did any number of illogical things. And by saying that 'no kill' is the foundation of your beliefs, you're leaving the uninformed public to figure out how to do that. And they'll probably think of the first things, and write you off as stupid, crazy, or both. And they might not be wrong.

But, 'pro long term adoption', well, there's your solution right there! That's what you're trying to achieve, that's how you're going to do it. That's a positive, meaningful, unambiguous title.

Imagine driving by a shelter that had a big sign: 'This is a no kill shelter!' you probably cringe, thinking 'oh yes, they do have to kill poor fluffy puppies in shelters sometimes. But I'd rather not think about those things ... maybe I'll go to a nice friendly pet shop or neighbor instead where they won't bring up unpleasant topics like that ... unless some no-kill wacko catches me on my way in'

On the other hand, drive by that same shelter, with the same policies, but the sign instead says 'this shelter supports long term adoption!' well, yes, that's what you want, you want a place that is going to help you have a happy long term relationship with your pet. Maybe it's worth a look, since they seem so supportive and all.

Any term can get damaged by association (see pro-life/pro-choice) but this isn't even a cover. This is the unspoken core. Why go with a gloomy, ambiguous term like 'no kill' when what you're really about is 'pro adoption'?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On furminators

So, I bought one. It was $24, not $65 like one I'd seen before.

It's probably worth $24. I cannot imagine a brush worth $65, unless it actually did the brushing for me. And stood around looking sultry with it's shirt off for my amusement the rest of the time.

It is decidedly more effective than other brushes we've used. The previous standard was those wire slicker type brushes. This was significantly faster than the slicker brushes. For one, you would get in one stroke what took five or ten with the slicker. Second, the flat 'comb' structure made it much easier to pull the hair out than with brush styles. Finally, with the slicker, you would brush for a couple loads, and you would start getting much less fur. The furminator kept getting fur for a much longer time, despite pulling it out faster.

I didn't have a problem with raw skin, or bald patches like I've heard in other reviews. The cats seemed to like it as much as any other brush, i.e. they wandered around and rolled on the floor and purred and tried to eat it and generally made things inconvenient until they got sick of it and just left. The biggest problem was the tail, since it's hard to brush all sides of a small round thing. That's really saying quite a bit, if you get to the point that the biggest shedding problem on the cat is the tail though.

Since it did work out, I'd like to get one of the bamboo off-brand styles for my mother's cats (who have pretty significant hairball issues). When I do, we'll do a furminator vs. off brand review shootout!
(Though, at $24, it wasn't a huge savings over the off brand anyway, but your market may vary)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to wash a cat (really this time)

Jan's comment made me think. Previously, all the unbathed cat owners I'd known had been your typical well intentioned but uninformed, pet store customer types. So I figured it was just one more instance of 'oh I didn't realize you could bathe cats...feed anything better than iams...not vaccinate as often as I am'

But, apparently real, informed, intelligent people have a problem here. I have two hunches. One, they truly do own evil devil cats, because those cats do exist. But, given a choice, most people don't pick evil devil cats on purpose, so I don't think that's the majority situation. The other thing I can think of it that they've just never seen it done, and given their cat's reactions to things like medicine, they're too scared to try.

So since knowledge is the enemy of fear, and fear leads to stinky cats, I suppose a how-to is in order.

What you need:
-A dirty cat with *clipped* claws. Bathing a cat with full sharp claws is something even I wouldn't do. For ultimate security, cut them a few days before to give the sharp edges caused by the clippers time to smooth out. (Also, you probably don't want any matted hair, wounds, or fresh stitches in the cat - use common sense)
-cat soap. Make sure it has 'cat' on the bottle. Since cats lick themselves, you need to be extra careful. Also, don't get a flea&tick variety unless it's a problem. Why introduce extra chemicals?
-A sink, shower, or tub With A Detachable Sprayer Head. That's where I messed up last time. Also, clearing the immediate area of stuff that could get knocked over is recomended.
-Lots of towels.
-Finally, I recommend doing it on a warm sunny day so the cat can lay in the sun to dry.

Wear old clothes that can get wet, hairy (and possibly ripped) but don't worry too much about it. Gloves will only make things more difficult.

So, run the water until it's a comfortable temperature, put the cat in the sink/tub, and spray the body until wet.

I know, so easily said...but really, they don't like it, but most cats tolerate it pretty darn well. They transition pretty quickly to a forlorn acceptance of their fate-worse-than-death. Really, I promise. eight out of eight cats I've bathed have settled down to meowing pitifully in just a few seconds. If your cat is tolerant of being picked up at all, I almost guarantee it will be tolerant of bathing.

I think a fair amount of this reaction and resulting advice stems from the fact that a cat doesn't have very good footing in a wet sink. They'll scrabble around a bit, but you're in a much better position to out-leverage them than you are with you both on dry land, and they figure this out pretty quick.

Some tips though:

-don't take your hand off them. They may be doing beautifully, but they will jump out in no time if they think the getting is good.

-don't move them. This is where the spray nozzle is so important. You can lift their front part up to get their bellies, but move their bottom as little as possible, and mostly just let them sit there. If you start picking them up and turning them around, they'll just start flailing at random, and probably get away from you.

-don't worry about the head. For one, getting water in the ears isn't really a good thing. Also, they really, really don't like it, and will fight you much harder than when they were just wet. Not worth the battle.

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. Put some soap on them. This is easiest to do one-handed if you just drizzle it directly on their back, and rub it around to get the underneath parts. Rinse well. Finish by rubbing dry with towels as much as they will stand.

Did I miss the mark? Does this not match your experience? Is there some other reason you've never bathed your cat? Let me know. I read all my comments, even the ones on really old entries show up right alongside the new ones, so speak up even if you come across this years later. Lets make the world a cleaner place one cat at a time!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pride goeth before a ruined shirt

With Mickey relatively healthy, a free, warm afternoon, and no dirty dishes in the sink, we decided it was time for a bath to remove that distinctive 'cat fart' smell from our feline friend.

You can probably guess where this is going.

Now, I have bathed cats before. I have bathed big old tom cats who were nearly as big as I was (as a kid) I have bathed frighted cats who'd never been wet before and didn't even sit on your lap by choice when they were dry. I've done it in showers, in sinks. It's not a big deal. The worst part is how pathetic they look when wet.

I do not understand the people who refuse to bathe their cats out of fear. It's almost as bad as the ones who take the cat to the vet to have it's nails clipped. Seriously? It's easier to get the cat in the carrier, and drive to the vet than it is to flip 'em over and snip their claws? Your call. Though on that note, there is *nothing funnier* than a cat who used to have sharp claws trying to jump on your lap and sliiiding back down where her claws used to grab so effectively into your bare skin.

So we caught the cat, warmed the water, cleared the area around the sink, found towels and soap, and got to work. Now, what I'd forgotten about all these trouble free previous cat bathing experiences was that all the sinks had those little sprayer attachments, meaning all you had to do was hold the cat still, and squirt away.

This one didn't. And while Mickey was a relatively good boy (for a wet cat at least) about holding still in the water, he was not too keen about being repositioned while we tried to get the faucet to spray all of him.

Which is how I ended up with a half-wet cat climbing over my shoulder.

Which is how I ripped my good work shirt (I always, always put on old clothes before, and all that had gotten on them was a lot of cat fur, but this time I was just so confident)

Which is how M ended up carrying the still half-wet and increasingly pissy cat to the bathroom to finish the job with the detachable shower head. (thank the lord for detachable showerheads)

At least he forgave us quickly, and was sleeping on my lap by bedtime (at which point I had to give him his antibiotics)

Oh, and an addendum, while cat baths normally leave clods of fur lying about, this time there was none to speak of. It could be white fur is less obvious, but I blame the furminator we recently bought. He really doesn't shed much at all now except his tail where he's not fond of being brushed. But more on that later.

Monday, August 4, 2008

kitty friends

We have now officially diagnosed Mickey as lonely. He's quite friendly and cuddly when we're around, but seems mildly distressed when we're in a different room, or sleeping, particularly. We are no good to him when we are asleep.

So he wanders the rooms, perimeters in particular, meowing quietly and plaintively. M suggested the meows sounded like a feline 'ping' (see, we really are nerds here), and he was checking to see if anyone else is around. Of course, this is all armchair psychology, on a cat no less, but he grew up with other cats around, and his brother at my parents is quite friendly with one of the cats (the other is a crotchety old hag), so it seems a valid guess.

So now the question is where to get one.

We've decided an adult would probably be better, so we could tell up front whether it was batshit crazy or not, but that a kitten isn't nearly the responsibility of a puppy, so wouldn't be a problem. Also, a female would be more likely to be a good companion than another male, though Mickey is really pretty laid back.

Somewhere, however, I developed the notion that you should never need to pay for a cat (or, in particular, go though any particular trouble, search, or application process). I suppose it's because they're so much more successfully feral than dogs are, but wait a few months, and it seems someone, somewhere, has a friendly stray they found and want to get rid of. There are always more cats than people willing to take an extra.

But I'm starting to second guess that, particularly given our predilection towards an adult. It's kitten season, so there are several litters to choose from. Right this instant I can think of four. Is giving a home to a returned kitten who's mother is still not spayed -though not being intentionally bred- ethical even if she's free? Does taking one of the feral kittens the neighbor girl found in their spot at the fairgrounds doom a perfectly nice cat in a shelter? Or since there are finite homes, would one of them have gone either way?

I'm fairly decided on that matter with dogs. It's never made sense to me the rescues that go to extravagant expense to save unhealthy, or temperamentally unfit dogs while healthier ones are still being euthanized. It seems a zero-sum game. If you take a less fit dog out of pity, or nobility or what have you, all that means is that a better one will be killed. But somehow, cats seem more fluid, as though that the rule may not apply. I don't know.

In the meantime, Mickey is lonely.