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Tales from the Backwoods
Today is National Cat Day and I haven’t properly introduced our fur-babies. My Bengal, Hootie, is 5. He was born 07-11-07 in Oklahoma. He was born flat chested and his leg is kicked out, so he was neutered and sold as a pet quality Bengal. I bought him when he was 7 or 8 months old for $1500. It was a great hardship to afford him, but he’s been worth every penny. He was flown to me and he’s been on my heels ever since.
He’s got several names; Hootie (because he sits on the bed and acts like a guard owl), Hooter, Hoot, Hootmier P Jones, Hooticus Rex, Baby Bug, Buggie, Buggie Bear and Security. We call him security because he’s very protective of me and the house. He patrols the house and seems to have rounds. He alerts us if we’ve left a space heater on and one time even prevented a fire by alerting on a hot circuit under the couch. He also comes running if I squeak or scream and will “yell” at The Sweetness and try to bite him. He’s in charge of bug killing and takes it very seriously. He talks a lot. He’s got something like 103 noises he makes. He and I have a type of shorthand so that we communicate fairly well.
He’s not a lap cat and only tolerates being picked up for about 30 seconds, but he is always in my shadow. He sits under me while I work, follows me everywhere, sleeps on my feet and yells at me if he can see me outside through the windows.
He loves water and always begs us to turn on the faucets or to give him some bathtub water to stomp in.
Lucy-Furr is a black domestic short-hair I adopted from the Humane Society. She was half off because people don’t really want to adopt black cats for various reasons. I was specifically looking for a black cat because I thought it’d be nice to have a friend for Hootie that looked like a miniature black leopard. She was so skinny at the shelter and pitiful. I got her out of the kennel and she wrapped her front paws around my neck and held on. I knew I’d have to adopt her.
She’s put on a good amount of weight and her coat has filled out nicely. She’s learned to play and has actually developed a bit of an attitude and is showing her personality. She is our problem child. Her other names include: Punk, Lucy-Cat, Sparkle-Butt The Wonder Whore (because she had a litter at 8 months old), etc. I have several examples of her attitude:
She’s completely spoiled and sleeps between us at night. She is completely in love with The Sweetness. I think she’d sell her soul to the devil to be human so she could marry him. We had to start putting his clean underwear and shoes in a drawer rather than the closet shelf because she was sleeping in them. She drools whenever he pets her and rubs the top of her head all over the floor.
She is the most loving and cuddly cat I’ve ever seen, but can get grabby about it.
She’s a jerk to Hootie and consistently breaks the rules. She knows the rules, she just gets sneaky about doing bad things. She steals anything of his, whether she wants it or not. She comes whenever he is called to see if she can mooch whatever he’s getting. If he’s getting petted, she runs over and pushes him aside. He tolerates most of this pretty well, but he lets her know when he’s had enough.
They fight, but I think they secretly love each other.
Our two cats are our children, we talk to them and they are constant in our lives. We aren’t even close to thinking about kids yet and I’ve been really put off on children lately seeing them in public. It just seems like anyone I see with kids is miserable. I don’t know why I’d volunteer for this torture, so we’re good with the fur-babies. They’re good practice anyway for both of us. I do think my parenting style is going be similar to how I interact with the cats. I generally explain and redirect the cats rather than spank or yell. Hootie is especially sensitive to correction, so even if you do spank him lightly, he gets hurt feelings for quite some time. Lucy-cat could care less.
Hootie (the spotted one on the rug) and Lucy-Furr (black one) have both decided that it’s time to activate winter mode. This means they sit by the fireplace constantly whether it’s on or not. If it isn’t, they will stare you down and cry until you build it. They’ve also both been vying the primo spots on the electric blanket in bed at night.
Hootie has been experimenting with some jackets, but hasn’t found one he approves of yet. TJ gave us two from her Jack Russell, but the one Hootie really liked (it’s exactly like his blankie) is a bit heavy for him. I’d say it’s about 2lbs, but when you only weigh 10-15lbs, that’s a lot. The other one he likes because it’s lighter, but he gets messed up when he’s walking. I might have to have a sweater knit for him or something. Poor little dude. Lucy-cat is fine with her thick Northwestern coat and is rarely cold, which is good because putting a jacket on her would be like trying to shove a feeding tube down her throat.
October is Animal Safety month and I’m doing my part by letting you in on some lesser known health hazards for cats. You would probably be surprised what can pose a danger to your feline friend. We’ll start with the obvious ones and work our way down.
1. Medications, vitamins, pest control products, lead, lighter fluid, moth balls, air fresheners, fly tape and tobacco products should all be stored out of reach. (Out of reach can mean many things, depending on your cats. For us, up or in upper cabinets are fine because our cats aren’t jumpers/climbers.) These things can all cause serious injury to death depending on how much is ingested.
2. Batteries, coins, cotton balls/swabs, hair pins, jewelry, nylons, paper clips, plastic wrap, wax and string, floss or rubber bands of any kind are NOT toys for your pet. Make extra effort to ensure these are picked up. I am especially paranoid about strings and rubber bands. We had a cat once that got the string wrapped around the back of its tongue and had swallowed the rest. We only noticed something was wrong because it wasn’t eating. After a major surgery to cut open the intestines every few inches to remove the string (that left untreated, will bind and eventually tear your buddie’s intestines up) the cat was ok, but never quite right.
3. Not all ‘people food’ is safe. Never give your cat Xylitol sweetened products, onions, raw yeast, alcohol, macadamia nuts, tea leaves, avocados, chocolate, grapes or raisins.
4. If you have a garden or indoor plants, avoid having any of these around your cats: Aloe, Amaryllis, All Lillies, Asparagus, Crocus, Azalea, Bird of Paradise, Bittersweet, Belladonna, Ivy, Daffodils, Elephant ears, ferns, Foxglove, Gladiolas, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Iris, Morning Glory, Narcissus, Nightshade, Rhododendron, Tulips, Wisteria and Yucca. Most cats will leave these plants alone, but they can be toxic if they decide to start munching on them.
5. If you let your cat outside, be mindful of predators, gates and fences where they could get caught, swimming pools and standing bodies of water, vehicle fluids and garden chemicals/compost. As the weather gets colder, we need to be extra careful with adding anti-freeze. Anti-freeze usually comes with a bittering agent, but be careful not to spill it onto the ground. Some of it can actually smell and taste good to animals. Another cold weather consideration is de-icer. If you use it on your walkways where your cat walks, get a pet friendly option.
5. Holiday Hazards; there are many. During Halloween, keep your black cats indoors a few days before and after. Some sick people out there torture and kill black cats or use them in cruel pranks. Thanksgiving treats are fine, but no bones. Most poultry bones fracture and can cause internal injury. Keep an eye out for Christmas plants like Christmas Rose, Holly and Mistletoe. Avoid tinsel, breakable ornaments, angel hair and bubbling lights (older versions contain methylene chloride, which is highly toxic).
6. Finally, keep an eye on your cat near the fireplace/stove. Sometimes, they will get this fantastic idea to jump on top of the stove. They will quickly figure out this was a bad life choice and never do it again, but they can burn their pads pretty badly in short order.