Saturday, December 31, 2005

Beowulf and Arthur Play with Tape Measure

I was just minding my own business, taking some measurements to determine whether we can fit a new wall unit in our living room. Little did I know that the tape measure is such a tempting toy.

View this clip on Vimeo

Arthur Asks for Attention

Arthur often comes and meows behind my chair when I'm working at the computer. If I ignore him for even a moment or I pet him and then stop before he's ready, he'll tap at the chair and tap at me as if to say "hey, I want your undivided attention." Sometimes, he'll even go back and forth between Liz's chair and mine while we both work on the computer, alternating bellyrubs from each of us.

Here, Liz caught a small glimpse of Arthur's nagging on tape:

View this clip on Vimeo

Here's the photo version for those of you who have a hard time viewing the video:

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Arthur Watches Himself on TV

So last night I was playing back some of the boys' most exciting moments on the TV when Arthur became enraptured with the show. He camped under the set and stared up at the picture, occasionally standing on his hind legs and batting at the screen at the most exciting moments.

Here he is caught on tape:

View this clip on Vimeo (in QuickTime or WMV)

Cat Fight!

When I first adopted the boys, I was concerned that they would hurt each other because they like to wrestle, but the truth is that, as weird as it looks, this is just how they play with each other. They never try to hurt each other and, while in this video it looks like Beowulf is the dominant cat, at other times it's Arthur who jumps on top of his brother.

Usually, the boys stop wrestling or chasing each other when I whip out the camera, but not this time. Their cat fight has been caught on tape:

View this clip on Vimeo

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Evening with Arthur

Last night was one of those times when I wish I had someone around with a camera, but I was alone with the boys so I can only describe what happened. My fiancee Liz was away for the evening and I was feeling a little lonely.

After I came back from holiday shopping with a friend, I sat down at the computer and figured I'd do some work, but Arthur had other plans.

When Arthur wants attention (as he often does when I am working on the computer), he will come up behind my chair and start meowing. If I don't turn around immediately, bend over, and give him a belly rub, he will get on his hind legs and start tapping me with his paws or clawing at the back of my chair. If I start petting him and then turn back to my work before he's bored of me, he will tap at me again.

Last night, he came by my chair and he just wouldn't leave me alone. I figured this was a good sign that I should go lie down on the couch and watch a movie so maybe Arthur and Beowulf could come sit with me.

I picked out a movie to watch and lied down on the couch to watch it. Arthur climbed into my chair and fell asleep while Beowulf climbed into the kitty bed and slept there. I saw Arthur sleeping and rolled the chair over to the couch so I could stroke him while I watched the movie.

I stuck out on my hand and Arthur lay his head on top of my palm and slept wrapped around my arm for an hour. This is nothing new for him, but what happened later was a first. He got up out of the chair and came to lie down on my chest and curled up right on top of my heart. I could feel the vibration of his purr was stronger than my own pulse and I've never felt so relaxed. Only a cat can make a person feel that way.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Collar Questions

You may have noticed that Arthur does not have a collar on in any of his recent pictures or videos. He has gotten so good at removing his safety collar that we stopped bothering to put it back on him. However, I am very concerned about the fact that he has no ID.

What if there were an emergency and he and his brother were evacuated? He has a microchip under his skin, but no tags b/c he can't wear the collar. Can I use a traditional buckle collar on him, rather than the breakaway collar I was using? Or are traditional collars dangerous? I don't want him to get caught on something and choke, but I don't want him going collarless and tagless either. Can anyone recommend a collar that is safe for the cat, but can't be removed so easily?

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Video Format

I've been using to post my videos, but some people have complained that the videos don't always display so I'm trying another site called Let me know if this is any better.

Here's a great clip of Arthur rubbing against Liz's feet.

View this clip on Vimeo

Sunday, December 11, 2005

They Know What Cameras Are!

We recently got a camcorder (all the videos I posted here up until last week were shot with the 30-second video feature of a digital camera not a real camcorder) and the boys seem to know what it is and dislike being filmed.

Why do I say this? If they are doing something exciting and we point the camcorder at them, they will stop what they are doing and sit still. If we have the camcorder out and we try to entice them to do something tapeworthy, they won't go for it. However, the second we put the camera away, they will chase the rattling ball or carry a sock in their mouths. Could they really have a concept of cameras and a dislike of them? The camcorder doesn't shine in their eyes like the still camera does, but they still dislike it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Arthur and Beowulf Play with Stuffed Cat

It's interesting to me that one of Arthur's favorite toys is a tiny stuffed cat. Can he really tell it's a cat? It's the only toy he actually licks. I've had two of these and he took to both of them, wrapping his arms around them, and licking them.

Loss of a Purrfect Inspiration

Before I decided to adopt my boys, I did a lot of reading and one of the sites I read most was Cats. Franny Syufy, the writer who runs, has become a good friend of mine and her articles about her cats, particularly 18-year-old Bubba, inspired me to adopt cats of my own. I never met Bubba but I felt I knew him after reading "Bonding with Bubba."

Yesterday, Franny called me to say that her beloved Bubba had to be put to sleep after a brief, but serious illness. My heart goes out to her and selfishly I start to think of how lucky I am that my boys are still healthy. Eighteen years is a long life for a cat, but it's not long enough when that cat is one of your closest companions.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Someone's in the Kitchen with Arthur

Arthur loves to roll around on the kitchen floor near his bowls and near the litterbox.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ready for the Holidays

Liz and I are an interfaith couple so it's only right that we let our furchildren play with both a dreidel and a santa hat.

Here's Arthur celebrating Hanukkah a little early:

And here's Beowulf getting ready for Christmas:

Finally, Arthur decided that he was getting really annoyed with my dangling of the hat in front of him:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shocking Case of Animal Cruelty

Before I adopted my boys, I would not have thought much about a story like this, but now I'm shocked, angered, and saddened. A man in St. Cloud, Florida has been arrested for allegedly burying his 5-month-old puppy alive. The man says he did it to "teach his dog a lesson" because the dog was digging too many holes in the yard.

My only response to this story is just to say that, while there will always be cruel people, I think that society's attitude toward animals could be part of the problem. When you view a dog or a cat as property, you feel like you can do whatever you want to it.

My computer and my TV set are property; I can throw them away if I get bored of them or if they don't perform up to my standards. My cats are family. I have to live with their quirks, just like they live with mine. I adopted them; I didn't buy them, and when I did so, it was with the understanding that I would be their caretaker, not their owner.

When you own something, you don't owe it anything. I don't owe VCR anything. I haven't used it in years and it can just sit there until I need it again. However, I have a responsibility to my boys. I have to provide them with a great home, the best possible food, health care, and attention. When my cats are happy, I'm proud of myself. When they're upset or need something, I wonder how I can get it for them. Call me strange, but I wish other people would have the same attitude about cats and dogs.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Do They Need a Bigger Bed?

Do I need to get the boys a bigger bed? Lately, perhaps because of the cold weather, the boys are spending more time cuddled in their warm bed. We have the heat on max, but it's controlled by the building and it can get drafty in here.

Or maybe it's not about the temperature. Maybe the boys just love each other. After all, they are brothers.

Beowulf's New Hiding Spot

We don't want the boys getting behind the tv cart, where they are known to bat at or even chew the wires. So we shoved a plastic trash bin in the gap between the VCR and the cart.

For a year, we had the open end facing the wall behind the cart, but Beowulf managed to get behind the cart one day and hid in the bin while playing with the wires. So we turned the bin around and now he has a new hiding spot where he's out of trouble and we can see him.

Turkey Has This Effect on People

Yesterday, my fiancee Liz and I hosted our first thanksgiving ever. In the past, we've always gone to our parents' houses, but this year we hosted. We had eight people over which is the most company we've had at one time since adopting the boys last year.

I was worried that Arthur and Beowulf would jump up on the dinner table or on the kitchen counter, but actually they were very well behaved and slept through almost the entire affair. I gave them Solid Gold Blended Tuna, rather than turkey, for their feast.

After all the guests had gone and we had cleaned up, I sat down on the couch and Arthur came over to sit next to me. Before I realized what was happening, I had fallen asleep and Beowulf had come to join his brother. Liz snapped this picture of us.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Signed Up for Pet Insurance

I'm the king of procrastination, but I finally took the leap and chose a pet insurance provider, Veterinary Pet Insurance. I just filled out their online form yesterday and I'm still waiting for them to approve my policy application, but their "Superior Plan" should cost me $180 a year per cat.

The plan is not an HMO. I have to pay my vet (any vet I want) first and then submit a form for reimbursement. I combed over their Web site and I'm still a little unclear as to exactly how much they will or won't pay for a specific procedure or illness. However, after comparing them to the other two pet insurance providers I found, PetCare and the CFA Pet Healthcare Plan, they seemed like the most reputatable.

From their Web site, their ad materials, etc -- VPI just seems credible. One thing that sold me is that the VPI Web site has a whole section of answers and help for customers who are victims of Hurricane Katrina. They are even providing a grace period for customers who can't pay due to the disaster. To me, that suggests that they have their act together. My vet also recommends VPI and has their pamphlets in his office and that means something to me also.

As with human insurance, there's always the risk that they won't pay as much for a treatment as I would like, but this is a gamble I'm going to take. Pet insurance really isn't for the boys; it's for me. The boys are healthy now, but if they get sick, my fiancee Liz and I will pay whatever it costs to take care of them. We would probably take on debt or clear out our bank accounts if necessary. So, if the insurance works, it actually is insuring our assets.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Beowulf Likes to Be Picked Up

Beowulf likes to be picked up and carried, but Arthur doesn't. Here I am carrying Beowulf in my arms.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My Favorite Moments

I got Liz to capture a few seconds of Arthur cuddling with me on the sofa. Here's the evidence:

Now, what I would really like to do is be able to get him to come sit next to me like this on command.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Arthur Gets a Bellyrub

Here's a new video of Arthur:

The Boys Make Another Donation

On the boys' actual birthday, I made a $60 donation to Bideawee's Second Chance Fund. Today, I made another one. I encourage everyone to make a donation to a local or national animal charity to give back for the gifts our cats give every day.

According to Bideawee (the shelter where I adopted my boys), a $30 donation to The Second Chance Fund helps remove a dog or cat that is about to be euthanized from a city shelter and give that animal a space at Bideawee's shelter until someone can adopt it into a loving home. I hope that by giving $60, two animals can get a second chance at life.

My friend and colleague Franny Syufy, offers a list of suggestions on how to celebrate your cats' birthday or adoptiversary day and one of them is to donate to an animal charity. Follow that one if nothing else.

Adoptiversary Day

Today marks exactly one year since we brought Arthur and Beowulf home to live with us. It is, without a doubt, the best decision my fiancee Liz and I ever made together. I look back now at those first few kitten months with some nostalgia, but I actually am enjoying my boys more and more as they mature and our relationship grows.

There are still a number of things I have procrastinated about doing with them, which I need to still:

  • Start an Aggressive Tooth Brushing Campaigh: We have so many different brands of toothpaste and brushes, but they have rejected everything we've tried so I gave up for a while, but that's not good.

  • Buy Pet Health Insurance: I'm probably going to do that very soon. Money has been tight, but the pet health insurance is really a benefit to me, more than to them. If they get sick and it's expensive, I will clean out my savings or selling things to pay for their care so having insurance is really having peace of mind that I won't need to bankrupt myself to help them.

  • Get a Good Cat Tree: Been meaning to do this, but money is tight and I keep putting it off. However, a good piece of furniture would be good for them and they deserve it.

  • Train Them: I have a book on cat training, but it has been hard to train both at once so we have to find a way of putting one in another area while we train the other.

However, I would say that we have made some good strides in the food area, as we found the boys really like Avoderm Select Cuts and Solid Gold wet food and they are willing to eat, but not necessarily in love with Wellness Super5Mix dry.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sock it to Them

While they don't love it as much as Da Bird, Beowulf and Arthur do love to tug at my socks when I dangle them. I've caught some of this sock action on tape.

Here's Beowulf:

And Arthur:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Jump, Jump for "Da Bird"

There's little doubt that the greatest cat toy of all time is Da Bird. It's simply a lure made of real bird feathers that dangles from a stick, but cats go wild for it. Even though my cats were born in a shelter and have never seen a bird, somehow they know that they should be hunting this toy.

I do have to admit, though, that my boys are smart. They know the difference between toy and real. Because when we stop playing with them, they come meowing for more bird. A real bird wouldn't be controlled by us. Anyhow, here are some videos of Arthur (video 1) and Beowulf (video 2) playing with Da Bird.

Feline Link to Human Schizophrenia

From today's New York Daily News:

Dr. Fuller Torrey is studying whether a parasite in Fluffy's droppings causes schizophrenia, a mental illness that strikes 2.2 million Americans and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions and trouble regulating emotions . . .

Torrey, president of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, believes that swallowing or breathing parasitic spores from cat waste causes schizophrenia.

Great! This is all we need. Here's a new feline fairytale to scare people away from adopting homeless cats. I won't get into refuting the science here, but we all know there have been stories about cats harming babies and stealing the breath of children since the beginning of time. The bottom line is that cats do more to help one's mental health than anything else.

Food Experimentation Continues

As I mentioned in a previous post, my boys are picky eaters, but we only want the best for them, nutritionally-speaking. So now we've found a canned found that they sometimes like and I'm experimenting with a dry food that many consider to top-notch.

The canned food they kinda like is Avoderm Select Cuts. The reason they like it is that it's chunky and juicy. It's not a pâté. They don't usually finsh the whole thing, but they will eat it, sometimes with the requisite Kitty Condiments on top. For the same reason, they also like Solid Gold Blended Tuna. They never finish the whole thing, but they do make a solid dent.

We're also trying a new dry food with them, Wellness Super5Mix Adult. This has to be the most expensive cat food on the market, costing me $11 for 2.5 pounds. I think that buying a tank full of gas these days is cheaper than month's a supply of this cat food. The boys eat it, but not with as much fervor as they did their Nutro Natural Choice. The Nutro is good stuff, but I keep hearing (from various cat-nutrition afficianados) that the quality of ingredients in Wellness is "human grade" so I thought I'd give it a try. If I'm mistaken here, please drop me a comment.

I might sound obsessive about my cats' nutrition and maybe I am, but I look at it this way. As their guardian, I'm the one who buys the food, puts it in the bowl, and expects them to eat it.

If I make a lifestyle choice for myself and decide to eat junk food, that's my choice and I may pay for it in poor health or a shortened lifespan. My cats don't get a choice, except to not eat things they don't like the taste or smell of. They don't get to read the nutritional information on the back of the bag and decide where to draw the line. If I'm making a life decision for them on how to eat, I'm going to choose the healthiest food I can.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Food for Thought

Arthur sniffs the plastic box where we store the cat food I'm still trying to resolve our food issues, because I would like Arthur and Beowulf to:

  • Eat more wet food
  • Eat the best quality dry food
  • Stop their dependence on kitty condiments

So let me take a step back and tell you where we're at and have been at with out feeding schedule for a while now.

Dry Food At All Times

Dry food is available to the boys at all times that wet food is not in their bowl. Since we adopted them, the dry food of choice has been Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care. During their first year it was Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care Kitten, but since their first birthday in September, I've gone with Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care Adult.

They absolutely love the Nutro Natural Choice and maybe that should be enough, but I'm concerned. Is it the best dry cat food one can possibly feed? Well, I've tried a few sample of packs of "raw" food and they didn't like it. On the recommendation of my Cats Guide Franny Syufy, I bought a big bag of Innova (the Evo "raw" version, not the one in the red bag). The boys hated it.

At the CFA cat show I attended, I got some samples of IAMs and Eukanuba, but the boys didn't like them and those are not necessarily the fanciest of the fancy either. I'm tempted to go out and try Wellness Super5Mix Adult (because I've heard good things), but it's about $10 for 2.5 pounds and what if my boys don't like it either.

They love their Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care, but is it the best thing?

Wet Food at 6 am and 6 pm

Every day at 6 and 6, I feed my boys wet food. When they were kittens, I fed them mainly Nutro Max Cat Kitten and Nutro Natural Choice Kitten canned foods and they loved them both. As they got older, I started mixing in other premium brands like Merrick. They liked it all until one day they didn't.

I could have just stopped feeding wet food to them, but I know that wet food is a really important part of a cat's diet.

I bought some Kitty Condiments and started sprinkling them on the wet food. That worked for a while, but the condiments themselves have become a requirement and the boys may not even touch their wet food until I sprinkle the condiments on. Even then, if they don't like the food, they just eat the flakes off of the top.

Eventually, I found that Nutro Natural Choice Pouch Foods were the only wet food they would eat and that has been what I have been feeding them mostly. They seem to prefer something chunky and juicy to a pate.

I went to a natural pet food store a couple of weeks ago and they recommended we try Solid Gold canned food, Avoderm Select Cuts, Spot's Stew and a few other chunky brands. They kinda liked the Solid Gold and Avoderm, but not all the time.

Should I be concerned? I just want the absolute best nutrition possible for my boys, but they also need to be willing to eat the food.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Elusive Cuteness Caught on Film

I finally managed to catch a few seconds on tape of Beowulf grooming Arthur.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cats: Better Than a Sleeping Pill

Last night, I was up late working as usual and, when I finally shut off the computer, it was 3 am, but I was still a ball of energy. I sat down on the couch and started watching reruns of "The Jeffersons," when Arthur came and sat on my leg.

The vibration of his purr literally knocked me out and I woke up at 7 am, having fallen asleep in my clothes, with my glasses still on. My fiancee Liz wondered what happened to me, but when I told her Arthur put me to sleep she said "yeah, that happens to me all the time."

I was talking to a good friend of mine on the phone today and her family is literally going through hell, due to some illnesses. She told me how her husband couldn't sleep last night and was pacing back and forth at all hours, until their orange cat came and jumped up on the bed and lay at his feet. He then fell fast asleep.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

CFA Cat Show: A Spiritual Experience

I have been lax in this blog and for that I must apologize to those of you who read it regularly. I really can't get into it in this space, but I've had a lot on my mind of late.

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the CFA Cat Show in New York. For those who are unfamiliar, the CFA show is a little like the AKC show for dogs, only much smaller and more chaotic. There were hundreds of breeders showing their cats and there were different rings where you could see cats being judged, but there were no microphones so you couldn't really hear what was going on in any of the rings.

There were also several vendors giving free samples of cat food, treats, and toys. I wish there had been more, but it was something to see.

Anyway, I had been feeling sorry for myself, but then I saw all the beauty there, all those cats, and I just felt myself at peace. There really is beauty in the world and you can see it in every furry face.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Pure Relaxation

I haven't been blogging much lately, because every single time I sit in front of the computer, I am focusing on huge projects at work so it's easy to let things slip. The stress builds and builds and even keeps me up at night.

Fortunately, there are the moments when I can put my arms around my boys and start to breath in rhythm with their purrs. I can't sit like this for long, because I start to fall asleep, as if all the weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's really a shame that our bedroom isn't safe for cats or else they could help my fiancee Liz and I fall asleep at night.

Keeping the Kings Safe

We sprayed again with the Poison-Free spray and we asked the building superintendent to come over and caulk the baseboards. Hopefully, caulking will keep the bugs out. I'm just disgusted and frightened by the idea of these bugs ending up in my boys' food. At the same time, I'm reticent about using any more powerful commercial poison. Ugh!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Something's Bugging Us

There appears to be an infestation of some sort of bug coming out from the baseboard in the wall directly behind the boys' food and water bowls. The bugs are so small, at first we thought they were pieces of dust or litter, but when we saw them moving, we knew they were alive. It looks like, based on pictures I've seen on the Internet, they could be firebrats or silverfish.

We sprayed some Poison-Free Ant and Roach Killer around the baseboard two days ago and we hadn't seen any since then, but I vacuumed near the baseboard this evening and a whole bunch of little bugs were little sucked out, some still squirming (yech!).

I live in an apartment, but I'm a little reticent about having the building management call their exterminator, because he sprays toxic stuff that the boys could end up ingesting. I don't care to bait these things, b/c really my main goal is just to keep them away from my apartment. If my neighbors get them, well . . . they need to do the same thing.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Feline Film Noir

I got a comment recently from Rick Rosenberg, who writes:

i just completed a short film starring my cats. check it out on ifilm, it's free. just do a search for THE BIG NAP. please tell all your cat friends!

I'm very discriminating when it comes to sharing cute sites, funny pictures, etc. I'm not a huge email forwarder. It takes a lot to make me want to share something funny I've found on the Internet. The 8 minutes I spent viewing "The Big Nap" were time well-spent. In fact, I'd argue that it's more compelling cinema than anything I've seen at the multiplex this year.

On a side note, my finacee Liz and I have long been thinking about getting a video camera so we can make films like this of our boys. This film makes us more eager to do it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hopes of a Cat-Free Counter Sinking Fast

You'll recall that a couple of months ago my boys discovered the wonders of the kitchen counter. It was a loss of innocence, both for them and for us.

Since then, we've cat-proofed the counter to make it boring for them and we've strategically positioned our Skat-Kat cat deterrant at various points on the counter. The boys have at least gotten the message that we disapprove of them going up on the counter so they mainly do it when we're not looking.

Every time I see Arthur or Beowulf in the kitchen sink, I hit them with a stream of cold water from the sink, but today I caught Beowulf hiding in the sink and the water did not deter him. When I finally picked him up and removed him from the sink, he came back to lick the faucet. I think I created a monster, a cat that likes water!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Collar Me Bad

Ugh. Arthur has learned how to pull his collar off and he's now doing it several times a day. It's one of those breakaway collars and he's able to break it away at will. We've tried making it looser or tighter but it doesn't matter. Should I get him a new collar and, if so, what kind should I get? I want the collar to stay on, but I also want it to be safe. Any ideas?

Help Animal Victims of Hurricane Katrina

There's no doubt that, alongside the awful loss of human life and property in New Orleans, there are animal victims. Fortunately, the Louisiana SCPA had the foresight to evacuate over 260 homeless animals and move them to the Houston SPCA.

If you live near Houston, the SPCA would love for you to come adopt one of these animals or to donate small items like crates, paper towels, litter pans, etc.

If you don't live in the Houston area, you can donate money online.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Arthur and Beowulf's Good Deed

In honor of their birthday (which falls on September 1st), Arthur and Beowulf have donated $30 each to the Second Chance Fund at Bide-A-Wee, the place I adopted them from.

According to the Bide-A-Wee Web site, $30 allows their no-kill shelters to rescue a cat or dog from the New York City's Animal Care and Control unit (aka the pound) and house that animal until it's adopted into a loving home. The boys hope their donation is enough to help two homeless cats, but if the money goes to the dogs, they suppose they'll have to live with that. Bide-A-Wee was pretty darn good to them so this is their way of saying thanks.

I'm not the type to nag people, but Arthur and Beowulf have no shame and they would like you to know that if you've been inspired by this blog or you just like the idea of helping homeless animals, their birthday would be a great occasion to donate to Bide-A-Wee's Second Chance Fund by using Bide-A-Wee's online donation form.

If you do make a donation, drop me a line with the amount at so I can post to the blog and let people know how much money has been raised by readers. I have a coworker who also adopted his cat from Bide-A-Wee and he's promised to make a $30 donation so that puts us at $90.

P.S. -- You might be wondering how Arthur and Beowulf got $60. The truth is that I loaned it to them and I expect them to pay it back in trade, purrency if you will. I expect them to sit on my lap more often and stop climbing on the refrigerator. Iguess I should keep dreaming!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Boys' Birthday Coming Up

Arthur and Beowulf's birthday is coming up September 1st. We adopted them on November 13th of last year, but we know that the day they were born is September 1st, because the shelter workers told us so.

Most people who adopt cats don't know their exact birthday so we're very fortunate that our boys were born in the shelter so their exact date of birth is known. The shetler workers at Bideawee even had a picture (a color printout) of the boys nursing from their mother, but they wouldn't give it to us, instead handing us a black and white photocopy that is so dark I can't even scan it for this blog.

Now that their birthday is almost upon us, I am left with a couple of questions:

  • How should I celebrate their birthday?
  • How should I transition them to an adult diet?

I'm still working on the answers to both questions, but I have some ideas of how I want to celebrate.

Of course, I want to get them a nice cat tree as a present, but I also want to use this as an opportunity to help other cats by donating to an adoption group and encouraging others to do so. I'm still trying to decide what the best group is, but I'm inclined to go with Bideawee, the place I adopted the boys from.

I hate people who schill for causes or products, but maybe I can encourage a couple of donations through this blog and that would be a nice thing. What do you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Climbing High

I think my boys may have answered my question about how high they can fall from without getting hurt. The other day, Beowulf was standing on top of the refrigerator and he saw me coming and leaped off, landing on the kitchen floor. I've seen him do it twice now, and while it makes a ton of noise, he seems none the worse for wear.

Of course, I'm not sure how bad it would be if he was thrown off after wrestling with his brother, rather than jumping off of his own volition. Would he still land on his feet? Also, I have to wonder if jumping from that height has long-term effects on a cats' joints. If I had to jump and land on my feet from that height every day, I'd get sore knees and ankles. Are cat joints that different? I hope so.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How Far Can They Fall?

I recently got a nice comment from Josh, the founder of the Refined Feline, whose cat trees I have been procrastinating about getting for a couple of months now. I really have to order one of their trees, especially since the boys have been doing more countersurfing of late, even climbing on top of the fridge. They need some place to go. But which one should I get?

If I get the Lotus, it's 70" tall which is a nice height, but my boys tend to throw each other off of things when they wrestle. What happens if they fall from that height and land on the hardwood floor or on top of the metal cage? Would the Little Lotus or cat the Watchtower, at 48 and 44", be safer, given my boys' propensity to throw each other down? How far can a cat safely fall?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Toothpaste Gets the Brush-Off

Well, I finally tried something I should have tried about eight months ago. I tried brushing the boys' teeth. I'll try again tomorrow, but I don't think they liked the idea. I bought a few different kinds of tooth cleaner from Drs. Foster and Smith. I got:

I tried letting them lick the toothpaste off my finger. They sniffed my finger, but no real interest in the toothpaste. However, Beowulf was very interested in the dental paste. Unfortunately, the dental paste doesn't have flouride or any of the hardcore tartar-fighting stuff.

How do other people brush cats' teeth?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Do Cats Love Their Humans?

There's an article entitled "Do Our Cats Really Love Us?" in September's issue of Cat Fancy Magazine. The article focuses on the debate about whether cats have feelings for their humans.

Fot its article, Cat Fancy interviewed a couple of different authorities, including psychology professor Clive Wynne, author of the book "Do Animals Think?" Wynne tells Cat Fancy that:

When we interact with cats, we come to the deal wanting to love them and integrate them into our lives . . . but the cat comes into the partnership as an animal with a long history of hunting, of wanting to do its own thing. It doesn't necessarily want to have the same emotional relationship that we do. I believe that the cat is really living its own private life and using its owner where useful.

This Cat Fancy article really got me thinking. Do my boys "love" me or are they just skilled manipulators, adept at getting Liz and I to give them food and treats?

I think that, before we can really address the veracity of Wynne's theory, we have to ask one of the basic questions a human being can ask: what is love? How do we even know that we love another human being?

At its core, we know that we love someone when we intensely desire their companionship and affection. We just enjoy being around the object of our love. I'll posit that cats experience this kind of affection and desire because:

  • Cats want attention: Sometimes my boys just want attention. They don't want food; they don't need water. Arthur will often meow and meow until I follow him into the kitchen and stick my foot out so he can rub his head against it. If I give him food at this point, he'll ignore it. He wants to flip over on his back for a belly rub.

  • Cats value human contact: If cats are only interested in physical comfort, why is it that they will come and lean on me or my finacee Liz, even when we aren't the warmest or the most comfortable spot in the apartment?
  • Cats show favoritism: My fiancee Liz is always jealous, because the boys always stop what they're doing and run to greet me at the door when I come home. They follow me around at various times. They don't always do that for her. When I was on a business trip, the boys would stare at the front door or the bedroom door and meow, presumably hoping I would come out.
  • Cats Cooperate With Other Cats: If cats are solitary animals that are incapable of love, why do my boys seek out each others company and why do they cooperate rather than compete in many circumstances? For example, if I dangle a toy, the boys will take turns batting at it. They won't try to shove each other out of the way.

In human relationships, if the relationship is a positive one, we desire their well-being and we are willing to make sacrifices on their behalf. I'm not sure if I see a quality of self-sacrifice in cat love for humans, but I have heard of cats giving "presents" like dead mice to their humans. Sharing food is a huge self-sacrifice for animals. I see my boys flipping over onto their backs and making themselves "vulnerable" in my presence. To me, that is a sign that they trust me and, in a cat's world, trust = love.

The crux of Wynne's whole argument is that cats and other animals do not experience emotions like people do. It's wrong-headed to pretend that your cats are furry people, but it's also very elitist of us humans to believe that we have a monopoly on feelings. Cats are not robots whose only function is to survive. The emotional life of cats, in some ways, may even be richer than a person's, because they have no inhibitions about what they feel. In a short period of time, a cat can go from contentedness to anger to desire to affection. Is it all about survival? I don't think so.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Powers of Beowulf

I'm not one to believe in the paranormal, but sometimes my boys seem to have a strange kind of intuition. As I mentioned previously, Beowulf and Arthur always know when Liz or I need them. But today was something else.

Liz was talking to her best friend on the phone this afternoon when Beowulf jumped on her lap and started rubbing up against the receiver. Finally Liz told her friend that "Beowulf wants to talk to you" and Beowulf started purring into the receiver. When he was done purring into the phone, he got up and walked away. He's never shown an interest in the phone before so this was not typical behavior for him.

What's interesting is that Liz's friend recently had to put her seven-year-old cat Lunar to sleep after a long illness. Was Beowulf just marking the phone or was he trying to comfort Liz's friend on the other end of the line? Was he relaying a message from her cat Lunar in the kitty beyond? Ok, it's just weird, but it's an interesting fantasy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What Advice Would You Offer to New Cat People? -- FAQ

Today marks exactly nine months since the day we brought Arthur and Beowulf home with us. My fiancee Liz and I adopted the boys on November 13th, 2004, but we spent several weeks pondering and planning for our adoption experience before that.

Before adopting the boys, I read a lot of articles for new cat parents. Now, I'm a small-time advocate for cats, because I keep trying to convince people I know to adopt. If you're considering cats, here are my two cents:

  • Do it: Really, you will love living with cats. You will make sacrifices for them; they may even make the occasional mess, but about a week after you adopt, you will forget how you ever lived without them. When your cats purr for you, you will fall in love.

  • Be Choosy: A lot of people adopt a cat that someone else offers them or go to just one shelter and adopt the first cat they see. But remember that cats can live more than 20 years. Even if you get an adult cat, you're entering a long-term relationship. So choose your cat wisely.

    If you have your heart set on a male gray kitten, keep going to different shelters until you find one that you can bond with. It's not selfish to want a particular gender, color, age or personality of cat. Remember, you'll be saving a life no matter which cat(s) you adopt.

    By the way, don't be put off if the cat you want is not friendly to you in the shelter. I almost made the mistake of adopting a different pair of cats because my boys were not friendly to me when I played with them at the shelter. As soon as I got them home, we started bonding. The way a cat acts in the shelter is no indication of how he'll act when you adopt him. However, you can get a general sense of whether a cat is skittish, playful, or curious. My boys were very curious but not playful or affectionate with us in the shelter. As soon as we got them home, it was a whole different world.

  • Get Two: Two cats are much better than one. Kittens, in particular, need company. It's no fun being an only child; I know this from experience. If I had only one cat, not only would be lonely but I'd miss out on watching the cats interact with each other. They are beyond cute when they are snuggling and they are a blast to watch when they are chasing each other around.

  • Plan Ahead: Before you bring your cat home, stock up on food and litter. Get bowls, a litterbox, a scratching post, and a carrier (or two if you're getting two cats).

  • Get the Good Stuff: Don't skimp on the food and litter. Your cats will be your family members. Get premium quality cat food and feed a mix of dry and wet food. Stay away from clumping clay litters. I recommend the World's Best Cat Litter.

What I Admire About Cats

Us humans can learn a lot from cats. Before I had pets, I used to feel sorry for cats and dogs, because they don't do what humans do.

"They'll never read Shakespeare. They'll never get to vote or to write an article or to give a great speech," I'd say.

But I think the lesson I've learned from my boys is that life is a series of moments, some exciting, some terrifying, but the best moments of all are often the quiet moments when we enjoy the simple things in life -- a good meal, a nice afternoon nap, or the company of friends and family.

No being on earth can relax like a cat.

Make Room for Arthur

One of the sweetest things that Arthur and Beowulf do is coming over to lie down between Liz and I when we're seated on the couch.

We usually end up making space for Arthur or Beowulf (Arthur most often) to lie down between us. These are the bonding moments that feel the most special of all.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Shopping for a Cat Tree

I'd love to get the boys a cat tree so they'd have a nice high perch that isn't the kitchen counter. Unfortunately, all the cat trees I've owned, seen at the store, or viewed online are dangerously made. Most have loose carpeting (which they swallow), little plastic threads coming off, splinters in the cubbies, and even sharp staples hanging out.

I would love to get the boys a cat tree, but I've been procrastinating about this for a long time, hoping that I won't spend $150 - $200 on a product that looks good online, but then is dangerous when I unpack it.

Recently, I saw an ad for a new line of cat furniture, from a company called The Refined Feline. They use low-pile carpeting and smooth wood. I wrote them a note asking if they use staples and they wrote me back to say they did not. So I'm very tempted to order one of these.

From left, they are:

The Lotus: A whopping 70" tall which is great, but I'm a little concerned about how it sways when cats jump on it. They say it's designed to sway, however. View the video to see what I'm talking about.

The Watchtower: Good thing about this one is that there's not a lot of carpet in it so less for the boys to mess up. It also looks very stable, but I don't like the looks of it and I really want something taller. Also, the boys don't need a hiding place now that they have their new covered cage.

The Little Lotus: Just like the Lotus, but a considerably shorter at 48" tall (as opposed to 70). I'm wondering whether 48" is tall enough, but my fiancee Liz likes this choice b/c she's a little concerned about the boys being "taller than we are" when standing at 70".

What do you think?

Party Nerves

Today marks the first time we've had a large party since adopting the boys. Sure, we've had two or three people over for dinner, but this is the first time we're having a large group of people over to the apartment and serving food that can easily make a mess like potato chips, doughnut holes, and hot dogs.

I'm nervous that some of the food will find its way onto the floor and into the boys' mouths. What happens if they eat a potato chip or a doughnut crumb? What happens if soda or beer spills and they take a few licks? I'd love to be able to prevent it all, but anything is possible. I suppose we could never have a party again, but the boys are ten months old now and it had to happen sometime.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Monitor Blues

My boys are a chip off the block, for sure. They love to play with daddy's computer. They used to walk all over the keyboard, but now their main thing is playing with the the wrist rests (I can't keep them out so I'm starting to get RSI in my clicking finger) and jumping on top of the monitor.

I've been thinking of getting a new flat panel monitor. It's something I've wanted for a long time, but if I get one, I'm worried that they may ruin the soft LCD screen by pawing at it. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

New Hideaway

As you may recall, we have a crate that we use to keep the boys safe for a few minutes at a time when we do things like build a bookshelf or paint the bathroom or vacuum. Even though we rarely use the cage to confine the boys, they love to sleep in it.

We have a cage cover we bought a few weeks ago, but were unable to use because they kept batting it off the cage. So we gave the Pet Dreams Cratewear cover to Liz's mother so she could shorten it and sew velcro straps onto it. We got it back this weekend and Liz put it on the cage yesterday. The boys love their new hideout and, now that the bars are covered, Beowulf even likes to sleep on top of it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bowl Experiment

Last night, my fiancee Liz came home from visiting her parents and she decided to put the large waterer out again, because she said: "sometimes the boys act up when one of us isn't around." I didn't buy her theory, but I let her try the experiment. This morning, when I woke up to feed the boys breakfast, the kitchen was flooded again from an all-night water splashing party.

After Liz mopped the floor, I put down some metal bowls with water. These are my backup food bowls (I have two sets). I'm thinking that I should get some ceramic or hard glass bowls because I'm not sure how tasty water is when it's in a metal bowl.

I'm not sure if they are drinking as much as they normally do but I saw Arthur drink from one of them. It's always hard to tell how much they are drinking because they rarely drink in front of us.

He Knocked My Socks Off!

Well, he didn't knock them off, but I always appreciate a good pun. Have I mentioned that Arthur loves feet and, not only does he love feet, but he loves socks that have been on feet without being washed. While I was away on a business trip a couple of weekends ago, my fiancee Liz gave Arthur some of my dirty socks to play with. He dragged them back to a cubby in the bookshelf and guarded them like some kind of sacred treasure.

Now, if I want to entertain him, I'll take a sock off and dangle it for him or throw it across the room.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Water Crisis Continues

For several hours yesterday, I had taken the boys' normal water bowl, a LeBistro Waterer, away and put water in stainless steel bowls. They didn't play with the water in those, but I also couldn't tell if they were drinking any.

Then, last night, I decided I'd put the LeBistro back b/c I was worried that the boys might not be drinking enough. I put it back, but I only filled the water in it to a low level and didn't put any in the reservoir so, they'd have less ability to splash it around. So what happened? This morning, I wake up to feed the boys and find the LeBistro knocked over on its side and a puddle on the floor. Fortunately, there wasn't a ton of water in it, because I had only filled up the bowl portion of it, but it was still a puddle that had been sitting there for who knows how long.

I'm thinking that we need to switch to some kind of really stable, deep bowl that doesn't tip over. I wish I could get some kind of water bowl that the cats suck water from. I see one place that sold standing waterers, but now seems to be temporarily out of business.

Any bowl suggestions? Also, if I get a new bowl, will the boys refuse to use it?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Water Batting: A New Cat Sport

Just when we thought that paper-towel eating would be the most difficult thing to deal with, Arthur goes and discovers a new toy, his water bowl!

This evening, he has been flooding the kitchen by dipping his paw in the water bowl and splashing the water all over the floor. He then runs around with wet paws, leaving water all over the floor.

Anyone else have this problem? How can I stop him?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cat Proofing the Kitchen Counter: In Plain, Boring English

I'm glad everyone enjoyed my whacky retelling of the kitchen counter saga, but I know some of you were also curious about what I actually did and didn't do to cat proof my kitchen counter.

First of all, I should say that my fiancee Liz and I are, by no means, satisfied with the current situation. The boys are still jumping on the counter from time to time, though usually when we're not around to see it. We would really like to keep them off of the counter, but for the time being, we have tried our best to make the kitchen counter as safe as possible for them while, at the same time, using some deterrants.

Last weekend marked the first time that the boys had managed to reach the kitchen counter at all. We had always dreaded the day that they would grow old enough to get up there, because it was one area of the apartment we really needed to ourselves. We kept paper towels there, jars of food, dish soaps, sponges, tupperwear, etc. We keep what we can in the cabinets, but cabinet space is really at a premium.

When I found the paper towels on the floor, I immediately went to the and read Franny Syufy's article on counter-surfing. She suggests a few different things to keep cats off of kitchen counters, including:

  • Sticky Tape: Liz and I bought a product called Sticky Paws which is basically double-sided tape that's made to stop cats from walking on surfaces. Sticky Paws is basically an annoyance to cats b/c they don't like walking on stickum. Who would? Unfortunately, we don't like the idea of stickum all over our mable countertop. We did line the lid of our trash can with Sticky Paws so the boys can't use it as a launching pad to the counter. They still occasionally step on the lid, but they don't like it. Another problem with Sticky Paws is that it becomes less sticky over time and needs to be replaced.
  • Aluminum Foil: Apparently, some cats dislike the idea of walking on aluminum foil. It really doesn't bother our boys. We tried the aluminum foil trick months ago on our diningroom table. No luck. They tried to play with the foil.
  • Pennies in a Can: Franny suggests putting a jar of pennies on the counter edge so the cats will knock it over and get scared away. She doesn't know our cats. Loud noises don't scare them more than one or two times before they become desensitizied to them.
  • Spray Bottle: We have been using this method and it is effective to a point. If we see the boys and spray them, they will usually jump off the counter. They also now have the message that we disapprove of them jumping on the counter so they don't tend to do it when we are in the room with them.
  • The Tattle Tale: The Tattle Tale is a product that makes a loud noise when it detects vibrations nearby. We bought this product a few months ago and tested it on the diningroom table. The only creatures who were scared by sudden loud noises were Liz and I. We found Arthur batting the Tattle Tale around and playing with it, completely oblivious to the really loud noises it made.

So what are we using?

  • The Spray Bottle method
  • The Skat-Cat: The Skat-Cat is a water-spraying motion detector. We bought this product a few months ago and were saving it for the day when the boys got up on the kitchen counter. Unlike some other cat-deterring sprays, this one uses regular tap water to spray your cat so you don't have to buy expensive refills or worry about what the spray is made out of.

    The only real problem with the Skat-Cat is that it can only shoot what's in front of it so one of them will only protect a certain area. Also, I get the feeling that, after a while, being shot with water, might not stop a determined cat like Beowulf. That said, I think this is a good product to try and I'm glad to have it as one of the best weapons in my arsenal.
  • The Sink method: If we see a cat in the sink, we go and turn the faucett on, drenching him with water.

Even with those three deterrants in our "arsenal," we can't guarantee that the boys won't jump on the counter. So we've taken steps to make sure the counter is less dangerous for them and less interesting to them:

  • We bought a large, square breadbox (this Brabantia bin) and placed the paper towel roll and holder in it.
  • We got a clear plastic shoe drawer, put it on its side, and placed our soaps and sponges in it. The boys didn't show an interest in these cleaning fluids, but I was very concerned that they might lick soap and get sick. We bought both the drawer and the breadbox at a local branch of The Container Store.
  • We placed all food jars flat against the back wall so they are harder to move or knock over.
  • We made a decision to not leave any dishes soaking in the sink at all. This is particularly annoying because we need to be able to let things soak sometimes. Fortunately, we have a dish washer so we can put most things in the dishwasher right away.

So that's where we're at.

Blogging and Cats: Both Contagious

I got a really nice comment from a reader name Alysha, who tells me she is both:

A. Starting her own cat blog, called The Purrsuit of a Princess


B. Looking to adopt her first cat.

It's a real honor to be able to inspire someone, just as I was inspired to adopt cats by my friend Franny Syufy,'s Cats Guide.

This reminds me that I mean to put up some advice posts for new cat people so that maybe I can help Alysha and others like her out a bit in their cat journeys.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Paradise Lost: Book II

By popular demand, our tale of lost innocence continues . . .

And the human called unto Arthur, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And he said, I heard thy voice in the livingroom, and I was afraid, because I was naked and furry; and I hid myself.

And the human Avram said, Who told thee that thou wast naked and furry? Hast thou eaten of the paper towel roll, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

And the cat Arthur said, The brother Beowulf whom thou adopted with me, he gave me of the paper towel roll, and I did eat.

And the human said unto Beowulf, What is this that thou hast done? And the cat said, The paper towels beguiled me, and I did eat of them.

And the human Avram said unto the paper towel roll, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all paper products, and above every object of the kitchen counter; hidden within a breadbox shalt thou be, and dust shalt thou clean all the days of thy life:

Unto Beowulf he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow; I will hide the sponges and the soaps in a clear plastic container so that thou mightest see them, but cannot touch them.

And unto Arthur he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy brother, and hast eaten of the paper towel roll, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the counter for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou climb on it all the days of thy life;

Sprays with the water bottle shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt be hit with a stream of cold water each time I find thee hiding in the kitchen sink.

Therefore the human sent him forth from the counter of kitchen, to walk on the floor from whence he had jumped.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Paradise Lost

In the beginning, there was a man. The man met a woman and they bought an apartment with a really nice kitchen. But they were lonely. So they adopted two fur creatures and named them Arthur and Beowulf.

When they brought the fur creatures to the apartment, they pointed to the tables and the shelves and the furniture. "All these are yours to climb," said the man, "but you must never walk on the kitchen counter."

For seven months, the fur creatures enjoyed climbing the sofa, the bookshelves, the desks, and even the diningroom table and all was well. But Beowulf was not satisfied with all the other desks and chairs and shelves. He stood on top of the kitchen garbage can, staring longingly at the counter and sink. It had so many strange glass jars, pieces of tupperwear, and, of course, the most tempting roll of paper towels.

Now the paper towel roll was more subtil than any appliance or object in the apartment. And it said unto the cat, Yea, hath the man said, Ye shall not climb of every counter in the apartment?

And the cat said unto the paper towel roll, We may climb of the surfaces of any furniture in the apartment:

But of the counter of the room which is in the midst of the apartment, our human father hath said, Ye shall not jump on it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye knock something over and get hurt.

And the paper towel said unto the cat, Ye shall not surely be hurt:

For the human doth know that in the day ye jump thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as humans, lords of the apartment.

And when the cat saw that the kitchen counter was an easy climb, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a counter to be desired to make one wise, he climbed thereof, and did eat the paper towels, and gave also unto his brother with him; and he did eat paper towels also.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked and furry.

And they heard the voice of their human walking in the livingroom in the cool of the day: and Beowulf and his brother hid themselves from the presence of their human by sitting in the bookshelf.

And the human called unto Arthur, and said unto him, "Where art thou and what hast thou done? Hast thou eaten of the paper towel roll, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?"

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Back Home

As you may have noticed, I was gone on my business trip for a few days. I was pleasantly surprised when I got home on Sunday night that the boys had not forgotten me nor were they upset. I spent Monday relaxing with them and reconnecting. Unfortunately, my Internet connection at home has been on the fritz so this was my first chance to post. More later . . .

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Send Them Forget Me Nots

I'm going on a short business trip in the near future, and the prospect of spending a few days without my boys is making me very nervous. The boys will be in good hands. My fiancee Liz will be taking care of them in my absence, but I'm wondering how this trip will affect our relationship.

Since adopting the boys on November 13th, I have never been away from them for more than 24 hours. Once or twice, I visited my parents overnight while Liz remained with the boys. On Christmas Eve, I left them home alone over night, but was home by 11 am the next morning.

I'm wondering if the boys will forget about me or think I abandoned them. I can call Liz from the road but I can't really call the boys. What can I do to stay on their minds while I'm out of sight? Liz suggested that I leave some smelly socks of mine for them to play with. Any ideas?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Liz's Bright Idea

This morning, my fiancee Liz went to the local Petco and picked up a new brush to use on the boys. The old brush is metal and this one has softer bristles so we're hoping the boys like their grooming better.

While she was at the Petco, she saw that the local cat rescue group was there as always, and she gave them a small donation on behalf of Arthur and Beowulf.

There are so many wonderful rescues and no-kill shelters out there and they all deserve help, but we haven't heard of a chairty that provides free or low cost veterinary care for low-income cat parents. You may recall that we took Arthur to an emergency vet back in December and we were saddened when we met a woman in the waiting room who almost had to let her cat die because of the incredibly high cost of the surgery her cat needed.

Liz's idea: start a charity to help people who can't afford it pay for feline medical care. I don't have the time or energy to start such a charity now, but I think it's a good idea. Is anyone doing something like this currently?

Cute Cat Film

My finacee Liz and I spent the afternoon lounging around, watching movies we rented from Blockbuster. Anyway, one film we took out is called "The Cat Returns" and it's an Anime film from Japan that has been imported and dubbed over by Disney. The story centers around Haru, a Japanese schoolgirl who saves the life of a magical cat and is transported to the "kingdom of cats."

Clearly, it's aimed at young children, but anyone who loves cats can appreciate the story. On the other hand, I think we'll rent this again the next time we have to baby sit Liz's four year old niece.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Just Call Him Dr. Beowulf

As I said before, I really have noticed that my cats have an ability to help me relax and focus on the positive things in life. Beowulf is particularly good at sensing when Liz or I need him and coming to sit on our legs or lean against us.

Yesterday, I had a sore wrist and he came and sat with me and, as I stroked him, the pain seemed to decrease. It was all psychological I'm sure, but it still felt good. When I stroke him and feel the vibration of his purr, a lot of stress and pain leaves my body.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Lover and a Healer

Yesterday, I was feeling kinda down when I came home from work, but my boys were there, as always, to cheer me up. I've noticed, however, that each boy has his own way of expressing affection to us humans.

Arthur likes to play games; he'll turn his head, look at me from across the room, and meow for me to follow him. I'll usually end up following him into the kitchen where he'll rub my feet and expect a belly rub in return. Sometimes he'll go so wild that he'll grab my ankle and try to pull my toes into his mouth. This is very sweet, affectionate behavior, IMHO, but I've got to follow him around and play by his rules.

Beowulf, on the other hand, has a great knack for knowing when you need him. If you're feeling depressed or ill or just tired, he'll come sit next to you or lie down on your legs. He's a healer. Feeling the vibration of his purr would be enough to make anyone feel better.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Woman Wins $45,000 in Lawsuit Over Cat Death

These days, we hear a lot of talk about frivilous lawsuits, but I don't consider this suit frivilous at all. Accroding to the Associated Press (via CNN), A woman in Seattle, Washington just won a $45K judgment in a lawsuit against a neighbor whose dog came into her backyard and killed her cat.

Of the $45K, $30K was awarded for the cat's "special value" and another $15K was given for emotional distress. Apparently the 30K value according to the cat tied a record, but I honestly don't think it was enough. Our cats are living beings, not property. I understand that society will probably never give an animal the same kind of respect that it gives to human beings, but I'm wondering how much this woman would have won if her 12 year old son was mauled to death by the neighbor's dog. I think she'd be able to win a few million dollars in a wrongful death suit, not just 30K.

The life of a cat is not disposable. That cat was her family and you just can't put a pricetag on family. I hope this lawsuit at least sends the message to dog owners that they are responsible for their animals' behavior.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Cute Site Alert: Clean Your Screen for Free

Normally, I don't even click on "cute" sites that people send me. I'm not one of those people that needs a cuteness break, but when my fiancee Liz sent me to, I clicked on it and the cat on the screen reminds me so much of Beowulf.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Candid Kitty Camera

Normally, the pictures we post here at NCC are those that came out pretty well. However, the other day, my fiancee Liz decided to get an extreme candid close-up of the boys by waving the camera strap in front of them. So here they are, whiskers and all.

Is this the Face of a Slave Driver?

When I first started visiting the Cat Forums at, I'd always laugh at the people who referred to themselves as a "slave" to their cats. Now, I'm ready to refer to myself as a cat slave. The boys, Arthur especially, have me trained to do their bidding.

Several times a night, Arthur will want a attention and he'll stare at me and meow. I'll get up and he'll walk into the kitchen, beckoning me to follow, and of course, I always follow. Sometimes, he'll want a treat, but most often, he just wants to rub his head against the top of my foot and for me to give him a belly rub. I'll try to go back to what I'm doing but he'll keep meowing until I follow him back into the kitchen again. He's the king. How can I not do his bidding?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Crate News

This weekend, we tried out the Pet Dreams Cratewear crate cover we just bought. We got this for a few reasons:

  • We want the cage to become a kitty condo for the boys.

  • On those rare occasions when we have to confine the boys for an hour or two (ex: when we're vacuuming the livingroom or taking apart a computer), we want them to be as comfortable as possible.

  • Putting a cover over the cage means that they won't be able to kick litter all over the place if we put a litterbox in there with them.

  • The cage is furniture now. It's in the middle of our livingroom. We want it to look nice to us humans too.

The Cratewear kit comes with three parts: a pad for the bottom of the cage, bumpers for the sides, and a big piece of cloth to cover up the top, back, and sides. Of course, this kit was designed for any 36" cage so it's not a perfect fit. As soon as we put the bumpers on, we realized they were too loose to stay on and the cover itself is such a loose fit that the boys started pulling it off so we put both the bumpers and the cover away temporarily, while leaving the pad in.

Still the boys loved the covered cage. It's the kind of hiding place they have been wanting for a long time. We plan to have my fiancee Liz's mother make some adjustments to the cover (maybe shorten it and add some straps to strap it to the cage bars) and to put it back on. In the mean time, the boys are in love with their new bedroom. We haven't been locking them in there, but they spent half the weekend sleeping in the cage.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What Are You Doing in There?

The boys have an interesting habit of waiting outside the door when I go to use the bathroom. They'll sit out there meowing for me and, when I open the door to come out, they'll be right in front of it. I have to be extra careful to both prevent them from running into the bathroom (where they are not allowed) and to prevent the door from hitting them.

I must have really crossed the line between cat owner and cat slave when I started trying to reason with my boys by talking to me through the bathroom door. "Relax boys, daddy's coming out soon. Just a minute boys." I have to remind myself that they actually don't need to use the bathroom. Their litterbox is in the kitchen.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Just Like Falling in Love

Sometimes I'll just sit and watch my fiancee Liz from across the room. I'm sure anyone who has been in love knows the feeling. You just like to watch the object of your affection doing everyday things: walking around, sleeping, typing away on the computer. There's a certain pride -- "wow, that beautiful person is with me."

Since we adopted the boys, I feel the same way about them. I just love to watch them do everyday cat things that are so beautiful and graceful. I just love the way they:
  • Walk the floor with such conviction, like they own the livingroom
  • Flip over on their backs for a bellyrub
  • Groom each other and wrestle with each other at the same time
  • Open their mouths really wide to yawn
  • Stretch themselves after getting up from a long nap
  • Rub their heads against my feet (Arthur is the one to do this usually)
  • Jump on top of my lap when I least expect it
  • Chase a toy across the floor then pounce on it and hold it like a sacred treasure
When I have human children someday, will I love them this much? I hope so.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What Surprised You Most About Cats? -- FAQ

Arthur and Beowulf are my first cats so I had a lot of hopes and fears before I adopted them. I think my biggest fear was that I would have a cold relationship with my cats. I would adopt them and live with them, but it would be a relationship of quiet respect rather than love. Could I love an animal? Would an animal love me? Would the cats be like a new toy that I'd get bored of?

My biggest surprise has been my own capacity to love and grow from this experience. I feel like adopting the boys has helped me get in touch with a different part of myself. I give them food, toys, and belly rubs, but what they give me back is priceless.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cats as Game: A Slippery Slope?

I hear now that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has vowed to veto any cat hunting legislation if it passes. "I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," Doyle told reporters, including the Associated Press, on April 13th.

That said, the debate in Wisconsin has inspired pundits in other states and has exposed the fact that laws on the books in Minnesota and South Dakota currently allow feral cat hunting. Clearly, this is an idea that has a lot of proponents, both in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.

Here in New York State, Debbie Swarz, a columnist for the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin, supports the idea of hunting feral cats. She writes:

"While trapping and spaying feral cats is a noble endeavor, the fact is they multiply so quickly that I don't see it as a solution to the problem unless the state is willing to spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to solve this problem. I would rather see that money go to endangered species."

I can't help but think that the minute you classify an animal as game, you hurt its status and reputation as a pet. Once you open the door to killing cats, you make it socially acceptable to kill the neighbor's cat.

Just look what happened in Wisconsin last week, where four cats were found shot to death and dumped along the roadside . At least one of the cats was an indoor cat named Junior who just happened to get out of the house. His body was identified by a neighbor who recognized him from pictures on "lost cat" posters that Junior's family had posted. Do you think the cat shooters felt they had the green light to shoot whatever cats they saw roaming around?

Humans make a lot of distinctions between different kinds of animals. Here in America, most people think of cows and chickens as food. Not many people have them as pets. It's true that some people keep pot bellied pigs as pets, but the overwhelming perception is that pigs are a food animal. You won't be finding pig feed or chicken feed on the shelf at Petco. There aren't nearly as many options available for those who keep these exotic pets. Everyone thinks that racoons are cute, but I don't think they're a popular pet.

If cat hunting becomes commonplace, how long will it take for cats to take on the same reputation as deer or racoons or rats? How long until it becomes uncool to adopt cats because they're just wild animals? As I write this, there are 77.6 million owned cats in the United States as compared to 65 million owned dogs. But when I visit the pet store, it's dogville. There are maybe two aisles devoted to cat products while there are five or six aisles devoted to dogs. Turning cats into game can't help the cause.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wisconsin One Step Closer to Legal "Cat Hunting"

In today's news, I see that the state of Wisconsin is getting closer to enacting a law which enables hunters to shoot any cat seen outside without a collar. Reading this news, really makes me angry, but it also makes me think about how much I have changed in the past few months.

Last year at this time, I would have read an article about feral cats and said "Maybe those hunters are right. Feral cats are a nuisance. They kill rare birds. Somebody has to do something about them." I also would not have understood the thousands of animal activists who are fighting against this law. I would have said: "Don't they understand that cats are just animals and wild animals are a nuisance? Why don't they try to help people instead?"

But living with my boys has really changed my perspective on a lot of things, including and especially animal rights issues. I'm not ready to become a vegan yet or join PETA, but I understand where animal activists are coming from, particularly when it comes to defending the rights of cats.

I understand that not everyone who lives with cats feels the same way, but I have to say that watching my boys day in and day out has given me a profound respect for cats and I've started to think maybe this respect ought to extend to other animals as well.

I used to think that cats and dogs don't deserve our respect, because they don't do a lot of the things we humans do. They can't talk to you about politics or sports. They don't create great art. They don't advance the sum of all knowledge with their scientific achievements.

Even though their paintings don't hang in museums, cats have an equally important purpose to serve. Their purpose is to be the artwork, to embody beauty and grace and purity of spirit and to inspire the creative urge in us humans. They deserve better than to be treated like a disposable nuisance.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kitchen Angel

Arthur has a unique habit. As I mentioned before, he loves feet. He loves to sniff my feet or Liz's feet and then rub his face against the top of our feet, then flip over onto his back for a belly rub. This is one of the cutest and sweetest things he does.

But there's another interesting twist to this foot fetish. He prefers to rub your feet when he's in the kitchen. I'll be in the livingroom and Arthur will meow for attention. I will get up and walk toward him and he'll lead me into the kitchen, but he won't be interested in food or in treats. He'll just want to rub his head against my feet while I stand in front of the closed refrigerator. I understand why he likes to scent mark my feet, but what is it about the refrigerator that makes it a favorite spot for this behavior?

Cat and Mouse

As far as I know, my boys have never seen a real live mouse. I know mice have been spotted in our building, but I always hope that they won't reach find my apartment.

That said, my boys sure have a taste for computer mice. This morning, we found that they had chewed through my fiancee Liz's mouse wire. They really killed a mouse; that's for sure.