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.