Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Month: February, 2014

Phenomenal Pheasant

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My fur friends are really big fans of birds — not only the kind that come to the window feeders each morning and entertain the cats and me, but the kind they eat.  They love chicken and turkey, but they really love duck and boy are they starting to adore pheasant.

Recently, I found a new form of freeze-dried raw food patties that I’m feeding them for “snacks.” Instead of paying $10-$12 USD/2.2 oz as I’d been doing for freeze-dried cooked turkey breast (in which the company has started adding soy sauce and carrageenan, a known inflammatory agent), with this new brand I’m getting 3 times as much for about the same price, depending on flavor.  We just finished a package of duck this week and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  Last time I’d been in the pet-supply store, I’d spent the extra money to try pheasant and we just opened that package the other day.

To keep the food fresh (and since I long have been zip-lock challenged), I usually move the patties to lidded plastic containers that I can close tightly to keep out unwanted air. However, these generous 6 oz bags fill up a bit more than 2 containers and I didn’t have a 3rd one handy. Hence, I did my best to close the zip-lock strips, then rolled up the bag and tucked it back into a location on a shelf near where they get their snacks at night.

photo 2Two mornings in a row, the nearly empty bag has been found on the floor. No one yet has figured out how to get into the bag; so far there are no fang marks indicating entry attempts — something that frequently happened with my previous crew.  However, it’s clear one or more of the kitties knows where the bag is and has been attempting to retrieve it so as to give him/herself some extra snacks.

Hmmm, apparently the two-legged isn’t being generous enough. Needless to say, the dim-witted human finally has moved the bag much higher on the shelves.  So far so good. Wish I could say the same about the water bowl.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Aliens Among Us

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Need I say more?

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photo my own.

Mr. Dangly Paws

IMG_0634Caesar is such a big mellow guy.  He’s twice the size of the little ones, but he’s truly a gentle giant.  He does have a few peccadilloes of his own, however.  One of them is that he just loves to dangle one big paw out of wherever he’s sitting or laying.  Sometimes he hides from the little ones in one of the levels of the kitty condo scratching posts I have on the first and second floors.  Often the only way you know he’s in there is that you see a big paw hanging out the opening.  Even when he’s laying out in plain sight, he usually has a big paw or two hanging out…that is until the human comes by and starts petting and kissing him. Then the big soft paws go into hiding.  He’s got tickley feet I guess.

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(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Happy 2nd Anniversary Kitties!

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Today is the 2-year anniversary of the first day Caesar, Fireball, & Macaroni came to my house to live.  I’m feeling wistful. They don’t seem impressed, although if they think they can get an extra snack out of me because of this observance, I’m sure they’ll try.

The first 2 weeks they lived here, each time I’d come into their bedroom to visit them, they’d hide under a highboy dresser.  All I could see were scared eyes looking out at me as I stuck my head on the floor and tried to coax them to come out.  Granted, the big guy would come out occasionally for a short visit, but then he’d retreat back under the furniture.  I actually sat and cried a few times wondering what I’d gotten myself into.  Animals and human children generally adore me. It’s only adult humans that usually are the problem.  I wasn’t used to animals being scared of me — particularly after they’d met me a few times.

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Well, over the last 24 months, we’ve come a long way baby! I’m so grateful that their foster mom was willing to give all 3 of them up for me.  As you’ve noted if you’ve read much of this blog, as they’ve grown less timid, their distinct personalities have emerged.  They are each quite sweet, funny, challenging, and precious. I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Return of the Water-Bowl Wrangler

IMG_0775Argh, I suppose it was too good to last.  Mac let me have about 2 weeks of dry floors, lulling me into a sense of complacency with the cobalt-blue water bowl.  That too has now become her splashing pool, so I’m back to rotating a variety of dishes into a variety of spots to see if I can figure out what possesses her to throw water all over the floor — aside from just annoying the human, which is a valid enough cause unto itself.  My current strategy is to place the water bowl between 2 pots of kitty wheat grass.  So far, so good, but I’m only on day 2.  Honestly, she looked so cute and innocent when I adopted her. Little did I know what a little vixen she’d become.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photo my own.

Head Rollies

IMG_0749My parents have a rescued Persian who is rather famous for her head rolling hand stands.  Until Mac came to live with me, I’d seen but never experienced head rolling in one of my own cats, other than an affectionate nuzzle and face rub on my hands.  But Mac is a champion acrobat, and apparently her sister does the exact same thing at her former foster mom’s, so maybe there is a genetic component to this behavioral trait.

The other morning, Fireball was doing this morning snuggle on my pillow, wrapping himself around my face. Mac, who always has to insert herself into the middle of the action, climbed up on top of my prone form and started doing her head rolling action.  The little comet didn’t like the competition, so got up and left.  Mac was facing my head with her head and doing her handstands when she got a little overbalanced and actually somersaulted completely over, crashing down onto my face, then losing her balance further and starting to roll off me. I caught her partway to the bed.  Whew, it’s amazing how much a 7 lb cat body in motion can hurt one’s nose so early in the day.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Taylor & Ng Kitties

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In my late teens and early 20s, Taylor & Ng had a series of mugs for sale featuring animals in some rather playfully passionate and physiologically dubious positions.  These animal orgy mugs were all the rage when I was in college; my roommate had the penguins and I had the alligators.  These days, I no longer recall what happened to that mug — too many moves over too many years. However, I seem to have my own living version of Taylor & Ng’s cat mug.  My 3 darlings curl up together in the most interesting positions, a few of which I’ll share here.

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(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Face Wrangler

IMG_1061Fireball has the softest, most unusual fur I think I’ve ever felt on a cat.  His fur is short but slightly fluffy, and feels like chenille.  He also has white as well as black whiskers that are so curly, they actually partially wrap around the front of his head. He’s quite adorable in so many ways.

He’s been the most timid of my current 3 rescues.  Like the rest, he has his sad story.  Fortunately, he’s slowly coming around to the idea that humans can make quite tolerable pets, and their company can actually be reasonably pleasant — as long as they are sitting or laying down and not in motion. (Standing up and walking around humans are still pretty terrifying.)

It took about 4 months of me patiently but persistently trying to pick him up for hugs and pets for him to decide that the vegetarian wasn’t actually going to devour him. (It’s all those kisses he gets.) Now, he actually seeks me out.  He’ll come stealthily into my office while I’m intently pounding away at the keyboard.  He’ll stand up on his back feet, put his front paws on the edge of my desk next to my keyboard, and squeak at a pitch that should break glass it’s so high and plaintive.  That’s my cue to reach down and pet him, then pick him up for a cuddle.  (He knows just when I need a break from work.)

More recently, he’s also learned that a human is warm and can be quite pleasant to cuddle with in the cold and dark of early morning.  He usually will climb on top of me when I’m in bed and walk up to see what I’m doing.  In the bitter cold of last month’s and this month’s polar vortex, he’s been laying down beside me, allowing himself to be covered up with blankets, and falling asleep stretched out against me.  When it gets too warm under the covers, he crawls out and if I’m laying on my side, he climbs up on my pillow and curls around my head — quite literally.  Suddenly I find myself with a face in his soft belly, getting that fluffy red fur of his in eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.  He’ll often start grooming me, although he finds my long hair a challenge to wash.  And sometimes he rolls his head around on top of my head giving me a good nuzzle.  We’ll lay like that for 15 or 20 minutes. It’s a delicious way to begin the day.

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(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

A Toy Story: Part III

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I was walking up the stairs one morning.  And out of the corner of my eye, something looked funny…

I stopped my climb, turned around, and came back down a few steps to have a better look at whatever it was that had caught my attention.

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At first it didn’t register, but then I realized there was bright blue dab of color where there should not be.  I moved in closer to investigate.

IMG_0620Sure enough, someone had been playing with one of the “shakey” mice and had tossed it well into the air.  It came down inside a small glass cup that holds tealight candles on a wall-mounted sconce.

Fabulous, excellent, one-in-a-thousand shot!  I recorded it for posterity.  No one stepped forward to claim the prize, but I retrieved it for them anyway. Such a nice, well-trained human.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

A Toy Story: Part II

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Yes, this is an unretouched before and after shot of the famous “shakey” mice that Mac and Fireball favor.  Note the pristine shape of the bottom mouse and the tailless, eyeless, and mostly furless form of the lovingly played with upper mouse.  Not sure if the latter has had a dip or two in the water bowl and if that’s why its fur is missing, or if it’s just been flung about once too often, but they do love these toys.

Interestingly, Fireball favors the orange ones — and he’s a ginger tabby — and Mac favors the bright blue ones — she’s a tuxedo ( B&W) kitty.

No one really likes the green ones, but they will play with them if there are none of the others around.   The green ones do seem to get a higher ranking than the dull “natural” colored ones that Caesar favors. What can I say?

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photo my own.

The Plot Thickens: Watering Can Wrangler

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Just when you think you might have a handle on things, those 4-leggeds get the upper hand again.

Remember how I was musing that the water-bowl wrangler seemed to have eased off splash duty now that we were using the cobalt-glass water bowl downstairs?  Well, I found out yesterday that that was only because she’s on to bigger and better things.

Okay, I should step back a moment and explain that first, I live in an old farm house and second, I have a small jungle (of plants) in the funny little room between my kitchen and living room. I suppose it probably once was a dining room of sorts before someone added a woodstove that juts 4 feet out from one wall into the room.  There’s no space to add even a modest table with chairs, so the space has ended up more of a sitting room than anything else.  That’s where the majority of my houseplants end up from the end of October until the end of May.  Since I’m not actively using the woodstove, and the room has windows facing south and west, it’s pretty brightly lit most days, and I supplement with compact fluorescent bulbs on timers.  Now because I have a lot of plants there, and my house is heated with drying forced hot air, the plants — many of which are small trees — need a lot of water.  So I have this plastic gallon-and-a-half watering can with a wide opening and a long neck that I use to give my plants the water they need.

I also should explain that I’m a writer by profession and work from home, which should mean it would be easy to remember to do something as simple as water the plants I walk by 20x a day, but I’m a writer who is always on deadline and who gets distracted by louder and more insistent things (and beings) than my nicely behaved plants. Since it takes 2-3 fillings of that big watering can to give all the plants their weekly drink, I often have a bit of water left over in the can. Of late, I’ve been leaving that water in the can and tucking it by 2 of my “trees” so I am more likely to remember to water them mid-week when they are starting to dry out.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and this woman have clearly gone astray.

During breakfast, I filled the watering can late last week to make my first pass through the jungle and I left the can at the eastern edge of my long plant stand on which many of the potted plants sit. Of course, that is also where the infamous downstairs water bowl sits.

While I was eating my breakfast, I noticed that Fireball had is little orange face in the watering can and was drinking tap water out of the container, not 2 feet from his proper water bowl with nicely filtered water free of leaves, dirt, chlorine and fluorine.  It hadn’t even been sullied yet by “Mac’s mits.”  Heavy sigh.  Okay, it’s a novel experience, so I won’t react and maybe it will lose its appeal.

Well, I did water the plants and ended up with about a half-a-can of water still in the container after my third filling.  I tucked the can back into place near the “trees” and went about my week.  Two days ago, I noticed that the watering can, which now was only a quarter full of water (since it had worked effectively as a reminder to give the big plants some extra moisture midweek), was pulled out away from its habitual spot.  I put it back. I reasoned that since the cats love to get behind all the plants and look around, they might have nudged it out of the way going in and out of that space.

Next morning, that same watering can was laying on its side when I came downstairs.  Hmmm, that couldn’t be an accident, could it? But I was under a really tight deadline on a really big project, so I stood the watering can up (which now had just a wee bit of water in it) and went about my duties.

My friend who is staying here for a few months remarked last evening that she’d seen Mac in the stove room seemingly without a head. When she looked closer, my darling girl had her face buried deep in the watering can, presumably having a drink. Hmmm again.

When we came back last night, the can was well out into the room laying tipped over on its side. This time, it was clear that the water had been drained out onto my handmade rug. Rrrr.  Time to abandon denial and deal with reality: the cats are doing this and they are doing it deliberately. My friend graciously offered to empty the can to make sure there was no water left. She put it back in its customary spot.

This morning, the can was dragged back out into the room and left on its side just as you see it above.  Clearly, the 4-leggeds are not pleased that the distracted human has finally wised up and removed water from the watering can. What can we get into next?

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photo my own.