Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Month: March, 2014

Hunter Kitties vs. World’s Best Kitty Fishing Pole


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Ages ago (circa 2000), I happened across a pet store where they also rescued kitties.  They had the absolute best toys — clearly, picked by the cats or by staff that really understood what made kitties tick.  One of the best toys I’ve ever purchased for my cats came from that store. It’s a kitty “fishing pole” made of a real fiberglass rod, a nice wooden handle, a very heavy navy line and, at the end,  a now very-tattered piece of denim fabric.  You can really snap the toy around and make the denim cloth “dance,” so it’s really irresistible for our obligate carnivore friends. The packaging stated that the toy was designed and made by an unemployed man in Appalachia.  Whomever that person is or was, he also really understood cats.  The toy is so well made, it has survived my previous 6 and is now being enjoyed by my current 3 felines.  Every other “fishing pole” toy I’ve ever purchased for the meows has bent or broken or been torn to shreds by very enthusiastic hunter kitties. However, this one is still functional and in use almost 14 years later.  Now that was $20 USD well spent!

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

World’s Most-Tired Cat

 

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This was Caesar in one of the kitty nests with Macaroni yesterday.  He had so little energy at that moment that all he could do was squint.  In fact, a moment before, his tongue was still halfway stuck out of his mouth, where he’d apparently forgotten to tuck it away after a bit of a wash.

This is the universe approaching entropy.  This is the Big Guy at his most vulnerable. I managed to plant a kiss on his soft head without him even wincing or proceeding to wash the human “cooties” off his coat.

 

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photo from G. Karan.

Changing Techniques

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Actually, I was slightly inaccurate in my assessment that using so many different kinds and shapes and sizes and locations of water bowls had done nothing to change the Mermaid’s behavior.  She actually is doing one thing differently these days.

Rather than sit beside the bowl and dip a paw into the fluid, then sip water off her cupped digits, little Nessie is now crouching down (almost like a normal cat) and drinking water straight from the bowl.

However, unlike a normal cat, while she’s sipping water, she always has one forepaw and then the other reaching around under the sides of the bowl grasping at the air.  I wish I had a picture to show you.

What is she trying to reach?  Would she do this if I could figure out how to sink a water bowl into my floor? Heaven only knows.

So much for all the advice from all the cat experts.  Why does she do it?  I think the real answer is that she does it to annoy the human.  From a cat’s perspective, that may well be a very noble cause.

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

Tickly Parts

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Mr. Caesar not only has very sensitive paws, but his tummy also is off limits. That’s too bad because it’s super soft and sports the most adorable leopard-like spots (in contrast to all his pretty stripes elsewhere on his coat).

He’ll have his paws out dangling and catching a breeze when the human walks by.  As soon as the human approaches, he tucks those adorable paws under his chest so they can’t be petted or kissed.  When the human persists and manages to sneak a pet on paws or tummy, that often leads to corporal punishment, Caesar style:  he taps the human 3x very fast (no claws), then he makes a huffing sound and turns to walk away.

An emperor must maintain his dignity. He cannot be expected to tolerate unwanted advances from his subjects.

On the other hand, getting hit by those adorable paws makes them even more irresistible to the silly human.

 

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

March (Water-Bowl) Madness

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The silly human, ever on a quest to understand the inexplicable behavior of her feline captors, came across an article from a cat behaviorist this week. Subject of the story was reasons why cats throw water out of their water bowl. Key takeaway was that this is often caused by a bowl that is too small (in diameter), as cats don’t like putting their faces in small confined areas and bending their whiskers. That seemed to make a lot of sense, so off the human went to find the widest soup bowl in the house to try it out.

Within 5 minutes of filling the larger bowl with fresh filtered water and putting it on the floor, the Mermaid was back at her watery antics.  She had a great time with the extra volume of fluid in the bigger bowl and flooded the floor (and the cloth underneath) very effectively. Drats, another great idea down the drain.

The human moved the water bowl to see if a different location made any difference. Nope. Same effect. Same large flood. Double drats.

Since yet another well-considered theory from a cat expert has been dashed, why give the splashy beast more water to play with, so back to the stainless steel bowl we went this morning.  Of course, within 5 minutes of putting it on the floor, Splashasaurus regina returned in full form.

So many bowls, so little behavioral modification.

 

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

 

Mr. Dangly Paws – Part III

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Different day, different cat condo, different floor of the house, but same behavior. Yes, that’s Mr. Dangly Paws doing his best to keep his feet well ventilated.

 

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

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Recent photographic evidence has come to light that there’s been a bit of sleeping on the job going on in this house.  No wonder the birds, squirrels, and woodchucks move about outside with reckless abandonment.  Who DOES watch the watchers?

On the other hand, I guess they can’t work 24/7.  Even non-union workers are allowed a few short breaks here and there.

 

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

Taylor & Ng Kitties – Part 3

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They may not be related, but the three meows sure do enjoy each other’s company.  It’s amazing the positions you will find them in, which means you always want to have your camera handy.  Note the curl in Fireball’s tail? He’s rather famous for how tightly he can wrap it around.  And here’s another cute one below.

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

Study Break

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Here’s Fireball standing up beside me with his front paws on my desk. You can’t hear it, but he’s uttering a high-pitched cry that is piercing enough to break glass.  I’m supposed to reach down pet him, then scoop him up for hugs. Who could resist?  He knows just when the human needs a study break.

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

Aliens, Part III

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But he seemed like such a nice, normal cat….

(c) Copyright PeggyMalnati 2014, All Rights Reserved. Photo my own.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

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At the top of my stairs to the second floor I have a lovely and substantial newel post that supports the banisters on both levels.  It just so happens that above this newel post hangs a set of wind chimes, which musically move in the breeze when warmer weather arrives and allows the nearby windows to be opened.  My banisters are covered with blankets that hang down for decoration. Being practical as well as green, I often hang slightly damp clothes and bedding there to finish drying after I bring them in from the outdoors clothesline.  None of my previous cats gave the newel post or the banisters any attention, but Fireball and Macaroni find them quite interesting places to explore.

One night, 4 or 5 months after the kitties came to live with me, as I was reading the news before sleep, I couldn’t believe my ears:  I could hear bells ringing.  I bolted up to see what was happening and found Mac on top of the newel post banging away on the wind chimes.  (Mac is always first to get into mischief and try brave new things.)  She continued her bell ringing nightly and in the early morning hours for several weeks, then the novelty seemed to wear off.  Not long after, the baby comet got into the action and started sharing his own musical repertoire. One morning I managed to catch him in action.

Do you know for whom the bell tolls?  Ah, yes, it tolls for me.  Get up, lazy human, it’s snack time and we want to play!

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

Anatomy of a Kill

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Above you can see a cute striped toy mouse, somewhat in decline.  It’s formed from a compressed cardboard core around which colorful cording is wrapped.  Already, some of the cord has been unwrapped from the toy, along with its ears, eyes, and snout, which has been chewed completely off.   Interestingly, these toys never seem to go for a swim in the water bowl, but they do quickly get destroyed.  Below, you can see a fully unwrapped version of the same type of mouse with one lonely eye looking up.  Really glad the vegetarian is much larger than the obligate carnivores in this house.  Otherwise, you can see what my fate would be.

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

Punished!

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Well, Mac decided to punish the human this morning.  The two-legged refused to let her down into the cellar.  When the four-legged is denied what she wants, a catastrophe soon follows as she takes her frustration out on various objects in her environment.

It started innocently enough:  she decided to trim an errant plantlet off the bottom of one of the spider plants.  She pulled quite hard.  That caused the plant and its large pot on its tall plant stand to start to wobble and begin to pitch forward.  As the plant stand moved, it caught and spun an adjacent plastic plate on which a large pot of cacti sat, pitching the pot over so that it landed completely upside down on the floor.   All three meows came to investigate. Hmm, a whole pile of damp soil. How interesting!

The properly chastised human put on leather gardening gloves and gingerly repotted the cacti.  The unrepentant feline smirked and watched.  That’ll show her!

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

Silent Offerings

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Well, I found this on my side of the bed the other day.  I’m still trying to decide if I should be honored, insulted, or just plain afraid.

In case you don’t recognize what this is, it’s the remains of a destroyed toy mouse — the grey, life-like ones that the Big Guy favors. You’re seeing the underside of the fake fur covering and the much chewed on remains of the compressed cardboard insert around which the fake fur is wrapped.

All I can say is that I’m glad I’m a lot bigger than the cats are.  It would be very scary to be a very tiny creature in my house.

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

Mr. Dangly Paws – Part II

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Yes, that is exactly what you think it is:  Mr. Dangly Paws in action.   If you walked in front of the kitty condo, you’d nearly miss that he was in there except for that telltale sign:  one large paw hanging out catching the breeze.

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

Vanquisher of Strings

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I think all cats have vivid imaginations — the more so because we keep them “captive” in boring houses and apartments. They have to work hard to polish their hunting and stalking skills with things that only move if they push or pull or throw them (or if they can coerce their humans into doing the same).  I kind of imagine they think of strings as some form of urban snake or perhaps the unusually long tail of a lizard or salamander.  My 3 darlings are all quite good vanquishers of string.  This is the baby comet in action attacking a dangling string from some of my clothing.  With claws and teeth like that, nothing that moves is safe in my house.

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

Bed Making Skills

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For all those critics out there who say cats don’t do anything to contribute to their room and board, I must report that my cats help me make beds.  Fireball is especially helpful. He’ll jump onto the fresh sheets that I’m trying to pull out straight and he’ll bit and kick any wrinkle in the fabric he can find — especially when the material is moving. Sometimes he spins around for 10 or 15 minutes attacking different bits of fabric as I try to get my bedding into place.  I get to make him into each layer of the bed with the layer above until he comes to a rest from all the frenetic activity.  Of course, a task that otherwise might take 5 minutes ends up taking 20 thanks to all the laughs and picture taking, but what else can make housework so much fun?

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

Pack Hunting

Tig BemusedAll those animal experts will tell you that cats are solitary hunters. Unlike dogs, they don’t hunt in packs. Well, hate to be the outlier data point here, but I beg to differ.

With my previous batch of cats, Tiggin especially was convinced that this vegetarian would never eat such disgusting stuff as tofu if I only had better hunting skills. (She proved that again and again by begging for scraps of my meal. When offered a piece of tofu something or other, she’d literally roll her lip up in a grimace and walk away.)  She was forever going down into my ancient stone basement where she’d occasionally capture a mouse that she’d bring up to me in the middle of the night. Now, I’d like to clarify that I’m not afraid of mice. However, when a cat wakes you from a sound sleep and drops a live mouse on you at 1 a.m., you’re going to bolt up from bed and scream…at least I did.  That would immediately lead to the mouse and the cats making a hasty retreat off the sides of my very tall 4-poster bed, and then the fun would begin.

Tiggin and her “siblings” would run around my bedroom as I got up, flipped on a light, and reached for a sheet of cardboard and a glass jar I kept for just these moments.  We’d race around together, me trying to save the mouse’s life by capturing it in the jar so I could put it outside, and the cats thinking that they were finally teaching the vegetarian how to hunt for a proper meal.  Sometimes, after 30 minutes of dashing about all over the house trying to save the mouse’s life, I’d just give up and go back to bed.  The next morning I’d awake to find the now thoroughly dead mouse laid at the threshold of my bedroom door.  Since I’d once again proven myself inept, undisciplined, and lazy, they were offering the mouse to me as a snack, but they were chastising me for giving up too soon and missing all the fun of chasing down the prey (thereby failing my hunting lesson once again).

My current crew seems to do the same with their toy mice. One of them will start flipping the toy in the air, and then everyone will start dashing about trying to find where it landed, and great noise and enthusiastic play ensue.  Late at night or early in the morning they will make the same kind of moaning cries that Tiggin did as she was carrying a live mouse up to my bedroom, except that, fortunately, all they are bringing me is a toy one.

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

Little Swimmers

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For some reason, Fireball likes to take his toy mice for a swim — no other toys, just the “shakey” mice.  I’m not sure if he’s trying to wash Mac’s saliva off the fake fur, or if he just forgets it’s in his mouth as he dashes by the water bowl and suddenly stops for a drink.  I even hear him dunking it in the water some times, hitting it with his paws to make sure it’s well washed.  I will occasionally find a brightly colored toy floating in the water that he has forgotten to retrieve. It goes without saying that the toy doesn’t fare too well after a prolonged swim.  Even more amusing, he’ll occasionally jump in bed with me in the early morning hours with his just-washed mouse.  If I happen to be lying on my side, he’ll come up and tuck the soggy thing under my shoulder, then jump to my other side for a cuddle.  Not sure if he’s offering me his freshly caught and washed prey, or if he’s trying to keep it out of Mac’s mits while he snuggles for a bit.  When he’s done with his visit, he goes back to my shoulder and retrieves his prize and off he runs again.

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

Boneless Chicken Ranch

IMG_0215Being old as dirt, I remember a great Far Side comic from the late-’70s or early ’80s that showed the entrance to a “boneless chicken” ranch.  All over the ground was a collection of flat chickens who flopped and flailed about, since they had no bones.  I think I have a variant of that unique species living with me.  You’ll have noticed from many of the photos on this blog that Macaroni, the tuxedo female, is forever shown flopped across one or both of her “brothers.”  That’s just what she does too. She walks over to one of the kitty beds populated with another feline and she just falls on top of him.  She does the same thing to me when I’m reclining in bed. She walks over, stands beside me for a moment, and then just falls forward onto me.  It’s the oddest thing.  Then again, she is a very unique and colorful kitty.

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