Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Category: Caesar

Wet Foot Syndrome

Mac the Merkitty is spreading her odd eating and drinking behaviors to the other cats.

Early on she taught Fireball that the best way to get access to the food bowl when Caesar was hovering over it was to pull the bowl out from under his mouth with a paw and then quickly scoop up a pawful of food before Caesar moved forward to hover over the bowl again. Even with Caesar gone, Fireball still eats crunchies, raw freeze dried food (rehydrated in water), and even soft food with his paws rather than directly with his mouth. And since Mac has long drunk water from her paws, Fireball does too.

Also, because Mac mucks up the water so often by playing in the bowls with her feet, Fireball has taken to sticking his own feet in the bowl to check that the water is acceptable before drinking.

However, wet foot syndrome has spread even further. In recent months, the human has observed Pepe stick one or both of his forepaws into the big water bowl to check that the water is there before bending down to drink. He will subsequently come lay down on his favorite chair and, when the human pets him, she finds wet feet. What is it about cats and water bowls in this house?

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Happy 10th Anniversary Trio

A decade ago this afternoon, Caesar, Macaroni, and Fireball made the journey from their foster mom’s home to the new human’s. The poor kitties were so skittish at first, but eventually they figured out the two-legged was a big pushover and they could easily boss her around, which they’ve done ever since. While the trio is now a duo (with Caesar’s unexpected passing last October), Mac and Fireball are still a cuddle pair. Happy anniversary kitties!

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Not Quite Hidden

Sometime this spring, Fireball figured out how to open up the closet door in the big bedroom. He’s been hanging out there for months, completely abandoning his usual haunts under the blanket draped over the stairs. He’s often been joined in the closet by Caesar, Mac, and even Corky. Not wanting him to lay on the hard floor, the human put the pink puff in the closet to Fireball’s delight. Lately, the human comes into the bedroom only to find a little red tail peeking around the edge of the door. The rest of the red kitty is in the pink puff completely oblivious to the fact that he’s not quite as hidden as he thinks. <<<Ah, cats!>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Almost Back

Thanks to all the kind people who sent their condolances.

Life without Caesar takes some getting used to, but this house is slowly getting back to some semblance of normalcy.

The human was really worried about Fireball, as he was inseparable from Caesar. He’s spent a lot of the last week hiding, but he’s beginning to come out again for pets and cuddles. In fact, he’s been vigorously chasing the laser dot around in the morning. And little toy mice are starting to leave the toy boxes and work their way around the house, so the kitties are starting to play again.

The other cats too are back to flopping on top of the human and demanding cuddles. Cranky Corky has been amping up his demands for earlier and earlier crunchy bowl fillings in the afternoon. And we’ve had a lot of paw-dangling action going on as well.

We miss you terribly, Big Guy. Thanks for 9-1/2 great years.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

In Memoriam: Caesar Tiger Bear

Last evening, Caesar had a 15-minute episode where he suddenly started breathing very fast and shallow — as though he couldn’t get enough air in his lungs. Eventually, he coughed up a bit of mucous and seemed to be okay. He even curled around the human’s head and sang a song afterwards, until the 2-legged got too annoying by trying to pet his paws. He’d had an active day of eating, drinking, carrying toy mice all over the house, and demanding his daily dose of pets and brushings from the human. Just a day or two before that he’d been leaping in the air chasing the fishing pole and the laser dot and roughhousing with his brother. Hence, this sudden shift was as perplexing as it was concerning.

He had another episode at 4 this morning that was longer lasting and more severe. In fact, his breathing rate never really went back to normal. The human called around to find a vet appointment and finally snagged one for late morning. His bloodwork looked fine, but X-rays gave a diagnosis of cancer. There was only one good decision, and that was to say goodbye. We’re all devastated.

This human has known and loved a whole lot of furry people in the 6+ decades she’s been on this earth, but Caesar was one of a kind — as beautiful inside as outside, sweet, bossy, funny, and a force to be reckoned with when trimming claws or trying to get him in a carrier for vet visits. He was such a remarkable, vital presence in that 19 pound package. Always the first there to comfort an upset cat or human. Nine-and-a-half years was not nearly enough time together, but we’re grateful for every moment we had with him.

From the moment the human saw his photo on PetFinder (above), she knew he was the one. It seems only fitting to say goodbye with that image as well as one of the last the human took of him, paw dangling to the end with Mac. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Rest in peace, Big Guy.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Top image, K. Pichler. Bottom my own.

Tiger Boys go Fishing

The spooky and not-so-often-seen red tiger boy came down to play with his big brother. They had an early afternoon romp with the fishing pole.

There was much dramatic pouncing and leaping…

And astoundingly fast air-swats.

There was good ground action with rapidly moving paws…

And cuteness abounded.

There even was some skillful team action.

Eventually, the tiger boys tired and left to take a nap while the human returned to her keyboard and deadlines.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Sassy Bird

This is the daily late-morning / early-afternoon visit by Mac and Caesar who then attempt to pry the human’s fingers off the keyboard long enough to give them a snack of fresh catnip leaves or, ideally, to refill the upstairs crunchy bowl. <<<Fat chance that’ll happen this early in the day!>>> Note Mac’s mouth? She’s in the middle of emitting a very-high-pitched meow. It’s part of her sassy bird act. <<<Ridiculous, slow-witted human. If you were better trained, I wouldn’t need to do this every day.>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Big Boys Plot & Plan

Pepe and Caesar are the big boys of the house with each approaching 20 pounds/9.1 kilos. Although they have their share of tussels — Pepe does not appreciate Caesar’s intense need to groom every cat in the house, especially not him! — for the most part they get along great. It’s quite common to see them curled up back-to-back or feet-to-feet on the bed. And they often hang out together in other areas of the house, as they were this particular morning when the human happened to walk by. <<<Doesn’t it make you wonder what they were talking about? And who do you suppose took the toys out of the toy box?>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

The Usual Suspects

It’s not that the human is paranoid. However, when she finds 3 or 4 cats all clumped up together as though she just walked in on a secret meeting she wasn’t meant to see, and where Corky drew the short straw and had to play lookout, well…you see where this is going.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Torture from Above

<<<Where did that pesky toy disappear to now? When I catch it, I’m not going to let go!>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Tiger Boys Take a Tiny Timeout

Caesar and Fireball are best buds most of the time. Fireball follows his big (adopted) brother around from morning until night. They often curl up together. In this case, they took a rest and did a bit of paw dangling.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

What Do You Want?

<<<And will I like it? Probably not!>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Why there’s No Room on the Pillow for the Human’s Head

Need we say more?

This is a once or twice nightly kitty activity. Believe it or not, before the human got up, Mac was balanced precariously on top of the 2-legged’s head and Caesar’s back. Sheesh!

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

When it’s Really, Really Hot

When it’s really, really hot and all you have energy to do is lay flat on the floor…

…it’s time to sit up to cuddle and chat with your BFF instead.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Crunchy Deficit Disorder

A terrible thing keeps happening every night. We call it Crunchy Deficit Disorder or CDD. It occurs when Corky or Mac eat enough of the kibble in the community food bowl that a tiny bit of the bottom of the bowl shows through. Yes, they can see it even in the dark.

Once that happens, neither cat is able to eat any more crunchies. They literally just stand around and stare at the bowl as though they can’t believe this has happened again. When the crisis doesn’t quickly resolve, the temper tantrums ensue.

Corky beats up the drapes and yowls or alternately jumps on the tummy of the human if she is reclining in bed. If she’s not laying down, Corky tracks down the human and yowls at her until she gets up and does something about the CDD. (He may be a little guy, but he’s fiercesome when he’s mad!) Mac, being less angry and more scheming, goes under the bed and starts carving up the mahogany legs with her claws. The only solution to CDD is for the human to go over to the bowl and either shake the crunchies back into place so no bottom shows, or to refill it. <<<It is so challenging being a woefully outmatched and outnumbered human in this house.>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

When You Really, Really, Really Don’t Want to Get Out of Bed

Sometimes it’s not easy getting started with your day. The human was stuck because she couldn’t finish making the bed. The Big Guy was determined that he was not going to move.

Making the bed around the big kitty did not seem to change his mind. He just sat there looking cute…and aggrieved.

The human could hardly blame him, as the 2-legged had a hard time getting out of bed herself. The awful heat and humidity had broken briefly and everyone was enjoying a couple of days of blessed cool with low humidity.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Thunderbear has become ThunderRainBear

It’s summer and it’s been terribly hot and humid. That means, thunderstorms have been moving through the area with increased frequency. Caesar, the Thunderbear, is terribly afraid of the sound of thunder as well as the ridiculous amount of fireworks that tend to be set off in this neighborhood between mid-June and early July. Prepandemic, fireworks could last 5-6 hours/night every night for weeks, absolutely terrorizing the Big Guy.

Unfortunately, Caesar now associates the sound of rain with the possibility of thunderstorms, no matter how unlikely the latter are. That means that every time he hears it rain — and it’s been doing that with great frequency and leaving great amounts of water of late — he huddles under the human’s chair and glues himself to her feet and ankles. <<<Why can’t the human make the scary sounds go away?>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

The Evilness of Humans

According to both Mac and Caesar, the evilness of humans in this house knows no bounds. For instance, the human picked up Caesar while he was rubbing against her leg and spirited him off to the location of the nail clippers. She then proceeded to hold hm captive while she quickly trimmed all 5 nails on each of his front paws. No harm was done but the Big Guy was NOT pleased! He has made sure to sit down on the floor anytime he gets near the human during the past few days as that makes it much harder for her to pick him up.

Then, poor Mac was catnapped (while having a cat nap) yesterday morning, put in a carrier, and transported to the vet for a checkup. Exams always involve thermometers up the butt and bloodwork. Plus, then Mac was rendered a prisoner cat (isolated in a closed bedroom) for a couple of hours when human and kitty returned home in order to get a clean urine sample that had to be re-transported back to the vet’s office. And this morning, Mac was once again picked up against her will and transported for nail clipping, which the human did quickly and without harm, but completely against Mac’s wishes.

Sometimes it’s unclear whether keeping the human around to pay the mortgage and utilities, open cat food cans, and scoop litter boxes is worth the hassle.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

A Recent Hit Toy

Not everything the human buys the kitties is a complete failure.

They’ve always loved laser pointers. However, the challenge with most of them is that they require a number of tiny batteries that cost more to replace than the laser pointer costs in the first place. The inexpensive laser pointer suddenly becomes far more costly, not to mention that they contribute toxic waste to landfills for those who have no way to recycle batteries locally.

The human recently found a great laser pointer that solves the problem by being rechargeable via a USB port hidden under a cap on one end. That makes the $10 USD laser pointer pay for itself by the second or third charge. Even better, this LED-based laser pointer has 2 additional settings that activate a flashlight, handy when stumbling around in the dark, and a blacklight, which is perfect for checking for urine (over)spray around litterboxes. Even better, the laser “dot” seems to be slight wider than that of previous laser pointers, and the kitties chase it day and night. In fact, this enrichment toy has proven so well loved that the human ended up purchasing a second one for upstairs as well as down.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Enrichment Toy Failures

Knowing that her furry monsters have no opportunity to go outside, except on the “catio” (screened in porch), the human tries to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. One way she does that is by purchasing so-called enrichment toys, which are supposed to make them think and move. Now, on balance, most of these toys have been a complete flop with a few exceptions. It’s not that the (completely unbiased) human thinks the kitties are not very smart, it’s that she thinks they are equal parts devious and lazy. Why go to the trouble of pushing the dome around on the puzzle feeder in order to get a few crunchies, when throwing a tantrum at 3 am almost always guarantees that the drowsy human will overfill the crunchy bowl? <<<So much more food for so much less effort!>>> And why run around chasing something when it’s clearly far more entertaining to make the human run around and retrieve things instead?

Here is a sad list of failed enrichment toy purchases that did not live up to their billing.

The flopping fish (too scary for big kitties)

The puzzle feeder (mostly the 4 that could operate it just sat around looking at the human and imploring her to turn the dome instead of doing it themselves)

And the newest flop? The (soundless) clear ball that flashes a sequence of colored lights when bumped (they just look at the toy, then at the human, as if to ask <<<Why? What were you thinking?>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.