Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Category: Obligate carnivores

All the Tiny Little Mice

It’s been very hot during the day, so the cats have been low-energy and haven’t tormented the human much while she was working.  On the other hand, it’s been blissfully cool at night, and that’s brought out all kinds of silly behavior in all the cats.  There have been feisty chases up and down the stairs, there have been many sessions each night of 2 or 3 cats ganging up on the sleeping human by standing around and poking her in the face with their cute paws.  And there have been nearly nightly sessions of pulling all the cute little mice out of the 3 toy boxes on the stairs and carrying them all over the house. That pretty much guarantees that the silly human will step on or trip over at least one of them as she stumbles around early morning getting ready for her day. On this particular night, someone rummaged through several toy boxes and strategically selected the small mice while leaving the other toys to sit around with nothing to do.  Perhaps the human needs to go back to the kitty toy store and purchase another box of the toy mice, as many are starting to look pretty sad.

 

(c) Copyright 2019, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Will You Stop Fussing & Get My Breakfast?

Who cares if the bed is made, the water bowls are washed and refilled, the plants are watered, and the litter boxes are cleaned?  I want food, and I want it now!  And I want better food than what you’ve been serving.  No, I can’t tell you what I want, not exactly, but I know it’s not any of the 5 bags of crunchies and 4 cans of soft food that you currently have open. You’re a human. Can’t you figure it out?

 

(c) Copyright 2017, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Happy Cats (or the Swirling Masses)

What to see what happy cats look like? This is a bag of pure, freeze dried raw chicken breast.  All the human has to do is shake the bag and they come running, plaintive cries and all.  And when the human opens the bag and puts it on the floor, everyone has to have a sniff. There is lots of extraneous grooming as they wait patiently for the human to stop taking pictures and start tossing treats for them to chase.Notice the laser eyes boring into the slow, lazy human who is still too preoccupied with photo-taking to do her job of feeding the meows? She would be fired if there were another human slave nearby who was willing (or could be forced) to assume her duties.  (Heavy sigh…)

 

 

(c) Copyright 2017, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

 

Canny Carnivores

img_3911Alas, all those packaging experts who claim that expensive, impossible to recycle multi-layer packaging keeps freshness locked into the bag and seals out oxygen that degrades food have never met my crew’s noses.  img_3912A few months back the busy human walked out to the kitchen while working late one evening. She’d barely crossed the threshold when she found a bag of crunchies laying on its side with kibble spilling out of a sizable gash.  Lest you think she temps fate often, she’d purchased the bag earlier that day and placed by the cellar door with the intention of carrying it downstairs and securing it in a heavy plastic container before she went to bed. She was too late.img_3913Clearly, the fancy packaging had not locked freshness (and the delicious odors) inside the bag and one (or more) of the cats had smelled them and decided to have a bit of an explore. Alas, with cats, there are so many lessons to learn…

 

(c) Copyright 2017, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

 

Bad Food Choices

img_4025The human has been in trouble for the whole month of December and continuing into the early weeks of January. She made some poor food choices and the cats have been letting her know how unhappy and disappointed they are. Three guesses who’s the worst food critic of all?  <<Am I supposed to be hurt by your criticism? Am I supposed to be cowed into pretending to be happy about the miserable food you’ve been offering us to eat?>>img_4026First the human bought a 15 lb/7 kg bag of an even more costly crunchy food than she usually gets them. This one featured a bunch of different kinds of free-range and wild birds, eggs, and some stream-caught fish.  There’s no grain, no potato, and no legumes. The food is caught and processed into kibble on the same day in the wilds of Western Canada. What’s not to like?  The human isn’t sure what makes it so undesirable unless it’s the shape. It’s a flat disc and a bit bigger than the tiny Xs she’s been feeding them from another company, although 2 months back they devoured another big bag of a fish blend from this same Canadian company and apparently loved it. As far as I recall, the kibble shape was the same. Unfortunately when you buy a 15 lb bag, it takes a bit of time to get through it even with this crew. And when they aren’t gobbling it all down within 15 minutes of filling the bowls, it’s amazing how much longer a big bag lasts. <<And that’s the point, isn’t it? We’re fairly begging for some variety. Why do you feel the need to torture us? Isn’t it enough that you keep us prisoners and play with our feet — even when you know we hate it?>>img_4028And then there’s been the issue of the canned foods. It’s gotten so they only want to eat 2 flavors from 2 different companies. That’s 4 flavors all month. Their narrow food choices actually made things easier, as the human was able to buy cases of the 4 kinds they’ll eat at a little savings. Of course, now that she’s got a lot of cans of the (formerly) favored foods, the cats are sick and tired of eating them. Over the past few months, she’s tried all kinds of other interesting things, from kangaroo to alligator to wild boar to rabbit to venison to beef and sheep tripe to organic chicken with carrots. Again, no grain, no potato, no legumes. What’s not to like? Apparently everything. Argh. <<You’re completely insufferable. Do you really think you’re the only one suffering here? I’m putting you on notice:  this is not all about you! >>img_4027The last few weeks, the human has changed her feeding philosophy. Before, it was “what can I give you that you would like (today)?” but now it’s “Tough love baby. Eat it this morning or it’ll be back for dinner tonight.” Remarkably, when the human isn’t overly generous with the kibble they don’t like anyway, they manage to eat (if not like) the canned food. She’s throwing away far less than she was. Maybe there’s something to be said about tough love. <<You are SO lucky you’re a lot bigger than we are or we’d teach you a lesson you’d never forget. We’ll see how fast you can type when we chew off your fingers while you sleep. Come to think of it, we can wake you up all night long so you get no sleep. A couple of days of that and I’m betting you’ll break out the good stuff for us.>>img_4031If they’ll only finish up the old stuff, she replenished supplies this week and bought a 15 lb bag of the game bird crunchies they adore. She ventured out and tried some different cans from different companies too. We’ll see how sick and tired they really are of the old stuff once we start serving them the new. <<Be that way. See if I don’t chew up the cord on your stupid phone since you’re being so mean to me.>>

 

(c) Copyright 2017, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Almost Adjusted

IMG_2342The Duo are doing a good job of getting settled in, while the Trio are showing remarkable patience and fortitude.  Interestingly, Corky the Timid is adjusting to the concept of community food bowls and community eating time better than his alpha brother, Pepe.  Here he is enjoying the morning meal with his new siblings.  He also seems to have adjusted faster to the grain-free menu we serve at this house.  I wonder how long it will be before the Merkitty converts him to eating from his paw instead of crouching over the bowl like a “normal” cat?

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(c) Copyright 2015, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Snackasaurus Attack

IMG_2348That’s what the human gets for cleaning off her kitchen counters and making them neat and clean.  One of the kitties got up there last night, knocked down a plastic container that holds freeze-dried raw kibble, dragged or nudged it across the room, rolled the rug up on itself, flipped the container and got the cover off, and proceeded to nosh on the delicious little chunks leaving crumbs all over the floor.  No wonder there weren’t the plaintive cries for food this morning. Perhaps this was a team effort? There’s Corky checking out the action.

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The one thing that really puzzles me is the rolled up rug. What was that all about?  Needless to say, this morning all the raw-meat kibble went into a big heavy glass jar with a locking lid that will henceforth be stored elsewhere.

 

(c) Copyright 2015, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Big Surprise

IMG_2133The silly human found a pile of old metal coat hangers in the basement and was on the way out the door to put them in the recycle bin. As she stepped out on the deck, what greeted her (quite close to the deck) but a large buck (male deer) with 8 points on its horns.  The deer and the human eyed each other, and the human blinked and returned to the house figuring the coat hangers could be recycled another time.  Of course, the human then tried to photograph the deer through the kitchen window, which did not work out quite so well as she’d hoped.

Nonetheless, the deer went back to eating some apples no longer in their prime that the human had put out for the wildlife, then it lay down by the deck and stayed for an hour or more.

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Let me tell you, the feline guardians were not missing any of this.  You can see Macaroni all jazzed up looking out at this large animal that has clearly invaded HER yard!

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Eventually, several hours later, the deer did get up and leave. And the kitty guardians prevented the silly large beast from entering the house.  Such good watch-kitties!

 

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

New Crunchies Sample

IMG_2126_LRGreat excitement! Within 10 minutes, there were nothing but crumbs left.

IMG_2124 - LRAnd need I mention that the bowl was not placed in that location on the floor? Yes, it moved this way and that as one after another of the cats hooked a paw into the lip of the bowl and pulled it out from under the other two to get a bite to eat. They are so entertaining in the morning!

 

 

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

But Where did they All Go?

IMG_2072It occurred to me last night that in the last 2-3/4 years, I’ve easily purchased a 100 little toy mice for my fur friends, and I’ve already given out 75% of those to the kitties.  I used to buy the brightly colored “shakey” mice by the 8 pack and the cats would get a new set of 2 or 3 roughly every 2 weeks. (That’s how long on average it takes before they lose all of their toys.)  I bought a box of 30 of the grey, black, and white mice that Caesar seems to favor so he could join in the fun, and I went through several 3-packs of the mice wrapped in brightly colored cord — not that any of those lasted very long. When I found the slightly larger “sheepy” mice on clearance at 10 for a dollar at the end of last year, I must have bought 40 or 50 and handed them out with equal abandon.

As I prepared for bed and picked up kitty toys all over the house, I realized that none of their favorite toys were anywhere to be seen. Sure the fluorescent green mouse (she of ficus tree fame) can still be found, as can the small soft rainbow mouse, as both are now tied to long strings so are harder to lose.  Regardless, those toys don’t rank very high on the favorites list.  With none of the toys the cats really like in evidence, that was my cue to dole out some new ones, which I dutifully did.

Quickly, both Fireball and Macaroni found the new toys and had great fun cavorting with the sheepy mice, tossing them in the air, chasing them up and down the stairs, dropping them by (but not in) the water bowl, and generally making a racket accompanied by that characteristic low moaning sound they make when they’ve caught prey and I’m to come over and admire it.  In fact, here’s the Big Guy with one of the new mice, which he offered to me just outside my office door this morning.

IMG_2070As I lay in bed last night reviewing my day and listening to the kitties have so much fun with their toys, it occurred to me to wonder where on earth all those lost toy mice could be.  It’s not like I have a huge house or that it has an over abundance of hiding spots. Sure, a few of the mice that had one too many swims in the water bowl and delaminated have been recycled into mousy heaven.  And the previous year I did retrieve a treasure trove of toy mice that had gone down the air-intake grate for my furnace when I put my plants out in spring, but there was no such cache this year.  So what has become of them? Have the cats hidden them all away somewhere in order to lure me into breaking out a new stash?  With felines, one just never knows.

 

 

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

Tiger Boys Vanquish Another Toy Mouse

20140917_083324Just in case you were worried about whether or not it was safe to come upstairs…the Tiger Boys have done the hard work and swept the treads clean of toy mice.  None will be nibbling at your ankles this night. Don’t you feel safe with the Tiger Boys on guard?

 

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

Venus Fly Trap Kitty

IMG_0531In nature, there are warning signs of danger.  For example, the Black Widow spider sports a red hour-glass mark on her abdomen — a reminder for those in the know about her venomous bite.  Macaroni has a white hour-glass pattern on her tummy and when that pretty mark is showing, there is danger too for hands and fingers that stray into her tummy parts for a pet.

Actually, I think of her more as a Venus Fly Trap than a Black Widow spider.  She flips onto my bed with a flourish at night, then hops into the kitty bed closest to my head and torso. She then proceeds to chase her tail, spinning around and around like a young kitten while I try to read.  When she tires of that, she flips upside down and shows her tummy.  She will lay spread-eagle on her back for 20 minutes or more. However, let a human hand come in to pet her pink toes or her soft tummy and pow, the Venus Fly Trap closes around the unsuspecting meal with claws and teeth.  It’s not a pretty picture as my poor hands will attest.

 

 

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

Working for Your Snack

photo 1I read in some holistic pet blog that for all our efforts to feed our pets species-appropriate foods, give them lots of fresh water, exercise and entertainment, and of course tons of love that the biggest thing missing from their meals and their lives is the opportunity to hunt for their food. The blogger recommended hiding bits of their food and letting them go hunt for it.

Well, hiding food while they watch kind of defeats the purpose, and sneaking around and hiding tidbits when they aren’t around requires more planning and time than I have at this time of the year. Besides, I don’t want to create a vector for insects to venture forth and carry off kitty snacks.  Nonetheless, ever the faithful servant, I thought and thought about how I could add a little exercise and hunting opportunities for the fur-furs.

photo 1What I decided to do was to toss their freeze-dried meat snacks around during breakfast snack time and let them chase them down. Fireball, who’ll do nearly anything for food, got into the game right away, but the other two simply stared at me in disbelief. Caesar Tiger Bear was almost indignant. <<You want me to do what?>> Macaroni decided she wasn’t going to get a snack and left in a huff to eat from the soft-food bowl.

I’ve been playing this game now for several weeks and I must say that everyone has adapted and gotten into the spirit of things. Fireball still gets the most snacks, as he dashes ever so competitively after anything that’s tossed and quickly inhales it in typical Little Red Hoover fashion. I’m happy to report that Caesar is getting quite competitive himself and competes with Fireball to chase tossed snacks or to take snacks away from the still not so excited Merkitty.  Nice to know they can burn some calories and have a bit of fun while entertaining the human as well.

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

Water Aerobics (or Return of Splashasaurus)

photo 3This is always a tough time of the year work wise. I’m often on the keyboard from 7:00 am until 9:30 pm 7 days a week. Of course, that doesn’t always go over well with my feline captors, who think they should get some of my time and attention too.  And heaven forbid I be still working when the fur furs think that I should be dispensing the evening snacks.

The last 2 weeks have seen a very energetic return of Splashasaurus, the Merkitty. Instead of making small floods to the right of the water bowl, she’s been dousing the floor on 3 sides of the elevated bowls as though trying to bail water from a sinking boat.  And she does this 3-4x per day. Needless to say, the busy human is not amused.

Having tried towels and dish-drying pads of various sizes under the elevated water bowl to no avail, in exasperation and a small amount of desperation, I decided to recycle a large plastic bag that had held corn-cob litter. It’s not pretty, but it’s big enough to cover the area under the bowls and their rack, plus a good amount of space on all four sides around the bowls.  It’s also tough enough plastic that those clever little paws can’t drag the plastic out from under the bowls (as had recently been happening with the dish-drying pads, which I often found at right angles to their original position come morning).

For a few days, there was examination and contemplation and the area stayed pretty dry. (You can almost see the wheels turning in her head. If she played chess, she’d be a champion.) Then my clever little minx started climbing up on top of the rack (see her in action above) and bailing for all she was worth. I still have floods, but now the majority of the water stays on the plastic bag and puddles under the bowls.  And sure enough, the Merkitty will occasionally climb off the rack only to stick her wet paws under the rack and play with the water on the bag.  She is such a unique individual!

So, anyone else ever had a Merkitty?  What did you try to keep your floors dry?  Did anything work?  I’m looking for suggestions here.

 

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

 

Thunder Bear

IMG_1327Well, yesterday morning early, the long-promised rain arrived and brought with it thunder and lightening.  We were up early, but oddly enough the Big Guy just slunk along with tail and head down. He acted nervous and neither came for his morning snack (unheard of!) nor his breakfast (doubly unheard of!), but rather kept going into small places under furniture and laying down.  It finally occurred to me that he was nervous about the thunderstorm. Sure, I’ve had cats before that didn’t like the sound of a bad storm right overhead, but this was not one of those storms.  In fact, most cats I’ve had seemed aware of thunderstorms, but not terribly fussed about them, unlike dogs I’ve had that cowered in terror under the bed and whimpered dreadfully every time there was a storm.  These cats, after all, have to endure nightly fireworks going off close and loud from about 8 pm until 1 am pretty much from mid-June through the end of July. But yesterday I learned that Caesar, who seems nonplused about most things, is now afraid of thunderstorms. I wonder if they make thunder shirts in big cat sizes as they do for dogs? Might need to investigate.  Meanwhile, the Big Guy doesn’t want to talk about it.

 

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

The Challenges of Trying to Hold Bedding in Place

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The silly human has this annoying tendency to want to make a bed as soon as she vacates it.  However, we really like to lay down in the spot she has just left, which is still warm and smells like her.

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She tries to make the bed around us anyway, so sometimes we have to call in reinforcements.  It’s not easy holding the bedding in place. That’s when we try to look cute.

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It generally works as she’s easily distracted. Before you know it, she’s walking around, snapping pictures on that annoying phone of hers. We get to stay put, but we have to endure the flash going off.  However, before you feel any pity for her, don’t! She has her own trick for distracting us:  she walks out of the bedroom and downstairs. We follow, of course, knowing breakfast and our morning snack are forthcoming.

 

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

A New Office Visitor

photo 1For almost a year, I’ve had regular weekly visits from Fireball, who comes in on silent paws, then stands up next to me, puts his paws on my desk, and squeaks. That’s my cue that I’m supposed to pet him, then pick him up and give him hugs and kisses.

Well, the Emperor is clearly taking tips from Fireball’s play book now.

Admittedly, both he and the Baby Comet have long come in and softly bang into my leg as they swished by under my chair. If I was lucky, I’d get to pet a head or tail, but then one or both of them would be gone.

However, after a few leg bumps, Caesar comes back and stands up next to me and asks to be petted. He’s still not that keen on being picked up. His foster mom, Kim used to say he didn’t like to have his feet off the ground and that may be part of the reason.  But he seems to be tolerating being held for longer stretches of time.  In fact, shocking as it was, a few months back he actually allowed me to pick him up from the couch and carry him upstairs to my bedroom when I had company coming over.  I’m not sure who was more surprised that he allowed this to happen — him or me — but it was nice to be able to carry the Big Guy without sacrificing chunks of my arms to do so. He has formidable paws and claws.

Anyway, I’m taking this new behavior as yet another sign that Caesar is becoming less afraid.  It’s so sad to think about what these skittish kitties must have had to endure before they were rescued. It’s a wonder they trust any human at all.

 

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

Kālī the Destroyer

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Being very clever as well as devious, Macaroni (aka Kālī the Destroyer) has devised a new way to torment the human, who is working long hours with no break.  There’s a soft kitty bed with an even softer blanket  just to the left of my keyboard on my desk. The kitty bed looks out on the yard and all its wildlife.  Mac often curls up with her unicorn toy and sleeps there for hours at a time…or at least she used to do that.

Recently, she’s been wandering over to my work area — ostensibly to get a hug and a cuddle.  However, once here, she wants to stomp on my computer keyboard and phone keypad, and head-butt piles of paper that surround my work area. She also has shown keen interest in exploring the area behind my flat-screen monitor and the area where one of my power strips/surge protectors and modem reside — decidedly NOT good ideas!

No matter how many times I pick her up and hug her and try to type 1-handed, she wants to get down and explore the environs and generally wreck havoc. It seems to be in her DNA.  I can temporarily distract her by getting up and going out to the kitchen for a drink of water or opening up the door to the screened-in porch, but that only buys me a few minutes to a few hours of quiet. Before I know it, she’s back doing her best Annoying Cat impression.

Ever resourceful, a few days back I picked up a large CD carrying case and set it (as a barrier) between her area and mine.  For a few days, that worked well. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the images below, she has simply learned to scale the precipice.

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First, she pretends to sniff the CD case. <<What is this interesting obstacle in my path?>>

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Note how she tries to distract me as she climbs up the side of the case by pretending to look outside? <<HA! I know just what you are about, Missy!>>

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See the mischievous glee that lights up her face as she turns back to the work at hand?

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Quick as a wink, she’s over the barricade and heading off to stomp on my keyboard.  <<Argh!  So much for that brilliant idea. I guess I’m going to have to create a better barricade!>>

 

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

Caesar & the Little Rain Room

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Nearly all of my cats have been fascinated by the shower.  As I showered, Winston, my first red tiger, used to walk around the rim of the ancient claw-footed tub that was in a great Victorian-era house I lived in and once slipped off and fell into the shower with me. Now that was a scary experience. The water was pouring from the shower head, and I was unclothed with a thrashing, sharp-clawed cat in the tub between me and the faucet I was trying desperately to shut off. He was unable to figure out how to get away from the water and I was scared of being sliced while I tried to help him find an exit.

Tiggin, my sweet mackerel tabby, used to wait right outside the shower. When I’d emerge with a towel wrapped around, I was expected to pick her up and hold her while she scrubbed the skin on my shoulders vigorously with her tongue. Honestly, it’s a wonder I still have any skin left in that part of my body.  I guess she felt that soap and water were a poor substitute for cat spit.

And now dear Caesar Tiger Bear sits outside the shower while I clean up. If the shower curtain is a little open on the side away from the spray, he will stand up on his back legs, put his paws on the edge of the tub, and peer in.  I suppose it must be a really puzzling thing that humans have somehow managed to bring rain INSIDE the house.  He seems fascinated with “little rain room” although mercifully he’s not one to lick me clean after I emerge.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Squirrel Patrol

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A couple of years ago, the road in front of my old farm house was torn up all summer for a major construction project.  With all the humans and excavation equipment and traffic and dust and noise and smells, my squirrel and chipmunk populations just completely disappeared.  Last summer, the fox squirrels returned, followed by a couple of the smaller red squirrels.  This year the chipmunks returned and a less common black squirrel arrived.

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The feisty red squirrels have been having a field day tormenting my cats. They will scamper up close to the windows in the kitchen or on the upper deck and will just chip and scold the cats relentlessly for 15 minutes at a time, all the while shaking their tails. The cats, to their credit, simply watch and whimper, only occasionally pawing the glass and throwing themselves against the barrier when their tormentors get really close.

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It’s a good thing these are indoor cats or they’d be enjoying squirrel-burger sandwiches every night.

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