Archive for the ‘cats’ Category

It was one of those perfect winter days today, where the snow fell in big, slow flakes and made everything look beautiful. There was no wind and it was mild. I took Jasper for a long walk, then got the kids and when we got home, Asher and Boo played outside for a long time with the dog. It was idyllic and fun and helped me breath properly again. Here are pictures. Lots of pictures.


He loves to smush his whole face in the snow.









I don’t want to go on about it, but the reason it was so nice to watch everyone romp around was that my cat, Theo, died yesterday at the age of four, very suddenly. He developed crystals in his urine, his bladder got blocked and his kidneys were damaged beyond help by the time I got him to the vet. He died in my arms shortly thereafter.

He was a marvelous cat. He was utterly-unfeline-like in his friendliness and love of everything. He purred at his vet appointments. At one, he had to take a medication that had the side effect of calming them down and when the vet walked in, he was lounging on her counter, purring happily. She said, “Wow, that stuff really mellows them out sometimes.” I told her, “He hasn’t taken it yet. This is just his personality.” Even my mother liked him, and my mother hates cats.

I miss him so much.








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and kitty badness.


Doesn’t she look sweet? She is, mostly. She loves to cuddle up and smush her face into my hair. She likes to crawl under the blanket with me and snuggle under there on my chest.

She also loves to chew on string, cords, anything long and skinny. She’s chewed cords off blinds, neatly snipped apart my yarn as I’m knitting more times then I can count, and no necklace cord is safe. But she reached new heights of destruction today by efficiently scissoring right through the earbud cord for Maya’s new iPod. She didn’t even show the kindness of just hacking off one earbud so we could at least listen in one ear until we get new earphones.. Nope, she severed it right at the jack. Little shit.

I’d just discovered the world of podcasts, too, and had been working my way though the Savage Love archive, amusing myself listening to Dan call people up and talk them into dumping their boyfriends or coming out of the closet that minute.

On the other hand, Snowpuppy is being just delicious. He has lost none of his love of the snow and still likes to bury his whole face into it, then burst out and run madly around. I haven’t got any really good pictures yet, but I did take this one after he’d hung out for a while outside during the last snowstorm:


He’s so freaking cute to watch that I have taken to letting him off leash more often as we walk around the block, because I like to see him bounce around on people’s lawns. He’s getting very good at staying on the last few feet of them, and while he does pop out onto the road occasionally, he does obey, “Side” and come back when I order.

I have to say, this whole dog-training thing paid off in a big way last night, beyond ensuring he doesn’t eat my dinner when I get up and the unbearable cuteness of seeing him poke a ball with his nose when I tell him to “touch ball.” When he lingers at some interesting smell too long, I just walk ahead because he can’t bear to let me get too far away from me and will come galloping after me in no time. Last night, though, in his snowy joy he galloped right past me just as we were reaching a turn in the road. Coming from the other direction was a car, also turning. In the dark, there was no way the driver could see Jasper racing down the road and in his exuberance, Jasper hadn’t noticed the car, either.

I saw in a flash that car and dog were on a collision course and instinctively yelled out, “Jasper, WAIT!” as he hit the edge of the road ahead of me (I have trained him to wait at the edge of the road, or anywhere ahead of me when I tell him to until I release him). I was hugely gratified and relieved when he skidded to the quickest stop I’ve ever seen, and then even came trotting back to ask what was up.

Disaster averted! Thanks to all that training work. Of course, someone sane might argue that it also would have been averted had I not been so stupid as to let him run around in the dark off-leash, but we won’t go there now, okay?

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Maya is coming home today. She sent us 6 letters from camp, all going on about the lovely time she had, and giving some nice detail about her friends, the food, the canoe trip she went on. But my favourite letter is the one where she describes her older cousin’s new mohawk and how he now looks like a complete idiot and she has decided he is no longer related to her. What I like about this letter is that I then went online to see if they’d put any new pictures up, and they had. The timing of the letter and the event pictured meant I’d get to see pictures of my nephew’s new do. And sure enough, there was my nephew … looking just the same as before! She scammed us! And did a darn good job too, because we were completely sucked in.

Jasper is waiting in the car for his walk at the off-leash park (he goes out when J takes the kids to camp and insists on getting in my car to wait – afraid I’ll forget him, I guess. So now I will just give you some of the gratuitous photos I spent yesterday uploading.


Last year at this time, we brought home a stray cat who had been hanging around our cottage all summer. We’d named her Shahora (Hebrew, basically meaning Blackie). She was a lovely, friendly girl, but knocked up and we figured that some irresponsible owner had dumped her in the country upon figuring out her condition. I refused to leave her there when we left at the end of the summer, so we ended up with a hugely pregnant cat in our basement (keeping her separate from the other cats who live here).

Shahora had five kittens. We found homes for all of them quite quickly, including mama cat. And we still get to visit three, as my brother took two and a close friend took one.

We – meaning the kids and I – loved watching the kittens grow, and I can’t believe it has already been a year. I was looking through some photos of their kittenhood (I have only about 70 thousand) and figured I might as well toss a few up here.


This is Harry, named after Harry Potter because of the lightening bolt. Harry was then Harriet for a while, but is now back to Harry. He hurt his leg somehow and couldn’t walk. He used to lie like this and swipe at whatever sibling came by, still managing to get into battles without being able to walk. Because of the injury, he wasn’t getting his fair share of nursing, and I had to supplemental feed him until he healed.


At back is a fully black guy (like his mom) we named Sam. Harry and Stormy are sparring in the front.


Stormy is trying to convince mama to let him nurse. He was the biggest mama’s boy.


He convinced her, and the rest followed suit.


Stormy, snoozing.


Lucy, the only girl, finds a comfortable (?!) place to rest.


Sammy, all tucked in by Boo.

The only one missing is Cookie, who was actually my favourite.

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I bought Maya new shoes about four months ago and a couple of days ago she came home and announced that she could not bear her shoes one moment longer because they were so tight and hurt so much and I must get her new shoes right away! Drama queen, I thought, and sighed as I went over to push at the toe of her shoe and tell her she was exaggerating. She wasn’t.

She then told me she had gym the next day and simply COULD NOT go with those shoes. I told her we’d go get new ones that evening. Then I started feeling pukey (for no reason at all) and had to bail. She behaved as though the world was ending and, seeing no other good time to go and her paper route deliver day looming, I decided we’d skip the first half an hour of school and took her out to Walmart for cheap shoes.

“Won’t they fall apart if they are too cheap?” she asked, clearly having absorbed my lessons about shoddy workmanship. “You don’t wear them long enough for them to fall apart,” I told her.

It took a long time, and we ended up with the most expensive shoe in the place, which was still only $30. I thought that was a lot until our further adventures this afternoon, where I saw children’s shoes for $120.

The reason I saw those is that when I picked her up from school, she pointed to a spot where they’d rubbed her ankle raw, so we brought those back and went on a new search. Turned out we had yesterday afternoon free, and I had envisioned the kids playing in the sunshine while Jasper and I gardened.

The shoes put an end to all that. I dragged that kid to store after store, failing to find any shoes that fit my limited price range and her limited style requirements (she also, I should admit, has long skinny feet which are hard to fit).

In Winners, I found a great pair of canvas running shoes that Maya didn’t like, but I did. Having nothing between heavy hiking shoes and sandals, I was delighted to find these, and bought them. Maya was horrified. She begged me not to buy them. The problem? These shoes, according to her, are hip. They are fashionable. And since I am clearly old and not fashionable, I will look ridiculous in these shoes. I was more delighted. Now, not only do I have nice, comfortable shoes, but I have the bonus of embarrassing my daughter every time I wear them! It doesn’t get better than that, and was a good pick-me-up in a long afternoon.


We finally ended up in a huge box shoe store in a strip mall, our 6th store, where I swore we would not leave without shoes. As we were dragging out shoes for Maya to try on, Asher said, “I think I need new shoes too.” I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. I bought you shoes two months ago. Just because your sister gets something new doesn’t mean you have to.” He said, “Feel my toe.” And, sure enough, there it was, scrunched right up against the front of his shoe. I yelled, “And you couldn’t have mentioned this FIVE shoe stores ago!!?” The saleslady laughed. He said, “I didn’t think of it then.”

So we walked out with Maya in a nice pair of hot pink running shoes, size 8. (I was size 7 before I had kids and am now an 8.5 or a 9, depending on the shoe – clearly we will not be sharing shoes when she grows up. In fact, she may have trouble even finding shoes at this rate – the kid hasn’t yet turned 11.)

Asher went from a 3 to a 5. I made sure he has lots of wiggle room this time, because I’d like those shoes to last a whole summer. Is that so much to ask?

Wiped, we crawled down the mall to Ikea for some nice, easy Swedish meatballs for dinner, only to find the place closed for some corporate function. I said loudly as we walked away, “Who goes to the Ikea cafeteria for a corporate dinner?” McDonalds it was. Yuck. When we got home, the kids yelled, “Hey, look at that cat way up in that tree!” Then they yelled, “Hey, that’s OUR cat!”

They were convinced she was stuck forever, but as soon as she saw us, she climbed to the lowest branch, about 15 feet up, and just leapt to the ground. So much for the myth that cats can go up but not back down a tree.


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Of Jasper, of course!

(Children? I have children?)


Jasper is oozing boredom from every pore. I couldn’t get a good shot of it, but his eyes are open, just bored.

T is a sucker for punishment. If Jasper is chasing him around and nipping his butt in a stupid puppy attempt to play, and we grab Jasper to prevent further abuse, instead of taking the moment of respite to head for high ground, the dumb cat will sit down right there. Here, he decides the comfiest place in the house is on the same couch Jasper has settled on. Check out Jasper’s eye, as he tries to decide whether T’s tasty bum is worth moving for.




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crazy cat lady

When I got my cats, I wasn’t going to be one of those crazy pet owners that spent tons of money on their animals and treated them better than they treated the children. I held to it, too. I asked the vet for a food recommendation and she gave me one, for a higher-end brand you can get in the grocery store. The cats liked it, it wasn’t too expensive and so that is what they’ve been happily chowing down on for the last few years. See, no crazy cat lady here.

Then two things happened: I got Jasper and my cats got sick. Yes, the first apparently led to the second, thanks to the stress. But it also lead me to the crazy lady section of the pet food store.

When the vet tested T’s pee, she warned me that he’s at risk for developing nasty crystals in his urine that could block him up and kill him in a day. We’re lucky he doesn’t already have that problem. Then she sold me some really expensive ‘perscription’ cat food and told me he’d have to eat that forever. I read the ingredients. I really should learn not to do that.

I would have gone along with her recommendation without question, were it not for Jasper. When he came home, a friend who breeds Australian Shepards twigged us on to the differences in pet food. You can pay a little bit and get the McDonald’s of pet food, or pay more and get the almost-as-good-as-homemade. Or, you can even make it yourself.

I tried not to listen. I really did. “He’s a dog” I told myself. Does it really matter if there is indigestible corn in his kibble? Those pet food companies are putting research into this and want to make nutritionally-healthy food, right? Right?

It was right about that moment in my thinking that the news broke about a mass recall of Menu pet foods. Pesticides had gotten into the food and pets were dying. That prompted me to pick up a book on how most pet foods are made. That was scary. I’m surprised it took this long for something like this to happen, frankly.

It also didn’t take much research for me to reach the conclusion that this idea that animals shouldn’t eat ‘people food’ is ridiculous. Since when are chicken or apples reserved only for people? So Jasper eats a high-quality kibble (no corn, I admit), supplemented with whatever is around – left-over veggies, rice, meat. He also gets raw chicken necks and wings. He’s a happy dog.

Today, I took the final step. I went to the alternative pet store and bought my cats ‘raw’ cat food. Turns out, you can buy it pre-made and frozen, then just thaw out the bit you need. And it is cheaper than the perscription stuff. And it has none of the things that cause a cat to be prone to developing crystals. T loves it.

You can just call me the crazy cat lady.

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furry joy

We’ve been back from Vancouver for a couple of days, but between the hideous weather, jet lag and all I wanted to write about, I have instead written nothing.

Today is sunny. I fell walking the dog yesterday evening. I was running with him, even, letting him chase leaves, when I tripped and took a huge, child-like tumble on the road that left me bruised, scraped and very sore. But the beautiful weather and Boo got me out walking the dog, despite my aches.

As we organized to get out, both cats escaped into the sunshine. Thanks to a grumpy neighbour, I try to keep them inside, but they’ve had a rough couple of weeks. T got sick with a raging bladder infection right before we left and spent our vacation in a small cage at the vet’s. Poor Roxy got to stay home alone as a result, and developed her own bladder infection, no doubt caused, said the vet, by separation anxiety. She doesn’t have to be hospitalized, at least, and I have a scratch for each pill I’ve had to administer so far.

Given what they’ve gone through, I couldn’t bear to put them back inside, and left them out as we went off on our walk. It soon became clear, as Boo biked and Jasper and I walked, that the cats were accompanying us. Roxy has been known to follow me as I walk to the mailbox and back, but T has never done the same.

I was initially concerned that whichever neighbour hates them would spot me and see that I was allowing my cats outside, but soon the charm of the scene overwhelmed the concern. The cats, one huge and one tiny, trotted after us, shoulder to shoulder. Occasionally one would bound up a lawn and back down or run underneath a car, but they never let us get far ahead.

Jasper was beside himself with joy that his cats were out walking with him. He kept trying to lunge for them, which my sore shoulder did not appreciate, but they quickly figured out that he couldn’t go any further than the leash and stayed just beyond his reach. T once allowed Jasper to lick his back a little before dashing on past.

I loved walking with the cats as well as the dog. I don’t know exactly what it was that gave me such joy in that moment, but it did. Perhaps it was, as I discussed previously, that cats rarely demonstrate much significant affection. Following us with such determination is so, well, un-cat-like that I couldn’t help but be charmed.

I missed my pets while I was gone, more than I expected to, given how busy we were. I was glad to be back home with them, and it was gratifying to see that they were so delighted to be with me too.

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