Category Archives: cats

pinching myself

I have two excellent bits of news to report today:

  1. My kid slept through the night for the second time in his life last night. I don’t mean the five-hour “night” that people refer to. He slept from the time we put him down (in his own bed, in his own room) to the time he woke up. The first time he slept through the night was the night prior, the circumstances of which involved a hotel porta-crib placed in a bathroom and a very tired boy. I have no illusions that this will last, given the sort of sleeper my child is, but I’m very proud of him nonetheless. We have made a few changes to our approaches to his sleep lately, and if this lasts, I’ll share. For now, I’m just going to marvel and see what happens.
  2. Our sweet, old man cat,  Pierre, is home. We went to Humboldt this weekend, and while there, I received a phone call from an elderly woman whose grandson was feeding him. They kept him at their place (two miles from our house!) until we got home yesterday. He has a nasty gash on his ear, and he’s much lighter and a little wigged out, but he’s home–after being gone and on his own for a month. Have I mentioned he’s thirteen years old? We are overjoyed to have him back.

Unfortunately, my son’s first full night of sleep at home was not a full night of sleep for his moms. No, our cats wouldn’t let that happen. Pierre was on the prowl, howling and howling, and he was upset because he seems to have gone back to his nocturnal ways and wanted to go hunting–outside–where we’re not letting him go for a very long time. I actually had to get up and help him get back to sleep, which didn’t feel at all unfamiliar. It’s so, so good to have him home, and I will do anything to help him feel comfortable again, and I know that will take him some time, but for this to coincide with the night of sleep that I have been dreaming about for 22 months was, well, a little disheartening.

After taking turns getting up with the cat and grumbling at each other for not fixing the issue, my wife and I did what every good attachment parent would do: we coslept with the damn cats.

But my kid did sleep through the night. And we have our very first boy back in our home. Life is pretty good.

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feline fury

We’re having some trouble with our cats, and it’s causing unneeded stress in our home–even arguments between J and I. Mostly, we’re having trouble with one cat, and we’re a little beside ourselves.

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This is Cleo of belly-lovin’ fame. She’s been my close companion for ten years now, and she’s one of the most sensitive felines I’ve known. Unfortunately, her sensitivity can lead to some very undesirable behavior. Cleo is a binge-eater. She eats and eats and eats and then vomits. She does this when she feels she doesn’t have regular enough access to food. This means that if we feed on a schedule, she gobbles it up in seconds and then it’s back up again in moments. Because we have a baby on the way, and because we had noticed that when free feeders are out, she tends to moderate better, we decided that we’d just start feeding the cats via free feeders all the time and give up on trying to control their portions. This has been working for awhile, but then Cleo decided that with all the changes in the house, she’d like to start going outside. Enter food panic.

Now, when Cleo has been outside for any period of time, and especially if we’ve been gone, she comes in, eats as much as she can as fast as she can, and then–you guessed it–brings it right back up. Last night, when we came home late, she did this three times, even though we tried to distract her, remove her from the food area, etc. She’s so sneaky that she very stealthily went over to her dish when we weren’t looking and proceeded to eat very quietly. I think this meant swallowing the food whole. It was a nightmare.

We’re beginning to wonder whether we should let her out, since it brings on such frantic behavior, but it also seems good for her to have some independence (and it’s good for us to get some time away from her).

And then there’s the other issue: the pee. In this apartment, we have to do what I never wanted to do, and that is keep a litter box in our living quarters (before, it was in the garage). It’s in a bathroom, and it’s cleaned by my wife at least once a day. One day, about six months ago, Cleo squatted outside of the bathroom door and peed right in front of me. She has been a peer for some time, and she does this when she’s been slighted. If she can’t come into our bedroom in the morning, and she finds a rug on the bathroom floor, she pees on it. If we have guests that are taking up what she sees as her space, she’ll go into our room and find something on the floor to pee on. Now that we’ve removed rugs and never drop an article of clothing on the floor and have denied any entrance to our bedroom, she goes back to that spot in front of the bathroom. We have poured over a gallon of Na.ture’s M.iracle on the spot, but to no avail. J cleaned the carpets with a steam cleaner last week. The piss odor is still there.

I’m at a loss. We both are. This cat is very dear to both of us. She comes to us when we’re upset, intervenes when we’re having an argument, nuzzles the baby, gives us kisses, and generally protects us from any harm she can. But she’s driving us mad. If we lived where we used to, she would turn into a primarily outside/garage cat with only supervised visits into the house. Here, in a large apartment complex, that simply isn’t possible, and we’re feeling very much at the mercy of this cat. We’ve tried every veterinary and behavioral intervention we can think of, we’re frankly just tired.

Short of finding her a new home, what would you do?

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Filed under blogtherapy, cats

scene from a saturday evening

In the living room, I am following a yoga “video” that has no images. As the half hour winds down and the voice on the recording leads me into a meditation, the dishwasher swings into high gear with its swooshing of water and soap and the grinding of its gears. Relaxing on my left side, I face the hall bathroom, and the odor of cat urine from a litter box needing cleaning wafts through my breathing space. A cat plops down next to my head to do his own sort of yoga, one leg in the air, face buried in his groin to clean. Namaste.

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Filed under cats, home, yoga

my protector + national delurking week

I really should have titled this post, “Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady,” but I don’t like to be too obvious.
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Cleo

This lovely feline goddess is Cleo. She is nine-years-old, and she is my protector. She and I have always been close. In fact, I knew I wanted her before we ever got her. I told J one day (nine years ago) that I wanted a female black cat. We searched high and low, and we finally found her amidst a huge litter of kittens living at some hippy girl’s home (when we got her, we also took her twin sister, later named Indy, whom we gave to a good friend of ours). As a kitten, she had ears that made her look like a bat, and she could fetch at just three months old.

Our first cat together was Pierre (the handsome gray and white boy you often see on this blog). This was also J’s first cat, and she has always been madly in cat love with him. I have too, but Cleo stole my heart in a special way. I have always sort of understood her neediness. She has the biggest heart of any cat I have ever known. If I cry, she comforts me. If J and I argue, she stands between us and meows. Cleo is special.
Let me offer you an example: For years, I suffered from really horrid carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain’s syndrome (another painful wrist ailment). There were times when I couldn’t use my hand at all, the pain was so bad. It wasn’t uncommon for me to cry from the pain. On one particularly difficult day, Cleo sat down next to me, and she started licking my wrist, precisely where it hurt. She then did the weirdest thing. She bit my wrist, then threw back her head, as though she had tossed a bit of food into the air and she was catching it. She did this a couple more times, then continued to clean my wrist. And my wrist felt freakishly better.  The pain had been reduced by about fifty percent. Since then, I swear she does little check-ups on my wrists. If they’re doing poorly, she’ll chew on them where they hurt, and she’ll clean them. I don’t necessarily attribute my healing to her (I went through expensive physical therapy, made lifestyle changes, lost weight, etc.), but she certainly has helped me on my worst days.
It shouldn’t surprise me, then, that Cleo would intuit that something is different about me now. For the past few days, Cleo has been treating me differently–almost gingerly. Normally, this behemoth (she’s something like fourteen pounds!) will walk all over me if I’m lying down until she finds a comfy spot–the closer to my face the better. She would use me as a bridge or springboard if I happened to be in her path. But not now. She walks around me, even if this means going well out of her way to get to her destination. She won’t step on any part of me. When I sit on the sofa, she now takes up residence on a cushion behind me or on the arm next to me, insisting on touching me with one of her paws, and instead of the hard scratchy, frantic kisses she used to force upon me, she will nuzzle me or clean me in this mama cat sort of way. When I move to a new room, she follows me. This morning, when she came in to our bedroom (we lock them out at night to preserve our sleep), J picked her up, and Cleo kept looking concernedly at me. She wanted to check on me first.  She simply won’t leave my side. We have concluded that she smells something different about me, but I swear she knows what’s up.
It’s so strange and yet so sweet to have this little attendant–my own furry guardian. I couldn’t be happier. (Nor could she, when it comes to nap time.)
Do you have any good dog or cat (or horse or ferret or bird) intuition stories? Share them with me! I love a good pet story. And, since it’s national delurking week, this would be a great time for any lurkers out there to chime in with their own stories. Come on–you know you want to!

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hhhhisssssssss

I often wish I could adopt my cats’ behaviors and not seem like some sort of lunatic in the process. Hissing, for example, is a wonderful expression. Our cats do it when they see other cats they dislike. They do it when one of their siblings is pissing them off. They sometimes do it to one of us if they don’t particularly appreciate the claw clippers we have in our hands or the bath we’re trying to put them into. But hissing and other cat behaviors don’t flatter humans. J had a student once who meowed and hissed. She meowed when J would call attendance. She would hiss when she didn’t like a grade she earned. And through all of that, she shattered the hope I held for making cat-like hissing an acceptable human expression. She was just too fucking weird.

So today, I am left with a very human sigh, a furrowed brow, and a generally grumpy countenance. My 4am test was negative. At least I had J and this guy to snuggle with me and soften the blow. 

pierreyellow

The crimson tides still haven’t arrived, but I’m sure they aren’t far away. Upon their arrival, we’ll call the bank, place our order, and we’ll hopefully be sperming up before my mom comes for a quick pre-holiday visit. While Mom is hip to everything, she’s also particularly awkward about the means by which we are attempting to grow her next grandbaby.

But honestly, I’m okay. J mentioned this morning that we hadn’t had time to process all of this, and she was concerned about me, but I’m at a point now that I would rather move on with finishing the grading, pulling out holiday decorations, and sampling one of our most recent wine finds. To me, these are far more appealing than crying. Besides, I’m good at negatives. I’ve had ten of them already. I would rather expel a spitty cat hiss than cry over any more of these because the hiss is efficient: it’s much quicker than the talking and the sadness and the crying.

So this time, when/if you comment, there’s no need for the usual apologies and empathy. I know the sentiment is there; I feel it from you all, and I appreciate it so. But honestly, I would rather see some amusing stories–perhaps your favorite pet story, perhaps an amusing holiday tale, or perhaps just a dirty joke.

Or, you can join me in a good long hissssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

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Filed under cats, coping, negatives

unnecessary evils

Sometimes when one is fighting to get over a cold, when one has left one’s bed in the middle of the night to sleep on the sofa again because of one’s excessive coughing, and when one has inadvertantly slept on a pile of dry cat vomit on said sofa, one would like the luxury of taking a shower to rid oneself of feelings of utter ickiness. Should such an occasion arise, the luxury of hot water would be much appreciated. It would be a cruel, cruel joke should one turn on the shower to find nothing but cold water at only 7am.

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Filed under cats, disgusting things, sick

old men

Not much is happening over here at Reproducing Genius. I’m still taking photos off of the back balcony. The latest are of our old man. Yes, we have an old man. He lives in the building next to ours. He’s cranky and mean. He hates most people under 40. Our old man likes to sit on his back porch in the morning, facing our apartment and the sun. Every morning that the sun is out, he is there, sitting. He sits there for hours. He does nothing but sit and soak up the sun and sleep. Here he is through the slats on our balcony: 

 

This old man often sleeps on his deck during his hours of sun. There have been many days when we have been concerned that he died because he is so still. On these days, we may or may not make large noises on our balcony to wake him.

Our other old man–our cat Pierre–loves to hang out on this man’s porch. It’s as though he knows they have something in common.

Because we have been home so much lately, our cats are a source of both entertainment and frustration. We have mentioned before that in our old home, all of the cats gladly went outside regularly. They loved their yard and their garden. Here, only Pierre–our ten-year-old boy cat–will go out regularly. He does love it. He catches lizards, hangs out on the old man’s porch, makes his rounds at the pool, and greets tenants as they come home. Everyone knows Pierre here. Oftentimes, when we meet a new person at our apartment complex, he or she will know Pierre or that we’re Pierre’s moms. We often hear people getting out of their cars or taking out the trash say, “Hi Pierre!” He’s very popular.

Lately, he has taken to sitting on the railing outside of our kitchen window when he wants in. This is two stories up, so it makes me a little nervous, but it’s funny:

     

His face still makes me melt after all these years.

In the interest of entertaining us all, I challenge you to caption the photo below. I will post the winner(s) tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more crazy cat lady posts.

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Filed under balcony stories, cats