Midnight’s Gift is a Poem

Midnight the Barn Cat is a good hunter.
Midnight caught this mouse, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, Midnight brought us a present.

After feeding him dinner, there was something next to his water bowl. What was it? A mouse? But wait–ewww–it was only half a mouse!

Wasn’t that thoughtful? Though we aren’t fond of half-eaten mice, we recognized that Midnight thought this was a grand gesture. In honor of the deceased, I wrote:

Mouse Eulogy

 

Mouse, fleet of paw,
Loved to eat weeds.
He never broke the law,
and followed seed leads.

 

He built a warm den,
and watched for foes
But Cat stalked, and then
Chomped tail and toes!

 

Now resting on a mat
Next to the back door,
Mouse is a gift from Cat
To us, the Kibble Store!

 

 

According to info on Pet First, cats don’t “do this because they are mean, vicious creatures.They do this based on instinct.”

Cats have sharp teeth, retractable claws, cushioned paws, night vision and the ability to sneak up on prey quietly. All of these qualities are adaptations which allow them to efficiently capture prey. Even after all of this time, these adaptations and instincts are still fully intact. These are instincts, they are not actions which can be taken out of them. This is who they are.

Cats are often raised by their mother who teaches them essentially how to survive on their own. Catching prey is one of the acts learned from their mother. The mother will often begin teaching them by bringing back dead prey for the kittens to eat. Then, she will bring back a harmed mammal, still alive, to teach her offspring how to kill for themselves.

Once the kittens are old enough, they will go outside with their mother to learn how to hunt on their own.

They see us, the humans, as rather inexperienced hunters. This is why they are bringing back their dead animals to us. They are trying to teach us how to hunt like they do. Sometimes, they may also be bringing you a gift so you are able to eat the good raw meat like they do.

Next time your cat brings you a dead animal as a gift, although easy to do, do not become angry. Your cat is doing what he thinks is best for you. This is essentially his way of telling you he loves and cares for you.

Awww-sweet Midnight…unless you’re a mouse!

Bandit Alert! Raccoon Caught Mid-Theft!

Midnight at the Suburban Watering Hole.

In my recent post, “Suburban Watering Hole,” I was unsure if wet paw prints on the back deck belonged to an opossum or raccoon. It turns out they belong to both! How do I know? I happened to witness a raccoon eating from Midnight’s bowl! The bandit was caught red-handed–or should I say kibble-handed?!

Five funny things I observed:

  1. The raccoon didn’t eat from the bowl; instead it scooped up pawfuls of kibble and then brought them to its mouth to eat. So people-like.
  2. When I opened the door and said “hello,” the raccoon paused to check me out. It wasn’t really afraid, but then it was unsure and ran off. So curious. 
  3. The minute I closed the door, even though the raccoon could see me through the window, it returned. So determined. 
  4. Midnight wasn’t afraid of the raccoon at all! He sat and watched as it ate the remainder of his dinner. And the raccoon didn’t feel threatened by Midnight. So neighborly. 
  5. The raccoon was fluffy and many shades of gray. It’s “mask” fit perfectly over its eyes. So pretty.

You never know what you’ll see in the Wilds of New Jersey! 

Suburban Watering Hole

Midnight at the Suburban Watering Hole.

One water bowl. So many sippers!

Who knew Midnight’s water bowl would attract so many animals? On any given day, I expect one, two, or even three stray cats to stop by. And sure, Lucy our barking, rambunctious beast (Midnight’s view of her), laps Midnight’s water, but why does she have to inhale the cat kibble, grab the dish, take a bite out of it, and scatter it willy nilly in the yard? Hon, I digress.

Back to the bowl.

I suspected extra visitors when the water in the bowl started, mysteriously, appearing dirty every morning. Who was washing paws or taking a bath in the bowl? Not the blue jays, who squawked and fought for a nibble of kibble during the day. Could it be mice? Chipmunks? Groundhogs? Foxes? Wild turkeys? Our neighborhood coyote?

Then, one morning, footprints were imprinted in the planks! “Aha!” I said, “Raccoons! So, I turned to authorities on the subject–umm, I mean the KidLit Twitter community–and asked,

“Are those footprints more than circumstantial evidence?”

“That raccoon was framed! If the pawprints don’t fit, you must acquit!” answered @BrobergMatthew.

(Hmm…much chin scratching.)

Later that night, I attempted to catch the culprits by flicking on the outdoor light. Who did I see but two opossums circling the food dish?! Not just any two opossums, but one enormous opossum mommy and her joey. The mommy was about the size of a twenty pound dog! Looking up the size of female opossums, I found out females aren’t that big. So, now I wonder…

…Do daddy oppossums take their joeys out for a midnight snack?!

RIP Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat in The Telegraph
Grumpy Cat in The Cut

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grumpy Cat, whose real name was Tardar Sauce, passed away and, guess what hon? Her obituary is everywhere! That’s pretty unusual, but then so is a cat who became an internet sensation! She encountered complications from a recent urinary tract infection and passed away on Tuesday.

I had a grumpy cat, too. Kimba had a perpetually sour look on her face, but we attributed it to shyness and to being a Himalayan. Kimba was rarely seen leading one friend to suspect she didn’t exist (shout out to Jeri!). She did, but preferred to stay in corners and shadows. Kimba really only liked two of the six people in her home–me and my youngest daughter. My previous Himalayan Katie, like Grumpy Cat, died young, whereas Kimba lived to be thirteen.

Our newest kitten, Midnight, prefers to be outside, but still wants acknowledgment, food, water, and a clean towel on which to nap. He’s a sweet little angel (unless you’re a bird or chipmunk) and wants nothing to do with the Lucy, our sometimes-a-sweet-angel-sometimes-a-maniac dog.

In memory of Kimba, Katie, and Grumpy Cat, and to all of the kitties who make us laugh–

–may you alway have full bellies, sunny spots, window views, warm blankets, attentive vets, and loving families!

Kimba left puddles of fur.
Kimba looked surly.

 

 

 

 

 

Kimba loved a window view.
Kimba cuddling with her favorite person.

Info on Grumpy Cat from Grumpycats.com

Grumpy Cat became an internet sensation after her photo was posted on Reddit on September 22, 2012. It was suggested that the original photo was photoshopped, so we posted a few videos on YouTube. The videos went viral and her popularity has continued to increase!

We aren’t exactly sure about Grumpy Cats breed; but she looks nothing like her mother or father. She looks similar to a Ragdoll or Showshoe; but there have never been any of that breed around the house. Her mom is a calico domestic short hair cat and her father has grey and white stripes. (Though I suppose there could be a different father, promiscuous cats you know…)

Tardar Sauce visites the vet regularly and she has a clean bill of health. Her petite size and famous face is likely due to feline dwarfism and her rear end wobbles a bit when she walks due to this; otherwise she is a perfect little kitty! She is not a munchkin cat and was not bred purposefully from other munchkin cats.

Grumpy Cat…plays, hides, and acts as cats act. (She LOVES to hide behind the curtains!) She isn’t in front of a camera all of the time…we only take photos sets once every week or so and on the few occasions where we have met with the media or licensed partners we ensure the sessions are short and that she isn’t handled by many people. Tardar Sauce is a member of the family before anything else!

One more quote from GC’s family”

“Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world.”

 

Hello Dolly

IMG_3346

My Aunt Jessica adopted a 12 week-old kitten a couple of years ago from a man who rescued kittens from under the  Atlantic City, NJ boardwalk.  Dolly had a severe ear mites infestation, a bacterial infection and needed to be spayed, but she had found her “forever home.”

About a year ago, it became apparent that Dolly had a more serious health issue.  One kidney was obstructed, filling with urine and ballooning to three times its normal size.  The vet said the choices were to remove the kidney and save Dolly’s life or do nothing, in which case Dolly wouldn’t make it; her condition was life-threatening.  The operation was expensive, but my aunt decided to proceed–there was really no choice when it came to Dolly.

Dolly, all better now, is shy with strangers.  Visitors might see a blur of caramel-colored fur streak past.  Before you finish saying, “There she is,” she’s gone.

With Aunt Jessica, she’s—well—a doll!  She’s so affectionate (umm, clingy), that she craves constant physical contact.  She loves tennis on television, walking behind the T.V. to find the tennis ball.  Snowflakes are fascinating!  She’s the first to “tell” my aunt when it snows.  She chirps, squeaks, purrs and mutters.  Clothes on a drying rack, especially undergarments are fair game.  Dolly will knock down her prey, dragging it around the apartment like a lion parading her kill.

On a recent visit, Dolly and I bonded, sort-of-ish.  I took these pictures with my phone which is why they’re grainy.  Still, I think you can see Dolly’s personality shining through.

IMG_3334

Curious enough to come out of hiding.

IMG_3341Sizing me up.  Friend or foe?

IMG_3352From a mouse’s point-of view. 

IMG_3351Pretty kitty!

Do you have a pet rescue story you’d like to share?

I’d love to  hear it, hon!

Freezing Air, Fumes and the Fire Department

Beverly_Engine_3_2006

The current cold snap in the Northeast reminds me of a another cold winter, allegedly the “coldest winter in the history of Massachusetts.”

The current temperature outside.
The current temperature outside.
Microwave Popcorn
Microwave Popcorn

What do microwave popcorn, the fire department and freezing air have to do with each other?  Hon, I’ll tell you, and apologies to my friends that have heard this story before.

Time:  Wintersession at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Junior year of college.

Setting:  Kitchen of the house I shared with five other girls.  Only one of my roommates and I stayed for Wintersession, so it was just she and I and our cats in the house that cold, cold month.

Definition:  Let me define “cold, cold.”  Winters in Amherst were probably warmer than winters in Alaska, but when you went outside, it felt like the fluid under your skin froze. My expressions froze in place.  That’s better than botox!

Snacktime:  My roomie, Pam, and I shared a bowl of microwave popcorn. What was at the bottom of the bowl?  Unpopped kernels, of course.  I thought Let’s pop the unpopped kernels on the stove. I put one (ONE) unpopped kernel in a pan of oil on the stove and waited to hear it pop.  It didn’t!

Kabloowie:  I lifted off the top of the pot and a ball of fire shot up into the air.  Kabloowie!  I knew you weren’t supposed to put water on a grease fire and the flames were contained in the pot, so the only thing to do was turn the stove off and put the lid back on.  Black smoke filled the kitchen, then the house.  There was screaming. There was panic. There was a call to the fire department.

Fumes:  Pam and I ran helter skelter around the house.  We opened all of the windows, grabbed washcloths to cover our faces and ran to our car.  Then we realized our cats might run out of the open windows, and we were so worried about our cats that we ran back into the smoky house and, somehow, found the cats. (I can’t remember if we had two or three cats. I just know who cleaned the litter box and WHO DIDN’T! But, I digress.)  Arms full of felines, we ran back to the car and waited for the fire department.

Fire Department:  The fire department folks told us over the phone that they weren’t coming.  We were to wait until the smoke dissipated.  That’s it?

Freezing Air:  There was nothing to do but sit in the car and wait.  We turned on the radio and this is what the announcer said, “Tonight is the coldest day in the history of Massachusetts!  Ever!”

We waited a long time.  We were cold.  When we finally ventured back in the house, we found the kitchen cabinets sooty and the pot completely charred.  But, other than a smoky house, everything was fine.

Even the cats.

Lesson Learned:  Don’t EVER try to pop unpopped microwave popcorn kernels. Not even one.  It’ll go up in flames!

Remembering Kimba 1999-2013

Kimba the White Lion
Kimba the White Lion

Kimba, our almost 14 year-old seal point Himalayan cat, was named after Kimba the White Lion, an animated Japanese character.  She joined our family when the triplets were 5 1/2 but she really bonded with Tween daughter who was born a year later.  Kimba “guarded” the new baby’s room and watched as she learned to crawl, walk and talk.  Wherever the new baby was, Kimba was.

KImba and 8 year-old Daughter.
Kimba and 8 year-old Daughter.
Kimba and 8 year-old Daughter.
Kimba and 8 year-old Daughter.

Sadly, Kimba died today.  Almost 14 years old, she stopped eating and drinking a week ago, developed tumors on her mouth, could barely walk and had an enlarged kidney.  Old age caught up with her.  Tween Daughter and I comforted her when she died.  We cried.  She passed on peacefully, but we will miss our sweet, purring ball of fur.  I always said when I brushed her that I could get another cat out of the extra fur.  She loved to cuddle, snuggle under the covers while Tween Daughter and I read together, play with her ribbon toy, look out of windows and eat dinner when we ate dinner.  We figured she wondered when “that barking creature named Lucy” was leaving the house, and we banned Lucy from the basement so Kimba could have her own space.  Poor Lucy just wanted to play.  Poor Kimba just wanted to nap quietly.

A rare moment with Lucy and Kimba in matching red, sequin dresses, dressed up for Halloween.
A rare moment at peace with Lucy.  Kitty and Puppy are wearing matching red, sequin dresses for Halloween.
The birds, bugs and fresh air are fun to watch.
The birds, bugs and fresh air are fun to watch.

We’ll miss you, Kimba!

Saying Goodbye.
Saying Goodbye.

Kitty Karma

Sugar
Sugar
Sugar
Sugar
Sugar
Sugar
Sugar
Sugar

When I was about twelve years old, Sugar came into my family’s life.  We adopted her from a shelter.  She had been abandoned on the side of a highway.  Her beautiful, snow white coat sported one black spot, a black tail, and black on her head and ears with a white line down the middle.  The line made it look like she had a part.

Sugar was loving, adventuresome and playful.  She liked to play with the katydids that entered our basement by pulling their legs off one by one and then, when the katydids were immobile, eating them.  (Uhhh, maybe that wasn’t playing.)

My brother, sister and I loved Sugar even if my parents only tolerated the presence of an animal in our house.  (The story of what happened when she died is fodder for another post.  I was away at college, and the story includes my brother, a shallow grave, a rainstorm and a distraught younger sister.)

But, the memory of our beloved kitty remains.  Like most American Shorthairs, she was smart (she would jump up on the bathroom counter and turn the doorknob to get out of the  bathroom), willful (try “rescuing” her from a tree when she didn’t want to come down) and loving (who can resist a purr machine?).

Fast forward to about a month ago and, hon, we come to Kitty Karma.

Another abandoned kitty came to my attention.  This cat, a youngish male, had been abandoned in an apartment building in a rough area of New Jersey.  He found a temporary home in another apartment, but the mother who took him had too many mouths to feed and not enough resources.  I am friendly with the woman who does play therapy with one of that mother’s children.  When I saw his picture, Sugar came to mind.  When I showed his picture to my sister she said, “It’s Sugar reincarnated!”

The mother who housed this kitty was going to put him out on the street. The woman I’m friendly with begged her to wait.  Maybe she could find him a home.  If not, she’d bring him to a no-kill shelter.  About a day or so after I saw his picture, my sister mentioned wanting to adopt a cat!  Kitty karma!

Our house was the halfway house for Oliver.  He got vaccinated, neutered, micro-chipped, bathed, fed and loved.  He was so hungry for the first few days that he made guttural, happy noises when he ate. He followed me around the house, jumped into my lap for cuddling, shed all over my clothes, baited our puppy, Lucy, annoyed our old-lady cat, Kimba and explored every inch of our house.  He was testing his wings, testing the limits and figuring out if he could trust us.  We found him funny and smart but, between the overload of dander in the house (hubby’s allergic) and nightly warring dog/cat factions, it was time for Oliver to move south.

I stayed overnight at my sister’s the first night Oliver spent in his new home.  He padded back and forth between my sister and me, from one lap to another, purring his head off.  Two mommies for the moment!

Now he has three little girls to play with, but I hear he’s still testing limits and figuring out the rules.  He has a lot to learn but, as I told him on the ride to Maryland, this is the start of his new life.  He looked at me with his bright, yellow eyes and answered, “Meow!”

Oliver
Oliver
Oliver
Oliver
Oliver
Oliver