Tag Archives: cat

A cat’s love

The cat loved her person, as much as a cat is capable of love. Rescued from a shelter at barely three months old and promptly renamed Princess, she had lived a comfortable, indoor life for more than eight years.

If Princess could talk, she would tell you that she was content with her routine. Her person came downstairs every morning at 7:30am, and filled Princess’ bowl with food, after which, driven by Princess’ demands, they went to the cabinet, and took out the bag of treats. Satisfied that she was still in control, Princess snarfed down her treat and then ate her breakfast.

While her human ate, Princess sat on the kitchen table, watching them. She wandered around a little, sniffed at the food on the human’s plate and made sure to twitch her tail into their face a few times. If Princess was feeling particularly loving, she’d put her paws on the human’s shoulders and stand there for a moment. With any encouragement, she’d climb up and hang out for a while.

When her human went to work, Princess did what she imagined most cats did, she slept and wandered around the house. She threatened the birds and squirrels outside her windows, visited her litter box, and batted at her toys, but mostly she slept.

When her human came home, it was dinner time. Princess ate her dinner, but left her human alone to enjoy theirs. After dinner, her human settled onto the couch and turned on the television. They tended to slump a bit so Princess was able to sprawl with her paws extended on their lap, luxuriating in the space.

Her human’s weekend schedule was unpredictable and that made Princess a little anxious. She did more wandering around the house and less sleeping on the weekends. But no matter the day, her human was in bed by 10pm with a book. Princess took full advantage of their prone position to knead their bottom. Once she was satiated, she settled down on her human’s back and went to sleep. When her human rolled over to turn out the light, Princess relocated to the foot of the bed.

And so it went, week in and week out, and Princess was content.

One evening, while they were watching television, her human gasped and put their hand to their chest. Princess was startled and jumped off, moving to a safe distance to watch. When nothing else happened, she climbed back onto her human and went back to sleep.

When Princess woke up, her human felt cold. Their color had changed. It was already morning and her human had never gone upstairs to bed. Princess hopped down and went to the cabinet to demand her treat. Her human didn’t come. Annoyed, Princess went to her bowl and ate the food that was left from last night’s dinner. Then she wandered around, chattered at some birds, used her litterbox, and took a nap.

Her human didn’t smell right. She poked at them and, getting no reaction, wandered away again.

When the human hadn’t gone to work for several days, their boss asked the police to do a wellness check. The police found Princess sitting on the coffee table in front of the sofa. The human’s eyes were gone.

Princess loved her person, as much as a cat is capable of love.


Poison or purring?

Cats don’t drool. That’s one of the reasons that cat lovers are not dog lovers. If a cat drools it is usually a sign that they are sick. You can read all about ptyalism (excessive drooling) in cats at PetMD. In short, it can be caused by a tooth or gum problem, or something harder to diagnose, a metabolic or gastro-intestinal disorder. Or, it could be the result of accidental poisoning. Harper, our not-quite-one-year old tortoiseshell, has been drooling.

It’s hard to say just how long Harper has been drooling, because it took me a while to realize that was what was happening. The first time a drop appeared on my arm while I was holding her I looked around wondering where it had come from. The next time I assumed her coat was wet; she likes to play in our shower after it’s been used. The penny dropped when I noticed several damp spots on my shirt after a prolonged cuddling session. So if cats don’t normally drool, what was going on?

For several months, Harper has been pulling pink insulation out of the ceiling in the basement. The embodiment of the curious cat, she’s been quite thorough in her exploration, and destruction, of the perimeter of the ceiling. The long term plan is to cover the exposed insulation. In the meantime, we try to make it harder for her, but she outfoxes us. She doesn’t eat the insulation, but it’s reasonable to assume that she licks fiberglass and who-knows-what-else off her paws. Her pursuit of insulation has been going on much longer than her drooling, however, so we don’t think it’s the cause.

Recently, she had been gleefully attacking the dried eucalyptus display in the downstairs bathroom. When bits of it appeared elsewhere in the house, we did a quick Internet search and discovered that eucalyptus is poisonous to cats. We threw it out and hoped we’d discovered the drool-inducing culprit. It’s been a couple of weeks, and Harper is still drooling.

Earlier, I said that drooling is usually a sign that a cat is sick—but not always. According to WebMD, a few cats will also drool when they are purring and very relaxed. So maybe we haven’t poisoned Harper after all! I started to check her chin when she wasn’t sitting on me to see if her drooling was indeed associated with purring. Below is a picture of her lying in one of her favorite spots. Despite a tiny bit of tongue protruding, there is no evidence of drooling.

harper reclining

To put the above picture in context, and give equal time to Scout, here’s another photo:

h and s for blog2

Despite this new-found evidence, I am not entirely convinced that Harper has happiness-induced drooling, so at the first sign of any other symptom I will whisk her off to the vet. And if it turns out that she is one of those rare cats who drool while purring, so be it. I’m willing to put up with a little dampness to have such a beautiful kitty favor me with her affection.



Who adopts who?

Nadine was crying. She seemed desperate for attention, but when I approached, the volume increased. She shoved an arm through the bars of her cage, and then pushed her little snout through as well. It was harder to yowl that way, but she gave it her best shot. I reached out my hand and she pulled back her face and stuck her other arm through, grabbing one of my fingers with both paws. She might as well have been speaking English her plea was so clear. She must not have known that there was a small plastic card taped to the top of her cage that said someone is thinking about taking her home. On the other hand, maybe she knew that in an animal shelter the fat lady doesn’t sing until she’s walking out the door with her adoptee.

Our boy cat, Boo, had only been gone three weeks when Hannah and I dropped in at the Windham County Humane Society in Brattleboro, Vermont, on our way to celebrate Thanksgiving in West Wardsboro. We often visited the shelter, but with two cats of our own, we only stopped for a quick cuddle and then we were on our way. Now that Scout was the only cat at home, I knew we’d be tempted, but I thought we could risk a visit. After all, without Andrew we didn’t have a quorum. I didn’t count on Hannah falling in love.

We adopted Boo and Scout from the WCHS eight years ago, when Hannah was still a little girl. She was not happy about getting cats, but we assumed they would grow on her. Well, we underestimated Hannah’s powers of resistance. It took a very long time before she was comfortable with them; years. She did come to love them, however, and she was as bereft as we were when Boo died, but I never would have dreamed that she’d be the catalyst for our next pet.

It was late in the day, the day before Thanksgiving, and the shelter was winding down for the holiday. There were only a few kittens in residence and I didn’t pay much attention to them. I was more interested in the older cats. Hannah, however, zeroed right in on a kitten the shelter volunteers were calling ChaCha and it was love at first sight. There was no way we were going to be able to adopt that day; the shelter was closing and would not be open for the holiday. We knew, though, that if we wanted to adopt the kitten there was a good chance that she’d still be available—if we got there early enough—the day after Thanksgiving. Now all we had to do was talk Andrew into it.

Andrew took a little convincing. He felt it would be disrespectful to get another cat so quickly, even though he wanted Scout to have company. I didn’t entirely disagree, but Hannah’s excitement was hard to ignore. The case she built included her fear that if we waited until after she went to college to get another cat she’d feel as if she’d been replaced. (Better Boo than her, I suppose.) And she wanted a kitten, something small enough not to be intimidating. I was sold.

We told Andrew that he didn’t have to decide until he met the kitten. We knew she would close the deal, and indeed she did. So here she is, the newest member of our family, Harper.

harper at 3mnth

And it was a happy Thanksgiving for Nadine, too. She’s now in her forever home where I’m sure she’s making her new family very happy, just like Harper.