Category Archives: cats

Suspicious Minds

You know that the world’s going to Hades in a hand basket when a sad story, such as the one broadcast all over mainstream media today, leaves people feeling so mixed up. Or is it just me? A woman in Nova Scotia drowned a couple of kittens last summer and got fined $5.00 for it in court today. Yeah, yeah…this initial ‘teaser’ lead bit on the radio leaves you thinking…”You crazy, sadistic b..tch! They should drown YOU”. Then, you hear the sad flip-side of the story; she fed a stray cat, fed it some more (The Cat Came Back is the song that comes to mind- Harry S. Miller 1893), and bing, bang…she’s got one cat+2 kittens… She’s poor, can’t get help from her town’s officials, and decides to euthanize the kitties in a bucket. Groan. Of course, Suspicious Minds (written by Memphis songwriter, Mark James and the last #1 hit for Elvis Presley in 1969- his last) like mine ask, ‘What cat has only two kittens’!? Maybe she lied about THAT too…and actually drowned a litter of 14. Not that it matters much, they’re all dead, regardless. But NOW, the SPCA is crying foul. They want “BIG FINES AND JAIL TIME”! said their head mouthpiece with emotion. My question? Where were you guys when this nutty, albeit well intentioned stray-cat-feeding woman was busy phoning around, trying to find someone to off the felines? Sure, “dangerous precedents are being set”, yada, yada, but NOW you’re worried that everyone is going to think it’s OK to euthanize Fluffo ’cause it’ll only cost five bucks instead of the usual $179.00 at the vet? Sigh. Then, the legal beagle for this woman (gotta be legal aid lawyer) said a bunch of really stupid things (he compared his client’s action against that of the person “who hanged that dog in Point Pleasant Park” …I can do without hearing that sort of thing). It did not endear me to the situation or to this woman…still…she’s poor…she loves the animals…a regular Doctor Doolittle ….who simply done too much. “We’re caught in a trap….”

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Dr. Opal

I awoke yesterday with a massive chest cold. (my mom would have said, “Tu as coucher les fesses a l’aire” -translation: “you slept bare-bummed”. Maybe so, but Christmas Eve with my sweetie was worth it. All through the wee hours last night, I coughed, railed and hacked gobs of… well, never mind. At six AM this morning  when Opal woke up, she jumped on my bed and proceeded to give me an intense  45 to 60 – second breathalyzer test. She stuck her shnozz next to my lips and carefully sniffed the odours  (not too pleasant, I imagine) emerging from my mouth. Then, she promptly lay down beside me, head hung over my legs,  until I could get up an hour later. Clearly Doctor Opal diagnosed something not very healthy and decided to cut me some slack. She continued to request samples of my halitosis throughout the day. She must have thought I was insane when I saddled her up and said, “Come on, puppet, we’re going to Sobey’s to buy some honey”. We got there and back with barely any commands being uttered and moving quite slow. I spent most of the remainder of the day wrapped in my authentic Hudson’s Bay wool ‘point blanket’ with Opal and Lucy both settling over me like poultices. Thanks girls. You really know how to take care of your mum. What better nursemaids can a gal have?

Talk To The Animals

I had an interesting chat with someone recently about the conversations she has with her cat. “Fluffy understands every word I say”, claimed my buddy. I politely commended her smart feline, but explained that while we all like to THINK that our animals understand human language as easily as fellow humans (and I’m not convinced humans understand it all that well either), this is really not the case. I don’t know much about cats and their ability to understand words. My cat, Lucy, seems to understand the emphasis I put into my words..”LUCY!! STOP EATING THAT ELECTRICAL CORD!!”, more than the actual words themselves, especially when the words are accompanied by the flinging of an object in her direction (like a sock, NOT a brick). Dogs seem have a larger capacity for words, sometimes hundreds. You can compare it to a very young child’s vocabulary. Much of a dog’s understanding is based on tone and inflection, as well as the facial and body language you display at the time you speak, and not so much syntax.  While talking to our animals endlessly about our angst and other stuff makes US feel connected, most of it is probably sounding like, “Blah, blah, blah” to them. Guide dogs learn words (verbal commands) to do their jobs. Every handler adds to their repertoire, based on need. I have added to Opal’s vocabulary. She can, for example, “find the garbage” (I draw out the word, ‘garbage’ and it comes out sounding  more like, “gahhbaage”. This is a necessary command for us, given our busy schedule, varied routes and the number of times she has a poop on the go.  I simply cannot be hauling poop bags into offices or other buildings all over HRM. The downside is, that garbage cans come in all types of shapes and sizes. Some have wrought iron cages around them, others are on poles (really hard to find). Even more challenging, is the similarity of appearance to recycle containers, composters, and even some newspaper boxes and public donation bins.  You can appreciate  the potential for a ‘mistaken deposit’. Dogs will  respond more to association with the word, than the word itself.  For example, if I say to Opal , ” We’re going to Sobeys”, EVERY time that we  enter  the same local Sobey’s store. then she will make the association. If I say the same thing at another of the Sobey’s store location, it will make no sense to her. Associations are quickly made in a dog’s mind. I feed Opal in the washroom at city hall every time I go to my regularly scheduled meeting there because of the time of day when the meeting takes place.  If I am unfortunate enough to be in City Hall for a different reason in the early morning, Opal has the expectation that we will  go to the washroom and she will  be fed, regardless of the time of day.

Lucy Responds to Opal

Like millions around the globe, Opal and I listened to live radio and Internet TV coverage of last night’s election. It was pretty late by the time Obama gave his speech, but I wasn’t about to miss it.  My family believed in exposing us to important events, even if it meant staying up late.  As a child, I had listened to JFK’s acceptance speech on TV with my family, then  watched raptly when his brother Robert spoke years later. The sight and sounds of  Martin Luther King Jr. still echo in my head. There’s nothing more electric (except, perhaps,  being there) than listening to live speeches from significant  figures at pivotal times in history, AND to the response of the crowds displaying their emotions.   I want to hear all of this at the moment it happened, not the day after, when the speaker’s  words  (in this case, historic) have been re-hashed, analyzed and commented on by the everyone and his uncle. The surreal, global fascination with this man and his promise of change caught my attention too. What truly inspired me yesterday was the record number of Americans who went out to vote and the the energy applied to ‘getting the vote out’.  This gives me a little hope that the American people have not given up trying. Is it wishful thinking for me to make comparisons to the energy and optimism of 60’s?

Lucy came up on the bed to listen with us. She seemed fascinated…not with the speeches, but with her ‘sister’, Opal’s smell. Actually, she probably was noticing the LACK of smell. Opal had her bath yesterday. She is a fuzzy, clean dog. Lucy was so mesmerized by Opal’s new scent that she curled up around Opal, and actually straddled her for a while. I told  both of them that they should be listening. Instead, they licked one another and then went to sleep. Eventually, after Obama’s speech,  I would go to bed too, aware of how tired I would be in the morning, but grateful that I had been up and around to witness another important moment in time.

Help Me! I’m Being Gassed!

People sometimes say that dogs smell bad. They even say I smell funky once in a while,  but no one has ever experienced a smell (BIG STINK) like I have. Lucy the cat  gasses me and mum whenever she poops in the litter box. It’s absolutely toxic! That feline is polluted. Mum sings “Smelly Cat” (from Phoebe Buffet’s rendition on Friends….the most current pop TV reference she can muster ’cause mum gave the TV away) and sounds like she MEANS it…like she shares my pain. Do you think Lucy ate a really old, dead gopher?  Are her insides rotting out?  Is she just doing it for attention? Or because she doesn’t get to go outside like me? Is she working on a secret weapon for a third world country that can’t afford a real bomb? If anyone knows why Lucy’s trips to the litter box smell so bad, please write to mum. She doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to scoop the box anymore.

Message to Opal and Lucy (our cat)

Now hear this Opal and  Lucy! When mum goes into the bathroom and shuts the door, it means I want PRIVACY!  I can not escape out a secret passageway. Trust me, I am not  doing anything particularly interesting.  Poking the door with your noses to see what’s going on, is NOT necessary. Lucy, I promise not to eat your food while I’m in there. I know you will not die of starvation while I am taking a bath. I’ll be in there 15 minutes tops.  There is no party going on and there is no one else with me. I do not require assistance from either of you. I am not in danger of drowning or flushing myself down the toilet. Thank you for your co operation.

A Sobering Reminder

Yesterday, my sweetie’s apartment building went up in flames. Luckily, no one was injured. However, 70 residents (mostly elderly) are without a home until further notice.  My Significant Other heard the fire alarm go off and went outdoors to investigate. This building is prone to false alarms.  In the minutes that L stepped out of the building people started to stream out. The fire department arrived simultaneously, The story is that  the apartment nearest the fire triggered the smoke detector. It was unoccupied at the time. However, a tenant heard the endless buzzing and summoned the super.  He entered the apartment and faced a blaze, and yelled for the tenant to pull the fire alarm and call the fire department. My sweetie called (from a stranger’s cell phone) to give me the news. Standing in shock, without a jacket, ID, keys, or Meerah the cat, L was not allowed to return into the building.  Most residents were housed by the Red Cross at a local arena.  Meerah? L was told that all cats would be collected by the SPCA’s staff, once the fire fighters declared it safe, with the most vulnerable (nearest the danger)  being rescued first.  Dazed and without a worldly possession,  L learned this morning  that little Meerah had been rescued last night,  then taken to the SPCA  Emergency shelter until morning, then transferred to a vet across town for examination. The cat was treated for dehydration and returned to the SPCA shelter where she remains with the other rescued cats until further notice.  A friend of ours who lives in the same building and who was also forced to leave her cat behind, learned, to her horror this morning that somehow her cat was not in the apartment when the SPCA rescue team went in to find her.

Last week, L checked my smoke detector when I complained that it should have gone off after I dropped food on the stove’s burner and did not.  L urged me to report it. I did so quickly (I am the ultra-prepared person when it comes to potential disaster). My big mistake, was not insisting that it be checked immediately by an electrician. So, today, after my seven thousand phone calls on L’s behalf (to the Insurance, the Red Cross, the SPCA, the EMO…) I picked up the receiver to make one more call; “come fix this thing today or I will call the fire Marshall”, I advised my landlord very forcefully. My defective smoke detector was taken away and a new one installed by an electrician within 1 hour.

There are some things too precious to conceive loosing,  including my animals’ lives and my own.  I urge you all to check your smoke alarms immediately. If you do not have a kit ready to take out your door when a fire alarm goes off, get one together. Include ID, medication, important numbers and papers…anything you would need to evacuate.  Have a plan to evacuate WITH your animals and be ready to do so any time the alarm goes. Know where the carrier is for your cat. Be ready to get it out quickly, loading it with the cat, gathering the bag and dog and getting  OUT.  Practice doing so until you can do it in your sleep.