International Cat Day

Anabel is an intense beauty

Did you celebrate International Cat Day last weekend? If not, Anabel and Sally want me to let you know that it isn’t too late, you can start celebrating right now. (They actually think that every day is a celebration of them, so they don’t know why you wouldn’t celebrate International Cat Day any old time you want.)

Officially, Saturday, August 8 is International Cat Day.  Established in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), it is billed as a day to raise awareness for cats and learn about ways to help and protect them.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are already quite aware of cats, Anabel and Sally in particular. You know about Anabel and Sally’s volunteer work and their tips for those having a hard time with the stay at home order.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest archaeological evidence of the domestication of the cat dates back 9,500 years. In the Neolithic village of Shillourokambos on Cyprus, the bones of a cat and a human were discovered next to each other. The position and similar state of preservation suggests they were buried together.

But the ancient Egyptians took cat appreciation to a whole other level. For them, cats were the physical embodiment of gods and symbols of divine protection. Domestic cats were believed to carry the divine essence of Bastet (or Bast), the cat-headed goddess who represented fertility, domesticity, music, dance, and pleasure.

If you are looking for an excuse to add a cat to your home you may be interested to know that studies have shown that sharing your home with a cat can improve mental health and relieve stress, anxiety and depression. And since no one is really going anywhere these days anyway, you don’t have to worry about going out with cat hair all over all of your clothes.

If you think that you can’t have a cat because of your terrible cat allergies, modern science has something in process for you! Cat allergies are really just an allergy to the Fel d 1 protein that cats produce in their saliva. Of course, then they lick themselves and it gets everywhere. But there is a vaccine in process that is given to the cat to prevent production of this protein. It was making the news big time around a year ago. I wasn’t able to find any recent updates, but I am optimistic that it will be coming on the market soon. I’m so excited for all the poor people who think that they could never live with a cat! In the meantime, Purina has come out with ProPlan Allergen Reducing food that claims to reduce the amount of Fel d 1 protein by 47%.

We celebrated International Cat Day the way that we celebrate most days around here – Anabel and Sally got delicious Intense Beauty flavor cat food with sprinkles, bowls full of fresh ice cubes, a good brushing, and then slept their day away.

Anabel and Sally Turn Two Today

Can you believe it?  Yes, Anabel and Sally turn two today. How perfect is it that Kitten Tuesday falls on their actual (made-up) birthday, Cinco de Mayo, and it’s Taco Tuesday.

Even though Anabel and Sally don’t eat tacos (Sally has tried before, he thinks he likes people food), Mr. Man and I are going to make the most if this fortuitous alignment of multiple celebratory excuses and have margaritas and tacos (just like any Tuesday only the same). Anabel and Sally will get to split a can of wet cat food and each get their own bowl of crunchy food (just like every other day only the same).

I remember thinking last year how grown up they had become, but it turns out that they still had some growing up left to do. One thing I’ve noticed from my almost-daily brushings is how much their coats have come in. It makes me so happy because I remember when they were going through their awkward phase and it seemed like they weren’t going to have long hair!

Another byproduct of their burgeoning maturity is that they tolerate our little grooming sessions a lot better than they used to.  Anabel doesn’t try to escape every time (although I do still have to brush her first or she will hide from me for the rest of the day). No matter where he is, Sally will come over and hang out right next to us while Anabel gets brushed. I think that partly he is patiently waiting his turn and partly he is rubbing it in to his sister that she has to get brushed.

Over the past year, Sally has become even more of a chow hound. He knows when it is time for breakfast, and he lives for getting his crunchy food snack. It doesn’t matter if I put their dishes right next to each other or in separate rooms, half the time as soon as I turn around, I will find him eating out of Anabel’s dish. Anabel only occasionally even acts interested in food. I suppose when one is as beautiful as she is, one can derive sustenance out of the ether.

One great habit that Anabel has begun to cultivate is sleeping between me and Mr. Man in the bed at night. I love snuggling kittens in the bed, and she is a great sleeper (I’m hoping to pick up some hints via proximity). Sally still sleeps on post on the corner of the bed. I wish he would cuddle because he is so snuggly, but it is also nice to have a guard cat on post at night.

Mr. Man and I make sure to let Anabel and Sally know that they are special every day. I don’t know if it will matter to them very much that they turn two today, but we are going to celebrate anyway.  If you’re feeling like you need a reason to celebrate today, feel free to use the kitten’s birthday as an excuse and pour yourself a margarita!

Stay at Home Order Tips from the Cats

Kitten Tuesday Quarantine Edition

It’s been a while since I posted for kitten Tuesday and I was thinking that y’all might be up for a big dose of cuteness. Also, Anabel and Sally wanted to share some stay at home order tips, so here you go!

I realize that having to stay home all the time is a big change for most of us, but for Anabel and Sally, it is standard operating procedure. They would be much more bothered by actually having to get in the car and go anywhere. Even when Anabel sits by the back door watching Mr. Man puttering around in the driveway, she is not inclined to step out when I open the door for a trek to the laundry room.

Full disclosure: my sister sent me these tips in a meme, but Sally and Anabel, who are professional at stay-at-home-quarantine protocols, did endorse the recommendations.

Nap early, nap often

As I write this Anabel and Sally are very busily partaking in their afternoon nap.  They never seem to let having their nap interrupted prevent them from resuming napping as soon as it is appropriate. I think this attitude can apply to all sorts of stay-at-home activities. You just have to go with the flow and know that you will get back to whatever it was that you were trying to get done as soon as it is feasible.

Seek out sunbeams

I would argue that this is probably the single most useful tip that you can adopt from cats in quarantine. A little sunlight does a world of good for me, although I usually grant myself the extravagance of taking my sunlight outside of the house (go for a walk, it’ll be ok, I promise).

Eat on a regular schedule

Sure, it’s easier to just have food out and snack all day long, but at some point, you are going to have to put your real pants on again, just sayin’.

Bonus tip here: why not use the fancy dishes?

Keep yourself clean

You don’t need to adopt a cat’s multiple times a day cleaning routine, but do take a shower, even if you don’t “need” one.  Afterwards, put on a clean pair of sweatpants (even though the ones you were wearing yesterday are your favorite and they are practically clean after all).

It’s ok to run around the house screaming when it all gets to be too much

Or in Sally and Anabel’s case, to have a little knock down, blow out brawl just to clear the air.  I mean these cats will go at it.  Someone is chasing the other one from room to room. One of them is pouncing on the other one. There is some hissing and growling.  And then they are done. And you will probably find them cuddling an hour later.  Sometimes you just have to get it out of your system.  But once you have, you need to drop it, no holding a grudge.

An Earful of Sweet Talk

I always make an effort to speak sweetly to my pets.  Anabel and Sally have gotten an earful of sweet talk their whole lives.  But I think that even if they didn’t know what I’m saying (they do of course because they are so smart) that they can tell by my tone of voice that it is something nice.

But something about my darling Sally has turned me into Lisa Vanderpump!  If you aren’t a Bravo TV addict, suffice it to say that she is a peculiar British lady with pet swans, miniature horses, and a whole pack of blonde, shaggy dogs (I don’t know why she doesn’t have any cats, she seems like the perfect candidate for a fluffy, white Persian or two).  Her star dog, Giggy (short for Gigolo) is a catatonic Pomeranian with alopecia who wears pajamas and she or her husband carry everywhere.

When Lisa talks to her animals, she says things like, “aren’t you sexy?”  She calls Giggy her little “sex monster.”

Now, Sally is about three times the size of Giggy and maybe not-quite as pampered, but I sure love to hold him in my arms and whisper sweet nothings in his ears.

I really don’t know when or why I started talking to him as if I was Lisa Vanderpump. It’s been going on for a while though. I will hold him and say things like, “hello lover,” “aren’t you handsome,” and “aren’t you sexy.”

We have these morning cuddle sessions that I refer to as “making out.”  I pick him up and he lays back in my arms so that I can rub his tummy.  He will grab my petting arm with both of his front paws and lick my hair like he’s trying to groom me. He purrs his brains out and I tell him how sexy he is and kiss him on the nose.

I call this Sally’s “let’s makeout” face

I know that my feelings are reciprocated because Mr. Man tells me about the way that Sally cries when I leave for the gym in the morning. Sure, it might be close to his breakfast time, but I know that it’s really because he wants more snuggles.

Even though I like to think that I want to carry him around with me everywhere I go, the blush would be off the rose pretty quick with that daydream.  Yes, he’s a cat with a sensitive disposition and would freak out, but also, he’s heavy! I love to pick him up and hold him but carrying him around for long periods of time would definitely get old.  

I do my best to speak sweetly to Mr. Man as well, but sometimes he gets jealous of the attention that I give Sally.  I mean Mr. Man is cute and all, but he’s got nothing on Salvatore Tessio Gellis. When he starts to get his feelings hurt, the best thing to do is make him hold Sally.  That cat is so sweet and soft and lovely that even Mr. Man can’t resist his cuteness.

Cat Tube

No, I’m not talking about YouTube just for cats (although that might be a brilliant idea, can someone get on that please?). I’m talking about one of Anabel’s favorite toys, the cat tube.

Even though cats don’t need a lot of fancy toys, there is some great satisfaction in buying fancy things for them.  Even more so when it’s a toy that can maintain kitty’s interest for longer than a few days (and doesn’t require batteries).  One cat toy that had retained its charm in our home is the cat tube.

I don’t know what else to call it.  It is a length of fabric-covered tube.  That’s it.

As I was scrolling back through the kitten’s baby album, I did find that at one point it had a little dangling fluff ball. Other than that, it has held up pretty well.

It also was clear that Anabel has always had a greater appreciation for this particular piece of equipment than her brother, Sally.

Currently, the cat tube is one of Anabel’s favorite games.  She will cry and holler, then dash off to hide out in the tube when you come looking for her. She will lay in wait and pounce out to swat at you, then dash back inside.  When she and Sally play, he will pounce on top of the tube, smashing it on top of his poor, helpless sister (who instigated the whole game in the first place).

The cardinal rule of cat toys is change it up.  You don’t have to really have that many things for them to play with as long as you move them around and switch them out from time to time.  For a while, the cat tube lived in the front room, blissfully forgotten by everyone except yours truly who seemed to be the only one living here who found it to be in the way.

One day, in great frustration, I tossed it back into the den (the cat’s playroom) and they took to it with a fresh novelty. Anabel has been very committed to the tube being part of her daily play routine ever since.

Another time, it found its way onto the futon (there is a great degree of rearranging that is necessitated when trying to vacuum the cat’s room).  Now it was Anabel’s favorite place to sleep! I couldn’t find her anywhere. I looked in all of the places and there was no sign of her until I noticed the little bit of white peaking out from the tube.

Even though I am consistently tickled by the cats playing in the tube, one of my most felicitous memories was when my friend and her two-year-old daughter came to visit.  Apparently, they make the same thing for baby humans too. It was particularly hilarious watching this small person trying to fit herself into the cat-sized version of a toy that she had at home and Anabel’s reaction to this person trying to play with her favorite toy.

Anabel Street Style

Aside from cats, one of my other favorite things is clothes. I just love the new version on Project Runway on Bravo. Sometimes those designers come up with really innovative outfits!  Of course, I play the armchair quarterback version of Project Runway and try to think of what I would make for any given challenge.  Last week they had a tie-in with the new movie version of Cats that is coming out soon (yes, I am very excited to see it) and I had the winning design (in my head). I call my look Anabel Street Style

The designers were tasked to come up with a new, street-style take on animal prints.  There were some cute looks and this guy who did a mixed-print top combined with a really well-made half-skirt/half-shorts (it wasn’t really a skort because the skirt was only on one side) won. I spent the whole episode thinking about what I would make for this challenge.  What would my innovative take on animal prints be?  It would be a take on Anabel’s gorgeous markings. What could be more animal print than that?

My look would have a crisp, white shirt dress kind of thing with a ruffled collar front to mimic her lovely, fluffy white chest.  The sleeves would have big, oversized ruffled cuffs too and near the wrist of the right sleeve, I would applique a little, black heart.  Then over that there would be a grey and black vest/over dress type thing.  I was thinking this would be really neat in a tweed or some other sort-of men’s wear suiting fabric to approximate her ticked-tabby coat.  But I might get in trouble with Nina for not using actual animal print, so I would have to find a grey and black tiger stripe or something.  The skirt of the vest dress would also have tons of volume and movement. 

The coolest part of my look would be this leather shoulder-harness/holster/arm gauntlet thing. It would be just a strap over the left shoulder, but a shoulder/arm shield-type contraption would cover the right shoulder/upper arm and then the whole thing would come together in some sort of belt/corset-type thing. This piece might have some cool pockets and other features for the woman on the go. Like maybe there is a cellphone pocket in the shoulder gauntlet.

I would style it with white, high-top sneakers because a cat has got to be comfortable and ready for action after all.

And trust me, my imaginary look would have beaten all of them.  Karlie Kloss would want to wear it, and it would spawn a whole trend of interpreting cat markings in fashion.  Trust me folks, Anabel Street Style is how you take animal prints to the next level.

Unfortunately, my remedial sewing skills are not anywhere near able to execute my vision, leaving me with my mouth writing a big check that my ability can’t cash.  So, cat-wear will have to stay in the land of make-believe for a while longer.  But if anyone reading this has the mad sewing skills, I have the vision – let’s talk.

Cleaning Cats

This post isn’t about how completely adorable cats are when they clean themselves although that probably should be a topic for another post very soon. Instead, it is about how cats can contribute to cleaning the house.

This morning while I was trying to get myself organized to start work, Sally came around looking for some attention.  Which of course meant that I had to stop whatever I was trying to start doing and give him some.  I scratched his chin a bit and when he was walking away, I grabbed the end of his tail and shook it.

There was something about the way the morning light was coming in from the windows that lit up all the dust that came flying out of his fluffy tail.  It was like shaking out a feather duster!  Of course, my first thought was bath time!  But I also realized that I hadn’t really thought about how much dust these kitties must pick up as they go through their days waving their fluffy tails around the house.

Mr. Man and I tend to only think about the messes that the cats make – cat hair on everything, cat food all over the floor by their bowls, the little bits of cardboard that they rip out of their cardboard cat scratchers…we never think about what they do to help clean up around here. I decided that today I would give the kitties credit for all the ways they help keep things clean.

Aside from their fluffy, feather duster-like tails, they also have very fluffy tummies that make excellent dry mops as they slide and roll around on the wood floors. You would think that they wouldn’t like chasing their toys around on the wood floors, where it is harder to get a grip. But the slipping and sliding is part of the fun.  Anabel has some moves when she is chasing after her ballerina mouse where she starts to slide, then sprawls out and spins around.  She winds up facing the opposite direction.  Sally prefers the belly-flop slide when he is playing catch with Mr. Man.  He chases after the toy mouse, sliding in to capture it.  Then he picks up his prize and returns it to his playmate.  Mr. Man can get the whole floor dusted just by varying where he throws the mouse!

Anabel and Sally also have that well-documented cat quality of not tolerating cluttered surfaces.  When we leave something laying around where it shouldn’t be, we aren’t surprised when we find it on the floor.  Many times, we find it because we step on it (ouch!). One of these days the cats will finally train us to put things back where they belong in the first place.

And perhaps one of the most under-appreciated ways that they help out with keeping things cleaned up around here is their paper-shredding talents.  Anabel is particularly concerned with potential identity theft and will regularly shred any papers she finds sitting out.  She was quite fanatical about it when she was a kitten; I have the scraps of book covers to prove it.  As she’s matured, she has become more selective about what she feels needs to be shredded, although she continues to have a big hang up about post-it notes.

Cat Book Report

Today will be a cat book report on an important work of feline literature: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. This is a book that is always highly recommended by any bookstore cat.

There once was a book about a very old man and a very old woman.  It was the oldest, continually published, illustrated book.  Because cats.

“If only we had a cat, then we would be happy,” she said.

But not hundreds of cats,

Or thousands of cats,

Or millions, and billions, and trillions of cats.

That is too many cats.

One cat is quite nice.  Personally though, two cats is purrfect.

Grooming My Fluffy Kitties

An Ode to Hairballs

Oh, fluffy kitties you are so nice
Your fur coat would keep you warm in ice
But since we live in more temperate climes
You’re always shedding all the time

What do you think?  Am I the next William Carlos Williams?  No?  I didn’t think so either.

But I am a good cat mommy who brushes her little treasures *almost* every day.  At least every other day.  That has got to be acceptable.  It is enough to keep them from developing matts on their fluffy behinds (a lesson I learned the hard way) so I feel like I am doing a good enough job.

In addition to their regular brushings with the slicker brush, they get attacked with the FURminator once a week (as per the official FURminator instructions).  Now you would think that since they are getting brushed out pretty often, their weekly FURminator sessions would not be a big deal.  I would think so.

And then here is what I wound up with after this weekend’s groom-a-thon:

Yikes, right?

I probably could have gotten more but official FURminator instructions are very explicit about not over grooming with the tool because it could cause skin irritation.

Now, in spite of all of this brushing, someone (Sally, I’m looking at you) still gets hairballs!  Don’t think that I didn’t want to take a picture of the latest one to share with you, but Mr. Man assures me that hairballs are gross and no one wants to see that.

Their favorite grooming implement are the gloves with the silicon nubbles on them.  Anabel will actually come up to me when I bust these guys out.  They are nice to work with because you can grab the cat with one hand and groom with the other.  You can also get all sorts of places that are tricky with a brush.  She really just wants her chin scratched, but she doesn’t mind when I get after her tummy and her arm pits as much as she does with the brush.

I suppose all this grooming is the price that one must pay to have happy, fluffy kitties around.  It is a small price to pay.  I can’t say that I do a very good job, judging by the state of my furniture but at least this is one of those things that just doing it is almost good enough. Boy, I’ll tell you what though, they sure do feel and look nice once we’re done.

The kitties always groom themselves
They do not think they need my help
But when a hairball I find
We all know it’s brushing time

Cat Nervous Breakdown

Sally the cat

Well guys, I broke Sally.  Not physically!  The dude is completely fine.  He’s eating and pooping and sleeping…all the usual things. No, I seem to have broken him psychologically.  What did I do?  Excuse me!  I did nothing.  It is all very peculiar.

Especially because I can tell you almost the precise moment when my dear Sally puss had his cat nervous breakdown.

It was a couple of Thursdays ago between 2-3pm.  Yes, I’m not kidding.  Well what was going on around here that would have given him a breakdown?  A whole lot of all the same things that go on around here if not daily, then at least regularly.

It was really hot that day, but it had been hot all week; we were all acclimatizing.  It was like any other afternoon, I was at my desk, he was on the cardboard cat scratcher in the next room, Anabel was under the futon (that is her preferred mid-day napping spot these days). We had just had company over the night before and Sally had made a point of laying in the middle of the dining table until it was time for dinner, then he spent the rest of the evening on his chair at the table, being a very gracious and charming host.

Back to Thursday: The gardeners showed up, just like they do every other week.  I went around and closed up the doors and windows to try to keep the noise and dust down a little bit. And Sally didn’t move; he was not bothered.

And then suddenly, he was VERY bothered.  I have never seen him that bothered.  Even at the vet’s office!  Certainly not when there was a skunk under the house (wait…a what where?  Oh yes, I’ll have to tell you that story another day).

I didn’t want to even tell you guys

For a whole week, he was skittish and wouldn’t come out of the front room. If I managed to get him next to me and made a sudden movement, he would bolt.  He jumped every time Mr. Man makes a loud noise.  It was a little ridiculous.

Do you want to know who was even more upset than Sally?  Mr. Man. I just could not convince him that the cat was fine. 

Sally was still eating (as long as I brought his food into the front room) and he wasn’t hurting anywhere. Our unlimited vet visit kitten plan had just expired, and I was not about to spend $50 to take him to the vet to be told there is nothing wrong with him just to try to make Mr. Man feel better.  My solution was to ignore his strange behavior as much as possible and see if he would get over it.  Worst case scenario, we had broken our friendly, easy-going cat and were going to be stuck with a nervous, high-strung one for the next 15-20 years.  Oh well, been there, done that.

Slowly, over the course of the next week, Sally’s behavior went back to normal (and so did Mr. Man’s). He seems now to have completely recovered from his cat nervous breakdown.

I love it when ignoring your problems actually does make them go away!