Leela (approximate Summer of 2000 – November 13, 2016)

Leela the cat has been with me since she was a small kitten.  I adopted her on November 14, 2000.  Last night, one day short of her 16th anniversary, she passed away in her sleep.

This was not unexpected.  For the last few days, she hadn’t been eating, she stopped using the litter-box, and she didn’t have any energy.  I had planned to take her to the vet on Monday…so that she could be euthanized.  I’m glad, in a way, that her last moments came quietly, and not while stuffed into a cage and on her way to the vet.  I knew that I had to do it, but I wasn’t going to enjoy it, and it would haunt me forever.  It’s better this way.

Was she a good cat?  That’s a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?  It’s also hard to define.  She wasn’t destructive, I’ll give her that.  But while she was affectionate on occasion, it was always on her terms.  In her last years, she would go and hide somewhere if I got up from a chair or walked toward her.  (For the record, she was never abused, not once.)  On balance I guess I would say she was a fine cat.  I’ve known better and I’ve known worse, and I like to think I gave her a good life for sixteen years.

Below is the last photograph I ever took of her, on the night of the 12th.

She will be missed.

Creature Sighting

I’ve always been fond of animals, particularly cats and dogs, and when I see one, I always try to make friends.  I typically try to make eye contact, and if the animal responds, I offer my hand as a petting device.  Usually, with dogs this works fine; most dogs are naturally friendly and gregarious.  They are the only animals I know who have thousands of best friends–and every single one of those friends is at the top of the list, too!  No one is in second place.

Cats are a different matter.  Cats are rather paranoid by nature, so making friends is a bit more difficult.  Instead of simply offering a hand to pet, you have to offer something more.  Like treats.

A couple of weeks ago, this cat started showing up.

Difficult to get close to.  Like most strays, she’d run off when I got too near.  Having a soft heart (and a soft head), I had some old cat treats on hand, so why not.

Well, apparently she appreciated those, because I could get closer and closer.  She still looks a bit suspicious, though.  (Treat visible in the lower left.)

After that, she decided that treats were more important than maintaining the stray lifestyle, so she now asks for them frequently (she is very vocal, though her voice isn’t harsh like a Siamese).  Here she is, in the daylight hours, asking for more treats.

Here she is simply posing (after asking for treats).  (As you can see, she is very beautiful.)

She basically makes two noises:  a regular meow (“Give me treats”) and a long, drawn-out meow (“Don’t touch me”) that can last for several seconds.  She still makes both of those sounds, but over the course of a week or so, she has allowed herself to be petted, which means the long, drawn-out one is less frequent.  This also means I can get even closer shots.

At first, the petting she allowed was pretty much “Don’t touch!  …say…this isn’t half bad…*er!* I mean, don’t touch!

Then, it was more like “Sure, sure, whatever, pet me, but don’t forget those treats!  Okay, two pettings is enough!  Okay, maybe one more.”

Now?  She allows herself to be…wait for it…picked up and stroked, and she purrs a mighty purr then.  Doesn’t struggle to be let down, either.  As noted, this is after only a couple of weeks…   Now, a feral cat would still run for the bushes no matter the quality of treats, and a stray would probably take a couple of months to get to this stage.  So I figure she has to’ve been someone’s pet at some point.

…and, given the way she’s played me for a sucker, she may still be.  “Oh, hello, ‘owner.’  Where’ve I been?  Oh, nowhere.  Say, can you let me out for a bit?  Private business, don’t you know.”

By the way, I’ve started giving her regular (dry) cat food, so it’s not just treats.  It’s still treats on occasion, but I figure, she should eat something a bit more substantive.  Just like she does at the other five or six houses she (probably) visits.

Oh–and the cat I currently live with, Leela (previously seen many times on this site), doesn’t seem to be aware of the outside visitor.  At least, as far as I can tell….

Now, Leela is sixteen years old, and getting on a bit, and may not really care about what she perceives outside, as long as the inside has food and a litter box and sleeping places.  Maybe.  One thing I know about cats is that there’s a lot I don’t know about cats.

Anyway, see you next month!  And thanks for stopping by.

Birds

I don’t know a lot about birds.  I think the specimen below is a heron of some kind, perhaps a “Great Blue Heron.”

A different specimen on a different day.

Not sure about this one.  He looks like he would rather not be photographed.  One of the benefits of a long lens.

I thought this guy below might be a gosling, or a baby swan, or whatever they’re called.  But there were bunches of them all swimming together without a big version leading them.  They’re great, by the way.  Their voices sound like soda-can pop-tops being thumbed.  (UPDATE: thanks to Cthulhu, this is most likely an American Coot.)

The bird below was very cooperative about being photographed.  This is fairly unusual, unless the birds think you have food.  Usually they turn away.  But he (or she) let me take some nice close-up (not too close though) shots.

Of course,  I suspect he thought I was a lot less threatening than this fellow, who was circling overhead.

Seagulls like to take bad photos.  So you’ve got to take lots to get one good one.

I guess they figure if you’re not giving them food, for free, you’re not worth cooperating with.

Now, this was an interesting photo day.  Just seeing through the viewfinder, I thought a predator bird had found a seagull nest, and the seagulls were trying to drive the predator away.  But looking at the pictures now, I can see that predator bird has caught a fish.

And then a seagull shows up.  “Hey, you caught a fish!  I like fish.  Can I have your fish?”  “No, go away.”

“Oh, come on.  I really like fish!  Can I have yours?  Is it okay if I just jump in and grab it?  I’d like that!”  “No, go away, or I shall call the gendarmes!”

“Oh, come on!  That’s a big fish!  You’ll get fat if you eat it all, and the guys won’t dig you!”  “Hm…well, if you want the fish…move in closer.  I’ll only hold the fish with one talon!  Yeah, yeah, closer!”

“Oh, cool, thanks!  Say, why are you…hey!  Okay, I guess I don’t need that fish.  It’s full of fat anyway, and you’ll get fat from eating it, too bad!”

Great Blue Heron at sunset.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

 

All Nine at One Go

Striker, c.2003 - June 24, 2006

Striker was affectionate, playful, and sometimes fun, but his main abilities seemed to center around being annoying. He was constantly in the other cats’ faces, and their invariable reaction—hissing and growling—didn’t seem to phase him at all (he almost seemed encouraged). I don’t think he was trying to play; I think he was trying to irritate them. I’ve lost count of the number of times he would chase one of the others away when it was dinner time. He was the only cat I’ve ever owned who kept the name assigned to him by the animal shelter; it was that apt.

I suppose he would probably have said of me that I was an old stick-in-the-mud and had no idea how to have fun. And he would have been right, but that’s beside the point. And he was definitely the cat who gave the most affection; many’s the time I would collapse on the couch in exhaustion, only to have him commence running his radula over my forearm. This would continue, non-stop, until I finally told him in no uncertain terms to please stop.

The observant reader will not the use of the past tense in these few, inadequate words. Bringing us all into the present, I will note that I am sorry about all the times I yelled at him or otherwise didn’t truly appreciate him. And I hope that wherever he is now, there are lots and lots of snoozing tabbies for him to irk.

F Cats

I am officially tired of these stupid animals. Thera, the noisemaker, has decided she has to go into a yowling jag at 2, 4 or 6am. Leela, the hisser, hates the other cats and won’t come inside to eat if the others are there, which means the neighborhood strays say to themselves, Hey food’s in there. Stryker attacks the other two and also destroyed one of my keyboards.

These are the last pets I am going to own. If I didn’t have cables (aka chew toys) everywhere, I’d consider a dog. For a few moments, before I put the idea out of my head.

I hate being this exhausted.

Laptop Cats II

Well, I thought I had the perfect answer to my little dilemma below. A stacking tray for legal-size folders. Fits perfectly over the laptop with some room to the sides to let air out, etc. What could go wrong?

Little brats simply shoved it aside.

Cats: is there a level of Evil they won’t descend to?

Didn’t think so.

Laptop Cats

Hello, inventors and marketers. I’m looking for a device.

As most people know, I own cats. I also own a laptop. This is not a picture of it, but it will do.

No Cat

If you know cats, you know that they have an irresistable attraction to computer keyboards. I don’t know whether it’s the texture or the warmth or what, but this is what frequently greets me as a I return home:

Cat

Generally speaking, this means that my laptop is probably (at best) shut down, at worst, locked up so tightly that it has to be shut down. Before I password-protected my screensaver, I’d also find various icons renamed from “My Documents” to “Euitodiiiiiiii” and such, depending on how the cat lolled throughout the day.

One time, one of my cats had managed to call up Help, call up Search, activated the “Narrator” function, created a new text document, created a new Citrix session, and been informed that the Citrix session now had to be named. I should get her to do my work for me, huh.

Before you ask, yes, I frequently save my work, so my only loss thus far has been convenience (having to shut down and restart the laptop). It would be nice, I think, to get something that would fit over the laptop. Something like this (three different views shown).

No Anything

This would fit thusly across the laptop:

No Cat

and we’d have this:

No Cat

And notice below, a perfectly happy kitty able to lounge to his heart’s content. The little holes in the top would allow warm air to escape, and also provide some texture. When I want to work, a single scoop removes the cat, and I have no fear of suddenly extended claws ripping keys asunder (this has happened).

Cat

So everyone wins, and everyone’s happy.

Oh, and I know there are other methods. I’ve tried tinfoil, but it doesn’t bother my cats for long (ooo, could I say something political, here). I know there are sprays you can buy to keep them off things…but I’d truly rather not spray my laptop with anything.

Oh, and I’m aware as well that I could probably make such a thing myself. But let me ask you, how is that rewarding someone’s entrepreneurial spirit? And plus I’m lazy.

So, how about it? Anyone know of such a thing? Anyone sell such a thing?