What's Not to Laugh?

Almost everything about aging–except grave illness and death–can be funny as well as disturbing. I try to find the funny and help us all get through it!

Archive for the tag “cat”

Who moved my potty?


Something new to kvetch about

Penelope again, checking in. I haven’t had too much to whine about lately…although that never stops me. But recently, my humans did a switcheroo on me. They relocated my potty (known as the litter box to you).

Ever since I joined their household (July 2014), the litter box was in the first floor powder room. It’s an intimate, dark space, perfect for privacy while doing one’s business. The only drawback was that guests also used that space to do their business. But that wasn’t a concern of mine because the mere sight of a guest…or even the ding-dong of the doorbell…has me running into my favorite far-away spot.

I like my mom and dad, but I  refuse to mingle with anyone else. (It looks like I’m terrified of outsiders, but that’s not the case; I just choose not to associate with them.) I had been hoping that guests would decide to avoid sharing a potty room with a feline, even though I’m meticulous in my potty hygiene. (Okay, I’ll admit to getting a little aggressive and flailing around a bit of litter. Just a bit though.) But when everyone leaves and I feel confident that I’ll have privacy again, I enter the room and see the evidence: used paper towels in the wastebasket. Many people have used the room! The only good news? I didn’t see any of them. I was busy hiding…er, sheltering in place…in an upstairs bedroom.

Then, one day not too long ago, my mom called to me while holding my empty potty. “See, Penelope? Your litter box will now be here,” and she set it down next to the washing machine in a little alcove dedicated to laundry. She filled it with litter, relocated all the other equipment that goes with it, and said, “It’s ready now when you are.”


My new (cramped) potty space

Am I ready to change the habits I refined in the last two years? Am I ready to do my business with the sloshing and spinning of the washer and bumping and thumping of the dryer as sound effects?

Do I have a choice? Sure, many of my fellow felines have been known to relieve themselves anywhere and everywhere, but that’s not me. Besides, I depend on the kindness of these two people who feed me, talk to me, give me belly rubs, and most important of all, scoop my poop.


She’s real…honest

As regular readers know, we have a cat. I assume you believe me that we have a cat, her name is Penelope, and she sometimes writes blog posts. (Okay, I understand if you don’t believe that she actually writes those posts, but you do believe that we have a cat…don’t you?)

Why am I asking this question? It seems that the people who have been to our home may be wondering if it’s all a ruse. They may be thinking that we place various cat toys and scatching posts strategically around the house, fill a plastic box with litter, and put out food and water bowls just to keep the ruse going.

Penelope (our real cat, honest) loves us but is terrified of everyone else. At the first ding of the front doorbell, she flies up the stairs and into the most remote snug space she can fit into. She stays in that spot, ignoring her need to use the litter box or her growling stomach, and doesn’t emerge until she’s absolutely certain that the last guest has departed.

If she happens to be on the first floor when somebody comes through the front door, she scurries up the stairs so fast, you’d think you just saw an animated grey streak.

Her current hiding place is a tiny space behind my husband’s Elfa rolling filing cart that’s tucked under his drawing table in his office. It’s impossible to find her there unless you’ve exhausted your search of all the logical and illogical places in the house. To be sure she’s there, you have to lie flat on the floor and look for a glimpse of fur between the legs of the table and wires of the cart.

Nobody can see me here, can they?

Nobody can see me here, can they?

Her most feared guests, I’m afraid, are my twin grandsons. They love cats and have one of their own, Nimbus. But Nimbus, besides being as big as a medium-sized dog, is the coolest, most easy-going cat I’ve ever met. He strolls around the house, rubbing against anyone who happens to be around. He’ll lick your hand and snuggle up against you, never uttering a sound.

The boys, no matter how many times I tell them that Penelope is frightened of strangers, will scour our home trying to find her. If they discover her hiding place, she’ll scurry out of it and look for another. Once, when they were younger, she was trapped under the loveseat in the living room, hissing at one of the boys as he laid on the floor trying to entice her out. That was the first and only hiss we witnessed. It meant she had reached the peak of her terror.

I think they've all gone now. I'm hungry.

I think they’ve all gone now. I’m hungry.

The twins, therefore, can attest to the fact that Penelope is real. But other guests still have their doubts. If you’re one of the doubters, I invite you to cat-sit for us. You may not see Penelope, but eventually you’ll notice that the once-full food bowl is empty and the once-pristine litter box has clumps that need to be scooped. What more proof do you need?

State of the cat address: Penelope in early 2016

Penelope_softedgesIt’s me again, Penelope. I haven’t posted anything for months because, well…everything was fine. Not much to complain about (although I whine and caterwaul anyway as a matter of principle).

But something strange has been going on since the beginning of the year. My mom is home every day. Don’t misunderstand. I like to have at least one of my folks home at all times, but I’d gotten used to her traipsing out of the house before 8 three days a week and not returning until nearly 5. It was predictable, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. (It’s a common misconception that cats don’t know what day it is.)

I am now adapting to this new pattern, but I have one complaint (I know you’re not surprised). Now that she’s not leaving me during the week, I expect her undivided attention, all day…and part of the night. After all, she no longer has to get up early, so the least she can do is play a few more rounds of chase-the-mousie or pull-the-string with me. At 11:00 p.m. Or anytime.

Even worse? Now I sometimes have to entertain her! Since it’s winter, or so I gather as I see snow on the patio…you know I’m am indoor cat, right? What was I saying? Oh, winter. There are days when she stays home watching TV and playing Boggle until she’s bored, and I have to provide the amusement. I got tired of the Qtip game (that I invented, don’t forget), so I feel obligated to find new ways to keep her occupied. It’s exhausting.

Also, since my mom’s the one who scoops my poop (I just love that phrase!), I expect her to tend to my litter box just after I use it each time. She’s home, isn’t she?

I can’t get too comfortable with this new schedule though. Recently, I caught her filling next month’s calendar with lunch dates, appointments, and tasks that take her out of the house. One day, I observed her looking through a catalog of courses…which means even more non-Penelope activities.

I would have one of my hissy fits (her name for my wild running and bouncing off walls…no hissing involved), but I calm myself by remembering that I have two parents. And my dad gives the best belly rubs.



Cat-to-human dialogue, and vice versa

I think we have the smartest cat that ever existed. I say that having done no research and having had only three cats in my life. Penelope is a chatty cat. No, “chatty” is not the right word. Mostly she kvetches. We hear variations on a theme of whine throughout the day, and sometimes late into the night.

We try to interpret her vocalizations, and there are books available on that topic, but there’s never been a cat who read the book and agreed with the interpretations or loudly proclaimed, “This is poppycock!” (in feline-ese, of course).

I talk to her many times throughout the day. Sometimes she just stops what she’s doing and stares at me. It’s disconcerting because she can out-stare me by several minutes. But most of the time, her reaction is  “Mew. Mew. Mew. MEW!” (Translation: “Why are you talking to me instead of playing with me?”)

When Penelope is grousing, and it’s at—or past—her feeding time, I’ll say, “Do you want some FOOD?” Her response is a very loud “MEOW!” I’m sure she knows what I’m asking her. But, being a cat, she’ll often walk up to the food I’ve put before her and touch it with her nose, then step back, looking at it as if it’s a dish of poison. After making several attempts to bury it (if you’re a cat owner, you know the gesture), she usually goes back and laps it up. I’m convinced this is a ritual designed to let us know who’s the alpha creature in the house.

Penelope’s most common sounds are “mrrrows” rather than “meows,” although she throws in one of those occasionally. And if her immediate need isn’t met, the mrrrows get louder and tinged with anguish. I can’t stand to hear babies and cats cry, so I’m quick to call out to her, “What do you want?” in the hope that she’ll understand and answer in a way I can interpret. She doesn’t and I can’t. But we’ve learned that if we ignore the plaintive cries, she’ll eventually get bored with her own caterwauling and settle down for a snooze.

A kitty kiss in action

A kitty kiss in action

Penelope can also ask questions. Her “Mrow?” comes after we’re doing something that puzzles her, like ending a play session and walking away. My interpretation is, “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” I could be wrong though. Maybe she’s more humble than we think. Maybe what she’s really saying is, “Why did you stop? Was it something I did?” Yeah, right. I have to remember this is a cat, not a dog.

But my favorite Penelope expression is not vocal at all. When I give her a slow blink (the equivalent of a kiss to a cat), she now slowly blinks back. It’s a gesture that makes it easy to forget all her whines of the day. It’s like a young child saying “I love you, Mommy,” right after you caught her scribbling on the coffee table. Who can resist? I can’t. I love that furry little kvetch!

My pet peeves

Hi again. It’s Penelope. I liked the experience of blogging so much (or as much as I like anything) that I thought I’d do it again. This timPenelope_crop2e I’m going to point out the annoying things my owners do. Please don’t misunderstand. I have a good life with them, and I’m reasonably happy. But it could be so much better

if She would just call me Penelope and stop using those insipid cutesy names. All day long I hear, “Hi, Sweet Patootie!” or “Here’s my Lover Dover.” And there’s “Kitten Caboodle” and “Cutie Pie” and “Baby Girl.” Okay, I get it. She loves me and finds me adorable. That’s good, but for heaven’s sake, I’m an adult cat! Three-and-a-half years old (or thereabouts)! I don’t know what that is in people years, but it sure isn’t a baby or even a toddler. Let’s have some mature name-calling here.

if they would not go off and leave me at times during the day. I don’t mind it so much when one of them leaves, although I manage to have that forlorn look that makes the person leaving feel guilty. I’ve perfected it. But sometimes both of them are gone at the same time. For several hours. Do they even think about how I feel with nobody to play with? I have toys, sure, but they’re no fun without someone waving them in front of me or chasing me while I run after the laser dot.

if they wouldn’t go to bed at night just when I’m feeling most vigorous and playful. I try to make my feelings known by bouncing on and off the bed, catching pieces of blanket with my back claws as I go. But do they change their minds and get up to pay attention to me? Of course not.

if they would stop scolding me for scratching the furniture and rugs. This isn’t their first cat. They must know that a cat has needs, and one of them is to sharpen those claws wherever and whenever. Besides, I rarely make any holes in the upholstery. Or pull up threads in the rug. And I think the “you have a cat, don’t you?” decor is trending.

My owners are not young, so teaching them new tricks may be a lost cause. Plan B is to be so loveable and charming that they can’t bear to leave me and will eagerly devote their days (and nights) to my needs. I think I have a chance.

An aging view of thankfulness

Another year, another Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?

I find myself especially appreciating the things I used to take for granted when I was younger. For example, I’m thankful that I’m alive and well (I just had a physical; so far, so good; knock on wood). I’m thankful that my husband is alive and well (knock on wood). I’m thankful that I have two lovely daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, and two smart and talented grandsons (knock on wood). I’m not thankful for the fact that I’m so superstitious…

Now that I’ve stated the obvious, there are a few more items.

I’m thankful for my cat Penelope—sometimes silently named “Crazy Lady” for the wild way she runs around the house, chases her tail, and jumps a few feet in the air. She’s still not the kind of cuddly cat we wanted to keep us company in our old age, but she’s slowly making progress toward our unrealistic goal. I’m thankful for her positive attributes: She uses the litter box all the time and doesn’t make too much of a litter mess while she’s burying her business. When she occasionally strikes at me with a paw, she is caring enough to retract her claws and not scratch me. I’m thankful that she’s healthy (knock on wood) and has a hearty appetite. Relevant to that, I’m thankful that she’s active enough to not become a fat cat with all that eating. (I’m not thankful that she still wakes us up at 4 or 5 a.m. We’re working on that.)

Although I’m never thankful for winter weather and can’t wait for the next three months to pass by, I will restate my one reason to be somewhat thankful it’s cold out: When I leave a restaurant with a box of leftovers, I don’t have to go straight home to put it in the refrigerator. I can go shopping! I can even go to a movie (but I probably won’t)! And the food will be safe to eat when I get home. I’m also thankful that I can get a pedicure but don’t really have to and that I don’t have to bear parts of my 70-something body that look better with sleeves.

I may complain about how tired I am on certain days of the week, but I’m thankful that I’m able to keep working in my semi-retirement position. But I’m equally thankful that I have the means to walk away if it gets too stressful. That is, after I organize my files and hand off projects in progress to my coworkers, with clear explanations as to their status. I’m also thankful that I don’t have to do all that yet.

I’m thankful that I have wonderful cousins whom I see often, even if it’s mostly on Facebook. I enjoy their FB posts of anniversaries, weddings, new babies, or just everyday life.

I’m thankful for my friends, some from way back in our high school—even elementary school—era and some from current times. I love being able to laugh with you and whine with you. I’m thankful for my blog readers and those who comment. I love hearing from you or just knowing you’re reading what I write.

Whatever you’re doing this Thursday, be thankful. And try to find something to like about the cold temperatures and snow flurries. (If you live where it doesn’t snow or get below 40 degrees, never mind.)





New cat, different experience

Last Saturday we made it official: We agreed to adopt little Miss Penelope from Heartland Animal Shelter. We returned to the shelter to decide if we would adopt beautiful Cinnamon, a 7-year-old rotund but sweet girl who needs to be the only cat in a home or adorable Tazzi, a tuxedo (black-and-white) girl who is a little younger but also very sweet. Just before returning to the shelter, we agreed to give Miss Penelope another look. It had been hard to tell much about her earlier because she was confined to her cage. She had not yet had a rabies shot, and she was recovering from the spaying procedure—and giving birth to 6 kittens. We were allowed to put our hands in the cage and could tell that she was gentle and welcoming, but we hadn’t seen her moving about or interacting with the other cats. She’s three years old and weighs 7 pounds. According to her shelter profile, “she never met a human she didn’t like.”

We took a leap of faith and chose her. We were to pick her up the next week, and yesterday (Thursday, July 31) we arrived at the shelter to meet with the adoption counselor and take Penelope home. (We’re dropping the “Miss.” Penelope itself is four syllables long…no need for a fifth.) It was a pleasant experience, but the only time I’ve signed my name or initials more times was when we refinanced our mortgage!

When I asked about helpful hints for keeping the fully clawed cat from destroying our furniture, the counselor mentioned keeping her claws trimmed. She suggested we watch her do that and learn how to do it ourselves.  That’s when she retrieved Penelope and brought us all into another room. She methodically clipped each of the cat’s claws, and Penelope did not budge—nor complain. We knew then that she would be an easy-going pet.

After the adoption process, we brought her home and put her in the safe room that we had created (our first floor powder room, equipped with litter box, food and water bowls, a box with a cutout that she could hide in if she needed to, and toys). The shelter had given us the small blanket that she used in her cage because it had her scent on it and would relax her.

She was in there about a half-hour. When my husband carefully opened the door to check on her, she bounded out and started exploring her new territory. She stopped every now and then to rub against us and get petted. When we went upstairs, she did too. In fact, she made herself at home on our bed. (See photo.) And she slept with us all night. Correction: She slept most of the night and spent the rest of the time mewing and walking all over us, but the good news is that she’s comfortable with us.Penelope_bedroom

She’s also perfectly at home clawing at our upholstered furniture. Since we’ve made the decision not to declaw (so far), we will be training her to use the scratching post and pads and we’ll put deterrents on our furniture. Penelope also has very long legs—something we didn’t see while she was in her cage, which means she can leap even higher to land on our countertops. Gentle training will be needed.

Will Penelope contribute to this blog like her predecessor did? Stay tuned.

Message from Maude: Why me?

Allow me to reintroduce myself. I’m Maude the cat who made a remarkable adaptation to a new home and new owners at the age of 12. I’ve been in this new environment for over a year now, and it had been going quite well. I have been well-fed with a delicious variety of foods, including that yummy canned pate that makes a mess for my owners to clean. I have the run of the house (mostly) and can lie down to snooze just about anywhere. (The dining room and kitchen tabletops are out of bounds, but I don’t think they would be comfortable anyway.) But most important, I was treated with gentleness and respect.

So what happened? One day I found myself captured and placed in a carrier bag and taken for a long car ride (I hate car rides) to a strange place. Once there, I was prodded and poked by two people wearing blue outfits with very serious expressions on their faces. My owners looked rather serious too. When we got home, everything seemed normal again. But in a week, I was put in that carrier again (and nobody seemed to care that I made protesting noises during the ride) and taken back to that place. This time my owners left me there. I don’t know what happened after that because I was in a deep sleep. Before I closed my eyes, I heard the word “surgery.”

Then I woke up. The first thing I noticed is that I had this plastic contraption around my neck. I think it’s called a cone. Did you ever try slurping water or lapping up food from a bowl with a cone around your neck? I probably looked ridiculous, but maybe the collar covered up the fact that my fur had been shaved off on the left side of my head. Also, I was very groggy, probably too groggy to know that there were stitches in my ear.

My owners came for me the next day. This time, I didn’t fit comfortably in the carrier because of that *%@$#& cone. But I was too lethargic to complain. And I was so happy to be back home. That is, until the torture started. Not every cat would consider this torture, but to me, forcing liquid into one’s mouth (yucky liquid) four times a day and squeezing greasy ointment into one’s eye twice a day is not my idea of gentle, respectful treatment!

Here I am, barely bearing it in my plastic cone… complete with the manufacturer’s label. Not a great fashion statement.

Here I am, barely bearing it in my plastic cone… complete with the manufacturer’s label. Not a great fashion statement.

I used to be able to hop up on my owners’ queen-size bed easily, but for days after the surgery I found it too difficult. You need to understand that they have a very deep mattress and deeper than usual box spring. Where I came from, there was a king-size platform bed. No box spring. It was always an easy jump. I heard my now owners remark that if they had known they were getting me, they wouldn’t have bought such a thick mattress set. But talk is cheap. And in my woozy state, I just couldn’t make the leap. How humiliating to have to be picked up and placed on the bed!

Worst of all? The worried and sympathetic looks on my owners’ faces. And it only became more troublesome after a phone call from my surgeon with the result of my biopsy. I don’t know what she told them, and I don’t want to know. At that point my concern was to get the cone off my head.

And off the cone came, 12 days later. What a relief! I can once again move about without announcing my presence with sounds of my headgear bumping into walls and furniture. But the force feeding of medicine has continued, although the orange yucky stuff was replaced by even more gooey pink yucky stuff. The only plus to this is that I get treats right after each dose.

I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future, but at least I get plenty of petting—even on my half-bald head—and belly rubs. And I can jump up on the bed again!

I’ll write again when I have something else to complain about.




Maude talks back

Excuse me for bragging, but I’m a remarkable cat. The proof is in the fact that I’ve adapted to so many new homes in my 10-plus years of life, and I’ve done it with grace…most of the time. Here’s a brief history:Maude_for_blog

I was adopted from a shelter, along with my littermate, Sam, when we were kittens. Sam’s appearance and personality were very different from mine from the outset. He’s a black cat and an in-your-face sort of pet. I am a brown/black/white tabby, as you can tell from my photo. As for personality, you turn on the water, and Sam’s right there, ready to bat at it. And when unfamiliar humans are around, he’s always been right there to greet them. I have always hid under the bed or behind the sofa.

The two of us didn’t fight, but we didn’t spend much time together either. Our owner was a lovely single woman who loved cats (except some chap named Oliver, which she had growing up and about which she declared, “He was the worst pet ever!”) She worked all day, five days a week, but she took good care of us and gave us attention when she was home. Sam got more attention because, as I mentioned, he was “in your face.” After a while, our owner met the love of her life, and they got married. But the love of her life had a female cat too, named Scout. Then there were three. We all got along reasonably well, but I usually hid out by myself, so there was no drama. And all five of us slept in the same bed. It was crowded (and sometimes the humans snored), but we felt loved and comforted.

What makes me and my feline roommates adaptable is that we moved to so many new locations and quickly got acclimated to all of them. There were condos, rental apartments, and later a brand new house. (It was a LEED Platinum house too, which was meaningless to us but apparently pleases the environmentalists.) Think about it: In each new place, we had to get used to the location of our litter boxes and our food and water bowls pretty quickly (especially the litter boxes). Did I mention that I’m pretty persnickety when it comes to my litter box?

Then, earlier this year, my owners got the cockamamie idea to move to San Francisco. It’s a lovely city, I’m told, but it would mean taking a very long plane ride in a cat carrier (I hate that thing!) and getting used to a whole new layout for my litter box and food and water bowls…again. I mean, I’m not getting any younger, and neither are my feline roommates! Despite these reservations, I started to anticipate the move.

The next thing I know, my owners are saying that the home they rented in SF will allow only two cats. And, for some reason, I am the cat that will not make the trip! I overheard my owner talking to her mother on the phone and explaining that I’m a loner and I don’t get enough attention because I’m usually away from the main action of the house. “Maude will be much better off in a one-cat home,” she said. I was dubious.

In the meantime, before the big transfer of custody day, I had dental surgery (don’t ask). I survived and was even able to eat solid food soon afterward.

Then, on April 7, I was put into my carrier and taken for a long ride to the suburbs. I don’t like the carrier, I don’t like the car, and I got carsick on the way. That’ll show her how upset I am over this move…for which I was not consulted. I wandered around, hesitantly exploring my new home. Clean litter box. Check. Bowls for food and water. Check. The same litter and food I’ve become used to. Check. So far so good. The new owners looked okay too, but time would tell. Then my former owner left, and I was on my own with these two strangers.

There was a lot of petting and belly-rubbing (my former owner showed the new ones just how I liked it), and that was good. When it got dark out, I found a comfortable hiding place in their master closet. My owners, satisfied that I was all set, I presume, went to bed. Once it was dark, I suddenly realized I missed my former owner, home, and even those two other cats. I left the closet and wandered around the house making all kinds of mournful sounds. I didn’t want my new owners to think that I could just be transferred over to new people and a new home without any objections! I know I kept them awake most of the night.

But here’s the remarkable part: I carried on like this for only one night. I found out that one or both of them were home most of the time, and when they were home, they petted me and talked to me, cleaned my litter box several times a day (and with only one me messing it up, that’s amazing), and gave me fresh food and water. They even bought me some toys to play with. And about a week later, when I decided to climb up into bed with them, they  made room for me—squeezing themselves into two-thirds of a queen-size bed—and gave me much love and affection. I think I’m in heaven…cat heaven, that is, which is very different from human heaven.

Now it’s been 4 months, and I like it here. There are a few weird things, like the way my female owner calls me all these silly names, like Little One, Kitten Caboodle, Sweetie Pie, and Sweet Baby. It’s that last one I can’t figure out. Doesn’t she know I’m almost 11 years old? But she means well. And she does pet me and let me rest my paw and head on her arm (which must surely go numb after all that time) when we nap or go to bed at night. She also is diligent about scooping the litter box and providing fresh food and water.

Sometimes I like to shake things up a bit!

Sometimes I like to shake things up a bit!

The male owner is good to me too, but most of the time I hear him complaining to her that he’s only chopped liver when she’s around. (Chopped liver sounds pretty good. Maybe they’ll feed me that too.) He also is the one to ambush me and force me into the carrier when we go to my new vet. I know it’s necessary, but I still hate it. They also get together to put drops in my ears at night. I struggled at first, then hid under the bed, but now I realize that it doesn’t hurt, so I sit still while he holds me and she squeezes the medicine into each ear. See? Another reason I’m so remarkable!

I do get into trouble once in a while. I’m not supposed to climb onto dressers, nightstands, and the kitchen table. But I still try.

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