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 “Penelope”

A visit to the vet, reluctantly

For you first-time readers in this space, my name is Penelope, and I’m a rescue cat. Penelope_softedgesI’ve lived with my adoptive parents over two years now and, much as I hate to admit it, things are pretty good here. Wondering why I hate to admit it? I’m known for my whiny vocals (which Mom calls kvetches; I had to learn a little Yiddish after I came here). I wouldn’t want it too seem like I have nothing legitimate to whine about.

But I am comfy here. Wet food…the Elegant Medley (more expensive) kind, dry food, a litter box that’s scooped several times a day, and two very attentive people who are home much of the time. It’s all good.

Except, that is, once a year, when my parents attempt to take me to the vet for a checkup. They try to be subtle and act like it’s just an ordinary day, but I know something’s up. Maybe it’s that black bag sitting on the floor…the one with the mesh sides and zippers. I remember being in it last year when they took me to the vet. This can’t be anything good. My motto is “You’ll have to catch me first!”

They try. I manage to outrun both of them, even if they’re on opposite sides of the room closing in on me. Dad’s the official catcher though. I give him a good workout, zooming from bedroom to bedroom, down the stairs and up again. When I think he’s getting dangerously close, I scoot under the bed or the sofa, a place neither of them can reach. In fact, they can barely bend down to see if I’m still there.

After this goes on a while, I can hear snippets of a phone conversation Mom is having. “I’m afraid we’ll have to reschedule. We can’t catch Penelope!”

I’ve won another round! Alas, the appointment was rescheduled, and as hard as I tried to win again, I let my guard down for a second, and Dad scooped me up and put me into the black bag. Soon we were on our way.

Although I don’t like other people, the technician and vet were nice to me and very gentle. And I got a compliment! I lost 0.6 pound, and the vet said “Good job!” She may have been talking to my folks, but I’ll except the praise too. After all, I’m the one who scurried around the house and raced up the stairs…an excellent way to trim my tummy.


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.



The Q-tip caper

I may go broke over Q-tips. Okay, I’m exaggerating. But something my clever, conniving cat is doing is certainly costing me a little more.

Everyone thinks his or her pet is the smartest, cutest, fastest, most loyal…you name it. But I know our cat, if not the smartest, is in the top ten. Penelope invented a game to keep herself occupied. It’s usually played while I’m in the bathroom, getting ready in the morning or preparing to go to bed in the evening. She’s developed the habit of sitting on the counter watching me wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on makeup. What really fascinates her is the sink. When I turn on the water, she comes very close. Once the water drains, she’ll even put her paws in the wet bowl. But that soon loses its power of engagement. Then the game begins.

Penelope loves Q-tips. I’m not sure why except that they’re sticks (she likes sticks) and have cute little white fluffy globs on each end. I use these swabs to fix eyeliner that’s traveled to the corner of my eyes or mascara that’s smeared on my lid because I’m not getting any younger and my eyesight is waning. If I leave a Q-tip on the counter, she spots it right away. Then she’ll creep over to it and either knock it on the floor or take it in her mouth. In both cases she jumps off the counter and begins to play.

She’s discovered that it’s fun to push the Q-tip under the bath rug and then burrow under the rug to retrieve it. At first, when I saw her trying to get the Q-tip out, I thought she’d accidentally pushed it under the rug, so I helped her by bringing it out. That wasn’t what she wanted. Later, I watched the procedure from the beginning. She was actually pushing it under only to attack the rug to get it out.

This game involves more than one Q-tip. She’s a Q-tip hoarder. One morning, I was about to take a shower and I wanted to straighten out the bath mat. I lifted it and shouted, “Oh, my goodness” at what I saw. I must have shouted a little too exuberantly, because my half-awake spouse called out from the bedroom, “What happened?”

“Nothing important; go back to sleep,” I replied. “But I found 6 Q-tips under the bath mat.”

Penelope's game, step by step.I was running low on Q-tips, and I needed to nip this in the bud (pardon the pun). So the next time I needed one, I used one side of it and then hid it among the cords leading to my lighted magnifying mirror and my Water-Pik. (Getting older requires additional appliances as well as numerous lotions and creams.) Penelope appeared on the counter, as if by magic, mimicking the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. And just like that, she nosed through the cords and uncovered the Q-tip. I needed a better plan.

I decided to hide the half-used tip in the box that holds my daily makeup and skin care needs, which I take out from under the sink when I need it.  I jammed the Q-tip in among the brown, gray, black, and even purple eyeliner pencils—many of which I never use. This worked well for a couple of days. But yesterday morning I stepped out of the bathroom for a few seconds. When I returned, the pencils were in their usual formation, but the Q-tip was gone. Then I saw it on the rug, Penelope standing guard and looking wide-eyed and innocent. “Mrrrow” was all she could say in her defense. “Tell it to the judge,” I told her, and then took a new Q-tip out of the package.

Disclaimer: No cotton swabs were harmed during these incidents. Or maybe just a few. Also, in case Unilever’s attorneys come knocking on my door, I am actually using the Q-tip® brand cotton swabs. They’re the best!

Penelope…I think we’ll keep her

Penelope_closeup2There’s been a long gap in my posting, and I think it’s because I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings about our (relatively) new cat, Penelope. They went from “Can we bring her back to the shelter?” to “Maybe we can work with her,” and, finally, to acceptance and what I’ll tell you about her here.

Misgivings about our choice of adoptee began when we realized Penelope never slept. At least not that we noticed. Going from a cat who slept about 23 hours a day to one who always wants to play or eat was a shock to our daily (and nightly) lives.  If we didn’t pay attention to her, she was relentless in her mewing and mrowwing (I call it kvetching).

Penelope didn’t spend the night on our bed, or even in our bedroom. She left the room when the lights went out but came back up for some attention at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. This was disturbing for two reasons: 1) I loved cuddling with Maude at night and missed that affection, and 2) 3:00 is not a good time to get up in the morning—especially when you don’t get to sleep until 11. We tried keeping quiet and ignoring her, hoping she would get discouraged and leave. But for Penelope, getting discouraged translates to, “They aren’t paying attention to me so I think I’ll scratch the furniture.” Our silence broke with a sharp, “No!”

During the day, heaven help you if you didn’t have lots of time to play Follow the Laser Pointer (her favorite) or Run After the Mousie. (One of us throws a small catnip-filled mouse across the room, and Penelope runs after it, then patiently waits for us to retrieve it and throw it again. All I can say is that it adds steps to my Fitbit.) We bought toys that can keep her busy when we’re busy—one that automatically emits laser beams in a choice of speeds and another that moves a ball around under a cover, encouraging cats to try to capture it. These novelties interest her for about 5 minutes, tops. She wants us.

We’ve now had her for nearly three months, and there’s been some improvement. In fact, she improves, little by little, every day. Last night, I swear she spent the whole night on our bed, burrowed under a blanket. When she did wake up, I evidently slept through it because when I asked my husband at about 6:00 if he fed her, he said he had. So she must have fussed at about 5:30. Overall, a more reasonable time that we hope we can extend to 6:30 or 7:00.

She doesn’t back away as much when we try to pet her. But affection has to be on her terms. She’ll plop down on the bed, just far enough away from our hands that we have to stretch to rub her back or head. She seems to love the touch, but she’s not trusting enough to seek it more often. We think it’s her possibly traumatic life on the street that made her skittish and in time she’ll realize we’re in her life to provide food (often), water, a clean litter box, and stimulating activities.

These days I’ve actually seen her napping! But her hearing is so sharp she’ll wake up if there’s any disruptive sound, like an ice cube dropping into the bin in the refrigerator. I suspect she sleeps when nobody’s home, but one of us is home most of the time.

Our next goal is getting Penelope to sit or lie next to us for an extended time or, and this is a stretch, sit on our laps. We’re not giving up, and surely we won’t bring her back to the shelter. Yes, I wish we had selected another cat—one whose behavior we had observed instead of looking into a cage and thinking, “She’s cute and seems docile. We’ll take her.” But we made the choice, and we’re focusing on the positive: Penelope is scrupulous about using the litter box (knock on wood). She has a healthy appetite (understatement). And although she’ll sometimes scratch at furniture when we’re not being attentive enough, she hasn’t destroyed anything yet (double knock on wood).

She also provides entertainment. She loves to climb into our deep bathtub (although I doubt she’d like it so much with water in it). It’s weird but funny when you’re brushing your teeth and you look in the mirror to see a little face with big eyes staring up at you from the tub. She can jump so high when chasing a laser beam, I’m sure she’ll be able to turn the lights on and off soon. She’s aware that a little metal object on a key ring is the source of her laser enjoyment because, when I put it down, she goes directly to the spot where I left it and reaches for it while complaining. My response: “Sure. Just try to work that thing with your paws…”

Penelope is not our ideal cat, but we’ve learned to like her very much (I can’t quite say “love” yet), while she’s (I hope) learning to like or love us. I think—no, I’m sure—we’ll keep her.


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