Archive Page 2

Losing a Pet

Mum’s dear friend, my Auntie Barb, recently lost one of her beloved dogs. He was sick and wasn’t getting better and at the end just didn’t have it in him to even wag his tail. Making a decision to end a life that is not worth living anymore is very difficult. So difficult that sometimes it is put off too long.

Mum thinks that there are feelings of guilt that sometimes attend the decision making process, in addition to simply not wanting to let go. Could we have done more? What if a few more days could have produced a turnaround? All in all, you know though, when the time has come.

If your pet is not responding to you or is in great pain and you have done all you can do, and your Veterinarian has run out of options for you, you need to understand something. We animals live in the moment. We don’t have regrets, hopes or dreams. We have only now. We have only this moment, this time. Our lives are filled with moments of contentment or joy. If our moments become only pain-filled or joyless, then that is all we know.

The decision is understandably hard for you, but it is not difficult for us at all. We will not blame you for a decision that ends our pain. All of our joyful, exuberant and carefree moments are what you need to hold in your hearts when you have finally concluded that the time has come.

Cat Spraying – We’ve Weathered the Storm…

Last post, we talked about inappropriate inside behaviour, ie. marking. In cat parley that means backing up to a vertical service and peeing a few short bursts to ‘claim’ the area. It is very typical behaviour but obviously for inside cats, not a desirable trait. Andy and I had several serious chats about this.

I also went online and checked out a few forums. I highly recommend www.thecatsite.com . Their forum has a lot of information and tips. I also have referred before to www.calgaryhumanesociety.com as they have a number of very informative articles.

But back to our experience….Andy has never done this before except once when he was very young. I suddenly remembered that incident in the thick of wanting to smack him silly. (I didn’t, of course, but I had a lot of terse questions for him.) As I watched the behaviour escalate, I remembered him leaping up onto the loveseat a few years ago, and doing a double take at a dish towel I had left over the back of it, when the phone rang. Evidently he resented the intrusion and backed his hiney to it and gave it a spritz, while I was on the phone, right in front of me! I mention this as it is apparently a normal response and not really a cause for worry.

Fast forward to recent weeks. We had a skunk in the yard, and all the dogs found it and got sprayed. It is Spring, and as this is a rural area, there are feral cats about and males are likely marking their territory and females of course are in heat. A squirrel has found its way into the attic and is making proprietary noises. And – darnit! it’s Spring!

Now if you visit the websites I’ve mentioned you will find references to tin foil on areas where the brat is spraying (great idea), double sided tape, cat pheromone spray, odour eliminators (plain old vinegar works well in this regard too, btw) and spraying with a water sprayer when you catch them in the act. The course of action in all cases, is to first find where the spraying is occurring (this can be accomplished, in the dark, with the aid of a black-light), applying an odour eliminator and then a pheromone spray. If these measures don’t work, tin foil as a temporary measure can work very well. If taped up on the favoured spots, the sound of the spray, and the back-spray is off-putting. 

One thing that is not mentioned much, but in our case was critical, is that cats do get a little stir crazy! Especially, obviously, inside cats which of course mine are. So! I opened up the basement door. Ordinarily the cats are not allowed down there. This seems to have alleviated the problem. Now Andy has some new territory to explore and his frustration level has gone down. He still scratches at the french door, wanting out into the ‘Big Yonder’ but he is much more relaxed. Pure frustration will lead a cat to spraying behaviour. It’s not that he wants to be bad – he just sometimes doesn’t know what else to do.

Some cats are fine amusing themselves and others require a lot of stimulation. Mine are a mixed herd, so this year, I will have a run built. The cats will access it through an inside window with a pet door built in. It will be very high at the house end and be like a lean-to. It will have chicken wire all around, including underground, with the grass and sod laid over the ground portion. There will be a door for me to go in and out, from the outside, so I can change litter boxes. And it will have all manner of climbing and hanging toys.

I cannot risk them going about free. Too many predatory animals and birds. But I think they will benefit from some sun and air, and perhaps I will never have to gape in outrage as my ‘angel Andy’ pees on my couch again.

Newbie Course on Blogging

I’m evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they’re letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.It covers: 

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it’s still free.

SPRING! – and a young man’s fancy….

Shhhh!…it’s Barb here, and I’m writing this on the sly. Andy is captivated elsewhere. I’ve had the screen door open that leads onto the deck so the cats can watch and listen to the birds. Andy is mesmerised by the goings on out there.

The reason for this post, is the reason that many cats are surrendered to animal shelters all over North America. I want to help prevent some of this with this post.

Andy is displaying some very bad behaviour. I have caught him a few times trying, and in a couple of cases succeeding, to mark his territory. This is very unusual as he was duely neutered when he was six months old and has never exhibited this behaviour. As I know this is a huge issue for cat caregivers, and particularly for new cat folks, I thought I would try and shed a little sunlight on this issue.

Male cats, and sometimes females, want to mark their territory for various reasons. Males, of course, want to claim any females within their chosen territory, and females, if un-altered, want to let the guys know where to find them. Males and females both, will want to ward off any encroachment on their food sources too. In the wild that would be X number of fieldmice and other prey in a particular territory. In the feral cat world, food and exemplary procreation opportunties are the watchwords.

So what does this have to do with four housebound felines? All of whom are spayed or neutered?

Well as it happens, male cats when they are neutered don’t neccessarily ‘forget’ their natural instincts. Andy, from time to time, will exhibit very male behaviour and grab Gretchen by the neck and make very definite male, mating sounds. She then exhibits very un-female behaviour and trys to beat the crap out of him and they go to their corners for a while.

So what is going on?

Well it’s complicated depending on where you live. My theories are based on observation only and I offer them here, with an emphasis on where I live. I hope that you will offer here your own theories and observations…

In our case here there are a few possibilities. Andy lives with three female cats, all of whom have been spayed. I suspect though that at certain times of the year, they have a hormonal ‘surge’ and he may be reacting to that. Spring Fever? Well maybe. We have all been housebound for many months. There is that but also, we live in a rural area, so there are feral cats wandering around. I suspect maybe one or two may recognise that there are female cats in this house and are marking their own territory, to which Andy is responding. The other possibility is simply an exess of cats! I noticed when I ran an animal shelter, that when we were most crowded with cats, there was more territorial behaviour. This would speak to the ‘Cabin Fever’ kind of thing that I think may be happening here.

What do do?…My favourite choice is a spray bottle of water. Most cats hate to be sprayed with water. If your cat is being a dork, spray him in his mid spritz – with a spritz of water. If he has a favourite spot, clean it with vinegar and water. This will neutralize the scent and he will forget to mark there. Understand too, that this is likely a sporadic thing and your Lothario will soon become his usual, charming self.

Note to Rural cat caregivers…New Info – The outside dogs encountered a skunk. That may be a factor in Andy’s actions too…Can’t go anywhere outside without encountering that odour. Yikes!!

For further information on this behaviour I encourage you to consult www.calgaryhumane.ca There are many excellent articles there on many cat behaviours.

Don’t tell Andy about this post…shhhh

Revved Again!

We’re kinda sorta revved again. Mum feels crappy – flu – so I decided to let her have this spot. I am such a great guy!BTW – we have had issues with this blog and paragraph spacing. All problems, we blame on the server….lolAnyway, if you see no line spacing or paragraph spacing, try to think you are reading a James Joyce piece, and go with with the flow. We do see the proper spacing as we type….Anyway, here is Mum.Barb here: not altogether – together. I’m suffering the Flu. But I had such an inspiring day! I just wanted to share some of my stuff. (Not the Flu, of course)I finalized all the rest of my travel arrangements today, for Dr. Joe Vitale’s www. attractwealthseminar.com to be held the first weekend in May. And I found out that one of my very good Second Life friends (who shares a birthday with me, and guess when….of course – the weekend of the seminar!) is thinking about attending too. I’m so excited. And another good friend from Unseminar 4 may be in the area too. Some of these online and long distance friends have become the most important and special people of my life. I love them all so much!In between times, I somehow got fired up again about Andy’s book on Newbie Cat Care. It’s almost done. Look for it. There is nothing like it anywhere on the internet. It is so cool! 

Laughing at Adversity

Mum and I are having ‘issues’. Camera and computer issues. Mum’s grumpy. So all the big ideas for this blog post went out the door with the dog, for now at least. But then!! Along came….Oh what was that song? Never mind. What came along was a very elegant little e-book. Mum downloaded it earlier, in the midst of several other learning processes and this just seemed like synchronicity to her. So here it is, Mum dissolving into teary eyed laughter over this quote from from the aforementioned e-book.”Hey, if a cat can fall off a chair while licking itself, and act all cool, I can laugh in the face of adversity. Of course life can be easy if you let it, but when the curve balls do fly at ya, laugh yourself a merry laugh and hit one out the the park.”…..Craig Perrine, from Amy and Issac Allen’s ‘Everything I Ever Needed To Know To Succeed, I  Learned From The SIGLO IV’. Click Here!  I wasn’t so amused, but then I have never fallen from a chair while licking myself. I do like learning though, and in that spirit, I’ve allowed Mum this post. But she’d better stop giggling soon.*Tip of the month* If you have leather items that are important, smooth or suede, don’t leave them out where we cats can get them. I’m not sure what the attraction is but it’s like catnip. We love to sniff, roll on and lick all things leather. This includes furniture BTW so think about this before making a purchase you may regret. Scratching is another way in which we approve  of stuff. And de-clawing is not an option.

Never say ‘Never’

Mum suggested today that,  since I am just getting started, maybe I could use one of her articles as a starting point. That seems like a plan.  So this blog post may be lengthy – it’s a true story, with a message. She’s going to do the work of course. I am busy carting around a huge paper ball in my mouth.

So here goes.

Not Too Late – Not Too Far

 The telephone ringing interrupted the conversation I was having with a prospective volunteer. She wanted to volunteer at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter to help assuage the loss of her beloved cat, who had gone missing during a move from Watson Lake to Whitehorse, the middle of that winter. The cat would have been on its own for several weeks by this time.

“Have you checked at Whitehorse By-Law? – OK, what type of cat? – Long or short hair? – Colour?  Male or female? – Was it wearing a collar? – And it’s missing from where?” “OK, this will go on the pet report and will be in the papers tomorrow and on the radio. If you find your cat, please let us know and we’ll get it off the report. Good luck.”

These calls are all too frequent and sad. The percentage of recovered missing pets is very small and the numbers nationally, are even worse. The Pet Report was one of the first community services provided by Humane Society Yukon and continues to this day. And it does sometimes re-unite pets with owners.

My prospective volunteer was listening with interest. “Could I do that?” she asked. “Even after all this time?”

“Can’t think why not! Who knows? Give me your info and we’ll see.” 

She gave me very detailed information on her cat who had disappeared just before she was due to start a new job in Whitehorse. Her cat had some distinctive features, including very exaggerated tufted ears that were noted on the Pet Report. It is always a sickening experience to have to leave a pet behind, and worse if the pet is lost. Animals have a sense when change is imminent and they don’t like change any more than we human animals do. They will often disappear at times like this. It’s good to be aware of this and take precautions.

The Pet Report was sent off about six o’clock that evening and was published the next day in both local papers. Two days after that, the volunteer came in to the shelter with tears in her eyes to let me know that she’d had a call from Watson Lake from a man who said that only the day before he had found a cat of that description – those ears – under his porch and skinny, but alive and glad to have been found. She was re-united with her cat soon after.

The moral is – make no assumptions; do everything you can think of to let as many people as possible know, that you are looking for a particular animal. Give as much detail as you can, regarding appearance and distinguishing marks or features. And don’t think it’s too late ever. For this lady and her cat, it was not too late – or too far.

Copyright – Barb Harris 2005