Sunday, June 21, 2015
First day of summer today and it was quite warm. Fortunately, our house is in the cool-zone of Los Angeles. Generally we’re about 10 – 15 degrees cooler in the summer than the areas east or west of us. That helps a lot since we don’t have air-conditioning.
Quint and Hedge start the day in the sunny windows, basking and bird-watching. As soon as it starts to warm up, though, they seek the dark spots and the places where the air moves around a bit. They stretch out when it’s hot and curl up when it’s cold, but some days it’s just so hot in the afternoon that they try to hide from the heat under the bed or in a closet. Or they stretch out on the floor. The basement is always cooler than the upper part of the house and I suppose the floor stays a little cooler because of that.
In the evenings, we run several fans to move cool air through the house and we all enjoy that. I try to get a flow going from one end of the house to the other, so we pull air in on one side and push it out on the other. Sometimes that actually works. The kitties will lie down in the airflow enjoying the relief from the hot afternoon.
In reality, though, it never gets too terribly hot in our house and we nearly always get some relief in the evenings. I’m sure the kitties would love to able to unzip their fur coats on those really hot days, but then they’d need those all-important thumbs and fur with zippers. They are shedding a little more right now, thinning out the fur for the coming summer months. I brush them both every day, no matter the season, but it’s more important now than ever to help them stay comfortable for California’s other season.
We only have the two seasons here. Summer and Not-Summer. It’s much cooler in the Not-Summer months and some years it rains. It’s really only unbearably hot for about two weeks at the beginning of September. The rest of the year it’s either warm or cool. We don’t have weather here, only climate. Lucky for us, we live in a zone where the climate is quite moderate – easy on both humans and cats, except for those two weeks in September when temperatures are over 100. None of us enjoy that. We’re used to it, though, and we know what to expect and we know that it only lasts a couple of weeks. Between now and then we’ll keep the fans going and have cool cats and people most of the time.
Friday, February 20, 2015
My cats have succeeded in bending me to their will. Not that I resisted very much. Okay, I cooperated quite willingly. Still, it has been fascinating to observe and experience the way in which my cats have trained me to do what they want me to do.
Quint is the least subtle of the two. When he wants something, he simply meows at me until I figure out what that something is and either do it or supply it. When he wants a kitty treat, he sits by his “egg” and stares at me until he gets one. The “egg” is a plastic, egg-shaped toy that is hollow on top and weighted at the bottom so that when he bats at it, is spins around, wobbles a bit and then rights itself. The two halves unscrew from each other and you can load small treats into the top. There is a small hole in one side of the hollow top where the treats fall out as the egg spins around. Quint is very good at pushing the egg around the kitchen to get the treats to fall out. So when he sits by his egg, I know exactly what he wants.
I keep a length of string in one of the kitchen drawers. Quint likes to have me drag the string around for him to chase. He will sit on the kitchen floor directly below that drawer and meow for me to play with him. When he wants someone to throw one of his catnip mice around the house for him, he will knock down the one he wants to play with from the shelf where we keep them and start batting it around at our feet.
At mealtimes, he demands to be fed on time each morning and evening. He comes into the bedroom in the morning and wakes up my wife when it’s time for him to be fed. In the evening he trots into the kitchen, looks to see if there is fresh wet food in his dish and, if there is not, meows loudly, letting whichever of us is there know that it is time for supper.
If he wants to be taken out in his cat-stroller, he will come and find me, meow at me, and then lead me to the living room where the stroller is parked. Often he will jump up into the stroller, sit down inside and look up at me, waiting for his ride. Other times, he will sit alongside the thing and wait for me to put him inside so he can get that ride.
He usually does each of the activities at around the same time each day, but I wouldn’t ever say that he does anything automatically, or as part of a training pattern. I firmly believe that, at any given moment, he knows exactly what he wants to do and makes sure that if it’s not something he can do for himself, he gets the help he needs to do it. I believe this because at other times, he’ll play by himself, or he’ll start of game of chase with Hedge. He calls on me when he needs or wants me to help him.
Hedge is less demanding and much more subtle in getting what he wants, but he, too, knows how to get us to give it to him. He likes the new Tumbler treats from Temptations and he’ll come into the kitchen in the evening looking for someone to roll a few of them to him while he runs after them. He still only likes to be petted in certain places, but when he thinks it’s time for him to be petted, he is quite insistent that I stop whatever I’m doing at the time and follow him to whichever location he’s chosen and pet him right then. Depending on his mood, this can happen several times a day. He doesn’t always squeak at me to come and pet him, sometimes he’ll just sit outside of the door of whatever room I am in and wait for me. When I get near him, he will then lead me to the spot where he wants to be petted, looking over his shoulder to make sure I’m following.
Both cats here their special times when they get brushed. Hedge gets brushed in the morning as soon as I am awake. Sometimes he waits until he’s sure I’m about to get up and then jumps up on the bed about the time my feet hit the floor. Occasionally, he’ll have something else he’s doing in the morning, like bird watching or eating breakfast, but as soon as he hears me moving around, he’ll find me, squeak at me and lead me into the bedroom for his morning grooming session. Quint gets brushed in the evening. He gets both his teeth and his fur brushed right around supper time. He’s flexible about exactly when that happens, as long as it does happen eventually.
There are times when my schedule requires that I be away from the house at the times when the cats are used to having me around. They are very forgiving when that happens, but I do get scolded and reminded that their needs really ought to come first. Mostly of the time, I agree with them. I like being a servant to my cats. There’s no monetary reward in it, but the purrs I receive are priceless.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Starting today, September 23, through Saturday, September 27, 2014, I'm giving away my post-apocalyptic novel, Zombies, Cats and Heroes. Please feel free to grab yourself a copy, share the link with your friends and read it to your cats.
The book is the cat-lover's version of survival in a dangerous new world. Get your copy here. Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
For the last couple of days, I have made my newest short story available as a free download on my Kindle site. It is Hedge's biography and I thought it was a story worth telling. It seems that at least two of the people who read it, thought so, too. They posted very nice reviews of the story. It is still available for free until tomorrow, August 13, 2014. Feel free to get a copy for yourself and share with your friends. Hedge is a wonderful creature and I am happy to be able to share his story this way. Here is a link to the Kindle store where you can download the story: The Fear
Friday, August 1, 2014
This is the cover for one of the short stories I have available for sale on Amazon.com. Today, August, 1, 2014 through August 5th, 2014 the story can be downloaded for free. It's in the Kindle store, but if you don't have a handheld Kindle reader, you can download the free reader app from Amazon for whatever device you might be running. Here is a link to the Amazon page for the story: Bastet
Thursday, December 12, 2013
When we gave our cat the name “Quint”, or rather when he named himself, we had seen only a brief glimmering of what he would become. Even then, though, we knew that he was something, or someone, special. He had that spark that not every cat contains, that extra bit of life, that extra measure of awareness, of curiosity. He is what I call Cat-Plus. There are cats that are just cats. They are adorable and they do all the things that a cat should do – chase a string, bat their toys around, climb into boxes and bags, dash about the house in a frenzy of imaginary hunting, purr, demand attention, leave the occasional wet hairball on the floor right where I’ll step on it with my bare feet, and all the other common cat activities. And then there are those cats that are a bit more than cats, the ones that have something to say to you and manage to find a way to communicate it to you despite the nearly insurmountable language barrier. It’s that undefinable extra bit that distinguishes the normal, everyday house cat from Cat-Plus. I have one of each. Hedge, the black cat, has potential, but something horrible happened to him before he came to us that scared and scarred his little cat mind so thoroughly that he may never be completely free of it. I try to help him, but whatever happened to him is never very far from his thoughts and just about the time I think he might start to act like a normal, playful cat, the horror takes him and he has to go to one his “safe” places to get it under control. Whatever he sees when the horror takes him, makes him very afraid. He is the most submissive cat I have ever known. And he desperately wants everyone to like him, but he’s afraid of everyone but Quint, Carol and I, so his circle of friends is very small. Quint is Cat-Plus. He smart and sensible and insatiably curious. He knows what he wants and he has learned how to tell us what that is. He has to know what is going on in the house at all times. He wants to know what we’re having for dinner, who we’re speaking to on the phone, where we’ve been walking, what’s in any bag or box that enters the house, what movie we’re watching, even what we’re reading. He doesn’t want to participate in any of our human activities, he just wants to know what we are doing. When there is something that he wants us to do with him, he comes to us and reaches out with a paw and taps us on the arm to get our attention and then tells us what he wants. I’m not a fluent in Cat as I would like to be so I don’t always know what Quint is saying to me, but most often it has something to do with grooming, feeding or playing. He likes having his fur brushed and, when I am sitting in my chair at the dining room table, he will insist that I brush him before I do anything else. I try telling him that I am eating and that he should wait until I’ve finished. He doesn’t listen. He keeps poking me on the arm with his claws until I pick him up and brush him. If he wants a ride in his stroller, he will jump in and sit there staring at us until we take him for a ride. Very often, he’ll just walk up to me and meow. I know he wants something, but it’s hard to tell just what that might be. I’m sure he thinks I’m too stupid to understand what he’s saying. He’s probably correct in that. I’ve never been very good at foreign languages, or even accents. I just don’t have an “ear” for them, I guess. I find myself saying, “Could you spell that, please?” what I’m talking to someone with a heavy accent. Poor Quint can’t spell and that makes understanding him all the more difficult. I can understand some Cat words, like “Hi, I’m here!!” and “It’s dinnertime,” plus “I like that,” and “Leave me along, I’m busy.” Each cat has his/her own dialect which makes understanding them even more difficult. Hedge has a sound that means “Follow me” which is different from the one Quint makes to express that same concept. Since the cats can’t even agree among themselves what the sounds mean, I don’t feel badly about not always understanding them. Quint has his own language and his own ways of making us understand what he needs and that is part of what makes him extraordinary. But he also has a presence that is immediately evident to anyone who meets him. There is something extra about him that isn’t easily describable. I think of it as a confident awareness of not only himself as a cat, but an awareness of himself in relation to his environment and the other inhabitants of that environment. He is himself and he knows it and he knows what that means. Quint lives up to his name, which comes from quintessential. The word “quint” means five. “Quintessential” means, essentially, the fifth element. If the four elements are earth, air, fire and water, then the fifth element is the spirit. Quint is the spirit of Cat, the best of his kind. Okay, maybe you think your cat is better, smarter, more clever. You may be right. But Quint has that something extra that sets him apart from every other cat I have ever known. I consider him the quintessential cat. If you ever meet him, I believe you will agree.