Dogs are different. They’re like big floppy happy cats that are pretty much oblivious to their surroundings unless food is in reach. Dog kisses are wet and big and sloppy and slimy. Cat kisses are dry and small and neat and rough. When dogs are distress they whimper and grumble…and cats, well, they hiss.
Jack moved in on Friday. We followed all the instructions we could get our hands on as to how to best introduce him to our feline family. I guess you could say it went as well as could be expected…and I’ve got the scars to prove it. It wasn’t all bad though. Jack hasn’t made any aggressive moves toward the cats, he just really wants to make new friends. They’re just not quite as eager to befriend him. Still, we’ve had a handful of promising moments that lead us to believe that before too long we’ll have a foursome of furry friends.
Since we’re still dealing with lots of apprehension from the cats, it’s hard to give a full report as to how the transition is going. And I must admit, I feel like this is coming out all choppy and not as a string of complete thoughts. Oh well, it’s your weekly blog post as promised. Sorry it’s so brief!
So, it looks like I’ll need to either add a post category or rename one…because as of this Friday “cat tales” will no longer be an adequate description of stories regarding the pets under our roof. That’s right ladies and gents, we’re getting a dog.
Trey & I have been talking about getting a dog for years. We both grew up in dog households. We love dogs – cats are just easier when you know you’ll be gone for long hours during the day. But since I’m at home most days, that’s no longer an obstacle. A few months ago, Trey’s sister approached us about adopting their 8 year old Golden Retriever, Jack. They’re moving to Washington D.C. in June and since 2 of them are allergic to dogs, she thought this would be the opportune time to find him a new home. We love Jack, he’s a big, floppy, gentle beast and the most damage he’d ever do is beat you to death from wagging his tail so enthusiastically. We reluctantly agreed, but were genuinely worried about how it’d work out. Then Uncle David and Angie said they’d be happy to take Jack – so Trey and I forgot all about it and went back to business as usual.
Well, last week sometime, David and Angie decided that taking on a new-to-them dog just for the sake of keeping him in the family might be more difficult than they originally thought, so Trey and I were up at bat again. But this time, rather than moan and fret about how the cats would react to the furry intruder, we decided to do some research. We wanted to make sure we could afford to take care of him, first of all. So we priced food and meds and grooming and all sorts of things. Then we looked for information about how to introduce a dog into a “cat family.” And what we found was really encouraging. So much so that we made it official. After his vet appointment this Friday at 2pm, Jack will be coming home with us to stay.
I’m not gonna lie, we’re pretty excited. He’s such a great dog, and we look forward to afternoons with him out at Boerne Lake throwing a Frisbee or just laying in the sun. I hope to get him in shape enough to accompany me on my morning run before too long. Trey is convinced that Jack and Rufus will be come fast friends and will snuggle and take naps together (I have my doubts about that one). My prayer is that any disgruntled growls and hisses won’t last for too long and that he’ll be able to incorporate into our family quickly and easily…and that our sweet nieces won’t be too mad at us for taking their beloved family pet.
We brought his bed home with us on Sunday and the cats have sniffed it without hissing so far – I’m taking that as a very good sign.
It’s been a rough few days for the cats…and it’s gonna be a rough few more. Let’s just say they don’t like change. Or baths. Or haircuts. Or the vet. Or dogs…
But that’s exactly what they’re getting. Rufus is growling in the corner as I type this, making it impossible to forget that I’m gonna be on his naughty list at least until next Monday.
Friday and Saturday of his week, both Rufus and Roger got haircuts. Rufus also got a bath. And Roger went to the vet on Monday for his annual checkup. Now, you might be thinking that Frank’s gotten off easy in this deal. While her wounds aren’t as physical as the boys’, her psychological wounds are wreaking havoc. See, when one of the three gets a bath or goes to the vet, they end up smelling different. For all intents and purposes, Frank is living in the house with two strange cats this week. Typically this only takes a few days to right itself…but I through them all a curve ball when Trey and I agreed to dog-sit for our dear friends Mike & Rochelle for the entire week.
Monday morning around 10am, Rochelle dropped of Boo & Honey – two of the sweetest little pups you ever did meet. Though I must admit, their sweetness also comes with a bit of hyperactivity that the felines of the house are less than thrilled about. Based on my previous contact with the dogs, I assumed Boo (a grey Terrier-ish mutt who weighs all of 4 lbs) would fit right in. He’s smaller than the cats first of all, and he’s always been the calm one (at least when I’ve been around him!). Honey, on the other hand, I expected to go ape wild trying to “play” with her new roommates. She looks a little Pomeranian-ish, is honey-colored and loves to jump to get attention. I figured she’d scare the crap out of the cats and I’d have to keep a close eye on her all week.
Boy did I have those two mixed up! I genuinely thought Honey would be my problem child and Boo would be easy as pie. As it turns out, Boo is absolutely fascinated by the foreign furry creatures and he’s constantly trying to get a closer look (or perhaps a closer sniff). And to my utter amazement, Honey seems to know that cats and dogs aren’t supposed to be friends and generally leaves them alone. She must have had a cat family in her previous life because she’s quite content to go on about her business and pay them no attention whatsoever. I’m absolutely flabbergasted.
One of my favorite things about watching this doggie duo is they (as a unit) remind me of the two dogs I grew up with: Carrie (short for Caramel – a honey colored Pekingese, and Socky (I have no idea how to spell that, I just know it’s short for Socrates – a grey mutt with a beard who appeared to be much wiser than he actually was). For that reason, all the madness this week is laces with a touch of nostalgia…and that makes all the hissing (Rufus is STILL sputtering and gurgling in the corner like a bad cappuccino maker) worth it.
Upon moving into our newly built house last April, one of the first things we did was cut a huge hole in the wall. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. We took note during the construction process of all the little nooks and crannies that would eventually get walled up – free space that was just sitting there, waiting for someone to find it. The largest of these crannies, by far, was under the stairwell. While the upper half of the underside of the staircase was used as pantry space, the lower half was boarded up, covered with sheet rock, and left there to die.
So, what did we two DIY-ers say to ourselves? “Why, that space would be ideal for a litter box cupboard!” As the proud parents of three cats, we like to keep their bathroom habits as private as possible. Rather than leave the litter box out in the open (bathroom, laundry room, etc.) we like to keep it hidden…and, quite frankly, I think the kitties like their privacy. So we cut a hole (or two) in the wall. The first hole is about 2.5 x 3 ft. and is located just inside the laundry room, beside the door leading into the kitchen. It’s big enough for Trey and I to crawl into and leads into a space that’s about 3 x 5 ft., the ceiling of which starts at about 2 ft and runs to about 5’4″ (it’s under the stairs, remember?). The second hole is in the kitchen, just outside the laundry room door and is about 8 x 8 inches – and is the frame for the kitty door flap. That way the cats have access to the litter box under the stairs without having access to the laundry room and pantry. I hope that makes sense.
As I’m typing this, Roger has decided he’d be much happier in my lap – specifically sitting on my arms, effectively pinning me to the keyboard.
Where was I? Oh yes. So we cut this hole in the wall sometime around May. In September we purchased the sheet rock to finish in the space. Sometime around then, we also installed a permanent LED nightlight and a pull-string light fixture (one for the cats, one for us). But it wasn’t until December 29th that we actually started to make the inside of the litter box cupboard look like a real room. And it’s almost done! After being on our “to do” list for nearly 8 months, I can honestly (and without fudging the truth of our productivity) say that the cats will be allowed into their newly refurbished bathroom again before the week is out.
Now, we can’t just keep calling it a litter box cupboard – cause that sounds weird and uninspired. This new space is affectionately referred to as the Cat Cave. And every time I say that, the old Batman them song pops in my head…
Duna-duna-duna-duna duna-duna-duna-duna CAT CAVE!
Rufus is a very peculiar cat. He wants you to love him, but only on his terms. He only likes to be petted when he asks for it and he never likes to be picked up. He’s also a walking spasm. These are the things you need to know before I tell this story.
This morning, I was sitting at the desk, checking email, and Rufus wanted my attention. He circled my feet for a while, wandered around under the desk for a bit, getting frustrated that I didn’t stop typing to pet him. Then he had a grand idea. Rufus jumped up on the black leather chair that sits to the left of the desk. He climbed up on the back of it and lay down, pawing at the corner of the desk and at whatever papers he could reach. I stopped typing and rubbed his fuzzy head affectionately and he seemed quite content to remain on the back of the black leather chair for a while.
That black leather chair is angled in the corner that is made between the desk and the dvd shelf. Which means that there’s a small triangle of vacant space hiding behind it.
After some time, one of the other cats hopped up and startled Rufus. I heard a rustling noise. Assuming it was the cats pawing at each other, I looked to my left to find Rufus in extreme duress.
His heavy hind quarters had fallen behind the black leather chair, leaving his poor de-clawed front paws scraping frantically to keep him from falling into The Abyss. His eyes popped in sheer terror. I scrambled from my chair to try to save him, but it was too late. Rufus slipped down, down, down into the black hole. Down into the never-ending unknown. Down 36 inches.
I won’t say I’m a bad cat mommy. But I will say that I laughed so hard I cried.
Rufus doesn’t seem to want any more of my attention today.
Rufus was my fourth. Yes, by this time I knew I had a problem. I was well on my way to becoming a cat lady. I had Tempe, Roger, Frank and I had been foster parent to Milo (he got caught living in his mommy’s dorm room, so he came to live with me for a semester). When Milo moved back home, there was a big furry hole in my heart.
When my friend Jen got married to her college sweetheart, I was reunited with my hight school girls for a whole weekend to participate in the festivities. Sunday, after the wedding, while Mr. & Mrs. Justin Seay were on their way to honeymoon bliss, Abbey, Sara, Dorothy and I went to Abbey’s parents’ house to see their new kittens (you can already see where this is going). In the middle of a litter of skinny solid black kittens, was this fat gray poof ball. And it didn’t take much urging from Abbey’s dad before I had a shoebox with one of his old sweatshirts in it sitting in the front seat beside me as a bed for my new kitten.
After much debate, Rufus was named after Rufio from the movie Hook…because of the hair. It stuck out in all directions. And his hair was the perfect illustration for his personality. Rufus is a walking comedy.
A few Rufusisms:
- Rufus is knock-kneed.
- Rufus runs into walls…frequently.
- Every Christmas, Rufus lights his tail on fire. Yet I still light delicious smelling candles and put them on the coffee table each year.
- Rufus gets lost in the hallway.
- Rufus wants you to pay attention to him, but only when he wants you to.
- Rufus hates to be picked up, or cuddled, or petted for any extended period of time.
- Rufus picks fights with his own tail.
- Rufus secretly knows deep down that he’s an outside kitty.
- Rufus looks morbidly obese in the winter, and svelt and trim in the summer after his haircut…yet he still weighs 14 pounds.
When I first moved out of my parents’ house I lived in a tiny little duplex in Pacolet, SC (for those of you familiar with the area, I was the 12th house up on the left from the horse in the water). While I don’t think I’d ever want to live there again, one great thing did come from that experience. One day, I was at the duplex cleaning and waiting for mom to come help me move some stuff in. As she turned into the driveway in her enormous land-yacht Ford Explorer, she stopped just in the nick of time. There, crouched milimeters in front of her front driver’s side tire, was the tiniest kitten I’d ever seen.
Covered in mange from head to toe, this blue eyed baby meowed and meowed as if she were singing in a musical. After close inspection, mom and I both agreed that it was indeed a “he” and I named the boy kitty Frank, after Frank Sinatra for his blue eyes and his love of crooning. The plan was that I’d keep the cat in the duplex for a couple of days (I hadn’t moved in yet) until I had time to take him to the shelter.
Well, we all know how that was going to end. Frank didn’t go to the shelter. I took Frank to the vet to get all the shots because Frank was going to live with me from now on. So, we got to the vet, and the vet’s assistant (are they still nurses at a veteranarian’s office?) checked Frank out and said: “Ooh, it’s a little girl kitty! What’s her name?”
I couldn’t just change her name, I’d been calling her Frank for nearly a week. But you know what? Frank liked her name just fine. She’s absolutely, unquestionably a Frank. Not a Frances, not a Frankie, not a Francesca. Though I will admit to calling her Frank-o-la from time to time.
A few Frankisms:
- Frank is a flirt. She’s mastered the slow blink. And she’ll wink at you.
- Frank loves people. Well, most people. Kids kind of freak her out.
- Frank is the most photogenic cat in all the land.
- Frank loves you.
- Frank lost a tooth a few months ago and now she makes the cutest little snarling face, and she’s completely unaware of it.
- Frank loves shoes.
- Frank always knows when you need a hug.
- Frank is a daddy’s girl.
My cats are funny. Sure, I may be a little biased, but for the most part, Trey and I live with a small collection of the world’s most distinctly individual feline personalities…and they’re all pretty hilarious.
I was still living with my parents after college, but having independence issues, when I got my first cat, Tempe. I bought her at the little pet store that used to be in the Hillcrest Shopping Center. When my parents realized I had gotten a kitten without their permission, they were pretty peaved. So, what was my logical next move? Obviously, it was to get another cat. I went back to that pet store honestly only looking to get some fun cat supplies for Tempe, and that’s when I fell in love with Roger. He was a tiny poof of furry tiger stripes with bright white lines around each of his eyes. He was terrifed and stared up at me with a look that I was certain meant “are you my mommy?” OF COURSE I AM! The pet store owner told me that he had been brought in earlier that day with his sister: a woman was driving to Greenville from Charlotte and heard a strange squealing noise coming from the hood of her car. When she finally pulled over to check it out, she found 2 little long hair black tabbys curled up next to her window washing fluid. It’s a miracle they were safe! Roger’s sister had gotten adopted immediately, which meant that poor Roger was all alone in his kitty cage just waiting for me to come by and rescue him. Yes, I am a complete and total sucker for baby animals.
I named him Roger after Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers (formerly The Refreshments). For that matter, I’d named Tempe after Tempe, Arizona: the Peacemakers’ hometown. I was a little obsessed in the early 2000s.
As Roger grew up, it became glaringly obvious that he loved me with all his heart, and was utterly terrifed of every other human being who ever lived. He’s my sweet man, my love, my cuddler and my bathroom buddy. Let me explain: Roger has an allergy to regular cat food (in short, one of the main ingredients gives him kidney stones), which meant that, while the other cats could eat their dinner in the kitchen, Roger had to take his meals alone in the bathroom. Once he started howling, I’d go in there and wash my face, or use the potty, or anything, and he’d purr and happily chow down on his horribly expensive cat food.
A few notable Rogerisms:
- Roger loves feet. A lot. Fetish isn’t a strong enough word.
- Roger is scared of you. Unless you’re me. Or Trey.
- Roger is gay. He fell in love with a sweet yellow tabby boy cat named Milo years ago and hasn’t looked at a woman since.
- Roger is prettier than you, and he knows it.
- Roger is a mama’s boy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- Roger hates reading…well, he hates it when I read. Any time I pick up a book, he’ll curl up right on top of the pages so that I can’t see any of the words.
- Roger likes to be held like a toddler, and will literally hug me around the neck.
For those of you who have met her, you have to admit, Frank is a beautiful cat. She has the most expressive eyes. And she’s a flirt…tell her you love here and she gives you the slow blink. Watch her from across a room and she’ll wink at you. She loves people and likes (okay, tolerates) most dogs. She’s incredibly graceful (probably more so when you compare her to Rufus who runs into walls and lights his tail on fire). She makes new friends with just about everyone who enters our home. And she always, ALWAYS knows when you need a hug.
When Trey and I were first dating, we spent hundreds of lunch breaks eating sandwiches and taking 20 minute cat naps before going back to work. We had countless movie nights that ended in us falling asleep together on the couch. When we spent Christmas with Trey’s family, Makayla fell asleep in my lap numerous times while I sang Silent Night softly in her ear. And the other night, when Frank was dozing in my lap, I was overcome with love for her. There something so peaceful and innocent about a sleeper. There’s something so serene and vulnerable that you wrap them in your arms. There’s a magic there that makes you power through your arm falling asleep and tingling and your fingers going numb just so you don’t have to wake them. It’s true! When our tv show was over and it was time to go to bed, I sat there for a long time because I just couldn’t bear to move and wake Frank. But I moved. And she woke. And I kissed her goodnight on the top of her furry head and she lazily rolled over and fell back asleep.
Frank is also the most photogenic of our three cats. Even her “bad” shots are adorable. She’s the girl who you think you’re sneaking a candid shot of but who has crazy camera radar and immediately cheezes just as soon as you click. She’s Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother,” who’s never taken a bad photo…ever. And there’s a very good reason for that: she’s just that darn cute.
A few weeks ago, Frank did what I didn’t know was possible. She lost a tooth. I didn’t know cats did that. Not like people do anyway. But sure enough, one night, Trey and I noticed she was shaking her head a lot, and upon closer inspection we noticed that her top left front fang was loose. On a person it’d be the canine tooth…but somehow that seems strange when describing a cat. We called the emergency vet who assured us that it was perfectly normal and there was no danger to her if her tooth fell out, “she’s got plenty others,” he said. And the next day, sure enough, out the tooth came. And Frank didn’t seem to notice other than the fact that she looked funny when she ate.
Now, weeks later, you don’t even notice her tooth is gone. Except for one thing: without the top left fang there for her upper lip to lay against, her lip keeps getting caught on the bottome left fang…which causes her to make this face. “Something stinks” face. “Huh?” face. And, I say this out of love, it’s pretty freakin hilarious.
It’s coming on summer now… Wait. Who am I kidding? It’s 97 degrees here at 10am, it’s SUMMER.
Anyway, my point is that, in this heat, the cats shed like crazy. So, to make them less miserable in the heat, and to keep me from having to vacuum 3 times a day, we like to give the boys a haircut. Since Roger is a true gentleman and keeps his coat clean and shiny, we just buzz his belly to make him feel cooler without making him look ridiculous. Rufus, on the other hand, needs a bit more…attention.
With the help of our trusty travel drugs from the vet, I set out to re-buzz Rufus…from head to toe. Let me tell you, Rufus is a mean drunk. Somehow, even when he can’t walk in a straight line (not that he can do that anyway), Rufus can bite you on the ELBOW before you even see him lunge.
Shaving Rufus for the summer is like shearing a sheep: a mean, rabid, nazi sheep who’s pissed that he has to get a haircut in the first place.
Oh, and did I mention that while I was shaving Rufus, Roger (fresh out of the bath and soaking wet) decided to take a nap in the litterbox. Guess who got TWO baths today.