Posts Tagged ‘companion animals’

First I’d like to give a big THANKS to those of you who have taken the time to read this here blog. When I started it as part of NoBloPoMo I had no illusions of actually writing a post every day but totally did not expect anyone to read one word of it. So the fact that some of you have and a number of you have decided to follow me well…*sob*…that just blows my mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have kept me going.

Then I would like to say that I totally exceeded my expectations. As I said I so didn’t think I would be able to write a post a day for a month, and lets face it some of them were close calls and some were a little late, so the fact I did it is quite an accomplishment. I didn’t think I would have that much to say. Some people I know would be surprised I would say that considering they think I never shut up. So lets keep going and see where we end up, shall we?

I have two cats, Taang! and Eric. I had three but Mac passed away almost eight months ago. Still miss him. One thing I miss about him is that I could put sweaters on him and he didn’t mind. I thought I had a picture of him in one but I think it’s still on my phone. His brothers tend to get a bit testy if you try to put anything on them that’s not a blanket. Even then they can be a bit peculiar about that. They aren’t very open-minded those two. So even though I love the thought of knitting them sweaters like this. Trying to get it on them would result in wool carnage that would make even the staunchest knitter cry. Nevermind the blood.

I started to wonder about putting a sweater on a cat. Isn’t that a bit redundant? They have a nice furry coat and if it’s an outdoor cat the fur can be quite thick. But what if it’s an indoor/outdoor cat, does the fur still grow as thickly and then wouldn’t a sweater be advisable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like seeing cats outdoors and the number of feral cats in our neighbourhood alone is deplorable but realistically we are never going to get 100% of the people to keep their cats indoors so wouldn’t it be nice to at least keep them warm? But then that brings up a question of safety and would the cat be safe running around with a sweater on or would it get snagged on something. So not sure how practical it is to put a sweater on an indoor/outdoor cat.

All this got me thinking what other kind of attire is out there for our furry feline friends. And I found a whole host of fun things to dress your cat in. Hey, if dogs can get a little black dress, cats can have a fun beret, or a Santa hat. I may actually have to knit that. And these cats have to be the most patient I’ve ever seen. Mine would have shredded the hat before you could even click the shutter. But that Santa hat is so cute it would be worth the risk, I think. And just think of the cuteness if I knitted one for Taang! and Eric and Pete the dog. That would make a great Christmas card if I did that kind of thing. Which I don’t. But it would be cute anyway.

I do love this little vest and think it would be the ideal thing to give to someone who has one of the shorter haired breeds, like Siamese or the Sphynx or something like that. I would so knit it if I had less hairy cats but my boys have thick fur already. I also love this little knitted sweater and the cat that’s wearing it is kind of cute too. I’m starting to think I would like a kitten so that I could dress it up in that sweater. And to think that just yesterday I was thinking I didn’t want any more after these two go. Yeah, right. And I’m not going to buy any more yarn until I’ve used up all of my stash.

Ravelry is always a great place to find odd patterns. And I like this because it is adaptable for many different animals it seems. We have a bunny and she would probably appreciate a sweater. We try to reduce our expenses by keeping the house a little on the cool side and I think the bunny would rather we didn’t. A sweater might be just what she needs. She would look really cute in that. The thing I really like about this is the long legs and back. Taang! has arthritis in his hips so having something that covers them and keeps them warm is something that would be very practical for him. Definitely something to think about. That is after all the other stuff is done. By then he won’t need it because it will be August but then I can knit it for next winter.

I suppose if I started knitting clothes for my cats people would put me in a whole new category of “crazy cat lady”.
It’s funny how many patterns there are for dog clothes – tuxedos, dresses, sweaters, costumes, hats – you name it and there’s a pattern for it but for cats there really isn’t much choice. There are lots of blanket patterns and bed patterns which are really good, and I think it’s illegal to have a cat and not have a nice, soft bed for it, but not much in the way of apparel. I wonder if it’s because we have such a different view of cats that we think they are cute enough on their own without suiting them up. I would like to think that. My guys are.

And just in case you are wondering about the title of this post, you need to watch this.

And just because I was so proud of myself for being able to do a post a day, things conspired to make this post really late. Still I did thirty posts which is about twenty-nine more than I expected to make so that’s something.

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“Clearly you have no understanding of dogs.” This is what I said to my youngest daughter a few minutes ago. The reason? Well, our dog Pete is a foodaholic and as said daughter was making a salad and said dog loves lettuce, he did his usual thing and sat three inches away from her hoping, praying, that something would find its way off the counter and into his mouth. And as said daughter is not completely heartless, she caved and gave him a bit of romaine. And, of course, said dog, after eating his lettuce, only drooled all the more and only looked more expectantly between the counter and the floor. Daughter looked at him and said, “Just because I gave you one piece doesn’t mean you can expect more.” So clearly she does not understand dogs.

Pete is a good dog. He’s part Rottweiler and part Shar-Pei and at any given time we have no idea which part is going to show up at the door. Sometimes the Rottie greets us with waggy tail and a head butt pushing us in the direction of the kitchen. This usually means he wants his dinner but it could also mean he wants your dinner or the cats dinner or that there may be something that may have looked like food at one time somewhere in the kitchen and he wants it. When the Shar-Pei wants out we can be sure that taking him for his daily walks is going to be a challenge. If he doesn’t get his way he will stubbornly mope along, dragging his heels and making the walk more of a tedious examination of every blade of grass, every tree trunk, and every bush in the park. Then there is the eating of the grass…

Pete has a problem. He eats grass. He eats everything really and one time he ate a toothpick which ended up with a tense couple of days until he passed it. Don’t even ask us how we knew when it was out…but, yes, Pete is a grass eater and he can be seen walking in the park with a plant or two hanging out of his mouth at any given time. It can be funny but it can also be a bit scary. The last time he was at the park my daughter thought he had eaten some Wild Parsley, better known as Hogweed. This meant a frenzied search on the internet and a call to the vet because that stuff is poisonous and it can kill a dog very swiftly. Fortunately, nothing bad happened but it does mean we have to be very careful about what that dog is putting in his mouth.

Because of Pete’s, shall I say, dietary open-mindedness we have a section of the freezer filled with pumpkin and stocks in a company that sells a digestive aid. The pumpkin is for the inevitable stomach and digestive upsets and the aid is for the noxious fumes that emanate from the posterior region of the dog. Sometimes, when there is a hostage situation, I really believe that sending in a gassy dog would be the quickest way to resolve it. But you never see the guys on Criminal Minds or NCIS suggesting it.

When we first adopted Pete he was a little rough around the edges. He would routinely butt his head under your arm when you opened the refrigerator, hoping to snatch something before you missed it. I watched him one day pull a loaf of bread out ever so gently, using just his front teeth. He would also try to swipe whatever vegetables were within reach and if you weren’t fast enough you would find yourself chasing a dog with a tomato hanging out of his mouth. And there was the time he took a whole bag of tomatoes off the table and managed to bite everyone one of them before we knew what he had done. He also took a sack of oranges but he only managed to gore two of them before we grabbed the bag. Life in the early days with Pete was always a question of what he would try to eat next.

He has calmed down a lot since those early days, he knows better than to try to swipe food out of the refrigerator. He will still eat whatever he can sink his little teeth into if we aren’t looking. Like the time we thought we could leave him alone in the house while we went to buy a new fridge. Let’s just say that I hope the birdseed tasted better going in than it looked coming out. It lasted for days. Kind of like confetti after a wedding when you think you’ve finally vacuumed up the last of it and you look in the corner and there’s a few little dots staring back at you. Needless to say we never leave him uncrated now. He does like his crate and will go into it on his own when he wants some alone time so no need to worry that he is being abused. And he doesn’t get left in it for hours nor do we do this very often but it is very reassuring to know that he isn’t going to hurt himself while we are out.

Pete is generally a quiet, good-natured dog. He gets along well with just about everyone and most dogs. There have been a couple of instances where he got a little growly but it was only with two dogs of the same breed – Yellow Lab. He’s fine with the black coloured Labs and he’s also fine with a little girl Yellow Lab on the other side of our circle, it’s just these two particular dogs he doesn’t like. Don’t know why, they are nice and friendly, they come up wagging their tails like any of the other dogs we meet and Pete is good with them for all of two minutes. After that he gets a bit growly. The owners of these two dogs are very understanding and I’m sure Pete would never attack another dog, he’s just not that aggressive but we cross the street when we see them now.

Pete does love small dogs, however. He loves small people, too. I can remember not long after getting him, running into a neighbour whose son had just learned to walk. He came toddling over to Pete and clung onto his side, griping his fur as only a little kid can do, in other words, in a death grip. Pete stood there stalk still and waited for the little boy to let go, he then wagged his tail and sat down. He let that little boy use him as a toy for about five minutes and then we continued on our way. I have also seen Pete hold himself rigid while an elderly lady used him to regain her balance when she accidentally stumbled and put her hand on his back to steady herself. I have seen Pete be totally calm when in the presence of wheelchairs, and children with mental disabilities. He is also very gentle around the elderly and will sit quietly by their side allowing them to pat him as long as they wished. He would make a wonderful therapy dog if he could be trained not to get too overwhelmed by new situations.

That is really the only thing that is wrong about Pete and I hesitate using that word, “wrong”. It’s not a bad thing but it can be frustrating to see him feeling so overwhelmed that he starts humping his bed. At least it’s only his bed that he violates. But trying to calm him down can be a bit of a task. We’ve tried to expose him to all manner of new situations, taking us with him on trips to the pet shop or other places and he’s usually fine when there but when he comes home he seems to have a hard time relaxing and we realize just how much a trip out can stress out a dog like him. He loves to come with us and I don’t see any reason to leave him home so we just deal with his emotional outbursts as best we can. Giving him something to chew really seems to help but for a dog that will eat pizza crusts covered in mold, he is really picky about his chewy’s. We got him an elk horn once and it just sits there untouched but give him a dried tendon and he’s in heaven.

We’ve had Pete for four years now and he was about two when we got him, or at least that was the rescue and our vets best guess. He could be older, his muzzle is turning grey and his eyebrows are showing signs of white. I dread the years where he will slow down, where he will enjoy lying in the sun more than he does now which will be something since he loves lying in a sunbeam until he is so hot you can’t touch him.  The walks will become shorter. The naps longer. He will become arthritic (he already is showing signs of that) and maybe deaf or blind. And then one day he will be gone. But in the meantime, Pete is still very much a big part of our lives. A huge dork who is learning that when you tell him to watch where he is going it is usually because he is about to fall into the ditch or walk into a tree. But right now he is still our huge dork and until the time comes when he wants to say goodbye we will give him as much love as we can. I think we owe him that.

The crazy cat lady. We hear that all the time by people who think just because you have a few cats that perhaps you’ve taken up standing on the corner and yelling obscenities at people. I mean, what does it mean? Crazy cat lady. Just how many cats qualify you to be a “crazy cat lady” or “crazy cat person”. Is it two? Three? Five? Ten? How many? And why aren’t there any crazy dog ladies or crazy rabbit people or crazy guinea pig people. What about birds? I know some people who have five birds. Are they crazy? Well, yeah, they might be. Have you heard the noise five birds can make? Nevermind the mess and destruction. But I digress.

I grew up with animals. We had chickens and rabbits and cats and a dog. And once we had an owl that one of my siblings found that was hurt. Mum nursed it back to health and off it flew. We also brought home things, like little brown snakes. Why I have no idea. We grew up in the country, snakes were everywhere. Why bring them into the house? Being surrounded by animals certainly has skewed my attitude about life with the beasts. I can’t imagine not having them. We lived in farm country, everybody had scads of animals. So are dairy farmers “crazy cow people”? Were the Cowans “crazy horse people” because they had race horses? And does the fact that we had a flock of about a dozen chickens qualify us as “crazy chicken people”? So why is it that if you have a few cats around that people think you are crazy?

Yes, I know there have been many reports of hoarding situations where there have been scores of cats taken out of someone’s home. And yes, there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of women, mostly older, involved but does that mean everyone who has a few should be tarnished with the same brush? What about dog hoarders. There are lots of them out there and yet no one seems to want to call everyone with a few dogs, “crazy dog people”.

Is it because cats are still one of those animals that most people know nothing about? Is it because cats are still seen as being aloof and independent? Most people think it’s cute to see a dog dressed up as Tinkerbell for Halloween and yet I’m seen as a crazy person if I put a sweater on my cat. Is it because dogs, especially the small, furry variety, are often seen as child replacements by a growing number of crazy, delusional people who can’t distinguish between two and four legs? I mean, come on, people. If you own one of the hairless breeds or a small dog that can’t take the cold or if there is a medical reason for your dog to wear a frilly dress, fair enough, but it’s a dog. Yes, they are just as much a part of the family as your two-legged members but they are still animals and no amount of perfume, nail polish or designer clothing is going to cover that fact. I mean, I love Pete and he has a winter coat because we live in Canada and we have two seasons: winter and not winter, but he isn’t my child. If he was I would fully expect Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to show up at my door.

Is it because most people think dogs are more openly affectionate than cats. I have had a lot of animals over the years. There was one time that we had: five cats, one dog, three budgies, two degus, one rabbit, a bare-eyed cockatoo and two guinea pigs. And we would have had four canaries as well but I found a good home for them. That was insane, even I admit that and yet it was also a fun time where we never had a dull moment and I don’t regret it one bit. What I found out is that all animals are affectionate in their own way. Dogs haven’t cornered the market on that emotion. Not only are animals openly affectionate to us but they are just the same to each other. Our cat, KD, and Bugs, the rabbit, certainly had a very affectionate relationship. But then, KD seemed to like everyone and everything. Sure, owning that many animals made it next to impossible to entertain and it made it difficult to go out anywhere, at least in clothes that didn’t have fur or feathers on them, but it was also a time when love seemed to be everywhere. The minute you sat down there was someone wanting your lap or a pat or a scratch or your food. Did you know bunnies like oatmeal raisin cookies?

Right now we have: two cats, one dog, three degus and a rabbit. The dog we got from rescue and is somewhat aloof, not at all like our laps-are-made-for-dogs Cocker Spaniel. Honey was the doggy equivalent to a velcro suit, the minute you sat on the couch she was stuck on you. The cats we took in at five days old when it was obvious the mother couldn’t look after them. Mac was the most affectionate of the three and although the other two have become friendlier as they’ve aged I wouldn’t want to say they are overly affectionate. They have their moments and if we aren’t swatted by one of them at least once during the day, we worry that they may be sick. The degus my daughter got to keep her old degu company when her companion died. Are they affectionate? In their own way, yes. They don’t come out and cuddle the way their predecessors, Mika & Pita, did but they like to have attention and come running over if you talk to them. And the rabbit? Well, the rabbit we found along the road. She was obviously abandoned and had been on the loose for some time. How such a loving little bunny ended up on the streets I have no idea but someone’s loss is our gain.

Ruby was just over a kilo (around 2.5lbs) when we found her. She had been out on her own for quite some time, or so the vet thought because she should have been between 2-3 kilo’s (4-6lbs). Unfortunately the vet discovered that she has uterine cancer and the roots of her teeth are getting overgrown. Either one is a death sentence for her. The cancer is slow-growing so she could have a couple of years before it becomes a problem but the teeth are another matter. The vet said to take her home and spoil her rotten in her remaining time and she seems to be basking in the attention. So far she’s a happy, affectionate little creature who loves to run over to you for pats. She loves getting spoiled and seems grateful for everything we do for her. Our other rabbit, Bugs, was also a very affectionate bunny, but he was more of the, “Yes, yes, I’m adorable now give me that cookie” kind of attention seeker. And now we are thinking of getting Ruby a friend. Is that crazy? Ok, it may be a little weird but crazy?

I have had three other cats over the course of the years. Duke and Spike were my first two. Duke was a very loving gentleman who, when not dragging my knitting all over the place, would sit on my lap and put his two paws on my shoulders, nestle his face against mine and go to sleep. At night he would curl himself against my back or snuggle in against my stomach making it impossible to move. One eventful morning I thought I was paralyzed because when I went to stand up, I couldn’t move my legs and fell flat on my face. Duke had just been sleeping next to me and because I couldn’t move I guess I had slept on a nerve funny. Spike, on the other hand, was a bit of a neurotic and was afraid of everything, poor soul. He spent most of his life hiding under the bed but when he ventured out, he could be such a loving and forgiving cat. I’ve always felt guilty that he didn’t have a happier life.

And now we’ve been thinking of getting Pete a buddy. After Mara went back home it became evident that Pete missed her company so we’ve been considering what kind of dog we would get as a second pet. I’m lobbying for a dog-friendly cat but the only problem with that is that our cats aren’t very cat-friendly. They barely tolerate each other and they are brothers. A large bunny, like a Flemish Giant, would be able to take care of itself but they aren’t called “giant” for nothing. Those big-footed, fluffy-tailed, long-eared lapins weigh up to 11 kilos (25lbs). I’m not sure I want to be scooping up bunny poop from that big a bunny. Besides, if Ruby wants to she can release quite a kick so can you imagine one from a bunny that size?

So if I got one or two dog-friendly cats or kittens would this push me into some kind of domestic companion stratosphere where my neighbours start whispering behind their hands when they see me? If we got another dog are the neighbours going to sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches just as a precaution? If we got another rabbit would Monty Python show up at our door looking for the Holy Grail? At what point does having a few animals turn into “that crazy animal lover down the street”? And if I do become the “crazy cat lady” should I send out flyers advising my neighbours to keep their cats indoors lest they “disappear”? Will there be a picture of me tacked to the bulletin board at the local animal control? Do vets give a volume discount?