Saturday evening link love

Not much excuse here other than I’ve had a two day headache and didn’t bother to ask #2 to do the link love instead.  I feel really bad because I didn’t do any activism this week other than donating to Donors Choose and some Harvey stuff.  My favorite list, Actions for Americans, comes out of Houston and was silent this week so I kept putting it off.  But I know this coming week is important for DACA– Trump wants to get rid of it, some Republican lawmakers are vocalizing opposition, that means there’s a lot of positive room for calls/faxes/etc. to make a difference.  There’s also calls we can make about the EPA not paying attention to toxins in the Houston water, proposed cuts to FEMA, the proposed border wall, reauthorizing the national flood insurance program, and climate change.  These are all very topical this week.  I will do a better job about activism this week even if my favorite list of action items doesn’t come out.

How to donate money and other aid to communities of color in Houston.  I have some students flying home to Houston (the airports have reopened, most of them live in higher areas that weren’t as affected) for Eid who are planning on spending the time volunteering.

Blatant corruption

A plea from Penzey’s

Tricks to spotting fake twitter accounts

Monopolies are bad for democracy.

Mayor of Hell declares heterosexuality illegal.

A great post by not of general interest.

Writing is like sex because

The battery… passed away.

do want (only with more books)

A calendar of special dinners

Below is a picture of our former Garage Cat, happy in his forever home.  (The photographer intervened right after taking the picture!)

Advertisements

And then there were three (kitties)

I think it’s finally safe to tell boy kitty’s story.  My sister has gotten attached.

If you will recall, finding a kitten stuck in our garage led to 3 kittens (Nice kitty, the kitty formerly known as Mean kitty, and Boy kitty) and 2 gentlemen kitties, Garage Cat and Patio Cat, and still feral Mamacat.

Garage Cat is being spoiled to bits in his new home with a friend of mine across the country.  Reports are he’s getting along great with his new sister kitty.  I’ve seen pictures!  Patio Cat got lost outdoors for a few days but returned unharmed to my MIL.  We think feral outdoor Mamacat may have found another food source because she doesn’t finish the food every night, but more like every other night, which is good because we may have to stop feeding her next year.

My sister originally offered to take one of the kittens if we couldn’t find any takers.  But she wanted one who wasn’t black because black fur would show up on her furniture.  That stipulation made us think she really wasn’t ready for a destructive kitten.  Maybe two destructive kittens who could entertain each other, but not just the one (she nixed that idea).  So we put it off.  And put it off.  And still had no takers for our remaining kitties.

Finally we figured the three kittens had grown enough and settled down enough that my sister could handle one of them.  We picked boy kitty because he’s not black (unlike Patio Cat who we hadn’t yet given to my MIL) and he doesn’t pee on things (unlike Nice kitty) and he’s a bit more outgoing than the kitty formerly known as mean kitty while not being clingy like Nice kitty.  All around a good cat for someone with an active lifestyle who doesn’t want to be constantly covered in fur.

Unfortunately boy kitty doesn’t like claw caps at all (unlike Garage cat and Patio cat who were all, “whatevs, yo” when we capped them), and found the experience very traumatic.  Moving was also traumatic.  We told my sister we’d experiment for two weeks, but we really needed him out of the house while we went on a trip (we did have someone checking up on the remaining kittens and Little Kitty, but the bathroom really wasn’t enough to hold all three kittens for an extended period of time).

Settling in with my sister was rocky at first.  She complained about the litterbox.  She complained about him taking his clawcaps off.  He kept waking her up at 3am demanding petting.  [#2 notes: this is called having a pet.]. She kept referring to him as “your cat” rather than her cat in conversations.  But the two weeks extended to a month.  We’d bring it up in conversation and she’d be noncommittal about giving him back, so we didn’t push the issue.  Though at one point she made us pay her bill at Pet-smart when we visited.

When she left for a two week business trip, she left him with us (and after a few days he was back to playing with his sisters and terrorizing Little Kitty), but at the end of it, she took him back.

Now, finally, a little more than half a year later, she’s referring to him as “my cat” instead of “your cat” and no longer wants an automatic feeder or expensive litter cleaner.  She seems to be genuinely attached to him.  She has a new housemate who isn’t allergic to cats.  I’m no longer worried that he’ll be coming back to us.  He is her cat now.

So that’s the kitty update.  Join us next year as we attempt to temporarily get the remaining cat number down to something we’re allowed to keep in an apartment or rental house.

Thrills!

Little things that just work

Sometimes I like giving Christmas presents that are practical but luxurious.  My grandmother-in-law was kind of weirded out at first when we got her a bath mat for Christmas one year early in our marriage, but it was a really nice really expensive bath mat that just felt like stepping on a little slice of Heaven’s carpet after getting out of the shower or bath.  She remembered that purchase and was appreciative years later, even if it seemed an odd choice at first.  Sure she already had bath-mats, but she didn’t have luxury bath mats.

And it’s amazing how these little luxuries can change one’s quality of life.  Sometimes in ways that you don’t even realize are possible until you’ve experienced them.  I think that makes for the best kind of Christmas present for the person who has everything– something they didn’t know they wanted.

The following things are expensive for what they are, but cheap given the happiness they bring.

Maped metal pencil sharpeners.  Sharpening a pencil has never been so pleasurable.  Pencils perfectly pointed.  After dozens of crappy plastic sharpeners that just gave out after a few sharpens, this little hand-held product is a dream.  Amazon no longer carries the two-pack we got that had the huge number of 5-star ratings, but it carries a two holed version and a one-pack.

furminator— accept no substitutions!  Big Kitty and Garage Cat were both long-hairs.  We’d tried various brushes with Big Kitty and they mostly ended up with all parties being upset.  Then a friend with a long-hair recommended the furminator.  It was expensive so I put it on my Christmas list and got it as a present.  This just works.  It combs through hair without catching.  The cat in question generally enjoys it, and you end up with enough extra fur to build another cat.

tweezerman tweezers — These just work.  You find the hair (or splinter, or what have you), pull, and it’s out.  No wasting tens of minutes trying to get purchase.  You get purchase.  There is a small learning curve where you learn not to take off skin too, but once you realize how good the tweezers are, you figure out you don’t need to grasp at skin like you would with normal tweezers.

We have differing opinions on pens and there are a lot of good pens out there.  One of us is addicted to Pilot G2, especially for grading.

Leifheit jar opener— If you don’t live with the incredible hulk, sometimes you need to open a jar by yourself, and sometimes you’d like to do it in a way that doesn’t damage the lid of the jar.  This expensive jar opener imported from Germany is a wonder.  I feel like I can open anything!  It is true that there are other highly rated jar openers on the market, also expensive and also from Europe, but we haven’t tried them.  This one definitely works.  We love it.

We have a perfect metal spatula, but unfortunately it is unbranded and we’ve been unable to find a second exactly like it.  Maybe you have a metal spatula to recommend?  Good rubber spatulas are also a great thing to have, but they are legion.

This Logitech ipad keyboard is amazing.  Sure, it’s not so little, but it is so nice.  One of my RAs had one and after she showed me all its features I had to have it.  It’s made responding to emails while traveling SO MUCH EASIER.  Note that the different colors have different prices– you can get a discount if you’re willing to go with say, red.

What little things have made your life better?  When has spending extra for quality on some everyday item been worth it?

And then there were four kitties

After successfully taking Garage Cat to his new home, where he has settled in beautifully, we decided to rehome Patio Cat as our next project.  My MIL had said she was willing to take one cat, and since she prefers an indoor/outdoor cat, a cat living on our back porch who desperately wanted to come inside seemed like a good match.  So he spent a week in the guest bedroom acclimating to the great indoors separated from our other cats.  We took him to the vet who thinks he’s got that herpes thing that makes cats get weepy eyes when they’re stressed out, but otherwise checked out ok.  All muscle.

Next we claw-capped him, which wasn’t a problem at all.  He’s a sweet big guy, just like Garage Cat.  And before another week had passed, DH had taken Patio Cat and the two kids on the plane to see the in-laws.  There he spent the week mostly hiding under the bed, but also bonded with my BIL’s cat.  He did not get along with my SIL’s cat because her cat doesn’t like anybody, but he’s mostly just been ignoring her.  My SIL’s cats are always a little neurotic and somehow they always end up at my MIL’s place.  Unfortunately the BIL’s cat went back with BIL and SIL’s cat is staying on for a while.

So far it seems like Patio Cat has settled in.  He’s a good kitty and an easy kitty.

That leaves us with:

Little Kitty, our tiny aging cat who we are keeping.

Nice kitten who pees on things so we’ll be keeping her too.

The cat formerly known as mean kitten who is now a sweetheart.

Boy kitten.

One of my students emailed to ask if I still had cats because his grandma is in the market for one, but I haven’t heard back since replying in the affirmative, so I’m guessing she’s found another.

Kitty update

Regular readers will remember that we’ve had a surplus of felines these past few months.  In If You Give a Mouse a Cookie fashion, we had a kitten stuck in our garage and ended up with 3 kittens (Nice kitty, Mean kitty who has since been rechristened as she’s now a sweetheart, and Boy kitty) and 1 man kitty (Garage Cat) and another man kitty (Patio Cat) and Mamacat, the last two are outdoors only.  That’s on top of our original Little Kitty and Big Kitty.

We lost Big Kitty earlier this year to a stroke.  Garage Cat helped to fill in the hole in our lives left by her loss.

But now Garage Cat is moving on.  One of my friends in another state recently lost her Big Kitty and after some conversation decided that Garage Cat would be the perfect new addition to her family, especially since her Little Kitty has gone into a decline since his loss a few weeks ago.  DH happened to be going to her state for work, and he’s taking Garage Cat on the plane with him.

We’re seriously going to miss him.  He’s a great cat!  He’s big and huggable and gentle and loving.  He mothers the kittens and only plays rough with the big boy kitty (who usually initiates).  He never does the wrong thing after being told not to (except when he’s not 100% really sure that he isn’t supposed to eat the kitten’s food…)  He never scratches people or really anything that he’s been told not to scratch.  He let us put claw caps on his nails in preparation for going through airport security (DH is worried if he gets scared he might scratch).  He has good litterbox etiquette (though could do a little better job of covering his poo, sorry friend!  He does try.).  He purrs and mostly sits in laps (he’s so big he kind of spills over on most laps) and loves pettings and brushings and ear scritches and strings.  He respects Little Cat’s authority and never gets in her face or invades her space.  He even finally made peace with Patio Cat.

But hopefully within a few weeks he’ll be grooming my friend’s little kitty.  She’s a fantastic cat owner.  I know she’ll give him more pettings than we could.  She’ll be able to keep him from overeating (something that’s nearly impossible with 5 indoor cats).  He’ll live a long and healthy life with her.

When we got him he was scraggly and hurt and so thin.  Then he spent some time in our garage.  Then he moved up to our guest bedroom where Big Kitty kept him isolated and quarantined (other than us coming in to groom and love on him).  Then with Big Kitty gone, he incorporated himself into our household and became friends with the kittens once they were tamed.  Each step of the way life has gotten better for him.  I like to think that my friend’s house will be the culmination of kitty paradise.

So, from 6 indoor cats (and 2 outdoor cats), we’re down to 4 indoor (and 2 outdoor).  But gosh, we’re going to miss Garage Cat.  He’s truly an excellent cat.  We’ve grown to love him.  If he brings as much joy to my friend as he has to us, then well, that’ll be a lot of joy.  :)

Cat update

We still have 5 indoor cats.  No takers for the (3) kittens.  We’ve become attached to Garage Cat.  On top of that, outdoor Patio Cat has truly become our Patio Cat.  He mostly hangs out on our back porch and shelters in our patio when the weather is bad.  He loves pettings more than food.  He wishes he could come inside.  He’s good friends with outdoor Mamacat (who makes the occasional appearance to eat, and is usually on the porch in the wee hours quietly hanging with Patio Cat), but she still shies away from us.  He and Garage Cat are still mortal enemies and my hand got majorly scratched up (from Garage Cat) the one time Garage Cat and Patio Cat ended up on the patio at the same time.

The two little black kittens are both super loving and adorable, even the one who used to be mean kitty.  It seems like whenever I sit down I get covered in kitten(s), or occasionally by Garage Cat.  Boy kitten doesn’t like to be picked up, but is otherwise a sweetheart.  He’s almost as big as a full-sized cat, but the girl kittens are still smaller.

Garage cat and the kittens get along really well now.  They play together and Garage cat sometimes grooms the younger kitties.

My sister was going to take a kitten or two, but then her roommate got engaged and she’s waiting until she finds a new roommate to commit in case the new roommate is allergic or otherwise doesn’t like cats.  Really she should take Garage Cat because he’s so well-behaved and she’s not very experienced with pets, but Garage Cat is long-haired and she’s worried he will get hair on her furniture.  We believe this illustrates how she has No Idea about cats or kittens if a little fur is her biggest worry.

My MIL says she’ll take one, but just one, if we get it to her this summer.

One (or more) of the kittens, we’re not sure which one, occasionally pees on our bed.  I do not like this.  And I worry about said kitten ending up someplace that might not be as forgiving as we are.  At some point we’ll figure out which one it is and take it to the vet for a work-up to rule out physical causes.  It can’t be lack of litter boxes because we have 7 boxes for 5 cats, all of different shapes, sizes, and privacy, and they get cleaned out every day once or twice a day.  And they have no problem using them.  Just occasionally one will pee on the bed in addition to regular litter box use.

So that’s the cat update.  This time last year we had two middle-aged indoor cats.  Now we have 5 indoor cats and 2 outdoor cats.  That’s too many.  But that’s what we have for now.

In memorium

We got two amazing cats when we finally moved into an apartment that allowed them.  Little Kitty and Big Kitty.  We’d initially gone to get Little Kitty and decided she needed a companion.  Big Kitty was in her room at the shelter.  A big soft short-hair calico, mostly white with small black and ginger patches.  When we came in the room, she was sociable, gave us some love and pettings and then after a while went back to her little house area.  After checking out the other cats, we decided she was just right… loving and sociable but not too clingy.

Her sheet said she’d come from a house with too many cats and that she loved dogs and children.

The women at the animal shelter said she had a heart condition and they didn’t expect her to be adopted.  They hadn’t even listed her.  We’ll take her anyway, we said.

We gave her heart medication each day.  DH picked up her prescription refill today.

She was a beautifully behaved cat.  She didn’t go on counters (except when she thought we weren’t looking and then would jump down if seen), and never understood why we let Little Kitty jump on them.  She mainly just tolerated Little Kitty, but she also taught semi-feral Little Kitty how to do important cat things, like how to meow.

Big Kitty always wanted to be alpha cat, even though Little Kitty doesn’t understand social hierarchies.  Sometimes Little Kitty would accidentally become alpha, which was always funny because Little Kitty was about half the size of Big Kitty and really had no idea what was going on with the dominance games.

Big Kitty liked hard catfood a lot, and deferred to Little Kitty over who got first dibs on the soft food because that’s the one thing Little Kitty would defend, and it’s easier to keep your alpha status if you don’t have to fight for it.

Big Kitty’s short hair turned out to have a longer undercoat in the winter.  She was the softest kitty imaginable.  We had to make sure she had special catfood because she’d throw up most kinds of high quality food, but Little Kitty needed something high quality to keep her fur from getting dry.  We won’t have to buy Purina One Sensitive Systems anymore.  We also had to ration her food because otherwise she’d throw it up (and she’d get overweight).  After many experiments with water pistols and so on to try to keep her from waking us up wailing for food, we set up a catfood timer.  We’ll have to reset that for one cat, or just get rid of it since Little Kitty never overate anyway.  Or maybe Garage Cat will start sharing with Little Kitty now that Big Kitty is no longer keeping him in the guest bedroom.  I suppose we could move his stuff now.  These words seem so cold but my heart is breaking so hard every time I think about how things are going to change.

DH was her favorite.  Occasionally she’d try to take my side of the bed so she could be with him.  But she’d give it up grudgingly.

She was super cuddly with me when I got pregnant both times.  After DC1 was born and before we started cosleeping, we’d close the door because Big Kitty loved the Pack N Play and you don’t want to accidentally smother a baby.  Big Kitty would wail outside the door to be let in.  It was so much easier to sleep when we gave that up.

As advertised, she was great with children.  Wonderful with both babies.  She started swiping a bit at tail pulls and so on when DC1 got old enough to know better, but with DC2 she didn’t even mind those, especially since we’d give her hairball treats after each new indignity.

She was great at finding missing kittens when we misplaced them.  She’d guard and hiss, but was never actually mean to the four stray cats.  She used every one of the extra litter boxes.

She had her favorite spots in the house.  DC1’s bed, both on top and under.  The corner of my closet.  The armrest on the overstuffed chair.  She won’t be there anymore, even if traces of her soft white fur still remain.

At 4 something pm when DH was home, she started panting and meowing and her back legs didn’t work.  While I got the kids, DH called the vet and then another bigger vet and got her in the carrying case and took her to the hospital.  She’d had a stroke and was in a lot of pain.  A heparin shot would loosen that and she might survive, but given her heart condition, it was unlikely she would make it after her blood started flowing again and even if she did, she’d continue to have strokes.  DH had to make a decision and he couldn’t contact me because my phone was dead, so he called his mom.  Big Kitty was in pain and didn’t know what was going on and he petted her and said goodbye.  When I finally got home and called him I couldn’t understand what he was saying because he was crying so hard.

The vet has said many times that Big Kitty has lasted longer than any other cat she’s seen with this heart condition.  She wasn’t an old kitty, but she was middle aged.  Still spry, but not quite as much as she used to be.  Without the heart condition, she probably would have had many more years, but with the heart condition, we’re lucky we’ve had her this long.  They asked DH to donate her body to the state vet school because of it and DH decided to do that.  They’ll send us a cast of her paw in return.

It’s so hard to believe she won’t be around anymore.  She’s gone suddenly with only an hour or so of pain; she didn’t waste away.   If we didn’t have to change anything I could just pretend that she’s in a different hiding spot than where I’m looking.  I wouldn’t have to know that she’s gone.  She’s lived a good life and was a wonderful kitty.  We will miss her so much.

Good-bye, Big Kitty.  We will always love you.

Big Kitty's last photo

Big Kitty’s last photo

Kitty update

Ok, the plan was to catch the kittens and mamacat, get them all fixed, get the kittens tamed and rehomed and if mama was tamed to keep her, otherwise to let her out.

Instead…

The three kittens are still in our bathroom (they got booted from the guest bedroom suite when partner’s parents visited).  Little boy is slowly coming around and one of his sisters may be right behind him.  The other sister will probably never be tamed [update:  still have hope].  She’s terrified of people.  Our bigcat is not helping as she does not like her access to my closet (her daytime napping spot) cut-off and she knows there’s kittens in there and she wants to show them exactly who is alpha kitty around here.  She threw herself bodily at the door one night and another night actually managed to get the door open.  Partner doesn’t want to put them back in the guest bedroom because it was a PITA to clean.  (Recall our bathroom is the only one that’s tiled.)

We caught 3 possums.  They are no longer in our neighborhood.

We caught one scraggly (longish-hair) black male cat with lots of scratches on his face.  We got him neutered, revolutioned, de-tapewormed, and vaccinated.  Initially cautious of people, he turned out to be a cuddle bug.  The vet thinks he was once someone’s cat but has been on his own for months.  He’s been in our garage.  He basically hangs out without destroying anything (unlike the kittens) until someone comes in to pet him.  He loves food, but he loves petting more than food.  He is a total sweetheart.  He is so grateful to be in our garage where it’s safe and relatively warm and there’s food and occasional petting.  It breaks your heart.  He was not doing well outside so he’s become our #1 priority for rehoming.  We may put him in the guest bedroom once we need the garage again, or we may try to integrate him with our other two cats.  A lot depends on how he gets along with bigkitty.  [Update:  I think I’m allergic to him.]

We caught one glossy young healthy-looking male cat.  We let him go.  We caught him again a few days later and took him to the vet.  We got him neutered, revolutioned, de-tapewormed, and vaccinated.  He turned out to be completely and totally tame.  Vet estimates him at about 1 year.  But he was covered in fleas and had a major tape-worm infestation.  She says he was certainly someone’s pet once but estimates he’s been on his own for a few months.  We let him recover in our patio during the day and in a carrying case in the nursery at night (it’s been getting cold) for two days and nights, but he was pretty unhappy about it and we let him go the morning after that.  We just don’t have space for him.  And, other than the tapeworms and fleas, he was doing fine outside.  He had a small scratch on his nose and we suspect he was the victor in a fight with garage cat.  He also may be the reason mamacat no longer has her home-base in our yard.  He immediately high-tailed it under our deck where she used to stay.  If we catch him again we may try to figure out what to do again.

We caught a bird.  We let it go.

We found and called another no-kill shelter.  She’s also full-up.  The humane society does have a program where they’ll take really nice cats and no-kill shelter them for a while (and take them to Petsmart  on adoption day and stuff), so we’re signing up garage cat for that.  Maybe.  They need a picture and by the time his face scratches heal and partner gets all the matting out of his fur (he’s almost done there), we may have decided to keep him.  Or we can drive him up to partner’s mom over Spring Break.

Still no idea what to do with the kittens.  Poor things.  It would be easier if they were tame.  Or if we’d caught mamacat way back when.  Now I worry about kicking them back outside unprotected where there’s fleas and tapeworms and big territorial black kitties.  But that may be what we end up doing.

Update:  boy kitten really likes pettings.

Sigh.

Update:  little girl kitten #1 really likes pettings

Update:  WE CAUGHT MAMACAT.  She had hookworms.  :(  She’s currently in our garage.  Vet says she’s really skittish.  We put garage cat in our guest bedroom.  After two nights in the garage she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink and hadn’t used the litterbox.  The only sign of her existence was a trickle of pee coming from someplace inside our car that we didn’t think she could get to.  So the vet said to open a side-door to the garage and hope she makes her escape.  So we did.  Hopefully she’ll be out of there before we have to use the car again in a few days.  (Note:  Honda civic hybrids are not good cars to leave in the garage with a cat.  Stick to a simpler car.)  Hopefully we’ll see her in the backyard so we know she’s out without having to take the car apart.  Update [Tuesday night]:  After another day of no eating and finding her wedged but breathing under the engine, I opened the other garage door.  That night, she seemed to lave left the garage and eaten all the food in there.  I think we saw her tonight just after dusk eating on the porch (after Patio Cat had his fill, talked amicably to our Bigkitty safe in the screened patio, and left).  It was dark, but so far I haven’t seen any other small cats in our backyard and her form in a brief flashlight flash looked tabby…

We did a lot of things wrong.  We should have set up feeding routines and used the kittens to catch mamacat and a dozen other things.  This website has some really great suggestions.  But, I suppose, if we’d done this correctly we wouldn’t have rescued garage-kitty or neutered patio-cat.

So that’s the story so far.  The kittens have come a long way and I think the next step is getting them used to DH or DC1.  Then maybe we advertise.  I don’t know.  It’s hard to know what to do.