Monday, January 19, 2015

Attention Cat Lovers: It's Time To Make Declawing Illegal

Warning: Graphic Content.  Reader Discretion Advised.

Folks, I have a confession to make, and it's not one that I'm particularly proud of, but for the sake of being honest I am putting this out there.  In the past, I declawed my first cat, Callie.  I was young, and she was my first cat, and in my total ignorance, I thought I was doing what I believed to be a humane procedure.  My mom and dad, with whom I lived at the time, made it a condition of her staying in their home.  So, a few weeks after she was fully recovered from her spay surgery, I made an appointment for her declaw mutilation surgery.  

At the appointment, I was asked if I wanted to have all four feet done.  This shocked me, because I was under the impression it was only a good idea to do the front feet only.  I said no, that Callie should have some sort of defense so we decided to declaw mutilate her front feet only. I gave her one last scratch on the head and told her I'd see her that night after work.  If I'm not mistaken, my mom picked her up from the veterinarian butcher while I was working, so Callie was already home when I got there.  She was meowing quite frantically, shaking her paws trying to get the bandages off, and the post-surgery mutilation instructions directed me to remove the pressure bandages that evening.  After fighting her to let me touch her feet, I called the veterinary after-hours number for advice on how to get the bandages off without hurting her.  I was unlucky enough to talk to the veterinarian butcher herself, and she said, I'm not lying, "Just yank the bandages off her feet, she'll lick the blood off of them herself."  I was mortified, and even more so after seeing her paws, or what remained of them, after the bandages came off (I eventually ended up soaking the gauze off her feet, the warm water dissolving the clotted blood that held it to her feet).  She was also sent home with no pain medication.  Imagine having your fingers amputated at the last knuckle and being sent home with no pain medication, AND having your doctor tell you to just "yank the bandages off"...

This was a kitten that I'd had since she was about 4 weeks old, that I'd rescued out of a backyard from a life of neighborhood roaming and being feral.  My cherished, precious Calico kitten who I loved dearly.  A kitten that now, thanks to me, had severely mangled feet and 10 little bloody holes where her claws and dewclaws once were.  I cried myself to sleep that night, knowing what I'd done was unforgivable.

As time passed, Callie's feet healed, but the scars of her surgery mutilation remained.  She walked tenderly and never really correctly again.  She developed what I called a "mean streak" with me, but I never correlated her behavior issues to the declaw mutilation surgery.  My relationship with Callie never really healed; she mistrusted me for most of her life.  The most horrible part of all this, though, happened when she was eight years old.  She began really limping, favoring her right foot, so we took her to our veterinarian in Salem, OR.  An x-ray revealed something horrifying... her claws had been improperly removed all those years ago and began GROWING BACK under her skin, except they weren't growing back normally, but disfigured and extremely painful.  So now, my eight year old cat had to have this horrible, unthinkable surgery again.  My heart broke all over again as I watched her hobble around in bandages almost to her shoulder.  At least this time, she was on a very good pain medication, but even with that one could see the suffering and pain on her face.  

We had Callie another two years, when she passed away at age ten from cancer, just six months after relocating back to her birthplace, Florida.  She is no longer suffering from the ill-effects of my stupidity, but I am still living with that regret and the promise that I will NEVER again inflict this pain and suffering on another cat that I am privileged to call mine.   

I am making Callie's story public because I want this barbaric and cruel procedure made illegal in all 50 states and in US territories.  I would also ask everyone who reads this blog post to watch "The Paw Project" documentary on Netflix and/or visit The Paw Project for more information, and to ask your veterinarian to stop performing this surgery.  Write your State Representatives to ask for this legislation to be sponsored and passed.  Do it for your furbabies.  Do it for Callie and all the declawed cats in the country.  They sure could use our help.

Laws can't change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless - Martin Luther King Jr. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pixel's Diet, Part One

In previous entries, I have noted that my boy Pixel is indeed a big boy.  I knew he was around 20 pounds, but until yesterday with the arrival of our newly purchased baby/pet scale, I had no idea what he truly weighs.  So now I know what I'm dealing with.  

I'm not expecting this weight loss journey to be easy for either of us.  Pixel lives for his mealtimes.  While it doesn't bother me (any more!) to see him hungry, he does become rather unbearable for Sassy, who bears the brunt of his outbursts when his mealtime isn't on his schedule.  We've already been on the new mealtime schedule for about six weeks already, so that part we have down perfectly!

The reason I'm going through all of this, and putting Pixel through it as well, is because I love him.  This might sound a little backwards, since I'm willfully "torturing" my furbaby (though I don't truly believe making him eat properly and in correct portions amounts to torture).  He spent his life getting chubby, so it will take some time to become thinner.  

I invite you, my readers, to join Pixel and me on both our weight loss journeys.  I'll be keeping track of our successes and failures, right here on this blog.  I know we both can use some encouragement, as weight loss is not easily done.  I have a bit of a head start on him, though.  Since January, I've lost 34.4 pounds with a long way to go.  Together, Pixel and I will be slimmer and healthier!

So today is the first day of the rest of Pixel's new, healthier life!  

Pixel, 6-7-13 weighing in at 22 lbs, 14.8oz

Pixel's "Before" Pictures.  Poor dude!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"24" And The Mystery Goo

I love the show "24."  When it was still in production, we would wait for what seemed like an eternity from the season finale in May to the start of the new season, which fell right around the Super Bowl in the winter.  Tika, my late tortie Persian, would love to sit in my lap for "Jack Bauer time."  Maybe it was because she would watch the action on TV and seem interested.  I think, though, it was more likely a case of being near me and hearing my voice in sweet, soft tones talking to her.  

Well, the show has long been canceled, and I've moved on so to speak, but recently learned that "24" will return in May, 2014 for a short 12-episode season!  I was elated, but also disappointed as this will be my first new season of "24" without my Tika.  Now, don't get me wrong... Pixel loves to be in my lap, all stretched out and purring.  But he does so on HIS terms, not mine.  If it was up to me, he'd be camped out in my lap all night long.  My legs and tush might protest, but there's plenty of time for blood flow when I'm sleeping!  

My husband and I decided to begin watching the series from season one on Netflix, watching a few hours a night.  It's starting to make me excited for the new episodes next year, but is also making me keenly aware of Tika's absence. So during this evening's episodes, which I was watching and clenching every muscle in my poor legs and posterior with every plot twist, Pixel decided to jump up in my lap and settle in for some cuddle time.  I was petting him and scratching his chin (which he LOVES, by the way!) when I felt something odd in his fur.  My first thought was a lump, but I was much relieved when I felt it move and eventually I was able to pick it out of his fur... a soft, brown, mushy lump of some unidentified substance.  My relief was short-lived.

Now, switch places with me for a moment.  I have blogged before about Pixel's hygiene problem.  If you haven't read it, you can find the post here. So, naturally you can imagine what is going through my mind at this point.  I know I'm going to have to eventually identify the... anomaly.  Without much ceremony (I certainly didn't want to have to say what I found to my hubby... I would have gotten the "well, that's the beauty of owning cats" line... not what you want to hear when you have an unknown, brown gooey substance on your finger you have to SNIFF to identify!!) I took a whiff....

I should probably mention now that, approximately 10 minutes before Pixel came to visit I had eaten a chocolate dipped granola bar about which I had totally forgotten.  Apparently, I had a small, chocolate-covered piece of rice in my lap I didn't see, and somehow it had attached itself to his fur.  Fortunately this morsel turned out to be the mystery glob.  There were two good things about this finding.  The first is very obvious, and I don't think I need to go there (any more than I already have!) and the second is that chocolate is, when consumed, extremely toxic to cats (and dogs!)  I was just really relieved the "Pet Wipes" stayed shelved for at least one more night.

The next time "24" is on our TV, maybe instead of missing my munchkin so dearly, I'll think of what will be called from this day forth, "the Great Goo Sniff" and smile.  My husband is right.  Oh, the beauty (and absolute privilege) of owning cats.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Fatty Catty and the Kitty Butt Wipes

A few months back, hubby and I were grocery shopping in our favorite local store and in the pet aisle I spotted something that looked like a tub of, well there's just no easy way to say it so I'll blurt it out, butt wipes... you know the kind that are in the toilet tissue aisle and have something like "We all go, why not enjoy the go?" written on it.  Except these were "Petwipes," which "wipe away daily dirt and odor."  Oh puh-leeze!  I mean, the box didn't actually say "butt wipes" but we all know from which end the dirt and odor come. Cat and dog butt wipes.  Ha! We chuckled for a few moments, made some silly remarks and moved on with our shopping.

At this point in time I should briefly mention that Pixel, our younger cat, likes to eat.  A lot.  So much, in fact, that he's my little butterball, my tub o' lard, my flabby tabby, my fatty catty.  I know it's not nice to poke fun at him (some might call this bullying, but I never call him those names to his face!) but I just can't help but laugh at some of the things he does, the way he sits himself in a corner looking like a little feline Buddha.  I mean, how can you NOT laugh at that?  And laugh I did for a long time at my poor Pixel's expense.  

Now, before I look like the world's worst cat-mom, I would like a moment to defend myself by saying I'm well aware there is "nothing cute" about an overweight cat, and I am doing my level best to research cat diets (too bad they don't have kitty Weight Watchers, right?) and figure out what exactly is the best way for both Sassy and him to eat.  This is a more daunting task than what it seems, because everything I've believed to be nutritious and healthy for them over the course of both their lives turns out to be the exact WRONG diet for them to be eating!  Oh, the guilt I've wracked on myself as I'm learning what I've been doing wrong for nearly 20 years as a cat-mom.  One of the best (and only, by the way) sources I've had for this knowledge comes from a veterinarian-run website called, recommended by America's favorite cat daddy, Jackson Galaxy (of Animal Planet's My Cat From Hell TV show).  Anyway, to make a long story short, Pixel and Sassy, who have eaten kibble their whole lives are making a healthy and lower calorie transition to canned food, much to Pixel's delight and Sassy's great chagrin.

Continuing on with the story, now that the "bad cat-mom" image has been somewhat explained.  I was noticing my poor little buddy having a rough time with his, um, hygiene these days, being too rolly-polly to actually take care of this himself.  What kind of a cat-mom would I be to just let him walk around the house with a dirty keester?  Well, I wasn't going to find out!  So, we don't have the most cat-friendly toilet tissue apparently, because the Charmin Basic was just too... well, basic!  Not enough softness, and too dry for the... shall I say "Klingons."  

Suddenly, my memory is awakened by the, you guessed it (say it with me now) Kitty Butt Wipes!  So, as luck would have it, we just happened to be taking my mom to the grocery store today!  Pixel would no longer need to tolerate the harsh TP meant apparently for "humans only," or suffer the indignity of the dreaded "scootch" on the carpet (or for that matter, have me laugh at him while he's trying to fold himself into a chubby taco to take care of matters himself!)

So here I am tonight writing this entry, with the "prize" in hand... Petwipes... surprisingly nicely scented (anything's better than the alternative) and Pixel didn't seem to mind so much.   In fact, I think I might have seen a glimmer of relief in his green eyes.  He's now stretched out after enjoying his dinner, purring happily and is patiently waiting for "nigh-nights."  I might not even mind if I get the "raw end" of the cuddle tonight.  After all, it's "Freshly scented." 

See?  It even has aloe and vitamin e for "healthy skin and shiny coat!"  Photo-bomb by Sassy.

Until next time... Meow!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Challenge And Determination

For the past week or so, my husband and I have been away from home visiting his family.  Our small pride of cats remained at home while we traveled, and are "enjoying" time on their own.  They are, of course, being cared for by a much trusted friend in our absence.  I miss them like crazy, but knowing they are fine eases my mind, and I can enjoy the rest of our mini-vacation.

Meanwhile, in Maine, my sister-in-law and her husband are guardians of many furry children... in total, there are three dogs and two cats, named Peter and Smokey.  Smokey is medium haired and jet black with huge golden eyes.  He and I made friends on the first day here, and he enjoys climbing into my lap for attention.  Peter is probably the smallest adult cat I've ever seen.  He probably is no longer than 12", and maybe stands 8 inches tall at the shoulder.  When I say tiny, I mean he's tiny!  Peter is a grey and white marbled tabby who enjoys sleeping on our bed, but avoids me at all costs.  But, I'm determined!
Before we leave Maine next week, I *will* make friends with Peter if it kills me.  I have my plan of "attack" already in place.  First, I will approach him slowly and talk sweetly to him when I see him snoozing on our bed.  This has actually already begun to work, and it seems I'm making minimal progress.  Next, I will lure him to me with treats!  I haven't seen a cat yet that wouldn't flip over and do belly flops for a treat, so this is a must!  Smokey and I have already strengthened our bond using the "food" method, so I'm just waiting for Peter to come around before I bring out the heavy artillery (read: Pounce treats!)  It will work... it HAS to!

Should I fail at this most recent goal, at least I will have the blog entry to show for my efforts, and the memory of a teeny grey cat whose will was stronger than mine.  After all, there IS always next time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cat Haiku, Peavy Style

Many years ago I remember seeing in my inbox one of those letters that everybody, including your mother, forwards to everyone in their address book.  This one was called "Cat Haiku," and though I don't recall exactly what the verses said anymore, I never forgot the smile they brought to my day.  

Haiku, a short, Japanese poem is characterized by three qualities:

  • The essence of haiku is "cutting" (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji ("cutting word") between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.
  • Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae), in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 on respectively.
  • kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such words. The majority of kigo, but not all, are drawn from the natural world. This, combined with the origins of haiku in pre-industrial Japan, has led to the inaccurate impression that haiku are necessarily nature poems. Source
The English version of Haiku sometimes follow these guidelines, but it is not necessary to have the previous qualities to be considered a Haiku. Keeping this in mind, and having been recently inspired by the fond memory of the aforementioned "Cat Haiku," I have written my own little poems honoring each of the four cats we have had the privilege of calling "ours" over the past 7 years. 

Pixel's Haiku
Cute brown tabby cat
Purring sweet rumbly music 
Lulls me off to sleep

Sassy's Haiku
Sweet little kitty
Thinks I am no one special
But still I love her 

Tika's Haiku
Beautiful tortie
She was the love of my life
Now she's God's angel

Callie's Haiku
Calico princess
Fun wrapped in a silky coat
She had "Cattitude."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beauty in Commonality

I never saw myself as the owner of a tabby cat.  Even when I wasn't so much of a cat person, I still admired the more striking coat patterns.  I had always fancied the luxury of a calico, a tuxedo, a pointed Siamese, or even a pure, jet black cat.  All felines are exquisite in my own sight, but some are just prettier than others.  My preference, and absolute soft spot is for calicoes and tortoiseshell.  I'm a sucker for the "cattitude" and beauty of these particular fur patterns on a kitty.

I recall once talking with a friend who had just picked out two kittens at the shelter.  Both were, as I thought back in the days when I was unenlightened, "plain ol' tabby cats."  I didn't say so, but wondered in the back of my mind why anyone would want a "plain ol' tabby cat" when so many more beautiful kitties were in need of homes.  Looking back, I can see the shallowness of my opinions.

Since then I have had the honor of being the guardian of three separate tabby cats.  The first one, Arista, was a grey marbled pattern.  She was very cute, but aloof and shy.  The second one, AJ, was a Maine Coon mix, brown striped tabby.  Such a handsome boy he was and he knew it, too.  Both of these beautiful babies went to good homes when our family decided to relocate across the country. 

Pixel is the current King of the house, a brown striped tabby.  His place of honor is in my lap every evening while I putter around on the computer or watch television.  On one recent afternoon, he was snoozing on my lap, his head gently resting on my belly (I love it when he does that) and a single sunbeam was shining through the otherwise closed blinds.  The glossiness of his coat really shone in the natural light, and as I ran my fingers through his fur I really got the opportunity to see just how beautiful (yes, beautiful!) he is.  Each hair, I noticed, was banded in color, three or four different hues ranging from black to white.  The tips, depending on where they were on his back, were black while the roots were more of a cream color.  I couldn't find a single hair on him that was just one shade.  All together, these individual hairs came together to make a truly magnificent creature. 

I have learned much since the days of believing that there were "plain ol' tabby cats."  While the tabby pattern is quite common, I've discovered that these kitties are a bit like snowflakes and fingerprints; no two are exactly the same.  They are each incredible pieces of art created by the One who truly knows beauty, wrapped around a unique personality and adored (and cherished!) by many.  Long live the tabby cat!