In which I go on and on about one of my cats

Ethel, aka Kitty, is my elderly 16-year old cat. The majority of her teeth have been extracted due to periodontal disease; now her tongue regularly sticks out. I did try to brush her teeth for a while, but it didn’t work for us. Fortunately, she adapted and eats quicker than my other, younger cat. She finishes first, and then sits and stares at him while he finishes, or tries to steal his food.

Ethel is arthritic. She’s always been a floor and sometimes bed cat. But now when she wants to get on the bed, she needs to be lifted onto it. She’s very strategic about it, too. As soon as I get near it, she’ll appear and meow until I move her onto it. Sometimes she’ll even go there and meow and meow until I come over and boost her up. Then she’ll lie there all day until dinner, curled tightly into a ball. Or press herself against the radiator. Or haunt the kitchen when the oven is on. On warm days, she likes lounging on the window, but also needs to be air lifted onto it. I offered her a microwavable rice heating pad a couple of times, but she wasn’t interested. Sometimes she crawls under the duvet with me at night, but then she unleashes her claws as she kneads me, and neither my skin nor my sheets can take much of that.

I adopted her when she was already an adult, and she has never been very playful. In order to get her to play, I have to wave the cat toy right in front of her several times. Then there’s a 20/80 chance she’ll move a paw.

One cool thing about her is that she’s polydactyl, which means she has six toes on all her paws. She can actually catch a ball and hold it in her paw.

Another thing is that I swear she could talk when I first got her. Every morning, she would very clearly say “cat food” in a soft voice right by my ear. She’d say it over and over, with each repetition becoming less enunciated. Unfortunately, she kept trying to wake me up earlier and earlier each morning, and I think she gave up speaking after I decided that I was not going to wake up at 4am to feed her.

She’s very much a lady, with impeccable scaredy-cat manners. She’s not very athletic, but she is more agile than my other cat. She can dart across a shelf with a bunch of things on it, and not disturb a single tchotchke. As she’s grey on the top and white on her belly, I’ve always thought of her as shark-coloured. But mighty hunter is she not. And here she goes meowing, so I’ve got to go feed the cats now.

I read to my daughter a lot. One of our favourite books is Tabby McTat, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. We first found it at the library, and checked it out a couple of times. Got some overdue fines for it, too. And as with many of our favourites, I’ve got most of it memorized. So I bought our own board book. You have to be judicious about buying toddler books, because you end up reading them a million times in rapid succession. Hence, the memorization. I didn’t try to do it; it just happened. The book makes a great present for toddlers, beginner readers, and just about anyone.

The picture book has very detailed illustrations with a gentle humourous touch. In one, you can clearly see the buskers merrily making music next to a “No Busking” sign. In another, the two nice women who take in our protagonist are clearly crazy cat ladies, complete with cat statuettes by their door, walls covered in cat pictures, umbrellas with cats on the handles, cat mugs, and cat books.

…though just so my clients know, 90% of my cat paraphernalia were gifts by loved ones who assume that having cats means that you need to have lots of things with cats on them. And once someone sees that you have something with a cat on it, they feel inspired to get you more stuff with cats on them. Why does this assumption not apply to dog owners? Hmmm?

Anyway, as with just about all of the Donaldson books, the story rhymes and is clever and charming. The ending isn’t stiflingly moralistic or overtly feel-good, though [SPOILER ALERT] you do feel good at the end.

One of my other favourite Donaldson-Scheffler books with a super catchy refrain? Superworm!

Superworm is super long!

Superworm is super strong!

Watch him wriggle, see him squirm!

Hip hip hurray for Superworm!!

I was tempted to mention this in my About bio, but decided to save the geekiness for the blog. Aside from the Star Trek reference, that is.

My husband introduced me to Neko Atsume, the cat collecting app, and I’ve been playing it for months. On two devices! You put out food and after the cats have eaten their fill and played with toys, they leave you money in the form of fish and sometimes a little gift, like an old toothbrush or bottle cap. You can use the fake money to buy a variety of toys, a home renovation, and premium cat food for your beloved fake cats. It’s one of those passive games that’s best if you check it a couple of times per day and turn it off the rest of the time. When I first started playing, I got so excited and impatient at building my cat colony that I forked over real money to buy fake money to buy stuff for my fake cats. I think it was about $3 for 200 gold fish, the game currency. That topped up my coffers enough to buy a massive scratching post cat gym and expand my home to welcome in more cats. $3 well-spent.

The cats only come if you have the right combination of fun toy with their favourite food. If the food bowls are empty, the cats don’t meow at you or headbutt you until you fill them. They just don’t come. I guess they’re all feral cats, since you can’t pet them. The plus side? No litter box issues or vomit!

I’ve got all the rare cats, all the mementos, all the toys, and am close to getting all the renovations. I guess the phone wallpapers will be next, though I don’t intend to use any. A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

I cannot WAIT until it snows, which is a once in a blue moon special feature all Neko Atsume fans anticipate. The music changes, there’s snow on the ground, and it has nothing to do with worldwide weather at all. I’ll break out the big blue sled, the warm little stocking, and of course the heaters and hot pads. My fake little cats must be comfortable!

Currently amusing myself with the Dixie Hemingway book series. Created by Blaize Clement and continued after her death by her son, John Clement, it’s about a former deputy-turned-petsitter in Florida who petsits for wealthy neighbours and, of course, solves crimes. I love how she refuses to order bacon at the diner, but stares at everyone else’s longingly until they share some of theirs with her (because we all know that if you don’t order it yourself, it doesn’t “count”). Anyone who has ever eaten with a dog around can easily envision her soulful puppy eyes at the tasty treats.

Dixie is a great petsitter. She takes her job very seriously. I am not a bird or dog person, but I love her stories of exercising a parrot on her arm by running back and forth and pumping her arm up and down so he can flap his wings. Or the sweet mini dachsund you have to sing to. And how her pet clients have favourite tv channels. She projects happy thoughts to her pet clients, positive that they understand. She talks to them. She plays with them. She worries about them.