Category Archives: Cats

Pickle the budding artist

Pickle cannot let a play opportunity go by regardless of whether it involves paint or not. I tried to capture his pouncing on the brush from behind the canvas but once I got the camera out he wouldn’t perform. That said, I still love this little piece of footage – just the way he watches so intently and his head goes in motion with the brush. (And Andrew, that’s how he got that tiny black paint dot on his nose – from this sniff!)

Cat smothers woman to death

Bondi Beach Ball GameI awoke this morning to find someone had washed the air overnight with smoke. All of Sydney is obscured by the haze as if an artist has taken Payne’s grey with a touch of white and airbrushed the entire city. You can smell the smoke everywhere and taste the heat. The weather forecast says 33 degrees. My poor lime tree was baked on the 39 degree day. I forgot to move him. He now looks like an giant tentacled stick insect. His branches are green but the leaves have curled up and mostly dropped. In the hope he may live, I’ve moved him today out of the light. I’ve shut up the blinds to try to stay cool, creating my own little bunker for the day.

I say I awoke to smell smoke, the fact is, I’m surprised I woke at all. I can see the newspaper headlines now: a woman in Sydney’s Inner West has been found dead in her one bedroom apartment. Sheets were found drawn up over her head and her face was cat scratched. A 7 kilo lump of a cat called Licorice still sat upon the corpse still wailing for breakfast.

Honestly, Dr Google said if you want to stop your cat poking you in the face each morning to wake you up, then simply ignore said cat for several weeks. Do not talk to cat, do not push cat away. If need be, pull sheets over head and protect yourself from those kitty claws.

I am licorice, I am fatI assure you quite a number of weeks have passed. Licorice shows no sign of giving up. In fact the more I ‘bury’ myself under the sheets, the most she tries to uncover me; as if digging for treasure. Her foraging is characterised by persistence tangled with force. This is Licorice we’re talking about – she doesn’t do dainty. To be fair it’s hard to do dainty when you are 7 kilos and 11 years old.

Meanwhile at Chateau de Andrew, the boys are going to bed performing the Lumberjack song each night… whereby Andrew is the log. They seem to manage to stay on top of his hip / back, no matter how he rolls. Letting them in the bedroom at night was not the previous routine but Gesso seems to be enjoying the ‘protection’. Andrew has become the ‘peace’ between the two of them – quite literally with his body acting as a barrier between them in the bed. That said,  all aggressive behaviour from Pickle is completely gone; replaced with an over-enthusiastic sense of play. At first it was a very shaky truce. Gesso remained terrified of the playful ginger ninja. However, things appear to be on the up. I was delighted the other day to hear a report of Pickle chasing Gesso down the hall, only for Gesso to chase him right back. Only time will tell how these two fare. Pickle is almost 3 years old now… surely he has to slow down soon?

 

When cats don’t get along

IMG_3623Gesso has been pulling out his own fur. We thought we were doing the right thing by taking him to the vet to check for a medical cause before we decided it was an anxiety behaviour.

After visiting the vet, he came home to a very bad reception by Pickle. Apparently it can happen. One cat goes to vet, other cat acts aggressively when it comes home because he doesn’t recognise his scent. PIckle decided to attack Gesso, if poor Gesso wasn’t anxious before, after a vet trip and being jumped on repeatedly by Pickle, he certainly was now.

The following day, Pickle continued to behave very aggressively. So Pickle went for ‘cat time out’ – kind of like the naughty corner; for a week; at the mothership.

We researched the reunion.

We did the scent swapping etc. Pickle has lost all his aggressive behaviour but unfortunately Gesso has a memory. So when Pickle comes up to groom Gesso; or to play, Gesso runs away. He is just plain scared.

The situation is unresolved and rather stressful. Hence the lack of blogging. When there is a resolution, I’ll let you know!

Budgie Smugglers

budgie‘You might have to explain to your international readers what budgie smugglers are’ says Dad upon me entering the house.

Oh. Oops. Didn’t even think of that.

Then again, I know that my international friends seem exceptionally well read and would probably know what they are anyway. I on the other hand am still occasionally stumped. I had to write to Isobel (of Isobel and Cat fame) recently to ask whether ‘cream crackered’ was a term familiar to her, or whether it was well known. Cockney rhyming slang it turns out. Last week, I learnt about ‘Pinkertons’ on the back of watching Ripper Street. (There are times when wikipedia is really indispensable).

So, back to the budgie smugglers. In case anyone isn’t familiar, it’s a slang term of men’s speedos / swimming costumes and seems to be used often in reference to our now current Prime Minister given his fondness of sport. It takes a man with a good body (think well built surf life guide), to be able to get away with wearing budgie smugglers without looking pathetic. It’s something about the way they droop with water… the swimming costume that is. I refuse to even contemplate Tony’s actual anatomy. Ew. Sick. Now.

So dad reckons I need a glossary of terms for my blog. Really, there’s only a few you need to know to follow the plot. Here they are:

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The Scroobious Pip.

That’s me.

Sometimes people ask me what exactly a Scroobious Pip is, I just reply – ah, that is the question! The story was a childhood favourite, written by one of the two great masters of nonsense – Edward Lear, an epileptic depressive who had a great love of his cat Foss.

IMG_2061Andrew. 

My unconventional partner / boyfriend (depending on your preferred terminology). (Andrew associates partner with gay cowboy movies, I associate boyfriend with sounding 14 and temporary). Unconventional? Well, we don’t exactly fit the traditional model. We live separately. I work full time. He doesn’t. He’s domestically competent. I’m domestically challenged (except for light bulbs, I do those). I think the only thing traditional about us is he takes out his own garbage. My mum always taught me that men should do tyres and garbage.

Definition of Andrew? mischievous, Naughty. A 4 year old trapped in a 40-something year old body. An extremely talented artist (if only we could convince him of this) combined with a largely gentle soul. I say largely. He isn’t known for being a placid calm driver – especially if you take a disabled parking spot and you have no disabled parking permit.

Pickle sleeping as only Pickle can.

Pickle sleeping as only Pickle can.

Pickle.

The oldest of Andrew’s two cats and the most like him in personality – bloody naughty!

Andrew always said that if he couldn’t have a dog he didn’t want anything. Then after a while he decided a cat would be ok. As long as it was a girl cat. And black, or tabby.

So he adopted a ginger boy who certainly lives up to the tag Ginger Ninja. Andrew wanted a dog… well he’s doing his best to mould Pickle into a dog. Surprisingly, Pickle is mostly complying.

Recently, an ambulance officer referred to Pickle as a ‘caramel cat’. This has earnt him the title of ‘o Caramelle’ (said with a ridiculously corny French accent!)

Andrew and Gesso

Andrew and Gesso

Gesso.

Named after the white primer used in painting, Gesso has developed his own fondness for paint. While every other cat has stood in the paint just once, Gesso has done it at least three times… if not more.

Gesso is medium haired and deaf.

He makes you work for his affection but strangely we just seem to love him even more for it. When he actually lets me cuddle him for a little while, I feel that I’ve won a great battle / been included among a privileged few.

Gesso is frequently also called ‘the white cat’ (with the emphasis on THE), or squirrel.

And that’s half the fur family…

Licorice and Saffron

I don’t think it’s quite right for me to write about the two separately, for they really don’t separate you see.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

That’s Saffron (8) on the top and Licorice (11) on the bottom. Two undeniably fat couch potatoes of cats with an everlasting number of hugs and smooches to give.

Licorice hates the vacuum cleaner. Licorice hasn’t figured out that each morning when I go to the fridge to get the food, she doesn’t need to follow me as I am just coming back with it. (Saff waits patiently in the bathroom). On the whole, Licorice is the gentle giant; except when at the mothership and it’s time to go back in the cat cage.

Saffron on the other hand, is reasonably ok with the vacuum cleaner but scared of all things new. Strangers / Visitors – check under the bed and you’ll find her.

PS: Mothership = home of my mum and dad a.k.a Cat Hotel.

So there you go dad. A glossary. Complete with pictures. Have I forgotten anything?

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I couldn’t resist including one more picture of Pickle. Cheeky Pickle.

Once were brushes

A wing-nut plastic item with a sliver coating has been rescued from the jaws of Pickle. What on earth is it? ‘Pickle, where did you get it? What have you broken?’ questions Andrew. Pickle, not surprisingly, doesn’t respond. ‘Bloody Pickle’, says Andrew, ‘he’s always breaking things’.

Yes, you all know what’s coming next. Not bloody Pickle at all. Bloody Andrew it would seem. I picked up the hair brush – now in two pieces. The silver wing nut piece, fit perfectly over the handle. Hmmm… how did this come to be broken Andrew? (Naughty school boy look). It turns out that Pickle was being naughty and Andrew was trying to make a noise to distract him by bashing the hair brush on the table. End of hair brush.

This isn’t the first time Pickle has brought us mystery objects. I found a small metal piece a while ago… well didn’t that cause a flurry in the house. We had to check all the nuts on the wheelie walker, two wheelchairs and then any other metal item in the house.

I’m not sure why Pickle feels the need to collect these things. Perhaps he is really a bower bird in disguise. A bloody big bower bird, without a passion for blue, or yellow…

Meanwhile, Andrew has cajoled Gesso into his arms and like a white flag unfurling, his little head has tipped back and the eyes are closing, sleep is near. My advice, Gesso, is don’t go to sleep. Andrew is in one of his mischievious moods. I wouldn’t be surprised if you woke up and your tail had been painted with rings of squid ink to make you look closer to a lemur. This is Andrew for you. I think he’s really aged 4.1 not 41.

 

The cat hotel: 5 star luxury

Recently I’ve heard of not one, but two people getting married where their parents have refused to come to the wedding. Now there may be some people who are so estranged from their parents that ma and pa aren’t even invited. Here this was not the case. It usually takes hearing something like this to make me reflect on how good my parents are to me. I am indeed very fortunate however the praise shall stop there. If you imagine that like sun screen protection factors, there was a public praise factor, then my parents would be about an SPF 3. My parents would be far more comfortable with me airing their faults to the world.

My mother’s fault, I think I have commented upon before. She truly believes that machines are untrustworthy beasts who have a personal vendetta against her. Even toasters! (I’m sure I once wrote a blog post about her favourite INEFFECTIVE toaster but I cannot find it). To be fair to my mum, she does seem to have an unusually temperamental relationship with mechanical objects. Recently she blew up the oven (I want to know what she was REALLY cooking in there). The other day it was the vacuum cleaner’s turn.

My father on the other hand, is not a technophobe – he’s a “close-a-phobe”. Dad has a habit of leaving open cupboard doors, not shutting down the computer, leaving the radio on… and all of this drives my mother batty! I have to smile at this. If I should ever get to be with one person for 41 years of my life and the thing that irritates me most is that they haven’t logged off the computer, then I will call myself very fortunate indeed. Oh actually, I forgot something… dad invariably likes to unpack his orchids in the house. You may not think this is a great problem until you come to appreciate that these ‘little babies’ are usually packed with shredded newspaper… and some of them fall out of their pots en route. This leaves a trail of bark and paper whenever they have been which results in my mother having to interact with the untrustworthy beast that is the vacuum cleaner – or a broom – I don’t think the latter have a vendetta against my mum… or do they?

UpstagedMy parents also run the cat hotel. It’s 5 star accommodation for your most treasured feline companions. My girls have stayed there, as has Pickle and Gesso. My brothers boys – Tilly and Willow – have also called it home at times, and last, but not least, my grandmother’s cat Tiggy.

Best of all, the usual residents (see left for Poirot and Pippy) are reasonably tolerant of the house guests.

It was also Chilli’s home for most of her life. There she was pampered and spoilt and fed on demand as part of her anti-vomit feeding regime. She even got to sit on the kitchen bench as illustrated below – and mum or dad have given her a mat to sit on. If that’s not 5 star luxury I don’t know what is!

So when the daily post put the theme as what luxury could you not live without, the answer was clear – my public praise factor 3, technophobe, bark dropping parents. I am indeed a lucky girl.
Spoilt at the fat farm

Pickle and the aerial cat toy

Finding cat toys that your kitty won’t leave on the floor when they are done can be a challenge. (Abandoned toys + physically disabled person = tripping hazard).

The toy in this video come come with a clip to attach them to the top of a door or other high surface are fantastic. (Same principle as pole toy but you don’t have to hold the end). But last time we had one is died quickly. I now realise why. Pickle chews the elastic rather than the mouse!

My boys

Gesso and Andrew in bed

Andrew and Gesso – being more than a bit cute!

Welcome home Pippy!

Pippy safely homely, sporting a new haircut

Pippy safely homely, sporting a new haircut

It is with great delight that I write to tell you Pippy is home from the vet hospital! After scaring us for the better part of a week, she finally started to get better and – together with her new haircut – arrived home.

I suspect she is getting extra pampering at the cat mothership. The thing that amazes me is that after many days of little food, she has returned home and she is still fat! Joking aside, we are all greatly relieved.

Meanwhile, at my place, the girls are getting used to a new routine. Each morning I am throwing the bed covers over my head and resolving to completely ignore Licorice. So far, it appears to be working. I have also removed all loose paper from the bedroom so Saffron can’t chew it.

Lastly, I seem to be winning the war on fleas. I put a new ‘sticky mat’ in My Flea Trap and while I’ve had it out quite a number of times it does not appear to be acquiring many more black dots.

See?

IMG_3678

My Flea Trap with few fleas

Well actually the point is that you don’t see! The combination of frequent vaccuming, flea treatment on the cats each month and the eco-flea trap appear to be doing the job. I’m sure that it does help that it’s winter. I’m determined not to use flea bomb sprays.

If you have a flea problem and have never tried “My Flea Trap” (not exactly an exciting name), then give it a go. My father didn’t believe me when I told him that it just uses alternating flashing lights and you leave it out overnight and in the morning the fleas have jumped in. That was until I got him one of these snifty things and they took it across to my grandmother’s place which only gets vaccumed when the home care lady comes. Dad returned with a flea trap that looked much more like a lamington than the one on the right. Except lamington’s taste better.

Yes, I want my nose Licorice

Licorice does winter

Licorice – 11 year old Tortie from Cat Protection Society

Licorice’s habit of ‘poking me awake’ appears to be getting worse. I have tried very hard not to ‘reward’ her, by not getting up until the alarm goes off. Yet it seems like she is getting more persistent. So this morning I consulted Dr Google (as many people do). Hmm… I thought I was ignoring her, but I have sometimes ‘pushed her away’ and that seems like in cat terms that’s a response. As is any talking – even if it’s no. (This morning I’m pretty sure there was a loud ‘no’ when Licorice decided to ‘stroke’ my nose. I’ve checked and there isn’t a big scratch down it but it feels like it!)

Oh dear, I shall have to reaffirm to throw the covers over my head and do absolutely nothing to encourage her.

Saffron

Saffron – 8 year old tortie from Cat Protection Society

Meanwhile Saffron was doing her morning routine – paper chewing again! Stupid me had left at piece of paper out in the bedroom.

While it may sound like I’m grumbling, I am still very happy to have them around today. Our family cat Pippy is quite sick at the moment and it’s meant the girls – and boys – have been getting extra cuddles.

Pippy has come down with a mystery illness. The vets are baffled. She is negative for FIV and ‘Feline Leukaemia‘ and it’s not cat flu either – certainly a relief; although FIV seemed very unlikely as Pippy doesn’t get into cat fights. Yet she is still a sick cat, although hopefully has turned the corner. Her temperature is slowly coming down and she is starting to eat again – if she is handfed by the vet nurse mind you! Mum, dad and I went to the vets on Friday afternoon to see her. She is sporting a new haircut – completely shaved underbelly and some off the sides too (I presume that was so they could do the ultrasound). Her eyes are still weeping, she is still snuffly and has developed a bit of a waddle when she walks, but there was a bit of spark. I put her down on the floor and she made a beeline for mum. It was very cute. Since Friday apparently her temperature has dropped a bit. She’s been sick for a week. Clearly a fighter though and I’m more optimistic now that she will pull through this. It was looking a bit grim on Wednesday / Thursday.

Pippy

Pippy as a kitten in 2003 – RSPCA cat.

Since I’ve already put pics in of 3, I might as well feature the entire fur family. I never know how to answer the question, how many cats do you have? Especially while Chilli was alive. I tend to say 2, or 4, depending on the context.

If you are new to my blog, then here’s the quick version of why that’s a confusing question – I adopted Chilli in 2000. When I moved out of my family home (where Pippy and Poirot also live), I took Chilli with me. However, Chill was a bit of a special needs cat and for her well being went back to live with mum and dad. So I was catless. So in 2009, I adopted Licorice and Saffron (above). My fur family was complete. Then in 2010, I met Andrew (a man, not a cat!). Andrew didn’t have any pets. After swearing that he didn’t want one, he started to warm to my girls. So, with time, we adopted Pickle the ginger ninja and Gesso a deaf white cat. They live with Andrew but if they need to go to the vet etc, then I’m responsible. I guess you could say, it’s a shared custody arrangement! So you see, that’s why it’s hard to answer how many cats I have!

Bedtime!

Pickle, age 2 1/2 and Gesso, about 1 1/2 – both from Cat Protection Society

Poirot June 2008

Poirot – aged almost 16 – RSPCA cat.

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