Posts Tagged ‘Animals’

#TBT: The Great Goo (1987)

May 1st, 2014 No comments

I’m delighted to offer up another short story from my youth to mark this week’s Throwback Thursday (#TBT). I remember being particularly proud of this story because it was the first A+ I had ever received on a creative writing assignment. Yep, I was proud as a peacock – so much so that I even wrote a second story featuring the same characters in a new adventure.  I’ll save the second ‘chapter’ for next week’s #TBT. Happy reading!


The Great Goo


Bright Eyes was bathing in her pool.  Ever since she had been a young sea lion she had loved bathing in her pool. KLUNK! KLUNK! CRACK! Tubby had been walking on what used to be a diving board.  Tubby as the fattest tiger in all the land.  Wobbles came stomping out to see what was the matter.  Wobbles was a very sentimental elephant.

“Oh my poor Tubby!” said Wobbles.

“What do you mean, ‘my poor Tubby’? I’m the one he landed on,” complained Bright Eyes.

“Hmph! Bring the first aid kit, Cuddles,” Wobbles said in a panic.

Since Cuddles was a bear, she walked very slowly, but whenever Cuddles got mad she moved like an express train.

“Whoa!” Cuddles had slipped on some water.

Patches burst out onto the deck with the first aid kit.  Patches was the only gibbon who wanted to be a doctor.

“Make way!” yelled Patches.

As Patches was running he tripped over his tail. When Patches was a baby, he tripped, banged, and smashed into everything and everyone.  He always had to be bandaged up.  His parents thought that Bandages would be a more suitable nickname for a mummy, so they decided to call him Patches.  All his relatives and friends agreed.

As Cuddles lay in agony, Patches stood up and tied his tail to his ears. He walked cautiously towards Cuddles.  Patches collapsed beside Cuddles.  His tail was still tied to his ears.  Patches opened his kit.  He pulled out a pair of scissors. All Patches really wanted was a lock of Cuddles’ soft, cuddly fur.  Patches had always wanted a piece of her fur.  It was so soft and cuddly.  SNIP!  SNIP! He had it!

Patches stood up and observed the piece of fur.  The fur was pink and sticky.  Cuddles’ fur was gray, not pink.  Patches tried to throw away the pink goo.  He yanked and struggled.  Finally, he pulled it off, but just as Tubby was struggling out of the pool, the wad of goo stuck to the tip of Tubby’s tail.

Tubby ran around the deck chasing his plump tail.  Cuddles stood up, wobbling back and forth.  She noticed her fur was cut off. She started to get red, almost like a beet.

“Who did this!!!!” Cuddles yelled so hard she shook some of the apples off the trees in the orchard.  The commotion stopped.

Tubby stopped running around and instead he said calmly, “Will you take the piece of goo off me, Cuddles?”

Cuddles walked slowly over to Tubby.  She yanked off the goo and stuck it back on her fur.

“That was mine,” said Cuddles briefly.

“Well, what was it?” Bright Eyes asked curiously.

“Gum,” answered Cuddles.

“All that because of gum?! There’s a moral to this… but I’m not sure what it is?” said Patches.

“Don’t play with gum, Patches!” they all scolded.

To this day Patches has never touched gum in his life.


M. xo

Author’s note:  Once again, life seems to imitate art.  A few years before writing this story, one of my brothers and I decided it would be neat if we made headbands out of gum.  My Mom did not think it was so ‘neat’.  She did, however, learn the trick to removing gum from hair – peanut butter.  While she did manage to get most of the gum out of our hair without having to cut too much off, she did clip off some blond locks matted with pink goo to keep as a reminder.  Judging from the preceding story, I think the lesson ‘stuck’.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

About a Cat: Part 4

June 21st, 2013 No comments

Admittedly, I struggled with writing this final chapter (hence the lengthy time between posts).  Saying good-bye is never easy, and saying good-bye to Si has been particularly difficult for me.  Compounding that pain, is the insecurity that accompanies outward displays of emotion toward a beloved pet.  This is why I initially hesitated to write this story.  Would anyone understand?  Or would people think I’m just some crazy cat lady?  I’m guessing it’s a bit of both.  To those of you who have followed this story, and encouraged me to keeping going – thank you.  Read part one, two, and three of this story.  

Si in here typical regal pose (Photo Credit: Jane Chartrand)

Regal Si (Photo Credit: Jane Chartrand)

Si’s final years were bittersweet, and proved to be some of the most difficult and rewarding years with my feline companion.  Old age slowly came for Si.  Unhealthy habits also began to take a toll on her body.  Si was relatively healthy for most of her life, but her love for treats and kibble meant that she gradually became quite the fat (okay, obese) cat.  Admittedly, she was lazy too.  She preferred napping and bathing to playing and climbing.  She was meticulous about grooming herself.  She’d often stop mid cat-spat to clean her paws, then continue with ‘fur’tastic defeat of any feline daring to challenge her.  I’m pretty sure she had a touch of feline OCD.  So, it became rather disconcerting when Si began to have trouble accessing those hard to reach places when bathing.  Trust me, there is nothing more undignified for a cat (except forcing her to wear doll clothes) than having to have their bum wiped because they missed a spot.  If Si wasn’t clean, she wasn’t happy.  And by now you all know what happened when Si wasn’t happy.

After consulting a vet, Si was put on an all wet food diet.  Now I don’t think there was a happier cat than Si when she started her new diet because she loved wet food.  Admittedly, we were concerned this new diet would be expensive on the pocket book.  By this time, we had three cats and feeding time was somewhat of a circus.  All the cats had to be put on the same diet. Our vet at the time was an amazing young woman who had recently graduated.  She was enthusiastic and quite sincere about any concerns we had, including financial ones.  She assured us it wouldn’t be that much of an increase in financial commitment, but that it would have enormous benefits for all our cats.  She was right. The cats actually started eating less because the wet food was much more filling and nutritious than kibble. With relative ease, Si gradually shed five of her eighteen pounds.  Hubby and I also gained a wealth of knowledge that would have a positive impact on all the cats we cared for in the future.  That was another sacrifice Si had to unintentionally make.  As the first pet, she would also be the one to teach us how to be great pet caregivers.  Si may have been a cat, but she was also a bit of guinea pig.

Sooty Si

Sooty Si

In 2007, hubby and I bought our very first home.  This would be Si’s last time moving with me.  The new house was incredibly spacious compared to the two bedroom apartment we’d been living in for several years.  There were three levels which meant that technically each of our cats could lay claim to a floor.  Of course, that never happened.  Si simply expanded her dominion.  Like any good conqueror, Si familiarized herself with the new landscape, including the wood-burning fireplace.  Being curious and daring, Si decided to climb inside to investigate.  Neither hubby nor I noticed until she emerged covered from head to tail in soot.  She was dirty, and not impressed.  If you recall, Si was not overly fond of anyone bathing her – including me.  She had been dunked into a bathtub a few times in her life, but it always unleashed ‘cat’-ankerous fury.  It took days for her fur to return to its glistening white, and Si never went into that fireplace again. Come to think of it – none of the other cats ventured into that fireplace either.  That was just like Si – leading by example.  Or more appropriately: Do as I say, not as I do.

Si lived the first few years in our very first house filled with contentment unlike any I’d seen her have before.  The sheer size of the house was a welcome respite for Si.  If either of the other cats became too bothersome, she simply retreated to the comfort of another room.  She had already claimed as her own the comfiest spots in practically every room of the house.  Yep, she was living the good life.  She had a kingdom far greater than any before, an undefeated reign over her subjects, the best food money could buy, and a backyard big enough to grow a lifetime supply of catnip.  Stability, order, and security had finally been obtained.  Life was perfectly blissful. That’s when Si began to let go.

Lounging Si

Lounging Si

It started when she no longer came upstairs to bed with us.  Instead of an ordeal involving many stairs and a tall bed, Si opted for the comfort of her own bed on the more reasonably located main floor.  That was our first sign that she was succumbing to the symptoms of arthritis.  She also began to get sick more often, and had to periodically take medication for various ailments.  The vets suspected that she was in the first stages of kidney failure.  We often found ourselves having to clean up after accidents because stairs were becoming a difficult task, leading Si to periodically fail to make it down to the basement litter box in time.  Each accident would inflict incredible indignation on Si.  It is, after all, most undignified for royalty to be caught by her subjects in such an embarrassing happenstance.  Eventually, we accommodated her needs by ensuring she didn’t have to make the trek if she didn’t feel up to it.

It wasn’t easy and at times I found myself questioning why I was keeping her alive, but she seemed happy.  She still came for her treats every night and ate well.  Her eyes were bright and her fur glistening, so I figured if she was going to put up with the pain of arthritis and still be happy – then I’d put up with the occasional accident and cost of medication.  I did, after all, commit to her ‘for-life’.  I also figured I’d know when it was time and it didn’t feel right just giving up on her.  I’m not going to lie –  those last years were tough.  There were many burdens – emotionally and financially, but there were also many rewards.

We knew something was seriously wrong when Si began to walk away from treats offered to her.  I had never, in over seventeen years, seen that cat reject a treat.  From there, Si quickly deteriorated.  She’d often sit and wait to be carried up or down stairs.  Within a few short weeks, Si stopped leaving the basement.  Then one morning we noticed Si in a state of distress, panting and urinating blood.  Normally, this would result in an emergency trip to the vet, but we had been through this several times before.  Si’s kidneys were slowly shutting down.  One day they would just stop working, but with each ‘scare’ we couldn’t help but wonder if it was time.  We called our vet and requested a house call, and then prepared to say good-bye.  This time was different.  It felt ominous.

Si ended up being with us for almost two weeks after that house call. She hadn’t quite been ready to go.  So, Si came home and was lavished with adoration fitting of royalty. In that time, Si was made as comfortable as possible to live out her life (whether that be mere days, weeks, or months was anyone’s guess).  Si bounced back like a champ and was her normal treat-devouring self for several days.  Kali spent time simply lying at a comfortable distance next to Si.  Hubby and I also spent much time on the floor with Si peacefully purring on one of our laps.  Then one day, Si just stopped getting up.  When she tried, she would simply stumble and fall.

We took Si to the vet who remarked on her incredibly low blood pressure, particularly for a cat in an unfamiliar vet clinic.  She also noted the change in disposition to the cat that she had met two weeks earlier.  As the vet was performing her examination (including copious amounts of poking and prodding), Si curled up on the table and went to sleep.  I’d never seen my Devil Cat be so mellow – so at peace.  I reached over, gave Si’s head a scratch and asked, “Are you trying to tell us something?”  Si continued to sleep softly.  That was really the only sign I needed to know that Si would not be coming home.

Peaceful Si

Peaceful Si

I’m not going to lie, when it happened I bawled like a baby.  I tear up now just thinking about it.  The following day I woke up and numbed my pain by scrubbing the basement from top to bottom.  The day after that I broke down completely and stayed in bed all day, even missing work.  Our other cats also grieved in their own curious ways.  Kali began sleeping in Si’s spots and taking over duties formally performed by Si (such as the nightly harassment of hubby for treats).  Bijoux spent an entire day wandering the house, stopping to periodically vomit.

I had always known that it wasn’t going to be easy to say good-bye to Si, but I never realized just how much it was going to effect me.  Although, I’d had other cats come and go – Si was different.  She had been a faithful companion for almost eighteen years.  She had moved with me when I left my parents’ home to begin my life.  She had been with me as I experienced the awkward journey of becoming an adult.  She was there for the very best and very worst of my memories.  Si and I had been together longer than hubby and I. Although it sounds clichéd, it really did feel like losing a part of my self.

Many months later I still feel an emptiness and, on occasion, I see a streak of grey and white fur pass by my peripheral vision.  Some days I wake up and expect to hear tiny tippy-toes and puss-patties pacing impatiently for food, or the unexpectedly dainty mew trilling from a beast of a cat.  Then, there are days like today – days where the bitterness of loss is triumphed by the sweetness of memory.

A girl and her cat...

A girl and her cat…

M. xo

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

About a Cat: Part 3

June 10th, 2013 No comments

Read part one and two of this story.

Over the years, Si had to learn to adapt to living with several different cats.  Each time a new cat joined our family, Queen Si managed to keep her place on her throne.  There were periods of adjustment.  These usually entailed several weeks of sleep being hijacked by the blood-curdling screams of feline warfare.  Despite the odds, Si always emerged from the battlefield victorious.  Within weeks, Si would once again be leading the daily line-up for rations and coveted treats.

Queen Si atop her throne

Queen Si atop her throne

In 2005, our two-cat household instantly became a seven-cat household when we decided to adopt a fluffy and precocious stray that had been found in an abandoned refrigerator in the front foyer of our apartment building.  I suppose a start like that deserves a bit of an explanation.  Our landlord had been storing an old fridge and stove in the foyer of the building.  On his usual Monday morning visit, he noticed that the door of the refrigerator was shut tightly instead of propped open as he had left it. Upon opening the door, a shell-shocked – but, very thankful – cat leapt out from inside.  Now, the landlord had a bit of a soft spot for animals, especially cats.  He’d been known to let strays live in some dilapidated sheds in the backyard, and he proudly claimed to have rescued well-over sixty cats by whisking them away to a nearby shelter in his beat-up Cadillac chariot.

There was something about this stray, however, that made the landlord wait before taking her to the shelter.  She certainly was a beautiful cat, and her demeanour was perfectly Zen.  He figured she must have belonged to someone and wanted to try and find the cat’s owners.  There was an empty apartment in the building, so he set up the cat with its very own pad and enlisted the help of hubby and me to care for it.  Within a couple days, we had named her Bijoux and had decided that we’d like to adopt her if no one stepped forward to claim her.  So, that’s how Si gained a new sister – but, it wasn’t until a couple weeks later that we discovered that Bijoux was carrying four little ones who would soon shake up the homestead.

Mama Bijoux and the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (2005)

Mama Bijoux and the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (2005)

Si, and her brother, Buddy (a stray who had moved with us from another city) soon found their quiet home invaded by the mischievous antics of Mama Bijoux and the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.  Peanut, KatStevens, Screech, and Tink arrived in early February of 2005.  Now, Si had never spent any time around kittens – and she wasn’t too fond of chaos.  True to any great leader, Si valued order and stability.  As if sensing the potential danger from Si, Bijoux gave birth in our bedroom.  So, it was easy to keep Si away from the kittens when they were too small to even have a chance of defending themselves.  Once the kittens started getting more agile (and subsequently using us as unwitting jungle gyms in the middle of the night), we relocated them into the living room.  This was Si’s first paw-to-paw introduction with a miniature feline.  The kittens learned relatively quickly to avoid the big, grouchy one.  It only took one kitten’s curious advances toward Si, followed by a swift thud of the kitten’s head bouncing off the floor, for all the kittens to get message.  It was a knock-out, and Si continued her reign as the heavy-weight (literally) champion.  Eventually, stability and order was restored when the kittens found new homes.

Si had never really bonded with another animal, despite having lived with well over a dozen different cats.  Most cats learned very quickly to steer clear of Si.  Si was untouchable.  There would be no feline-to-feline cuddle sessions and if any cat dared to try and clean her, they were met with a deep growl and swift smack upside the head.  Yep, Si was a loner for all intents – that was until a spunky little stray named Kali joined our family.  Kali showed up in our backyard one day while we were barbecuing.  This oh-so-tiny stray cautiously approached, clearly looking for something to eat.  It was easy to tell that she was starving.  Try as we might, we couldn’t get close to her.  So, we tossed her morsels of food which she graciously devoured while keeping a suspicious eye targeted on both of us.

View from an office window

View from an office window

The next day while I was working in my home office, Kali came strolling along a fence outside my window, sat down and watched me.  I guessed she was wondering when we were coming outside for dinner time again.  So, I put out some kibble and water, and later that evening hubby and I constructed a make-shift house in the backyard for her. For several weeks we dutifully refilled Kali’s food and water dishes and tried to socialize her so that we could take her to a shelter.  Of course, it was during this time that we grew a fondness for her.  We also began to suspect that she had been horribly abused by her previous ‘caregivers.’  That’s when we decided that we couldn’t take a chance by letting her be adopted by a stranger who might not give her the same quality of care that we knew we could.  And besides, she was warming up to us – particularly hubby who you’ll recall is somewhat of a Cat Whisperer.

It was during an evening when we were taking our cats for a check-up at the vets that hubby looked out back and saw Kali laying down in her make-shift house while the rain poured down around her.  Hubby looked at me and said, “Can we keep her?”  Admittedly, I was reluctant because we had just lost a cat and also just said good-bye to the last member of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.  I swear Kali heard hubby’s plea because when I looked outside at her, she was looking directly at me with such haunted eyes that there was no way I could reject hubby’s pleas. “If you can get her into a cage and to the vets for a check-up, we can keep her.”  I’m pretty sure hubby was out the door with cage in hand before I even finished my sentence.  Astonishingly, Kali climbed right into the cage.  To this day, I’m sure she planned the whole thing.  So after a visit to the vets, Kali came home.

Kamikaze Kali

Kamikaze Kali

Now Kali isn’t the smartest kitten of the litter – or at least that’s what she wants you to think.  So, when she met Si she didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t a sign of affection when Si swatted her across the head.  Kali was relentless with Si.  She clearly understood that Si was the alpha cat, and she seemingly wanted to be her right-hand feline.  Wherever Si would go, Kali was in tow.  When Si would fall asleep, Kali would quietly nuzzle up next to her.  On more than one occasion Si would wake up from a slumber to see this unrelenting cat peacefully curled up beside her – TOUCHING HER NO LESS.  And each time Si would have this “WTF?!?” expression on her face.  She would hiss and quickly retreat from Kali, yet when next she fell asleep, Kali would be right back at it trying to win over the Devil Cat. I’m pretty sure that Kali crossed the line when she decided to start bathing Si.  Si would have none of that and she’d lunge at Kali pinning her down so she knew that was NOT OKAY.  Kali was also always trying to play with Si.  Kali was a kitten after all, but Si was well into old age and play time was a rare and short occurrence.

Kali and Si (2010)

Kali and Si (2010)

For the most part, Si grew to tolerate and even like Kali. I would wager to say that Kali was Si’s only feline friend.   If you’ve ever seen the Looney Tunes episodes featuring the big tough bull dog, Spike and the scrappy annoying little dog, Chester – that was Si and Kali.   Yes, Kali annoyed Si, but she also gave Si purpose again.  Si changed Kali, too.  Slowly, Kali began to learn how to toughen up and not be so fearful of every noise or person.  It was after Si passed away that these qualities began to emerge more vibrantly from Kali.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of Si’s story in About a Cat…

M. xo

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,

About a Cat: Part 2

June 7th, 2013 No comments

If you missed Part 1 of this story, read it here.

Preston, an albino rat, chillaxin' in a hoodie.

Preston, an albino rat, chillaxin’ in a hoodie.

After almost three years of living within the turbulent waters of alcoholism, I abandoned ship.  Before I could prepare for my new journey, boyfriend and I had a custody dispute over the various pets in our care.  In addition to Si, we had raised several pet rats.  Anyone who’s ever had a pet rat will know the kind of joy they can bring – if you can get over the idea that your pet is much maligned rodent.  I knew there was no way boyfriend was going to let me leave with all the pets, so my main focus was to remove Si from that environment.  After much ‘negotiation,’ boyfriend agreed to let me take Si and in exchange he could keep the rats and various mutual gifts bestowed to us as a couple.  Frankly, he could have kept everything I owned so long as I could walk out of there with Si in my arms.

It was with the prospect of a brighter horizon, that Si and I embarked on new adventures.  For a few years, we lived a nomadic existence, cohabitating with various different people and furry friends (or foes, if you asked Si).  During this time, Si was faithfully by my side.  At times, her loyalty was a tad overbearing.  Visitors were generally considered an imposition on her time with me.  If I was engaged in conversation with a friend, Si would jump into my lap, bite my arm and then lay down with laser eyes trained on said friend.  I couldn’t really blame her, could I?  She was highly suspicious of everyone – but, mostly men.   Admittedly, I was also covered in the residue of my previous relationship.  A dark cloud had formed around me as I engaged in the self-blame game of a failed relationship and flunking out of college.  For a gal who had always excelled academically (and incidentally won an award the same year she flunked out ), seeing those glaring Fs had greatly contributed to my deflating self-esteem.  Si was reacting by becoming more protective of me.

Laser-eyed Si

Laser-eyed Si

On two occasions I had to leave Si in the care of others. I was again bewildered by this feline’s unwavering loyalty.  I left her in early 1998 with my housemates while I travelled to another city to find a job and a new place to live.  During this time an ice-storm blanketed the region and knocked power out for days.  People were freezing in their homes.  My housemates had desperately tried to get Si to leave my freezing bedroom and warm up in an area being heated by a gas stove.  Si refused to budge.  She waited in my bedroom for weeks for me to return.  Cold or no cold, she wasn’t leaving.

About a year later, I had to once again leave Si with my housemates.  I was gone for a month, but I knew Si was in the care of someone who understood her.  Si was being watched by my best friend and they had a good (as good as it could be with Si) relationship.  In fact, I always said that no one, but me, could ever take care of Si – except my best friend.  She knew what we had both been through and Si seemed to sense that she was on our side.  I was racked with guilt for leaving her for so long once again.  Upon my return,  my best friend went into the living room and said, “Wusser-Si, your Mommy’s here.” Si jumped down from the couch and ran over to me while meowing jubilantly.  It was one of the most moving displays of affection Si had ever shown me. It was as if she had been waiting for me to come get her – as if she knew I would return.

Several months went by as Si and I lived in a tiny bachelor apartment completely on our own.  During this time, Si would frequently accompany me on trips back to my home town.  She would happily sit in the back window of the car for the long journey.  Her eyes would dilate the size of saucers as she watched the lights of other vehicles pass by.

On one such visit, I took Si to my Grandpa’s house.  Grandpa wasn’t very fond of cats.  Apparently, many years earlier, he had had a terrible encounter with a feline that scarred him for life.  So when I walked in with Si cradled in my arms, he – in his often colourful language – asked, “What the hell is that and why the fuck are you bringing it into my house?”  Now my Grandpa was tough on the outside, but when it came to his granddaughter, he was a big softy.  I simply told Grandpa that where I went, Si went.  I freed Si from my arms and she merrily went about her business investigating the house, all the while my Grandpa kept a close eye on the beast.

During that same visit, Si met my childhood pet, Dravecky.  Dravecky was an iguana that had been with our family for years.  He had free reign of the house and was full of the equivalent of ‘cat-itude’ – we’ll call it ‘iguan-itude’.  My mother had to frequently scold him for sneaking up onto the kitchen table and eating her breakfast when she had her back turned.  Dravecky was also known to stand off with anyone who happened to encounter him in the upstairs hall.  Much like Si, Dravecky was the boss of his house.  Now, when I say iguana you might be tempted to picture those cute little reptiles found in terrariums of pet stores.  No, you see, Dravecky was over ten years old and he hadn’t been caged for his entire time with us.  He was a large domesticated lizard.  It often took the power of two grown men to subdue him, when the need called.  Assuredly one whip from his tail would have seriously injured Si.  So, naturally I was nervous about how the two would get along.  Of course, those nerves were unwarranted because, well, Si was the boss not only in her own home, but in any home she entered.  So for three days and nights, poor Dravecky stayed perfectly still on his perch high enough up that Si couldn’t reach him.  The only thing that moved on that lizard was his eye which was trained on Si like a sniper’s rifle.  I’m not sure that Si even noticed that there was another animal in the house.  It’s more likely that she just didn’t care.  So long as the other beast knew its proper place.

Stu hanging out on top of Dravecky.

Stu hanging out on top of Dravecky.

That’s how Si was with any animal she encountered.  Several years later when my Dad would bring his large dog, Valentine to visit, Si would be the only cat in the household to venture into the same area as Valentine.  She’d walk right up to Valentine and hiss, and then promptly walk away.  You know, just to make sure the dog knew its place too.  That was Wusser-Si – absolutely no fear.  While other cats were cowering during thunderstorms, she’d be calmly bathing herself and (I imagine) laughing on the inside at their foolishness over a little storm.

While Si and I were living in that tiny bachelor apartment,  I met my future husband.  That’s when life started to change for both of us.  It began when I had to make a decision I wish I never had too.  It was with much hesitation that I had to have Si de-clawed when she was approaching the age of five years old.  Now anyone who knows a thing about cats knows this is a very painful experience for felines – particularly the older they get.  It’s tantamount to a human having their finger removed at the knuckle.  I made this decision after consulting a vet about her behaviour.  Si had been getting more aggressive, much of it I imagined had to do with my highly neurotic state.  The vet simply stated that I had two choices, put her down or de-claw her.  For the record, I am against de-clawing of cats and none of the other cats I’ve had over the years have ever been de-clawed.  With Si though, I felt like I had no choice.  Her early (and formative) years had been spent in the company of a violent alcoholic, and this had clearly left her on the defensive – particularly toward men.  She never took to any of the subsequent boyfriends I had, and became quite aggressive when I started dating my husband-to-be.  I think she sensed I was falling love, which meant sharing my affection with another.  Si was never very good at sharing.

Even the dreaded vacuum was no match for the Wusser-Si.  It was just another day at the spa.

Even the vacuum was no match for Si. It was just another day at the spa.

Ironically, hubby was perhaps the kindest and gentlest man I had ever been acquainted with, so it was quite disconcerting when he would sleep over and be attacked in the middle of the night by a very jealous and protective cat.  As hubby recounts, Si would sit at the end of the bed and wait for his feet to dangle over.  Then she would raise her paw, unsheathe each claw one after the other, and let the moonlight glisten on them before swiping full throttle at his feet.  True to his nature though, hubby didn’t lash out at Si.  Instead he began to gain her trust (through copious amounts of soft food, treats, and ear rubs).  So, when I decided to once again live with a man, I made the heart-wrenching decision to have Si de-clawed.  It was not only so my hubby (who is also allergic to cats) could live without fear of being maimed, but because we were talking about having children.  There were just far too many what-ifs where Si was concerned.  I wasn’t about to end her life just because she was overprotective.  That wasn’t her fault.  So, I opted for the lesser of two evils.  If  kids ever blessed our life, we would reassess the situation to see how Si would adjust.  In the meantime, hubby’s feet needed a break from the nightly bombardment of Wusser-Si lashings.

Surprisingly, Si took to the de-clawing rather well.  She simply learned how to defend herself in other ways.  So, when we adopted another cat, Si was still boss of the house – even without claws.  She stayed boss of the house right up until the day she died.  We’ve had several cats throughout the years, and none of them could topple Queen Si from her throne.  It was impressive, indeed to watch her puff up and growl at the newest additions – and then see them roll over and expose their bellies.  It was like some weird feline Jedi mind trick.

Nap-time Si

Nap-time Si

Si also took to hubby.  A friend who hadn’t seen Si in years (and who had once lived with Si) was amazed at Si’s demeanor when she came to visit us.  That’s when hubby got the moniker, ‘Cat Whisperer’.  Whether it was the treats or constant ear rubs, Si loved hubby.  She had him trained in no time too.  Every night at 6 pm promptly, she would paw at hubby incessantly until he relented and gave her treats.  We once decided to see how long she would paw at him for her treats.  After an hour and half, hubby caved.


Stayed tuned to find out what happens when Si lives with four pesky kittens, (reluctantly) bonds with another cat and finds peace in the final years of her life…

M. xo

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

About a Cat: Part 1

June 6th, 2013 No comments

Let me preface this post by suggesting that if you’re the kind of person who views pets as property rather than a member of the family, then you probably will want to stop reading now. Oh, and I’ll also forewarn you that this is a long story – I’ve got 18 years of stories to share. That said, I’ve decided to break it up into smaller posts.

This is about a cat – a cat that brought much joy, and admittedly, challenges to my life.  Today she would have turned 18 years old, but it was with great sadness that on November 9th of last year, that I had to say good-bye to my beloved feline companion, Osiris Maxwell – or Si, as most everyone called her.  This is a tribute to a cat that was with me during the most tumultuous times of my life – a cat that faithfully stayed by my side when my world seemed to be crumbling around me.  Whoever said dogs are the most loyal of pets, never met the Wusser-Si (my affectionate name for her).

It was in 1995, when I left home to pursue post-secondary studies that an almost two-decade bond with this larger than life feline began.  I had always wanted a cat.  Sure, we had cats growing up.  It’s just that those cats never seemed to stick around that long.  It might have had something to do with a kindly neighbour woman who liked to feed neighbourhood pets, and subsequently lure them into her own home with the promise of tasty morsels; or perhaps, it was because I was obsessed with dressing my cats up in doll clothes when I was a kid (which I later learned is a most undignified state for a feline).  For the most part, my childhood pets consisted of the non-furry variety: fish and lizards. So, I remember thinking that I could finally have any pet I wanted now that I was moving into my very own home.  I knew it was going to be a cat, and I knew that I was going to have that cat for its entire life because I felt strongly (and still do) that a pet is a ‘for-life’ commitment.

Baby Si

Baby Si (1995)

I met Si when she was only a few weeks old.  I instantly fell in love with the little grey and white spitfire of a kitten who hissed at me when I approached her.  Challenge accepted, I thought.  At the time, we all thought Si was a male which is why she ended up with a masculine name.  It was in August of 1995 that I packed up my belongings, picked up Si and headed east to my new home town. Si instantly took to her new home and house mates.  She delighted in all the attention she received, particularly from me.  Soon she was by my side or in my lap whenever she wasn’t eating or playing.  It became clear early on that she was full of ‘cat-itude’.  She ran the household and anyone living in it was there to serve her.  She did what she liked, when she liked and if Si didn’t like you, you’d find out.  What’s more, if I didn’t like you or was mad at you, Si made sure to take up those grievance on my behalf.

I first noticed this fierce feline loyalty when a friend of mine stopped by with a woman that I had met before, but of whom I wasn’t too fond.  This woman just wasn’t pleasant to be around and apparently Si had sensed my unease with her being in our home.  The woman bent down to pet Si and at the same moment Si reached up and clawed the woman across the cheek.  Now, in all fairness, this stranger shouldn’t have invaded an animal’s personal space without properly introducing herself.  This is just common sense.  After leaving four perfectly bleeding claw marks across the woman’s cheek, Si calmly walked away with tail proudly in the air.  Of course, I apologized profusely and scolded Si (then locked her in the bedroom), but the woman laughed it off, and went to the bathroom to clean her wounds.  This was my first indication that Si was an unusually loyal cat, some might even have called her my familiar.


Si (1996)

At the time, I was living with a friend and my boyfriend.  My boyfriend had issues with alcohol – meaning that whenever he drank, he became an issue.  Alcohol and he just didn’t mix, and unfortunately he became employed as a cook at a pub.  The temptation to drink (as much as he tried not too) was ever-present.  He eventually fell off the rickety wagon he was on and began coming home, after every shift, drunker than the patrons at the pub on New Year’s Eve.  This caused much discourse in our household.  I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown from trying to balance academic studies with my personal life that was slowly spiralling out of control.  Si began to react to the upheaval by letting the boyfriend know just how she (and I) was feeling.  One day she climbed inside his brand new twenty-hole Doc Marten boots and pissed.  I don’t think he ever did get that eau du cat pee smell out of them.  Yet another day, she quietly climbed up the couch behind him, stood up on her hind legs and proceeded to box the hell out of his ears.  I just pictured her feline thoughts something along the lines of “and this is for being a raging asshole at three o’clock every morning… and this is for playing loud death metal music at four o’clock every morning… and this is for …” well, you get the picture.  Each time she took her frustrations out on the boyfriend, I laughed on the inside.

It was one night in particular that I realized that Si had adopted the role of my protector.  Boyfriend came home in an unusually raging alcoholic fit, so much so that it scared me to the point of locking myself in the bedroom.  Of course, Si was locked in there with me and as we sat listening to a mad man unleash his fury on the apartment; Si began to grab at my throat with her teeth and pull.  It wasn’t a violent bite and tug, but rather the kind mother cats do to their young when carrying them to safety.  From that point onward, whenever I found myself in a fit of tears, Si would bite and tug at me.  Yes, it was unsettling – but in context it was also endearing.

Of course, Si’s bites weren’t always meant as loving gestures.  There were also times when she would show her disapproval by lunging at my arms and biting me.  Those times were usually when I had gone away for a couple days and left her alone or in the care of someone who just didn’t understand her.  In fact, she behaved this way toward me for her entire life.  So much so, that many years later when I married, my husband had to calm Si down upon our return from a weekend away before I could even approach her.  The times that hubby didn’t do this meant Si cornering me and growling at me until she got one good bite into my arm.  Yep, I wasn’t kidding when I said she was a challenging cat.

Devil Si (2003)

“Devil” Si (2003)

It’s true that she scared the crap out of many people which is probably why she was called ‘Devil-cat’ and the ‘Cat from Hell’ by several of my friends.  She was known to bully not only other animals, but people too.  On more than one occasion I had to rescue someone who had been cornered by Si as she stalked them and prepared to strike.  Once I even had to lock Si in a bathroom when she tried to attack a pitbull. That was the thing about Si, she was both a lover and a fighter….


In tomorrow’s post, find out what happens when Si goes on a road trip, meets an iguana, is introduced to the man I would eventually marry, and the heart-wrenching decision I wish I never had to make…

M. xo

To read the continuation of this story, click here

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

When pets live better than you do…

March 22nd, 2011 No comments

I’ve always said that if I had to be reincarnated as an animal that I’d want to come back as one of my cats.  Why?  Mostly because I think my cats rock, but also because they are spoiled rotten (which I’m sure has something to do with the fact that we don’t have children and they’ve been relegated to our “fur babies”).

People love their pets and businesses know how to tap into that adoration.  Recently, while spending some time in the pet aisle at our grocery store (because I do spend a lot of time and money in that aisle) I stumbled across this tantalizing tidbit for my felines:

Needless to say I was quite amused, and immediately had to buy the treat for our kitties.  Seems despite having a background in marketing and psychology that I, too, succumb to the messages that my pet deserves the absolute best.

While I agree that we may spoil our kitties, we haven’t gotten to the point of investing in cat spas that boast chauffeur service, private verandas and bird watching or cat cottage retreats offering private suites, adjoining suites for multiple cat families, “extreme bird watching”, and organic catnip.  Maybe our cats do live a bit more of a humble existence than some with wealthier “pet parents”.  Certainly, they live more humbly than those cats and dogs who have the title of being Pet Millionaires.

Pets have steadily become a windfall for businesses capitalizing on our love for our furry family members.  It’s little wonder that in our consumer-driven society that even our pets are keeping up with the the furry Joneses next door.

I’d love to hear what the most extravagant gift was that you ever bought your pet.  Incidentally, ours was a 9 foot cat perch made from bamboo and rattan.  Quite impressive, and quite loved by our three kitties.

A kitty by any other name is still just as cute… cheers to our kitty families!

Osiris aka “Wusser-Si” aka “The Cat from Hell”

Buddy aka “Monkey Boy” aka “Boo Boy” RIP

Bijoux aka “Fluffernut”

Kalifornia aka “Kali” aka “Monkey-Bits”

KatStevens aka “Brat Cat”

Yums aka “Yum Yums” aka “Yummies” RIP

Miss Missy aka “The Real Miss Missy”

Valentine aka “Val” – honourary cat, and because she’s a jealous doggie…