Red in Tooth and Claw

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Snow White-A Smile and a Song

It is really too bad that nature is not like this scene from Walt Disney’s Snow White. BTW Snow White remains my favorite Disney Princess because when I was a kid in the 1970s, she was the only brunette. I didn’t really care about her “happily ever after” with the prince who appeared at the end of the movie. I loved the thought of her living in the forest in harmony with all of the animals.

Then I grew up. Unfortunately, a lot of people did not.

I follow two related Twitter accounts: A woman farmer in Ireland, and an account for one of her cats. She posts pictures and short videos every day of her sheep, her farm, her cats, her spinning room. Usually they’re a diversion from the ugly reality in the U.S. Sometimes sad things happen, like a premature lamb dying. Sometimes upsetting things happen, like one of the farm cats getting into a tangle with a strange tom and having to have his ear glued back together (which I found fascinating as it healed up so much more quickly than stitches.)

A few days ago, she posted a picture of herself rescuing a wren nestling before one of the cats got ahold of it. All’s well that ends well, right?

Not on Twitter. She was verbally attacked by multiple anti-cat people who refused to understand that this is a farm cat, not a city cat, cats are needed on farms to control the rodent population, domestic cats aren’t evil. I blame the Audubon Society for spreading lies about outside cats and associating with people who advocate killing them for this sort of nonsense.

Life is not a Disney movie.

I’ve seen a blue jay kill a house sparrow. By the time I got outside with the broom to chase away the jay, the little bird was hopelessly injured. Another year, a bunch of grackles killed a family of house sparrows, parents and nestlings. Territoriality. Animal instinct. I didn’t kill the blue jay or the grackles. And anyone who thinks no cat should be allowed to roam or that cats are an “invasive species” (in Europe!) and spews that nonsense is going to get it thrown right back in their face by me.

The Audubon Society needs a good housecleaning, starting at the top. They are no longer pro-bird. They are anti-cat, and they are validating the absolutely false views of people who just hate cats. One person kept saying the cats “poison” wildlife.

I’ve never seen a cat putting out poisoned bird food, have you? This insane rhetoric has gone way too far. And not enough people are standing up to it, so if you love cats and understand that “nature is red in tooth and claw,” could you confront people spreading anti-cat lies? Could you confront online bullies in general when you see them? Those of us countering the lies and confronting the bullies could use some help. I don’t want to see good people who make the Internet better driven off social media because some blithering idiot can’t understand why domestic cats are so valuable.

If you are one of those blithering idiots: enjoy your bubonic plague.

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The First Anti-Cat Hysteric of Spring

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I haven’t seen a robin yet this year, but I’ve seen daffodils, violets, and I’ve read the ugly words of one of the anti-cat cult.

“…bird-murdering cat…” I got that far and stopped reading. That’s dumb. That’s wrong. That’s a lie. That’s hysterical language designed to bring out the people who hate cats so much they will shoot them in traps or put out poisoned food. It’s language designed to appeal to dangerously deranged people. Do I have to keep pointing out over and over and over that killing animals is one of the points of the triad of sociopathy? Do I have to keep saying that not only is killing a cat for being a cat wrong, it’s a sign that the person who does it is quite possibly dangerous to people too?

I guess I do, if people are going to persist in sharing this bullshit.

There is no such thing as a bird-murdering cat.

I repeat, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BIRD-MURDERING CAT. There is also no such thing as a worm-murdering robin. There are simply animals being animals. Neither one plots and plans to harm its prey. They act on instinct like every other wild animal. Humans who kill cats or dogs may have fabricated justifications, but really, anyone who kills a cat for killing a bird (even a beautiful songbird) has a fucking problem and should be stopped.

Like it or not, feral cats are becoming American wildlife. A feral cat is one that was born in the wild and is unused to human contact. A stray cat is one that slipped out of its home and got lost, or was abandoned or left behind by a “person.” Cats are frequently abandoned or “put out” by people who rent apartments and a) aren’t supposed to have pets/have too many pets or b) choose to move into a new place that doesn’t allow pets. These are human failings. Cats shouldn’t be punished for them.

Feral cat colonies are often monitored by people (like me) who feed starving cats. Why are the cats starving if they’re murdering and eating all those precious songbirds? ISN’T THAT A MYSTERY? The truth is that a feral cat’s diet consists primarily of voles, other small mammals (chipmunks) and frogs. Yes, frogs. If feral cats were “murdering” the silly astronomical numbers of songbirds claimed by the Audubon Society, there would be no birds at your feeder–or mine.

Feral cats are not spreading rabies. If they were, it would be on the news every day.

Feral cats are not spreading toxoplasmosis. If they were, it would be on the news every day.

People who hate cats lie. Even people at the top in “respectable” wildlife organizations. Some of those people have killed cats themselves.

I understand that there are people who dislike cats. I do not understand people who would callously and deliberately kill cats for being cats. I have two indoor cats. I also have a bird feeder and bird bath and spend a ridiculous amount of money every month on bird seed and sunflower seeds. I feed squirrels as well as birds. I don’t consider them vermin. Many birders do. I don’t like it when a neighborhood cat starts hanging around my bird feeder. I will chase it away. I will spray it with water. I will not harm it or call animal control even if it does kill a bird.

It is not a cat’s fault for being a cat. You want someone to blame for a dead songbird? Blame the person who moved to a “better” apartment and abandoned their cat. Blame the person who got a kitten and shoved it out the door when it grew up  into a cat. People are the problem.

A significant percentage of songbird death is due to loss of their environment so that people can have McMansions. Pesticides kill birds as well as bees.

It is not the fault of the cats. It is all our fault. Before you use stupid words like “bird-murdering cat,” take a long look at yourself, where you live, and your lifestyle. What have you done that has forced a cat into an outdoor life or contributed to the death of a songbird?

Grow the fuck up, stop blaming cats, and be a better fucking human being.

Single Lady with Cats, Part III

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I’ve had some traumatic relationships, the stuff of the creepiest Lifetime Movies. I’m quite cautious. I have a few good friends. I’m certainly open to meeting someone, but I have a lot of requirements. Like, don’t threaten to throw my cat through a wall because she threw up on your sofa because you made everyone in the household hysterical.

I’m a writer. I’m a freelance writer, and I write novels. I have a vampire series in progress that I enjoy very much. I’m working on a fairy story for adults. This is giving me fits. I’ve tried it so many different ways. I finally went with a dystopian theme because, well, it’s pretty dystopian out there if you haven’t looked lately.

So I’m usually always writing. If I’m not writing, I’m reading. If I’m not reading, I’m crocheting. If I’m not crocheting, I’m taking photographs. If I’m not taking photographs, I’m drawing.

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(My scanner is old and has a spot. Sorry.)

If I’m not doing any of those things, I’m listing things on Ebay and Etsy. These are all solitary pastimes, except for photography. I love going on a photography day trip with someone else along.

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(I don’t have the slightest urge to go ice climbing, but I will take pictures of other people doing it.)

Most people don’t like sitting around while someone writes or crochets, and I’m not willing to change myself. Cats. Cats are quite happy to sleep or stare out the window–or into the corner–while you do your thing. And yes, we do play. We have cat soccer every night.

My other hobby is one that apparently a lot of people find creepy and disturbing. Actually, that’s good, because it tends to keep those people away from me. I collect dolls. It started with the paper dolls when I was very young, and then of course I had Barbies, and when I got married, I started collecting china heads.

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I always wanted a china head because Laura Ingalls Wilder mentioned them in her books. Nellie Oleson had one, but she tossed it aside for her new wax doll that said “Mama.” Which is pretty funny because that china head is probably still in existence and the wax doll probably deteriorated because, well, wax, and I doubt that Nellie took the best care of it.

Then I started collecting other types of porcelain dolls, mostly the kind that used to be in department stores every holiday season.That got boring fast because they don’t do anything but gather dust.

In 2014, I was caring for my aunt who had severe Alzheimer’s and dementia. I would spend a night or two at her house, then my mom would relieve me, then I would relieve her. We did this for almost nine months as my aunt’s Medicaid paperwork worked its way through the system. There’s a store near her house where I stopped almost every day for household items. One day, I saw a Monster High doll.

I LOVE Monster High dolls. The “old” ones, before some twat at Mattel decided that their faces need redesigning. Monster High dolls are the dolls I wanted when I was a kid. They’re weird and some of them are vampires (which sealed the deal for me) AND YOU CAN POSE THEM.

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A lot of people are quite put off by Monster High dolls. “Bizarrely proportioned” and “slutty” are their main complaints. I think it’s disturbing that people would so intensely hate on a doll, so that rules those people out of my life too.

Not all Single Ladies with Cats live with their moms. I do. I’m making a lot more money than I was six months ago, but not enough to get a place of my own. My mom is 68, walks with a cane, and is prone to doing things like trying to drag her humongous Kirby vacuum down the stairs in the middle of the night. She can’t accept her physical limitations. She still sees herself as a 38-year-old cop who pushed a Corvette out of a flooded road by herself.

If I had my own house, my mom would live with me. I’ve cared for my grandfather, grandmother, and aunt. They needed to be in nursing homes. My mom doesn’t. I guess a lot of people would put a parent with some physical limitations into a nursing home. I’m not one of those people.

I am a Single Lady with Cats. And dolls. And that doesn’t make me crazy. I’ve come to view my role in the world as a caregiver. That’s not a bad thing. Anyone who thinks that it is need not apply.

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Single Lady with Cats, Part II

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So then I knew, without a doubt, how babies got out, and I don’t remember my mother’s explanation for her C-sections, but she must have been fast on her feet. My sister was born. More kittens were born. Another sister was born. More kittens were born.

My mom is one of those well-intentioned people rescued every stray cat and dog that found their way to our yard. I think that part of it was working at the police department, being good friends with an animal control officer, and knowing that the likelihood an animal coming out of the shelter was almost zero.

But, like so many people who want to help, my mom didn’t have the money to do more than feed them. We had a large property, a garden with a big field behind it, and two outbuildings. So I can’t say that our cats had a bad life. They had food, shelter, and love. It’s better than being “put to sleep.”

I, however, made the decision that when I grew up, I would never have an outside pet. I lost too many cats to the road. I decided that I would never get into my mother’s situation. And when I was a teenager and a friend brought me an older kitten (because his dad told him “get rid of that damn cat or I will”) I asked my mom if I could keep him inside, and I had him neutered. I was working. I paid for it. Poor Pyewackett made many trips to the vet for respiratory infections, and I paid all the bills.

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(Pyewackett did all the damage to the bookcase.)

After Pyewackett came Zelda, my sister’s cat. She thought he was a girl. He wasn’t. I haven’t got a pic of him on this computer, but he was a big, handsome tuxedo cat. Then came Snuffy. Snuffy was another part-Siamese, but he was white and gray. There was a free-roaming tom cat in the neighborhood we called Mr. Smith. He looked just like Snuffy, and my mom still had outside cats, so we gave Snuffy his father’s name. And then next year, Snuffy’s half-sister Sugar.

They were our inside cats.

When I went to live in New York, I left Pyewackett to live with my mother, because he was getting to be an old man cat and had a cat crush on Sugar. I felt out of sorts in New York, not having a cat, so I went to the Little Shelter in Huntington (a no-kill shelter for cats and dogs so you should check it out if you’re in NY!) and adopted Mika.

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Mika was about five when I adopted her, and she had been at the shelter for seven months. The shelter workers told me that if I hadn’t taken her, she likely would never have been adopted because black cats are passed over for “pretty” cats and due to superstition. I had Mika for a year when I decided that she seemed lonely. We were living in an apartment complex with a large feral cat colony, and she spent all her time sitting on the window sill, watching the feral cats.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: FERAL CATS DO NOT SPREAD TOXOPLASMOSIS OR RABIES OR SALMONELLA OR WHATEVER OTHER NONSENSE THE AUDUBON SOCIETY WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE. I FED AND EVEN TOUCHED SOME OF THOSE FERAL CATS AND NEVER EVEN GOT SCRATCHED. FERAL CATS DO NOT HAVE A SOOPER SEEKRIT PLAN TO KILL ALL THE SONGBIRDS. THEY EAT MOSTLY VOLES AND FROGS. THEY KEEP DOWN THE VERMIN POPULATION IN THEIR AREA. DO NOT ARGUE WITH ME. I KNOW OF WHICH I SPEAK.*

I had in mind adopting a feral kitten, but my ex-husband came home from work one day and said HEY HERE’S A KITTEN GET ME A BEER, and that’s how I got Kumo.

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Kumo is still with me. Mika passed away from stomach cancer on February 14, 2012.

Mika beat Kumo up until he learned his place. Then we moved to a large house and I wanted another kitten. And again I got HEY HERE’S A KITTEN, GET ME A BEER.

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Kumo didn’t have to beat up Justin. Neither did Mika. Kumo is a strong believer in quiet intimidation.

So I have these three cats, and then my marriage implodes, and I put them in their carriers in my SUV, and I drive them from New York to North Carolina alone. I had a friend from North Carolina driving a box truck with most of my belongings, but we got separated, and I ended up spending the night in a motel in Virginia with three cats and A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL.

I moved back in with my mother. Pyewackett and Zelda were gone. Snuffy was over 14, and Sugar had never recovered from Pyewackett’s death. When Snuffy got sick, and I determined he had no quality of life, I took him to the vet and had him euthanized. They did the procedure outside. The last things he saw were my face and the blue sky.

Sugar died soon after that. My mother still had two elderly outside cats, and they both eventually died in their sleep.

There will be a part three and probably four to this post, so I don’t want to end part two on a sad note. We have Kumo and Justin, they’re neutered, Kumo had major ear surgery a couple of years ago and it was a long recovery, and he’s not jumping onto the washing machine anymore BECAUSE HE’S A FURRY GRAY TUB O’LARD, but he’s doing well.

Justin is an odd cat who likes to spend his spare time staring into corners like the guy at the end of The Blair Witch Project.

In part three, I’ll get to Crazy Cat Ladies, Crazy Anti-Cat Hysterics, and possibly Crazy Cat Ladies Who Also Collect Dolls. That last may be a post in itself.

Single Lady with Cats

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And dolls. And books.

Are you looking for the exit yet?

I’m a walking cliche. I’m a 44-year-old childless woman caring for an elderly parent. I have two cats. I read and write books. And–here’s your cue to RUN–I collect dolls. And not expensive antique dolls that reside in a glass display cabinet. No, I collect articulated dolls, and I’m trying to learn to make clothes for them.

People assume I’m single. They assume quite a lot of things. They assume that I’m mentally stunted in some way, or deranged, or dangerous, or unable to interact with others.

Maybe if you behaved better, if you offered me something, if you treated me decently, I wouldn’t live in this world you love to mock.

That didn’t feel good when you read it, did it? A taste of one’s own medicine is always bitter.

And it’s not true, anyway. I would be what I am regardless of anyone else. Ask my ex-husband.

My earliest memories are of my mother cutting the picture of the baby off the empty Dreft laundry soap box and giving it to me to play with. I recall reading something about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother cutting fashion dolls out of Godey’s Lady’s Book and giving them to Laura and Mary. I don’t have a citation for that, and I question whether that was one of Laura’s “embellishments,” because Godey’s Lady’s Book was sacrosanct to women settlers and I can’t imagine Caroline Ingalls cutting up the only “magazine” she had that connected her with the world outside of being a settler’s wife. Don’t get me started on “Pa” Ingalls. That’s a subject for another blog.

I outgrew the Dreft babies and moved up to Gingham Girls. Gingham Girls were a set of paper dolls, fashions placing them in the late 1880s-1890s, and each doll came in a box with pop-up decor that made a “room.”

In the meantime, I was already a passionate reader and “cat girl.” My mother always had cats. She tried to rescue every stray. When she was pregnant with my middle sister, I was about three, and I asked her how the baby got out of her stomach. She had a C-section with me and knew she’d have to have another, so she told me that she would go to the hospital and the doctor would take the baby out of her tummy.

Our living room was situated so that my father’s armchair was under the window that looked out onto the back porch. My mother had a pregnant cat and had fixed up a box for her on the back porch. She walked into the living room one day and found me looking over the back porch, down into the box where Missy was having kittens.

And I said to my mother, in the accusing tone that only a three-year-old who is completely outraged can manage, “Mommy, you lied to me.”

(to be continued)

Cat Collars: Keeping Your Pet Safe Or Inhibiting It?

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So cat collars are a source of controversy on the Interwebs. Who knew? I mean, I knew that bell on collars were controversial because they’re considered torturous to our furry feline friends’ little ears, but collars? With ID tags and rabies vaccine tags? WHO KNEW THERE WOULD BE SUCH A FURIOUS UPROAR? OR EVEN AN UPROARIOUS FUROR?

I get that many people who photograph their cats prefer to remove the collar first, and that’s actually a good idea. But I think that even indoor only cats should wear collars with ID tags and rabies tags because there’s always that chance.

Animal control picks up your cat. An ID tag can save him. A current rabies vaccine tag can keep your cat out of quarantine, sparing her stress and saving you money. Because rabies quarantine ain’t cheap.

Last summer, I found a young female calico wandering the block and thought she had gotten lost. I put up a sign with a picture of her. Turned out, she belonged to a new neighbor who didn’t believe in tags. I could have taken the cat right back to her home had she been wearing a collar with an ID tag.

What if the worst happens? If someone finds your cat, wouldn’t you like them to be able to contact you so you don’t just . . . wonder?

One of my cats has fine hair and sensitive skin. Much like me. I always kept a store-bought collar on him until I realized that he had scratched all around his neck and had scabs. I googled “soft cat collars” and found this Etsy seller:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/craftytagz

The collars are fleece. The seller makes the ID tags, and they slide onto the collars horizontally so that they don’t hang down and annoy your cat while he’s eating. Unfortunately that can’t be avoided with rabies tags, but it is what it is.

So if you’re a fanatic about keeping your cat safe like I am and/or you have a cat with skin allergies, take a look at the well-made, reasonably priced fleece collars made by CraftyTagz.

Another high-profile cat-hater

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And this one is being taken seriously by the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/they-put-the-cat-in-catastrophe/2016/09/19/778207f2-785b-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html

Please contact the Washington Post. I’m sure they have a Facebook page. I contacted them via @washingtonpost on Twitter. Please tell them why you know that Peter Marra is just plain wrong.