Shhhh Kitty Kitty Kitty….

Let me start off by saying – I love cats. I love MY cats. They are solace when I am sad, they are loving when I feel empty.

Now.

My cats also drive me up the proverbial wall.

They do the usual “cat” things…they lay on my laptop when I’m typing, sleep by my head when I’m trying to sleep. But they also make more noise than the Park Street Band. Especially Tom.

Tom is my grey and white tuxedo. He is the friendliest, coolest cat I’ve ever owned. He holds his own against my chocolate lab, along with the two other labs that practically live at my house. He allows my grandson to carry him all  around the house, feet dangling near the floor, as his body as long as my grandson is tall. He loves to lay on your lap – anyone’s lap – especially if you are under a blanket.

What’s the problem, then, you ask?

It’s multifold, actually.

First off, his meow is loud and demanding. Not just when he’s hungry, but when he wants a snack. When he wants a bite. When the other cat eats more than her share of breakfast and dinner. He’s not a fat cat – he’s just a slow eater. A bite, a nibble, a nap, another bite. So his eating/lifestyle often leaves his bowl empty, and his meow obnoxious. Relentless. Over the top.

I think Tom must be a vocal kind of cat. For his pestering snacking “meow” doesn’t hold a candle to his…cleaning ritual.

I have never heard a cat be so loud in cleaning himself. Not just a licky here, chewy there. This is a full-blown, groaning, squeaking, icky-sticky ritual. Grunts and groans that would make a sound effects master blush. And he seems to pick the quietest times to take a bath. 2 a.m. 4 a.m. When I just go to bed. An hour before I wake up.  If he can’t lick himself, he licks the dog’s head. Unless I close the bedroom door at night, he is there like clockwork. Cuddling, snuggling, licking and yacking and hacking. If I close him out, he and the other cat play tag from one end of the house to the other. I’m doomed no matter which way I turn.

You say maybe he’s got a mineral deficiency. Or needs more water. Or a bath.  I am of the belief that he is just one big, happy cat, and when he kicks back and relaxes, he thinks, “Hey!  I’m relaxed! Laid back! Let’s get clean!”

My other cat Mysty is the fat cat. I feel bad – I have never overfed either one. It’s just that once she got her plumbing “fixed”, she put on a pound or six. As the joke goes, she never met a meal she didn’t like. Rattle the cat food container and she is all over me like white on rice. So to speak. And once she’s full, she loves to lay and snuggle … on my chest. Ten pounds of kitty makes breathing a little labored. Not that I let her lay around my neck – it’s just that she hasn’t forgotten she used to do that when she was a baby. Three years and ten pounds ago.

Pets are a wonderful thing. Cats and dogs are wonderful companions. They give of themselves 100 percent of the time, wanting nothing more than to be loved in return.

I just wish they’d be a bit more quiet about it.

Dogs are just Dogs and Cats are just Cats…Right?

rennieAlright. Sad news first. My yellow labrador Renaissance Faire passed away yesterday. She was 11; a great huntress who was sweet and quirky and always knew when it was 7 p.m. and time for her 7 o’clock B(bonie). I was by her side to help her transition to the land of open fields and T-bone steaks; a daunting task, unnerving to say the least. We buried her under a tree next to my favorite cat Jasmine and my father-in-law’s dog Indy.

(Thanks for the good thoughts, btw)

Now the humorous part.

Here I am, 60 years old, walking through tick-infested grass and doggie mines not yet picked up with bare feet to give Rennie her final, eternal 7 o’clock B. Crying, wiping my snotty nose on my shirt, my mind taking over and remembering all slights and hurts real and imaginary, piling them together on top of my loss, fueling the fire that burned out of control. I was whispering baby doggie talk to the grave, babbling nonsense that only a dog would understand.

To the dog.

Not a child, a family member, friend or distant relative. A dog. Dogs and cats are dogs and cats — lower rungs on the food chain that do such innocuous things as lick their butt or eat other animal’s…well…you get my drift.

How many of you have done this?

I’m not sorry for my over reaction — I can stand back and chuckle at myself. For what is life but knowing who we are? Yet I ask…How do dogs and cats become our 1st or 2nd or 3rd child? And where do they get these…personalities?

I know one person whose cat looks at him and poops right in front of him every time he comes home from a long vacation. Another person’s dog won’t go outside to do her duty when the grass is wet. Another person’s cat talks on the phone along with its owner. My own Rennie had the uncanny ability to know when it was 7 pm no matter where we were and what we were doing. Where do they get these quirks? And why is it us that has to do the adjusting?

I know humans tend to anthropomorphize (give animals human traits). We give them personalities and assume they understand what we are saying. Why else would we talk to them so much? Many stand firm on their belief that animals think and feel and react as humans do. And on many levels that is true. I am not here to debate the validity of such things. What I will say, however, is that it is amazing how one little canine or feline can change your life.  They listen without complaining; they don’t hold a grudge when they come to sleep with you at night, and want to be with you all the time. They listen while you go on and on about your crummy day at work or your overbearing mother-in-law or the barking dog down the street.

I’m also not saying that pets are for everyone. Cleaning out kitty litter boxes and scooping up lincoln logs are not for everyone. Often it’s easier to spoil someone else’s dog or cat. Why not? Their love is universal.  Their devotion and energy should say something about how the world should work. They don’t care about the color of your skin or how fat you are or what religion tickles your fancy. Their needs are basic — love, food, and pets.  Something the world should take note of.

The moral of this little ditty is to just love your pets, or your family’s pets, or the pets at the shelter. Treat your fellow humans that way too, and you’ll never be sorry.

Just make sure you always make time for your 7 o’clock B.

Diamonds Are a Pet’s Best Friend

Come on, admit it ― we all wish now and then we lived in the “lap of luxury.” Of course, we are perfectly happy in our little house/apartment, spending time  with with family/kids/friends, and splurging on a Dove Bar now and then.  But now and then don’t you think about noshing on that Dove Bar on a Paris street corner or on a deserted beach in Riviera Maya?

Alas, this little dittie is not about our lap of luxury ― it’s the lap of those who hold precious dogs and cats (and other furry little creatures) that I begin to wonder about. I have three ½ dogs ― two are mine, one inherited from grandpa, and one who spends more time here  than at my son’s. I also have 2 cats adopted from Touched by a Paw. All great companions, hunters, and cuddlers.  We cringe when we have to take them to the vet each year, spend money on their pills, food, chewies, cookies, ropes, grooming, treats, nail clippers, and all  other  paraphernalia, money  that well could have taken us to Vegas. But we grin and bear it, for we love our animals and want the best for them.

Aha!  Want the best for them. That is the key today. What exactly is the “best”?

Nearly $32 billion was spent last year in the pet industry. That includes vets, food, shelters, boarding, etc.  That’s a lot for Bowser and Fifi. But it’s not nearly what could be spent should you do a little investigating. If I may: Here are a few of the wonderful little somethings we  could also spend on our pets (and please do not move the decimals):

Mexican Hacienda Dog House: $30,000

Hello Kitty Crest Dog House: $31,660

Louis XV Pet Pavilion:   $23,900

Cat Cabin:  $1,398

22-K Gold-Threaded Pet Mattress:  $3,000

Versace Barocca Pet Bowl:  $724

Mink fur coat:  $725

Pearl and Diamond Handled Pet Brush:  $400

And then, for the pet who has everything (and for those of you who have a few extra dollars to spend), we have:

52-carat Diamond Dog Collar:  $1.8 million

Dog tiara:  $4.2 million

Now, we all know that these are purposely created as token items. No one in their right mind would walk Bowser in a diamond-studded collar or brush Fifi with a pearl-and-diamond handled brush. But just stop and think ― someone had to come up with this idea; someone had to sit in their little lab and say, “Geez, I wonder what the world will think if I design a mink coat for pets?”

Besides being a topic for morality discussions all night long, I bring this to your attention to point out the lengths we go to pamper those who walk on four legs and lick their you-know-what all the time.  Besides the obvious negative auras radiating around these creations (feed the poor, donate to charities, pay off second mortgages), the thought of  my dogs slobbering out of a Versace dog dish or sleeping in a Mexican Hacienda that costs as much as a car gives me the shivers.  Why do humans go to these lengths to take care of those lower on the food chain?

Perhaps part of it is the feeling of “innocence” a cat or dog emotes. Those big eyes, that  follow-you-around-because-you-are-my-hero antics stir many a heartstring. They are loyal, obedient, and clean (look how often they clean themselves??) They don’t trash their bedroom, drink the last soda, or spend all night on the Internet. They sleep most of the day, eat your leftovers and protect your abode from evil predators like mice and squirrels. Why don’t they deserve a generous portion of your income?

And what of those who fork out those prices to show off the love-of-their-life? For many I imagine the pet is the love of their life. Dogs and cats probably know more celebrity secrets than any group of therapists around. Who else would let you carry them around in designer purses? Who else would look so good next to your Calvin Klein jeans and Gucci bag?  Who else would portray a sidekick (or main star, for that matter) in a movie and let you computerize their mouth to reflect human speech?

I suppose you could say those who dish out for the dish (oh so funny), are compensating for something. Their need to be noticed extends to their immediate family, which,   for some, is only their pets. Husbands and wives come and go, kids leave home, and career opportunities  appear only when you have just had a baby or have just earned three weeks of paid vacation. My mother (and others) always said where there’s a will there’s a way, and W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute. All of this may be true. It’s  up to us and our common sense to find a happy middle ground, both for us and our pets.

I often think the world is upside down.  But then again, maybe that’s why I’m not living in the lap of luxury.  Perhaps I’d better go out on the deck and teach my dog to move her lips like a human. After all, I wouldn’t mind eating out of that Versace bowl, either…