Tag Archives: Cats

CATS – THE 2019 FILM

I was fortunate enough to attend the first UK screening of Tom Hooper’s Cats.  It has a big cast:  Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson and Taylor Swift.  They are the ones I recognised.  It also has some fantastic dancers including Steven McRae, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, who played Skimbleshanks.  He was absolutely amazing, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen tap dancing like that.

I should probably declare right now that I didn’t particularly enjoy the stage version of Cats (although I love the music) but I was attracted to the film because of the cast. 

Despite a lot of the reviews that have been published now it’s been seen by the critics, I thought it was a good production, the dancing made it for me.  I love ballet and real cats do have something of a ballet dance in their movements.  It was a good choice.  

It goes without saying that Jennifer Hudson has an amazing voice.  The newcomer, Francesca Hayward was also very good.  There were some great special effects, particularly when Mr Mistoffelees was performing his magic.  

Idris Elba didn’t have to do too much dancing, which was a good thing, because the professional dancers really showed him up.  (Or maybe he just can’t dance.). Strange to see him with green eyes too.  Or perhaps it was more strange that so many of the cats had brown eyes since that’s not common in real cats.

What fascinated me most was the ears and the tails.  The cast were all dressed in cat costumes, and the ears and tails moved, in the same way that cats’ ears and tails move.  It was incredible.  No, I didn’t ever believe that they were real cats, but I was impressed at the way the professional dancers moved around when they weren’t dancing.  Very feline.  I found out later that they’d recorded real cats and used CGI to superimpose them on the humans.  Now it makes sense.  

© Susan Shirley 2019

SICK CATS

I’ve been a cat owner for around 20 years, and although I have learned a lot about these wonderful creatures, every day, I learn something new.

My cats are now all over 10 years old (somewhere between 56 and 76 in human years).  If they were humans, they would probably be full of aches and pains, but not my girls.  They still act like youngsters.  I admire them for that.  

We (they) have twice yearly check ups with the vet. I’m happy with that because if there is something wrong, I want to know early, to be able to deal with it early.  I couldn’t stop my parents from suffering in their late life.  I can do something for my girls.  

Oceana and Telesto had check ups at the end of September.  

“How long has that tooth been like that?” said the vet, looking at Oceana’s damaged canine.

This young woman clearly doesn’t realise that, while they may permit a vet to open their mouths, most cats would really rather not just bite, but amputate, the hand that feeds them rather than allow any intrusion into their mouths.  I am very fond of my fingers, and have absolutely no intention of having them removed by an angry cat.  I digress.

I was a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, but as soon as I got a grip of myself, I realised the tooth wasn’t like that when we had the last check up, so it was within the last six months.  The thing about cats is that most of them have a very high pain tolerance.  One of my previous vets told me a story of a cat who had been walking around on a broken leg.  Imagine a human doing that?  My little Oceana had shown no sign of being in any pain.  

“Er, I think it’s quite recent,” said I to the vet.

“She will need surgery to remove it.  And there is one at the back that looks as though it needs to come out too.  We need to do blood tests, of course, to see whether she can withstand the anaesthetic.”

“Right. Yes.  Of course.  Do whatever is necessary.”

My hesitation stemmed from fear.  Oceana is one of the older ones, now 15, so around 76 in human years.  

They took the blood for the test and promised to ring me on the following Monday.  The blood tests came back absolutely fine.  I doubt many humans of that age could say the same thing, which speaks volumes about what we put into our bodies.   

Then it was Telesto’s turn for a check up.  She too had dental problems and needs surgery.  Her blood tests were also perfect, and for both of them, I had the full range done, not just the basics.  If there is a problem, I want to know asap.   It transpires that poor little Telesto may lose all her teeth, but I won’t know until later today, she has had her surgery.

When cats have teeth removed, they have to go under general anaesthetic.  It makes sense, can you imagine trying to remove a tooth if they weren’t ‘out.’  My vet uses local as well, to reduce the amount of general, which brings another set of risks, although he assured me that the many risks he told me about were fewer than the risk of leaving the girls as they were.  Something about bone growing into the teeth, which sounded very unpleasant. 

Oceana recovered fairly quickly and is doing well.  Telesto has her surgery today.  I took Oceana for her second check just over a week ago.  Laurence, the regular vet, was very happy.  I’m not going to lie, she was very grumpy for a couple of days after her surgery.  I was not on her Christmas card list for a while, although she loves me again now.

“Cats don’t let you open their mouths if they are in pain,” Laurence said.  

They don’t let me open their mouths at all, I thought.  But I guess vets have far more power, although the one that saw Telesto today had a bit of a problem with her.  

No doubt she will come home and be grumpy, and then, when she realises I did it all for her own good, she will love me again too.

© Susan Shirley 2019

SELF-CATERING CATS

I recently met my friend Dorothy for lunch.  Dorothy is the owner of a beautiful Russian Blue.  He was a tiny little thing when I first met him, scared of his own shadow. He now weighs 6kg.  6kg!!!!  Can you imagine it?  That is 6 times a normal bag of granulated sugar and twice the size of two my girls! But the boy is solid, this is not fat.

Dorothy’s affectionate name for her boy is ‘Tink the Stink’. He doesn’t stink but he is a stinker in the sense that he is ‘a bit of a lad.’  He rips the carpet apart, the soft furnishings and ties to swing from the curtains (easier and safer when he was smaller).  In fact, he rips anything that is vaguely rip-able.  Not so different from my girls really.

A very young Tinker

Of course, ‘the mummies’ started telling cat-war stories.  

            “Of course, he’s into self-catering,” said Dorothy.

    “Oh, you mean he’s started hunting his prey?” Said I.

            “Oh no.  He knows where the sachets of cat food are kept and he helps himself. Usually three or four packets at a time. He rips them apart, one by one, takes what he wants, which is usually only a couple of mouthfuls and then leaves the rest. Usually right where I want to walk.”

The vision of this adorable cat helping himself to sachets of cat food made me cry with laughter. Even my girls haven’t resorted to that, although if they’d thought about it, they probably could.

            “Mm, not sure whether that is better or worse than my little Oceana,” I said.  You will remember, Oceana is the Queen, and undoubtedly the smartest one of my bunch.

Dorothy looked at me, quizzically.  

            “A while back, I’d cooked some chicken, and put it on a plate in the ‘fridge’.  I went to bed and all was well.  When I came down in the morning, the ‘fridge’ door was wide open, plate upside down on floor, chicken gone.”  

Little Miss “Butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth”

Of course, I had known straight away who the culprit had been.  I now have a child lock on my fridge door.  She hasn’t worked out how to open that… yet…  I, on the other hand, struggle from time to time.

And then there was the time, when I had the old storage container for the dry food….  I tend to buy my cat food in bulk, it’s just easier when I either have to collect it or have it delivered.  

My girls have three different types of food, to cater for a range of different things: dental, urinary tract, skin, and to give them variety.  The bags come in 3kg, 3.5kg and 10kg.  A few years back, I bought a storage container that stated it would hold 10kg of dried food.  That was a lie, it didn’t.  It was more like 9kg, so I’d pour as much of the 10kg bag into it as I could and leave the rest in the original bag.  This was no self-seal bag and  Telesto and Oceana didn’t much like the idea of waiting for their food…. 

Picture the scene: Mummy comes home from a long day at work to find cat biscuits all over the kitchen floor…. They make a very crunchy mess when you walk on them, and if the floor is a bit slippery and you don’t pay attention, it’s easy to go flying… 

To be fair, they did have the good grace to eat what I didn’t manage to clear up and put back in the bag.  

Telesto ate a whole packet of Dreamies one day when I didn’t fully close the drawer…  

Telesto

I’ve bought a new bin for their dry food now, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time before they work out how to know the lid off…  Does someone want to remind me why I worry about them not having enough food?

© Susan Shirley 

CATS

I spent some time with my friends Anne Germain and her husband Keith last weekend.  Anne and Keith have four cats, Gizmo, Bilbo (usually referred to as Bo) Simba and Frodo.  Gizzy and Bo are sisters and the boys are brothers.  For the first time in their little lives, the girls willingly allowed me to stroke them. Funny that, because I’ve known them for years. The boys have always been friendly towards me but not the big girls.

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The boys, both gorgeous long haired black cats, had two sisters who have both, sadly, died. Anne tells me that the change in the girls’ behaviour has been since the most recent death.

It started me thinking about my own cats and cat behaviour generally.  I know very well that my beautiful Telesto was not happy with having her teeth scaled last year.  Then earlier this year, she started to exhibit stress related behaviour so I plugged in a Feliway diffuser and crossed everything hoping it would help.

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Amazing stuff, that Feliway, because within two weeks, she was much, much happier and had returned to her old self.  The manufacturers, by the way, say it can take up to six weeks to make a difference, so I was very impressed that it was so quick.

I had discussed her behaviour with my vet who explained that cat behaviours and social structures are very complicated, way too complicated for us humans.  So the change in Anne’s cats is maybe not surprising.

Telesto’s behaviour was also probably not difficult to understand.  Cats are territorial creatures and don’t much like change.  There is a particular cat that comes into my garden; we nicknamed him Dave that she particularly dislikes. In fact, she is scared of him.  A year or so ago, she spent all night awake, sitting on top of a neighbour’s shed because Dave was in my garden and she didn’t want to pass him to come in.  I know this because I kept getting up to check on her.  Even when I shooed him out of the garden, she wouldn’t come in; cats are stubborn too.  Anyway, he kept coming back as soon as I turned my back. Telesto also gets upset when I work long hours and she doesn’t feel that she gets enough of my attention.

It’s not just Telesto who has benefited from the Feliway though.  Oceana has been more relaxed too.  It’s only my little girls who don’t seem to have been affected, but then they don’t seem to be affected by very much. They are happy little souls and apart from the fact that they were abandoned at a couple of weeks old, they have lived with me for all but three months if their lives so clearly have a lot to be happy about!  They are well looked after and loved so don’t have a bad life.

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The little ones don’t go out very much, and if they do, they like me to leave the door open (we don’t do cat flaps). If I close the door they both do an impersonation of a meercat, standing on hind legs looking through the window.  So cute!

Some other interesting cat facts:

  1. On average, cats spend about 16 hours a day sleeping.
  2. Female cats tend to be right pawed. Just watch them to see!
  3. Cats can hear high frequency sounds about two octaves higher than humans. Their hearing is better than that of dogs.
  4. A cat can run at a speed of about 31 mph over a short distance.
  5. A cat can jump about five times its own height in one leap.
  6. When a cat rubs its cheeks against you or objects it’s not just a sign of love, it has glands in its cheeks that mark you or the object with its scent. Its tails and paws also carry the cat’s scent.
  7. In many parts of Europe and North America, black cats are considered to be a sign of bad luck, however, in Britain and Australia, the opposite is the case. However, back in the Middle Ages, they were considered bad luck here.
  8. The reason that cats don’t like water is that their coats do not insulate them well when wet.
  9. Cats usually have twelve whiskers on each side of their face.
  10. Cats don’t have such good colour vision as humans, and can’t see things very close up.
  11. Isaac Newton invented the cat flap.
  12. Cats almost never meow at other cats, they reserve that for humans.

© Susan Shirley 2015

I WISH I HAD SHARES IN

…my vets, my local cab firm and the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture pet meds.  These are the places I am researching for investment purposes.

I’ve written before about my beautiful girls, and at the moment, two of them are undergoing treatment with the vet.

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My poor Telesto has gingivitis and has to have her teeth scaled, which means a general anaesthetic.  Think about it: it’s bad enough being a dentist with some humans (no names, no pack drill!), imagine trying to scale the teeth of a scared cat with very sharp claws and equally sharp canine teeth while she is awake… No, it’s not working for me either.

I booked her in to be done on the same day that Rhea has to go for blood tests, which is next Monday.  Poor little Rhea has a problem with regurgitation, she has had all her life but it’s getting worse. The vet thinks she may have pancreatitis, which is apparently quite common in cats, but we need blood tests to check.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

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So far, so good, except that I had to ‘phone the vets yesterday, about something unrelated, and they told me that it would be a good idea for Telesto to have blood tests done before the surgery, as she is, how can I say this politely?  A lady of a certain age.  Telesto is ten, which makes her about 56 in human years. I rather wish I’d known this earlier, but hey ho.

This meant that I had to take time off work this morning to take her up to the vets this morning, to get the tests done in time for Monday.  Blood tests meant that she was not allowed to eat after 9pm last night.  And if you have to starve one cat, you have to starve four.

Last night was not as bad as I had feared.  I had visions of being pounced on every hour on the hour, but cats are a little more subtle than that. And they had obviously all had a good munch before I took up the remaining biscuits.  This morning, however, was a whole different ball game.

For some reason, Artemis stayed downstairs last night (she usually sleeps on the bed), but I had a visitation from both her and Rhea once they realised that there was no food.  Although they are sisters, they have a very different approach to getting what they want.  It’s like they’re playing “good cat, bad cat.”  Artemis jumps on me and hits me; Rhea makes a huge fuss of me, cuddling and purring.

As you would expect, Telesto becomes my shadow and Oceana maintains a very dignified distance as though she doesn’t care one way or the other.  I did put biscuits down for the three of them once I’d put Telesto in the carrier, but strangely, they all went into hiding. Did they think I was trying to “chick” them, as we say in the office, or were they just showing “the sisterhood?” You never really know with cats.

On the occasions that I take two of them to the vets, I get a cab each way, but with only one, I thought I’d get the bus (I haven’t explained why I need shares in these companies yet).  That would have been an excellent idea, except that the buses were all full at 8.30am.  So I walked.  My darling Telesto weighs around 4.5 kilos and would not keep still, and my vets is around a mile and a half, a mile and three quarters from home.  I can’t say it was the easiest walk I’ve ever done but, on the plus side, I did my aerobic, cardio and weights all in one hit.

It was plain sailing once we got there, she was in Dianne’s words, “a little Angel,” and we did manage to get a bus home part of the way. Well, two stops actually, but, as I said, it’s good exercise.

As soon as I let her out of the carrier, Telesto dived into the biscuits, she was so happy. I should get the blood test results on Thursday, so hopefully, that will be ok. I think she is in pretty good health.

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The bit I haven’t told you yet is that the cost of the bloods for both of them and the surgery is over £400 and this is why I think I need shares in these companies.  What a money spinner! I don’t begrudge one penny of it, nothing is too good for my girls.  In fact, in the scheme of things, I think it’s pretty good value, but when you think how many people there are like me out there, who only want the best for their little babies… I think I should do a Victor Kiam….

 

(c) Susan Shirley 2014

Cats Shouldn’t Eat… first published earlier this year

I am an animal lover.  I admit it unashamedly.  Anyone and everyone who knows me, even slightly, will know that. My first, as yet, unpublished, book is about my cats.  So, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am signed up to a number of blogs, etc, about animals.

I received an e-mail today that told me about a number of common foodstuffs that cause cats a problem if they eat it.  That got me thinking.

Four cats, all with different tastes in food.  All with different eating habits.

Rhea, for example, loves a spider plant.   She’ll have a little chew whenever she can.  I tell you, I can put a Sergeant Major to shame now, for my shouting abilities.  I’m sure that isn’t good for her,
“You ‘orrible little cat, get off that plant!”

Artemis: Pretty much anything that is edible goes where she is concerned.

Oceana: she is convinced that she’s human, except of course, when she is bringing mice home.  And is very keen to take food off of my plate (or anyone else’s, come to that).  Even the bones of sprats, which was one occurrence.

Telesto: I think she comfort eats.  For a cat that doesn’t much like humans, she certainly finds enough humans to feed her.  Anyone who puts food out for stray cats or the foxes, Telesto finds her way to their homes and then comes back her for seconds.  I seriously thought she was suffering from bulimia when she vomited over my freshly changed bed linen on Monday morning.

And Dreamies.  They will do almost anything for Dreamies.  Or the supermarket home brand equivalent.  Rattle a bag of Dreamies and I can do anything.  Actually, I’m a bit surprised that they still fall for that one, but they do.  Polythene bags.  What is the fascination for polythene bags?  Rhea loves a little chew of them; Artemis tries to sit in them.  (I know, I know…)

Cats are curious.  Whatever it is, they want to know all about it.  This morning, Artemis was standing like a meerkat, sniffing the bottom of my coat.  (That will be the dogs I stroke on the way to work.)  They even go through the waste bins, just in case I have inadvertently thrown away some food that might be essential for their survival.  I can’t have a glass of wine without them checking that it’s not something they might like.

Telesto knows that she doesn’t like peanut butter, but it doesn’t stop her from holding a full inspection of my breakfast every morning.  Just in case something might have changed.
So I’m not surprised that cats often eat things that they shouldn’t. I’m only surprised that they stop where they do.

©Susan Shirley 2014

Guard Cat Rhea and Cat Language

Regular readers know that I have four cats and love them dearly. Sometimes they do things that really confuse me, other times, they just make me laugh. Rhea’s behaviour when someone comes to the front door is an example of this.
I first noticed it a few weeks ago. Someone knocked on the door and she ran to door growling. I’d never seen this in a cat before.
“Does she think she’s a dog?” I wondered.
Nothing else in her behaviour changed, she’s a very loving little thing, so I thought no more about it. Until it happened again. And again. It now happens every time someone knocks on the door. Wherever she is in the house, she runs to the front door, growling.
One of the reasons that cats growl is that they feel insecure or threatened, and it is actually not as an uncommon as I thought for cats to growl when someone comes to the door. It’s their way of saying,
“Go away, you’re not welcome here.”
Cats also growl when they are angry. And if they start hissing and spitting, leave them well alone.
Why has she just recently started this behaviour? I don’t know for sure, but I think it is because she is predominately a house cat. She will occasionally go outside, if the weather is nice and I leave the back door open, she’ll stay out for a while. But the moment that door closes, she is like a little Meerkat, standing on her hind legs at the door, until I let her back in. She has never stayed out over night and shows no signs of wanting to do so. (Which is just as well, I don’t like my girls being out overnight.)
So, because she is in the house most of the time, it’s her domain, her territory. And she’s very fussy about who comes in. The funny thing is, if someone comes in, she will usually hide. As I said, she can be a little timid.
Rhea is a great talker. If I pick her up, she says “yes” or “no.” Seriously. That’s exactly what the noises she makes sound like. In fact, all of my girls like a little chat. Particularly when they see birds in the garden. I’ve always called the noise they make when they see birds chattering, but it’s also known as chirruping or chirping. It’s a very distinctive sound, and only ever use this when they are watching birds.
I’m pleased to say that they all purr. My Titan had the loudest purr. I even recorded it and used it as my ‘phone ring tone, it was so loud. Most times it’s a good sound, but did you know that cats sometimes purr when they are distressed or in pain. It seems that it is the cat equivalent of sucking a thumb or some other similar comfort gesture.
Then there’s the meow. I think cats must be Italian, because, in the same way that in Italian, the same word can have several meanings, cats do this with meow. It can mean,
“Hurry up and feed me,” or
“I’m not in the mood for you to stroke me, I’m annoyed with you,” or
“Cuddle me.”
And then there is the yowl. Usually, this means the cat is in some sort of distress. However, quite often, male cats will make this noise when they are engaged in a turf war. Two of the male cats around here sit in my garden making this noise for hours. It’s also, apparently, a noise they make in mating behaviour. Obviously, I wouldn’t know about that, my cats are just not those type of girls.
Cats also use body language to communicate, but that’s the subject of another post. So, for now,
“Miaow.”

©Susan Shirley 2014

 

Follow me at http://www.wizzley.com/Telesto

Cats shouldn’t eat….

I am an animal lover.  I admit it unashamedly.  Anyone and everyone who knows me, even slightly, will know that.  My first, as yet, unpublished, book is about my cats.  So, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am signed up to a number of blogs, etc, about animals.

I received an e-mail today that told me about a number of common foodstuffs that cause cats a problem if they eat it.  That got me thinking.

Four cats, all with different tastes in food.  All with different eating habits.

Rhea, for example, loves a spider plant.  She’ll have a little chew whenever she can.  I tell you, I can put a Sergeant Major to shame now, for my shouting abilities. I’m sure that isn’t good for her,

“You ‘orrible little cat, get off that plant!”

Artemis:  Pretty much anything that is edible goes where she is concerned.

Oceana: she is convinced that she’s human, except of course, when she is bringing mice home.  And is very keen to take food off of my plate (or anyone else’s, come to that).  Even the bones of sprats, which was one occurrence.

Telesto: I think she comfort eats.  For a cat that doesn’t much like humans, she certainly finds enough humans to feed her.  Anyone who puts food out for stray cats or the foxes, Telesto finds her way to their homes and then comes back her for seconds.  I seriously thought she was suffering from bulimia when she vomited over my freshly changed bed linen on Monday morning.

And Dreamies.  They will do almost anything for Dreamies.  Or the supermarket home brand equivalent.    Rattle a bag of Dreamies and I can do anything.  Actually, I’m a bit surprised that they still fall for that one, but they do.  Polythene bags.  What is the fascination for polythene bags?  Rhea loves a little chew of them; Artemis tries to sit in them.  (I know, I know…)

Cats are curious.  Whatever it is, they want to know all about it.  This morning, Artemis was standing like a meerkat, sniffing the bottom of my coat.  (That will be the dogs I stroke on the way to work.)  They even go through the waste bins, just in case I have inadvertently thrown away some food that might be essential for their survival.  I can’t have a glass of wine without them checking that it’s not something they might like.

Telesto knows that she doesn’t like peanut butter, but it doesn’t stop her from holding a full inspection of my breakfast every morning.  Just in case something might have changed.

So I’m not surprised that cats often eat things that they shouldn’t.  I’m only surprised that they stop where they do.

©Susan Shirley 2014

The Secret Life of Cats

The BBC is screening “The Secret Life of Cats” tonight on BBC2.  The scientists doing the research say that we know more about the big cats than we do our domestic cats, although it seems, from the trailers, that some of the cat owners don’t agree with that.  One owner says he can tell what his cat wants from the purr.

I have four cats and I think I know a bit about them, so it comes as no surprise to me to learn that they are opportunistic, manipulative, devious thieves.  And adorable.   Don’t forget adorable.  I’ve owned dogs as well as cats, and I love them both, but they are very, very different.  Cats aren’t necessarily less loving, they just don’t need the same kind of approbation that dogs do.  (But they do need love and attention, and my four are testament to that.  More jealousy than in a sophomore’s dorm.)  They are far more self-sufficient than dogs, and don’t ever want anyone to think they make a mistake.

Only today, my little Telesto was playing Mad Hatters (that’s the game when she chases some imaginary creature and then kills it), and then caught herself up in the duvet as I was trying to change the bed linen.  She ended up falling off the bed, still caught up in the duvet and scared herself half to death because she struggled to get out.  She ran and hid for hours after that little turn out.

Then, because my friend Kate had come to stay, she and her sister showed off and wouldn’t come into the house for several hours – and several treats.  Well, why not manipulate the situation a bit more?  Funny how once the food came out, they were over us like a rash.

They all have their own little characters, and their own funny little ways, but never doubt that they want love and affection because they do, and it isn’t all cupboard love.  I’m sure they do line up a second home in case they need to move out – actually, I don’t blame them for that.  I’ve done the same myself in the past.  They are special little creatures who have their own particular needs, and if we humans can’t fulfil them, they’ll go elsewhere.

I’d love to get my girls wearing those mice-cams, but I know they’d only last a couple of hours.  I might not be able to follow them everywhere, but I do know a bit about the way they live their lives, and how they know exactly which side their bread is buttered.

©Susan Shirley 2013