Monday, August 23, 2004

Over the years, I've come to know my cats long enough that I can easily rattle off some of their more unusual idiosyncracies. So here they are:

Katherine's Quirks:
  1. By the time I've finished my morning shower, Katherine will have jumped up on the toilet seat, waiting for me. Meowing incessantly as I pull back the curtain, she will leap onto the lip of the bathtub and proceed to rub against my still-damp legs, as if to say, "You ridiculous buffoon! Look what you've done! Now I have to spend all this extra time re-marking you!"

  2. If given the opportunity, Katherine will jump up onto the bathroom counter and lick the bar of soap. "Stop it!" I scold her. "F*** you, f***ing f***er!" she replies. "You know, what Katherine? Maybe you should gnaw on that soap for awhile..."

  3. Katherine is intensely fearful of the sound of thunder and rain. It's a simultaneously heartrending and hilarious spectacle to watch a full-grown cat skittering across the room as low to the floor as possible enroute to the sanctuary under my bed.

  4. Since she was a kitten, Kat has always jumped onto my chest as soon as I lie down for the night. She will butt and rub her head against my goatee until I pet her, then settle herself down for a few moments before finally leaping away. The routine repeats itself when I awake the next morning.

  5. Katherine will sometimes place objects on my bed. I usually find any one of the following objects near my pillow when I arrive home from work: a sock; a rubber band; a twist-tie; a plastic milk ring; a comb.

  6. Plastic bags are to Katherine what chewing gum is to humans. Leave one out in the open too long and you can expect to find it riddled with bite marks and covered in cat spit.

  7. Katherine has Tuna radar. She can sense when I'm thinking about opening up a can of tuna. She recognizes the sound of the serving bowls as they're fished (ha) from the cabinet; she knows what a can of tuna looks like and what I use to open it. She never verbally begs for the tuna --she leaves that to Calypso...Instead, she will rub against me and watch closely as I divide it up among the three of us.

  8. Katherine usually doesn't tolerate company and can only barely tolerate my girlfriend. She is painfully shy of people. Over time, she will finally let strangers pet her, but seconds later she'll swipe and hiss at them to leave her alone. She still does that to my girlfriend after four years.

  9. Katherine is lactose intolerant, yet constantly begs for a sip of milk whenever I have it out. She can digest a sip or two, but anything more than that leaves her heaving throughout the house.

  10. Katherine prefers to drink from the "free range" water dish located in my bedroom. Like the Tuna radar, she can sense whenever I'm about to fill up the dish and will follow me all the way back into the bedroom to get her first laps in. The "usual" water dish located in the kitchen is almost exclusively Calypso's nowadays (unless the "free range" water dish is empty)

  11. When I arrive home from work, Katherine goes straight to the scratching post. I then rub her belly as she continues scratching.

  12. Whenever I'm in the bathroom doing the #2, Katherine has to be there to rub back and forth against my legs. It makes it difficult to concentrate at times and occassionally I'll even attempt to sneak into the bathroom without her hearing...but I rarely succeed. And if I close the door, she just paws and meows pitifully outside until I finally relent.

Calypso's Quirks:
  1. Calypso intensely dislikes being petted on anyone else's terms but her own. She dictates who will pet her and for how long (usually only 10 to 20 seconds). When your "time is up," she will take her paw and smack the top of your hand, pushing it to the floor with all her might as though to trap it under her weight. She then gives the (former) petter a decidedly indignant look before leaping away.

  2. Every morning before I leave for work, Calypso greets me at the small dining table. I open the window blinds for her to look outside and then she purrs and rubs back and forth against the right side of my pants. After a few moments, she finally begins to do her "your time is up" routine. When I arrive home from work, she greets me at the same table and the process starts again.

  3. Very rarely --and quite unexpectectedly-- Calypso will jump into my lap and allow me to pet her for long stretches of time.

  4. On other rare occassions, Calypso will jump up on me and then lie down on only one of my legs, perfectly balanced.

  5. Calypso and Katherine have gotten to the point now where they mutually exchange blows or stage chases after each other. However, Katherine nearly always gets too rowdy with Calypso and she usually is forced to escape Kat's clutches and scamper off.

  6. Calypso usually emits a cute "Merrrrr?" of surprise whenever she is unexpectedly touched.

  7. Calypso absolutely does not like to be picked up and will usually try to curl herself into a ball to prevent it from happening, as though she were a pill bug in a past life. If that fails, she hisses and scratches until she escapes.

  8. Every few months or so, I'm forced to comb out matted areas on Calypso's back because she can't reach there. This usually entails picking her up and holding her securely in my lap as I make a number of comb passes through her coat. Of course, this is not an easy task when you consider Calypso Quirk #7.

  9. Calypso is as close to a garbage disposal as one can hope for. It is rare for her to dislike anything remotely edible, while Katherine is (comparatively) more finicky.

  10. On the frequent occasion that I offer my cats table scraps, Calypso will let out a "Merrrow?" if I give Katherine something first, as if to say, "Hey! What about me?"

  11. Calypso is a poorly potty-trained kitty. Instead of pawing at the kitty litter to cover up her "evacuation," she scratches at the side of the litterbox, or the floor...

  12. Both Calypso and Katherine love ear wax (don't ask).

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Last year I got my girlfriend's cat a Panic Mouse electronic toy. Now, being a mildly seasoned cat owner, I am well aware that most cats ignore about 95% of the so-called "toys" being sold on the market. On the other hand, I've never met a cat that didn't find a plastic milk ring interesting. But something about the Panic Mouse left an impression on me and I thought it would be an excellent means of exercise and diversion for Gina's cat. How pleased I was to find that her cat loved it! For long stretches of time, Big Kitty would attack the wildly dancing Garfield toy with the same zeal and enthusiasm my cats have for tearing into my couch.

Even more amazing was how Big Kitty reacted to a "Cat Sitter" videotape containing 2 hours worth of bird chirping, hamster scurrying, squirrel climbing fun. Before I saw this tape, I had never seen a cat pay attention to a television screen...let alone try to swap at the bird images! I was in awe.

Encouraged by what I had witnessed, I decided to borrow my girlfriend's Cat Sitter tape and then buy a Panic Mouse for Kat and Calypso to see how they'd respond.

Let's just say I'm glad I kept the receipt.

Not only will Kat and Calypso not play with the Panic Mouse, they're freaking AFRAID of the bloody thing! To be fair, I had inadvertently activated the device on its fastest setting, which causes a small spider-like fuzzy toy fixed to one end of a plastic wand to whip around like it's some kind of S&M device. Katherine darted behind the couch, while the braver Calypso watched the spectacle from a comfortable distance. Only after I turned the thing off did Calypso start batting at the toy. I've since adjusted the device so that it whips the toy around at its slowest pace, but still neither cat will engage the fuzzy spider-ball flogger until the motor stops.

So what of the Cat Sitter video? When I placed the tape into the VCR, I waited patiently for it to evoke a response similar to how it had impressed Big Kitty. Nothing. Calypso continued to doze next to the heater vent while Katherine gazed at me, bored, as if to say, "You can't be serious. Do you really think I'm that stupid?"



*** UPDATE ***

Not three hours had passed after writing the above when Katherine finally overcame her fears of the Panic Mouse. She now attacks it with the skill of a seasoned hunter and she has even "graduated" to nearly its fastest setting. While Calypso remains interested in the toy, she won't approach it until after it is turned off and won't even get near it when Katherine is nearby. Damn territorial disputes!