Even though we now had two cats, Nettie and Squeaky, my girlfriend also wanted to get a pet turtle. At first, I could not see the point. In my mind, a turtle would not be far removed from fish, in that you really cannot interact with them. But she was insistent.
She contacted someone on Craig’s List who had to give their turtle away because their new job required them to be on the road most of the time. This guy dropped off the turtle, along with a tank, filter, and sun lamp. It turned out it was an aquatic turtle, which meant that the tank and filter needed cleaning about once a week, and the turtle required fresh water regularly. At first I was not thrilled, because this seemed like a lot of work to me.
The guy had named the turtle Meeshee. My girlfriend came up with the idea of giving the turtle the last name Gamera. Yes, like the giant Japanese movie monster. So that is how Meeshee Gamera came to live with us.
We were told that Meeshee was a female. It had something to do with the size of her tail, which was how you could tell. I was a bit skeptical until one day she laid an egg. Okay, yep, definitely a girl!
Anyway, gradually Meeshee Gamera grew on me. Yeah, it can be a pain to clean that tank. But Meeshee is such a pretty turtle. And she really has personality. When we are cleaning her tank, we let her walk around the apartment. And she can be really fast! She runs all over the place. So much for the myth that all turtles are slow. The two cats react to Meeshee in different ways. Nettie usually observes her curiously, and my girlfriend jokes that the cat is supervising me while I’m cleaning the tank. Squeaky, on the other hand, will always run away the instant Meeshee starts walking in her direction. Meeshee also knows how to let you know when she was angry. She lest out this loud hissing noise if you picked her up. And she has a very sharp beak to bite with.
My girlfriend read somewhere that you could feed hot dogs to turtles. It sounded really crazy to me. But she insisted, and boiled a hot dog, chopping it up into tiny bits. We started hand-feeding Meeshee, and she loved it. She would put one flipper on her rock, the other on the side of the tank, pull herself up, stretching out her neck, snapping for the food with her mouth. Like I said, Meeshee had that sharp beak, so you have to be very careful not to have your finger chomped on along with the hot dog!
I don’t know if it was the chemicals they put in those hot dogs, or if it’s just normal for a turtle, but Meeshee really grew. We had to get her a bigger tank and a larger rock so she would have room to swim and to lie out and catch rays from the sun lamp. That seems to be her favorite activity, getting a sun tan.
During the warm summer months, we sometimes take Meeshee outside to a nearby park. She loves walking around in the grass. Once, she even started climbing a fence. Another time, Meeshee tried to crawl under a fence onto the railroad tracks on the other side. I was on the ground, struggling to hold on to her as she thrashed about, digging into me with her sharp claws, trying to keep her from getting all the way through that hole. For a minute, I was genuinely afraid I was going to lose her. Now, when we take her to the park, we keep a very close eye on her.
As I said, Meeshee grew on me, and nowadays I cannot imagine not having her living with us. She is as much one of my babies as Nettie and Squeaky are. Oh, wow, that sounds soooooo sappy! This whole series of blogs about Cats and Turtles no doubt seems overly sentimental. But all I can say is that a pet really can help to brighten up your life and help you be a happier, more positive person.
If you would like to view more photos of Nettie, Squeaky, and Meeshee Gamera, go to my Pets set on Flickr…
Thank you for taking a look. I hope you enjoyed these blogs and photos. If you have any pet stories you’d like to share, please let me know. I would certainly enjoy reading your blogs.