Squeaky Squeakums for U.S. President

As a proud and loyal citizen of America, I have spent the last several months aghast at the train wreck that is the campaign for the 2016 election for President of the United States. It has been both embarrassing and more than a bit terrifying watching a succession of fools and crooks attempting to out-pander each other in pursuit of the office of the Presidency.  The possibility that one of these clowns might very well be elected to the White House is genuinely unsettling.

Therefore, I am proud to present an alternative to these opportunistic fear-mongers, a candidate who possesses strength, wisdom, courage, humility, and bravery in abundance… my cat, Squeaky Squeakums.

Squeaky Squeakums for President

In a year when nearly every candidate on two legs appears to embody the very worst aspects of humanity, let us look to another species entirely, namely Felis catus, the domestic cat.  Squeaky Squeakums is a wonderful representative of this proud and sage breed.  Yes, she sleeps for an average of 15 hours a day, but during her time awake she is a coiled spring, ready to leap upon intruding mice.  So, too, will she pounce at the first sign of trouble to this great nation, to threats both foreign and domestic.  If elected, she vows to serve all species, be they human, cat, or other animals. Yes, including dogs.

Squeaky is no pampered house cat. Born in Salem, MA, young Squeaky was sadly abandoned by her first human on a trip to New York City.  She spent several years living in an overcrowded apartment in the Bronx, competing with seven other cats, two dogs, and a variety of lizards and birds for space & food.  Seven years ago my girlfriend Michele and I rescued Squeaky and brought her into our home, where we have showered her with love & affection.  But she has not forgotten her humble beginnings.  She possesses a great deal of empathy & understanding for all Americans who struggle to make ends meet.

Squeaky also required extensive veterinary care when we first took her in. That experience has convinced her of the crucial roles that health insurance and affordable medical services must play in our society.

But do not let Squeaky’s compassionate side fool you. She also possesses nerves of steel and a fierce determination.  She will stare down any opponents who seek to take advantage of her good nature.

Squeaky stare closeup

There have been some questions raised as to Squeaky’s eligibility to run for President. Let me assure you that these are unfounded.  Certain people have asked if she is at least 35 years old, as specified by the Constitution.  Squeaky is 13 cat years old, which as per the experts at Purina is 68 in human years, definitely making her qualified.  She is also most certainly a natural born citizen, and if requested we will release her long form birth certificate for review.

Perhaps you are asking yourself “How could a cat possible gain the support necessary to be elected President?” I can understand your skepticism.  However, Squeaky has already gained a large and enthusiastic group of supporters, Americans male and female who span all ages, races, religions and cultural backgrounds.  All of her campaign appearances have been attended by large crowds of voters who are eager to hear her message.  In fact, here is a photo of Squeaky being greeted by her numerous supporters at her last campaign rally…

Squeaky campaign rally

If you are dissatisfied with the direction this country has taken, and if you believe that this nation deserves better leadership than it has had in many decades, then pledge your support for Squeaky Squeakums. You can find out more about Squeaky and her message for America on her official Facebook page, Squeaky Squeakums for U.S. President.

Vote for pussy – We’ll all be happy.

This blog post has been brought to you by the Squeaky Squeakums 2016 Super PAC (Pet and Animal Committee).

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Squeaky the Stressed-Out Cat

Our cat Squeaky is definitely one of a kind.  I’ve blogged about Squeaky before.  Michele and I took her in when her previous human abruptly decided that he had too many cats.  Since Squeaky wasn’t getting along with the others he wanted to drop her off at a shelter.  That probably would have literally been the death of her.  Squeaky is extremely shy and sensitive, plus she had health problems at the time, so she would probably have been put to sleep.

Michele told me that in her former home all the other cats beat Squeaky up whenever she tried to come out to eat, and so she was often hiding behind a radiator.  She was even too scared to use the litter box, and so she scratched out a hole in the back of a sofa and used that instead.  In the five and a half years since we adopted Squeaky she has definitely come out of her shell, though. She was incredibly frightened when we took her in, but now she is more at ease.  She was incredibly skinny and unhealthy, but now she is round and healthy.  Squeaky seems happy.

Squeaky photographed by Michele Witchipoo

Squeaky photographed by Michele Witchipoo

That said, she is a quirky cat.  Even after being with us for all this time she is still very jittery.  Loud noises cause her to run & hide, her tail completely fluffed up.  Squeaky still doesn’t like tall men standing near her.  I am 6 feet 2 inches, and when she sees me walking towards her she runs away.  She has no problem with me when I am sitting down or lying in bed.  Actually she is very affectionate at these times, and she loves for me to pet her or brush her fur.  But the instant I stand up she bolts.  Michele believes that Squeaky is still traumatized from whatever craziness went on where she used to live.  I think that there must have been a lot of noise & chaos there.

Squeaky sometimes reminds me of the cat Mooch from the comic strip Mutts by Patrick McDonnell.  Like Mooch, Squeaky is a rather idiosyncratic cat who loves to eat.  Reading the strip in the newspaper often brings to mind our own black & white kitty cat.  That’s especially the case when McDonnell does a strip about Mooch’s love of food.

Mutts September 3 2014 by Patrick McDonnell

Mutts comic strip September 3, 2014 by Patrick McDonnell

It must have been because she was starving for all of those years before we adopted her, but Squeaky is obsessed with food.  We normally feed her at 7:00 in the morning.  Well, starting around 5:00 AM she starts meowing incessantly.  She’ll jump on the bed and scratch up the furniture.  She wants food immediately, and she doesn’t want to wait.  When we finally open a can of wet food and feed her, she dives right in.  Nettie also eats at this time, but she likes to pace herself.  She’s a small cat, and has a tiny tummy.  So she’ll have several bites and walk away for a while.  Unfortunately Squeaky will then try to eat out of Nettie’s bowl, and we have to put it on top of the refrigerator until Nettie is ready to eat again.

Around 10:00 AM Squeaky starts meowing for dry food.  We’ll usually give her and Nettie some an hour later.  She’ll devour that right away.  Dinner time for the cats, when they get the rest of the canned food, is at 3:00 PM.  Well, come 1:00 in the afternoon Squeaky will start meowing sadly, pretty much non-stop, circling about in a worried manner.  She really seems to be convinced she isn’t going to get fed.

Of course, every time Michele and I have something to eat, Squeaky must inspect it to see if it’s something she would like.  If it is, she’ll either give us a wide-eyed pleading expression, or she’ll simply try to snatch some of our food with her paw or mouth.  She is incredibly persistent.

This all inspired Michele to draw a cute, funny illustration entitled “Squeaky Loves To Eat.”

Squeaky Loves To Eat by Michele Witchipoo

“Squeaky Loves To Eat” by Michele Witchipoo

Poor Squeaky.  She can get very stressed out sometimes.  This just goes to show that animals can be very much like people.  If an animal experiences trauma when it is young, that can affect them for the rest of their life.  I definitely think that happened to Squeaky.  She still appears to be coping with some of the stuff she went though before we adopted her.  She seems like a very sensitive soul.

Sometimes I will explain Squeaky’s story to people as a cautionary tale, to demonstrate that it is very important for us humans to treat our four-legged friends with kindness.

Having said all this, I do believe Squeaky is now much happier.  She has food and two humans who love her.  She eventually got used to Nettie trying to play with her, and the two cats are now close.  Squeaky also gets to play, something she never could in the past.  Occasionally she will play-fight with her toy mousies.  But much more often she will grab one of Michele’s pencils, pens or markers in her teeth, carry it off while yowling, and then wrestle with it, chasing it about the apartment as it rolls all over the place.  A good chunk of Michele’s art supplies go missing in this manner.  We often find pens under the bed, or buried in the blankets, or hidden under the rug, or in the laundry pile.

Squeaky on couch 2014

Squeaky photographed by Michele Witchipoo

I am glad that Michele and I were able to give Squeaky a much better home than she once had.  She is a very affectionate cat.  Despite her sometimes-unconventional behavior, Squeaky really does brighten up our lives, and we love her.

Cats and comic books: Counter Attack by Alisa Harris

This past February  on Kickstarter there was a fundraising campaign that I happily supported.  Ever since then I have been eagerly anticipating the project that was in the works.  Yesterday the completed book finally arrived in the mail: The Collected Counter Attack! by Alisa Harris.

Collected Counter Attack cover

Alisa Harris is a Queens-based artist & cartoonist.  Michele and I first met her in May 2011 at the Mini Zine Fest held at Pete’s Candy Store, a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Among the mini-comics that Harris had for sale was Counter Attack, a cute series about her two mischievous cats, Moe and Fidget, that she has been creating since 2005.  Michele and I have two cats of our own, Nettie and Squeaky, and in the last few years I have become a huge cat lover.  I purchased Counter Attack from Harris, and I found it adorable.  (The series is so titled because, as Harris explains “Any cat will tell you: the best position of attack is from the kitchen counter.”)

Collected Counter Attack Moe and Fidget

Harris does a fantastic job investing the illustrated versions of Moe and Fidget with the personalities they posses in real life.  Anyone who has ever had a cat can tell you that felines have very distinctive temperaments.  They can be funny and adorable and mischievous and bossy, often all within the space of a few minutes!  Harris’ ability to capture those qualities, as well as her charming art style, made Counter Attack a big success.  The comics kept selling out and she kept having to re-print them.  That’s when she came up with the idea for a Kickstarter campaign to fund a collected edition of Counter Attack, with brand new material included.

Personally speaking, I believe that mini-comics are a real fount of creativity.  There are many very cool self-published comics out there from numerous talented creators.  That said, I never know how to store or organize them!  So, yeah, since I kept re-reading my copies of Counter Attack, and I also kept misplacing them in my jumbled, disorganized piles of books and comics, a hardcover collection was something that appealed to me.

Collected Counter Attack Alarm Clock

As a cat owner (or perhaps that should be a human who is owned by cats?) I have a lot of identification with the anecdotes and misadventures of Moe and Fidget that Harris illustrates.  I am certain that many humans with feline friends will also find these episodes vary familiar.  After all, what human with a cat has not been woken up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) by a cat who wants their breakfast?  Evidently in Harris’ household, her cat Moe likes to tap her on the head.  In my own case, Nettie will lean over my sleeping face and start poking me in the nose with one of her paws.  If that doesn’t work, and I still refuse to get up, on occasion she will extend one claw and begin prodding the tip of my nose with that, which inevitably works.  Yeah, sometimes Nettie can certainly be bratty!

Collected Counter Attack Well Trained

Cats also like to sharpen their claws.  I understand that this is a natural habit they engage in.  That’s why most people purchase a scratching post for their cats, so that their personal property will not get shredded.  Michele and I got one for Nettie and Squeaky.  I can count on one hand the times each of them have used it.  Instead they scratch everything else: the bed, the chairs, the sofa, the bookshelves, even my comic books!  And all the while they ignore a perfectly good, practically brand new scratching post!  I see from the pages of Counter Attack that Harris also experiences this phenomenon.

The Collected Counter Attack! is a cute, funny book.  Copies can be ordered through Alissa Harris’ online shop.  Also available is a “fun pack” containing the issues of her series Urban Nomad, which she describes as “Quirky true stories about living in the many boroughs of New York City.”  I recommend purchasing a copy of The Collected Counter Attack!, especially if you love cats.  You will be looking through the pages of the book and constantly saying to yourself “Yep, that’s my cat, too!”

Lil Bub in the Big Apple

Cats are everywhere on the Internet.  Cute cats, funny cats, strange cats, crazy cats.  You even have your celebrity cats, such as Grumpy Cat and Colonel Meow.  And then there is Lil Bub.

For those unfamiliar with Lil Bub, she is a dwarf cat with big eyes, extra toes, no teeth, and a tongue that hangs out of her mouth.  Lil Bub and her human, Mike Bridavsky, are from Bloomington, Indiana.  They travel around the country making appearances to raise money for animal-related charities.  There is actually a documentary about Lil Bub that is going to premier at this year’s Tribecca Film Festival, with a book coming out in the Fall.  Here is one of Lil Bub’s official photos:

Lil Bub official photo

On Tuesday morning, Michele and I took the subway to the East Village.  We had found out that Lil Bub would be visiting Social Tees Animal Rescue from 11 AM to 1 PM that day, and we really wanted to meet her.  After wandering around for a while, we finally located Social Tees at their new location, 325 East 5th Street.  I later remarked that, since we had been trying to find Social Tees in its old spot, we had been “Looking for Bub in all the wrong places.”  Michele booed me very loudly.

When we got there, the first thing I noticed was that there were several cops standing around.  For a second I thought that maybe Lil Bub had actually gotten a police escort.  Nope, it turns out that Social Tees is next to the neighborhood precinct.  According to the owner, the cops pop in to visit the animals all the time.  It was around 10:30, so we the line was luckily pretty short at that point.  As we were waiting over the next half hour, though, it really grew behind us.

A little after 11:00, Social Tees started letting people in, two at a time.  They were accepting donations of cash or animal food.  If we had known, we’d have brought along this bag of food that our two cats, Nettie and Squeaky, are too picky to eat.  I guess we can drop it off some other time.

Michele and I soon got in.  And, wow, Lil Bub was such a cutie!  Plus she was so small.  I mean, I knew she was a dwarf cat, but she really was tiny.  I think Bub was sort of shy & nervous about meeting all of these new people, but she was still very well behaved.  Here is the photo that Michele took of me petting Lil Bub:

Lil Bub and Ben

Michele said that I had such a happy look on my face when I met Lil Bub.  Having Nettie and Squeaky has really turned me into a cat-lover.  As I said afterwards, it was Bub-tastic.

I think we both wished we could have spent more time with Lil Bub.  But it was a long line, and obviously everyone else needed to get their chance to meet her.  We’re hoping that we’ll be able to go see the Lil Bub & Friendz film in the near future.

A Super Bowl 2013 blog from a guy who doesn’t watch football

I’ve never seen the Super Bowl as a big deal, mostly because I’m not all that into football to begin with.  I think most of the blame for that lies in the fact that, no matter how many times people have explained it, I’ve never been able to figure out how the game is played.  Something about each team having a certain number of attempts to advance the ball across the field a certain number of yards, and at the end they need to score a touchdown, or at least a field goal.  Is that right?  I dunno.

I was going to just sit Super Bowl XLVII out this year.  But a cool local bar here in Queens, Gottscheer Hall, was having their regular Super Bowl party, complete with free buffet.  So Michele and I decided to go to that.

But first on Sunday afternoon, we sat down to watch the two hour Puppy Bowl IX on Animal Planet.  That’s the cute parody of the game which sees a bunch of puppies bouncing around a miniature football stadium, playing with each other and squeaky toys.  They even have a halftime show with cute, cuddly kittens.  It is, as you can imagine, absolutely adorable.  It’s also in a good cause, because all of the dogs and cats who appear on the show each year are rescued from animal shelters.  After the filming is done, they are all adopted out to people who want pets.  Apparently the show also helps raise awareness in animal adoptions, because there is a spike in rescues afterwards each year as viewers take in cats & dogs from their local shelters.

Puppy Bowl IX

By the time we arrived at Gottscheer Hall, the second quarter of the Super Bowl was already well underway.  Which meant, oh joy, we were in plenty of time to catch the halftime show with Beyonce.  I’ve never been a fan of her, to say the least, so this gave me ample opportunity to rag out on her, much to Michele’s amusement.  Look, if you can’t be bothered to sing live for the freaking President of the United States, who will you perform for?  Just as she was lip synching at Barack Obama’s inauguration, so too I expect she was doing much the same for her Super Bowl “performance.”

By the time the third quarter started up, the Ravens were well ahead, and it looked like the 49ers were going to get creamed, especially after Jacoby Jones scored a 108-yard touchdown.  Heck, I don’t even follow football, and even I was impressed by that.  Anyway, I wasn’t rooting for either team, but it’s just a much more interesting game to watch when the score is closer.  Baltimore was ahead 28 to 6 just a few minutes into the second half when, whoops, there was a power outage at the stadium.  It lasted over half an hour, and by the time all the lights were back up, it appeared that the Ravens had totally lost their momentum.  Next thing you know, the score was 34 to 29, with Baltimore barely clinging on to a slim lead in the fourth quarter.  It actually made for a riveting final few moments, because it looked like at any minute San Francisco was going to take the lead.  But the Ravens pulled through.  All in all, it was a pretty entertaining game, even for a football-illiterate viewer such as myself.

Oh, yes, then there were the commercials.  What can I say about them?  I know: they sucked!  Yipes, what an awful collection of garbage.  Companies actually paid millions of dollars to air this crap.  And did I actually see a commercial being broadcast for the Church of Scientology?  What’s next, the Vatican buying air time during the MLB playoffs?  What a world.

Oh, well, come hell or high water, hopefully next year we’ll have Puppy Bowl once again.

Holiday daze

So, another year comes to an end.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I would be happy to see 2012 pass by.  The past twelve months have had so many personal highs and lows, a total rollercoaster.  I’m looking forward to 2013.  Hopefully it’ll be a better year, and I’ll be a better person, as well.

In any case, the last week has been pretty good.  Michele and I invited her parents over for dinner on Christmas Eve.  Michele is one hell of a cook.  This year she made a turkey, stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes, and several vegetables.  It was a really good meal.  The cats went totally crazy, of course!  Squeaky and Nettie love their turkey.  Squeaky even ended up jumping on the kitchen counter in an attempt to get at the turkey before Michele had even had the opportunity to cook it yet!  Anyway, there were plenty of leftovers, so the cats had a chance to gobble down plenty of turkey.  We also gave a few pieces to the turtle.  Yes, Meeshee Gamera refuses to eat vegetables, but she loves poultry.  We gave some food to Michele’s parents to take home.  From what Michele tells me, when they got home, Little Ginger the kitten went nuts when they fed her some turkey.

Michele's delicious turkey

Michele’s delicious turkey

Finally, a few days later, there was only a little bit left.  After I threw out the carcass, I made the mistake of leaving the remaining turkey on a plate by the stove, planning to give it to the turtle the next day.  Well, when I woke up the next morning, it was all gone, except for the wish bone.  Michele and I were looking at each other, puzzled.  “Did you eat it?”  “No, I didn’t, did you eat it?”  Finally it dawned on us that in the middle of the night one of the cats must have jumped up and taken it!

Between the cold weather and the turkey rendering us semi-comatose, we ended up watching a lot of television.  When Michele’s parents came over for dinner, I turned on Animal Planet for the Too Cute marathon.  That show features oodles and oodles of kittens and puppies.  I think I overdosed on adorable.  Then Michele put the Laurel and Hardy film Babes in Toyland aka March of the Wooden Soldiers on the DVD player.

Christmas morning was pretty much dominated by our yearly tradition of watching the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story on TBS.  Somehow, we never end up viewing the movie from beginning to end.  Instead, we catch 15 minutes here, a half hour there, and by the end of the day, when you add up all the bits & pieces, we’ve seen the entire movie at least once.  That really is a hysterical film.  As with so many other great cult classics, it apparently did poorly in the theaters, only to find new life on home video and television.

Other viewing material that day was the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode of Santa Claus, a truly bizarre 1959 Mexican movie which features the war between St. Nick and the Devil.  Yes, really!  It is a strange, strange film.  To quote Mike & the Bots, “This is good old fashioned nightmare fuel!”  Then it was time for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special.  It was pretty good, albeit uneven.  I may review “The Snowmen” on this blog in the near future.

Another show on Animal Planet that I’ve gotten into recently is Pit Bulls & Parolees.  I really like that one.  I think pit bulls are misunderstood.  If you treat them kindly and train them properly, they really can end up being very sweet, loyal dogs.  Another reason I like the show is that it gives people who have been to prison a second chance.  Maybe I’m too sappy, but I honestly believe that there are some people who have made mistakes, but who now genuinely want to turn their lives around.  I honestly feel that they should be given that opportunity.

I think the cats have been happy to have us home, since they’ve been leaping onto the couch to watch TV with us.  Nettie has been sleeping in my lap.  At one point Michele was relaxing on the couch under the blanket, and, as can be seen below, Squeaky curled up on top of her head.  I think she was actually very comfortable there.

Michele and Squeaky

Michele and Squeaky

In the last few days, Michele has gotten a nostalgic craving for that late 1970s series The Gong Show, hosted by Chuck Barris.  She’s been watching all of these clips of it on YouTube.  I’ve never actually seen the original version of The Gong Show before.  I saw a few episodes of the 1980s revival, which never impressed me, so I couldn’t understand what the big deal was.  But Michele pretty much forced me to watch those clips of the original incarnation and, yeah, it is a million times better.  I have to agree with her, the people involved in making the show must have been on some serious drugs!  Of course, while we were browsing through all these old television clips, we happened to learn that a serial killer was once a contestant on The Dating Game.  Oh, wow, truth really is stranger than fiction.  I’m surprised that this never inspired an episode of Criminal Minds.

So now it’s New Years Eve.  I have no plans yet.  Since I quit drinking, it just feels really weird hanging out at bars or parties with people who are getting smashed.  A couple of nights ago, we were at The Cobra Club in Bushwick again, hanging out with some of Michele’s friends.  It was fun, yeah, but after a couple of hours I just started to get edgy, being around all that booze.  And, y’know, if you aren’t drinking, bars are kinda boring.  I don’t know, maybe I just overthink these things.  Anyway, I’m not sure what I’m going to end up doing tonight.  Perhaps I’ll hang out with Michele for a little while and then call it an early night, catch the Twilight Zone marathon or something.  We shall see.

In any case, I hope everyone has a wonderful 2013.  See you next year.

Little Ginger the rescued kitten

My girlfriend’s parents used to have three cats who lived with them: Tabitha, Champ and Leo.  I never met Tabitha, because she died right before Michele and I started dating.  But according to Michele, Tabitha was really close to her, as well as a cat with attitude.  “She would have put you in your place,” Michele likes to tell me.  Four years later, Michele still misses her.

So for the last four years Leo and Champ were still with my girlfriend’s parents, keeping them company.  I met both feline friends on several occasions, when Michele and I went to visit her parents.  The cats seemed really sweet.  Even though we had two cats of our own, I grew to enjoy our visits to there, because I would get to see Leo and Champ.  I especially like Champ.  I was told she had been the runt of her litter, but she had survived, and grew up to be a very affectionate cat.

Unfortunately, last winter Leo passed away from old age, and this spring Champ followed him.  Michele’s mother May is a very sweet woman.  She had been very close to both cats, and missed them both terribly.  Even though May claimed she was too old to take in another cat, I could tell she really would have liked another one to care for.

Late in October, only a couple of days before Hurricane Sandy came barreling through New York City, Michele’s father found a tiny little kitten abandoned in a garage in Queens.  The poor thing was all alone.  He brought it home to his wife as a present, because he knew how much she missed Tabitha, Champ, and Leo.  Cleaning up the cat, May discovered it was a girl.  The cat was an orange tabby, so she named her Ginger.

Ginger in early November

Ginger in early November

It seems certain that Michele’s father saved little Ginger’s life, because I doubt she would have been able to survive the hurricane all alone, living in a cold garage.  May started nursing Ginger back to health.  About a week after the storm, Michele and I went to visit her parents.  We met Ginger for the first time.  She was such a tiny little thing, and was constantly clinging to May.  Michele and I both had an opportunity to hold Ginger.  She really was affectionate.

About a month later, Michele and I went back to her parents’ place for Thanksgiving.  Ginger had been all cleaned up by May, and had started to grow.  Ginger really looked adorable.  She was playful, and at every opportunity was chowing down on leftover Turkey.

Ginger on Thankgsiving Day

Ginger on Thankgsiving Day

The last time Michele spoke to her mother on the phone, she heard that Ginger was still growing, continuing to get healthy, running around the apartment and playing with May.  She seems like a very sweet cat, and I hope she continues to get well & grow.  It’s obvious that May fell in love with Ginger at first sight.  I know she is going to do everything she can to give Ginger a good home.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing that adorable kitty again.

(Photos of Little Ginger by Michele Witchipoo)

Nettie and the vet

As I’ve mentioned before, one of our cats, Nettie, is a part-Persian, part-Siamese with long fur.  It is recommended that long-haired cats have their fur combed or brushed at least once a week, because otherwise it will get tangled in knots.  Unfortunately, Nettie very seldom will allow me or my girlfriend near her with a brush or comb.  If we do try to brush Nettie’s fur, she starts to bite, claw, and kick at us.  So we long ago gave up on brushing Nettie regularly.

As a result, after several months, Nettie’s fur will become terribly tangled up.  This means we have to take her to the veterinarian for grooming.  In practice, that means she needs to receive a “lion cut,” which means the groomer shaves off all of her hair except for around her head, her paws, and the end of her tail.

We usually wait until the summer for Nettie to get groomed, because in the hot weather her long fur makes her more likely to get overheated.  Plus that’s when she sheds a lot.  We didn’t have the opportunity to get her groomed until this week, though, which is a lot later than we usually prefer.

In order for a vet to do a grooming, the animals must be up to date on their shots.  So a couple of weeks ago I took Nettie to the vet for an exam and vaccinations.  As soon as I took out the cat carrier, both Nettie and our other cat Squeaky bolted.  They know that as soon as they see the carrier, it means a trip to the vet is on hand for one of them.  Well, humans hate having to go to the doctor, so it’s no surprise that cats do, as well.  The last couple of times, I took out the carrier the night before, so that Nettie would get used to seeing it out.  That makes it somewhat easier to then get her into it the next morning, although both times she certainly struggled.

Anyway, this Monday I brought Nettie back to the vet to be groomed.  She was given a bath and a shave.  When she came back home, she was very shy and quiet, something which she normally isn’t.  I think the combination of the trip to the vet and having all her fur taken off left her feeling very vulnerable.  It’s now a couple of days later, though, and I can see she’s slowly getting back to her old self, giving me attitude and slapping me on the ankles when I pass by her.

In any case, here’s what Nettie looks like after her grooming:

Nettie after her "lion cut" grooming, looking rather annoyed that I'm taking a photo of her in this state

Nettie after her “lion cut” grooming, looking rather annoyed that I’m taking a photo of her in this state

Now if only I could manage to take Squeaky to the vet.  She really needs a check-up and, yep, a bath.  Squeaky is a sweet cat, but she smells.  She won’t let us pick her up and give her a wash here at home.  As bad as it is getting Nettie into the carrier, Squeaky is a dozen times worse.  In the past, every time she needed to go to the vet, my girlfriend and I spent almost an hour chasing her around the apartment before we finally managed to grab her up and cram her into the carrier.  It is not a pleasant experience!

By the way, the vet we take the cats to for their check-ups and grooming is Antelyes Animal Hospital in Middle Village, Queens.  They are very good and do excellent work.  The doctors and staff are friendly & helpful, and treat their animal patients extremely well.  I think that all vets are expensive, but Antelyes’ prices appear to be on the more reasonable side than some other establishments.  So if you happen to live in the area, I definitely recommend them.

Two Cats and a Turtle, Part Three

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!

Meeshee Gamera

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.

Meeshee Gamera in the park

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…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bh123/sets/72157612736536250/

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.

Two Cats and a Turtle, Part Two

Right after my girlfriend and I moved into our second apartment, in June 2009, we took in another cat.  This one was already at least five years old.  She had been living in a home that had contained too many animals: seven cats, two dogs, several reptiles, a couple dozen birds, and a few other things I’m probably forgetting!  This poor cat was constantly getting beaten up by the other cats, and apparently spent most of her time hiding behind a radiator.  Every time she tried to come out for food, the other cats would pounce on her.  Since we only had one cat, Nettie, we had more than enough room for a second.  And we did not want Nettie to be lonely.

This new cat was very shy, and got startled extremely easily.  I remember the first day we had her, she fled behind the radiator in our apartment, and I had so much trouble getting her out.  After that, she spent most of her time hiding in the closet, and my girlfriend had to bring food to her in there.

The strange thing about the new cat was that she never had been given a proper name.  The previous owner had just referred to her as “Kitten,” and kept doing that, even though, as I said, she was now several years old.  We decided she needed a real name.  Because she sounded like she was squeaking when she would meow, we finally decided to name her Squeaky.

Squeaky

We soon learned that one of the reasons why Squeaky kept hiding in the closet had nothing to do with her being afraid.  In fact, she was in pain.  When we took Squeaky to the vet, we were told that half of her teeth had become rotten with cavities and infections.  Even though it cost almost a thousand dollars, we had her bad teeth removed.  After that, Squeaky was like a new cat.  She no longer hid in the closet, but would casually roam about the apartment.

Squeaky is a black & white tuxedo cat.  Since we got her, her fur has become very shiny, and her eyes brighter.  They are now these deep, soulful pools of green.  Sometimes, looking into her eyes, I get a feeling of peace and serenity.

Squeaky is, as my girlfriend says, a bit of a misfit cat.  During breakfast and dinner, Squeaky gobbles down her food, probably because for so long, back in her old home, it was always being stolen from her.  She started out as a skinny little thing when she moved in, but now she has quite a belly on her.  My girlfriend observed “A round cat is a happy cat.”  If that’s true, then Squeaky must be very happy indeed!  (As I type this, Squeaky is by my feet, meowing sadly for food, even though dinner time is more than an hour away.  She can be very persistent!)

Also, it took her a while to get used to Nettie.  Since Nettie had been an only cat for most of her kitten-hood, she never had anyone to play with.  She would try to play with Squeaky by wrestling with her, but Squeaky, who was so used to being beaten up in the past that she thought Nettie was attacking her, and she would flee.

That said, over time the two of them have grown closer together, and they can often be seen cuddling together, sleeping next to each other, or grooming one another.  The funny thing is, if you happen to spot them doing that, and they notice you, they appear to get embarrassed and will quickly move apart.

Squeaky and Nettie cuddling on the bed

Squeaky appears to be very happy in her new home.  I know she appreciates being able to take a long nap without being disturbed or harassed.  She is still skittish, though.  Loud noises easily startle her.  Also, she seems to be afraid of tall people looming over her.  I’m six foot two inches, and when I’m walking in Squeaky’s direction, she will often run.  However, if I’m sitting down or lying in bed, she’ll come right up to me, looking to be petted, or to have her tummy rubbed.  When I’m watching television, she’s often curled up in my lap.  I like to call her my TV buddy.

I’m glad we were able to give Squeaky a good home.  Having said that, I’m still not sure what she thinks of the turtle we later got.  But I’ll tell you all about Meeshee Gamera, the red-eared slider with an attitude, next time.