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.

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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.

Two Cats and a Turtle, Part One

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted a pet; a cat or a dog.  My parents, who already had three children, me and my two younger sisters, most likely did not want the extra responsibility of having to take care of an animal.

After years of pleading with them, my parents finally gave in… sort of.  They got a fish tank.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I know they meant well, but I just could not relate to a bunch of little fish swimming back and forth in a tank of water.  There was no way to interact with them; they literally existed in their own world, apparently unaware that I existed.  And they kept dying off!  My parents would buy a cool-looking fish and, nine times out of ten, it would be belly up in the water within a week.  Eventually they all died off, one by one, and we put the fish tank away permanently.

Years later, when I was in my twenties, I was having lunch out with my mother.  She made a startling confession to me.  She said that she finally realized that I had been very lonely as a child, and maybe it would have been the right thing to let me have a pet after all.  But, of course, by now I was living on my own, so it was moot.  Somehow, I still ended up in an apartment building that didn’t allow pets, though.

Fast forwards several years, and I’m now living in Queens, dating a wonderful girl.  After several months, we decided to move in together.  She had had cats as pets ever since she was a little girl, so she was very receptive to the idea of us having one together.  She had previously rescued a cat from the street and given her to a friend.  That cat was now pregnant with a litter.  And so, a short time later, in January 2009, a fluffy little two month old kitten came into our lives.  She was so adorably cute.  I remember how she fit in the palm of my hand.  That first night, the kitten cuddled up to me in bed, and I remember being afraid I was going to roll over in my sleep and squash her!

Nettie as a kitten

My girlfriend decided to name the kitten Netzach, which is Hebrew for victory or endurance.  I came up with a nickname, Nettie.  I was so thrilled to have Nettie in our lives.  At long last, I finally had a pet of my very own.

Life with Nettie was very eventful.  She bounced around the apartment, almost going “boing boing” off the walls, so much so that I joked she had springs in her paws.  She would get into fights with a big green sponge that we had, and my girlfriend joked that it was her arch-enemy.  Nettie also liked to grab my hand or my girlfriend’s and basically wrestle with us, holding on with her front paws, kicking with her back, gnawing on our knuckles with her teeth.  We let that cat get away with murder sometimes!  What can I say?  She was my very first pet, and I spoiled her.

Nettie is a very distinctive looking cat, with long fluffy fur.  She is part Persian, part Siamese, part Himalayan.  Given her wild nature, I would joke that the Himalayan part of family must have had a few abominable snowmen in it.  That gave rise to the nickname Nettie the Yeti.  Nettie also has the most beautiful blue eyes, and a lovely voice.  Sometimes, when she wants food or attention, she can give you this wide stare, letting out such a sad meow.  She really knows how to tug on the heart strings.  And, of course, I always fall for it.  My girlfriend tells people that I treat Nettie as if she was my daughter.

Nettie at three years old

Over the past three years, Nettie has grown up, and she is a lot less manic and hyper.  Well, most of the time.  A few months after we first got Nettie, we moved into another apartment, and then had a second cat come to live with us.  Nettie, who spent most of her kitten-hood by herself, now found herself living with another feline, one she hoped would play with her.  Cue lots of running and wrestling.  And then, on top of that, we got a turtle.  But more on all that next time.