Today is Mark Twain's 176th birthday. Twain had a great fondness and appreciation for cats. In honor of the author's birthday, I'd like to share a few quotes about cats by the famous cat devotee.
A home without a cat -- and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat -- may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
- Pudd'nhead Wilson _____________________________
Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
- Notebook, 1894
By what right has the dog come to be regarded as a "noble" animal? The more brutal and cruel and unjust you are to him the more your fawning and adoring slave he becomes; whereas, if you shamefully misuse a cat once she will always maintain a dignified reserve toward you afterward--you will never get her full confidence again.
- Mark Twain, a Biography
Twain's Cats Fast Asleep
Photo: Elisha M. VanAken 1887
Twain gave his cats many unusual names including Sourmash, Sackcloth, and Straykit. The Mark Twain House and Museum website has a word search puzzle featuring Twain's cats you can find HERE.
My pet sitting service has a facebook page now. Though I'm not a huge facebook fan, I now have a page. If you'd like to take a look, click HERE. My business is called Paws Pet Sitting Service. Clicking the "like" button, or leaving a comment, will help the place look busy.
Tell me about YOUR pets, websites, and facebook pages.
This is where I want to live from now on. I need a nice strong castle with a drawbridge, so the miserable human beings who live in my neighborhood can't reach me, or my car. About a week ago, I found my car keyed on its driver's side. The anonymous literary genius wrote f*** in lovely deep letters, impressing me with his incredible thoughtfulness and words of wisdom. Who this person is, and why he or she felt compelled to damage my property, I have no idea. The damage occurred at night in the parking lot of my apartment building. I've been living in this building for 10+ years. I mind my own business and bother no one.
It didn't end with the keying.
A few days later, I noticed one of my tires was almost flat. According to my mechanic, someone had SLASHED the tire! What was the point of that? Is this a teenager with nothing better to do? Or even worse, could this be a grown man filled with anger and owning a sharp knife? My neighbor on the second floor, who I sometimes visit and chat with, thinks it's someone in the adjoining building who wants my parking spot. All this over a parking spot!!! How old are these people? Twelve?
I'm sick of the way people behave. I'm tired of the rudeness of strangers who find it important to treat others like garbage. I'm tired of jerks who cut drivers off in traffic then give them the finger. America has become a nation of self-absorbed, overgrown, adolescents with no empathy.
In Edinburgh, Scotland, there's a statue of a little Skye Terrier named Greyfriars Bobby. The Story goes that Bobby, in loyalty towards his master, John Gray, spent fourteen years sitting by Gray's gravesite. John Gray was a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police who died of tuberculosis in the year 1858. In honor of Bobby's great devotion, Lady Burdett-Coutts had the statue built shortly after Bobby's death. Since then, novels and movies have been created featuring the loyal little dog and his many adventures.
One of the two Bobbys
Unfortunately, there's always a spoilsport who must find the grim facts and ruin a perfectly lovely story. In this case, the official spoilsport is an individual named Jan Bondeson of Cardiff University. After much research, Bondeson came to the conclusion that Bobby was a stray dog trained to remain in the graveyard to stir up business for area shops. In other words, Bobby was a Victorian publicity stunt designed to encourage sales. In fact, according to Bondeson, there were TWO Bobbys. The second Bobby was apparently much younger than the deceased first Bobby.
The next thing you know, they'll be saying Washington didn't chop down the cherry tree!
Well, I for one refuse to believe in Bondeson's sorry theory. It goes without saying Bobby was a real dog who sat patiently and loyally by his master's grave. However, since I also believe in a recovering economy, it's probably just another fairy tale. Sigh!
To read more about Grayfriars Bobby go HERE. If you'd like to learn about a Greyfriars Bobby movie try this LINK.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with that sinking feeling when walking down the hall late at night and suddenly stepping in something wet and squishy. That old wet and squishy feeling is especially disgusting while wearing socks. Fluffy did it again! FLUFFY..........!!!
Though the vast majority of cats have no issue utilizing their litter box, at least 10% develop a persistent bathroom problem, and find disturbingly creative ways to avoid the dreaded cat toilet.
There are many, many, different reasons why cats develop litter box problems. I've gathered a few reasons with a little help from the Human Society of the United States website, and one or two other places I really should list at the end of this article.
Reason Nunber One
The box is filthy! Would YOU want to use a dirty bathroom? Cats are very tidy creatures and dislike putrid smells and vileness. Clean the box.
Reason Number Two
His Lordship dislikes the box you bought him. Many cats find lidded boxes uncomfortable. Cats instinctively want to see their surroundings, and worry about attacks from giant cat killing monsters even though they live in domesticated splendor with YOU.
If you have a large cat, buy him a large box. Fluffy won't be happy if his bum is hanging over the side of his toilet. Clear plastic storage boxes from Walmart and similar stores make good cat bathrooms. Buy one with shorter sides so your poor beloved doesn't need a ladder to climb in.
If you have more than one beloved, you need more than one cat box. All the experts agree that one box per cat is the way to go. One box per cat PLUS one extra for run off. If you have seven or eight cats, I hope you live in a big house.
Reason Number Three
You're using the wrong kind of litter. Experiment. Cats can be touchy about the texture of litter on their feet. If they don't like it, they won't use it. If your cat likes to "go" outside in the dirt, put dirt in his box. Also, deodorized litter is often rejected. Save the Spring Meadow and Mountain Breeze for your ownbathroom. Fluffy will thank you.
Reason Number Four
Location, location, location. Cats prefer quiet and meditative places to poop. If Rex the labrador retriever is waiting for the snack bar to open, Fluffy will find another place to relieve himself. Hopefully, not on your pillow.
You could try placing the box in Fluffy's alternate pee spot. Remove grandma's boots from the closet, and put the box in there. There are worse things, and grandma's boots should have been removed a long time ago. Throw them away and buy her some new ones.
Placing a litter box on each floor of your home is a good idea. By employing such simple thoughtfulness, Fluffy won't tire himself unnecessarily by walking downstairs.
If you've moved the box to a place more congenial to yourself, return it to its original spot. Cats don't like change.
Has the routine changed at home? Is there a new baby? Is the cat suddenly alone for long periods of time? Moving to a new home can upset a cat So can loud noises. As I wrote before, cats love consistency and HATE CHANGE. Think about it. It doesn't take much to stress a cat. Since it doesn't take much to stress me, I can understand and sympathize. We're all in the same boat together.
Reason Number Six
Sometimes cats have health problems. If your cat stops using his box, takes forever to pee, licks his genitals, or cries while peeing, take him to his vet. This is especially true regarding male cats. A urinary track infection, or blockage, could be causing the problem. Don't hem and haw, your cat could die from such infections and blockages.
Other Bits and Pieces
Once you've learned Fluffy has no health issues, what else can be done to discourage the use of your home as a giant litter box? As many cats dislike aluminum foil, try putting it everywhere your angel eliminates. According to the Humane Society, citrus-scented cotton balls work. I've never tried scented cotton balls, so I wouldn't know. Cats also dislike peeing and pooping near their food and water bowls. Put bowls everywhere Fluffy has messed.
Cleaning up old messes is very important. Don't use ammonia, as it will only encourage the cat to revisit that spot. Pet stores sell special enzymatic cleaners that remove pet stinks. Try that. You may need to try that more than once. Pet odors can be stubborn.
Well, now that your home contains twenty cat boxes, tons of citrus scented cotton balls, food and water bowls as far as the eye can see, and aluminum foil covering every ounce of furniture, think of all the money you'll save over the holidays. Since your friends and family will think you're crazy, they'll refuse to visit your house. You and Fluffy can eat ALL the turkey!
I'd like to introduce you to a good friend of mine named Isis. Though Isis is a guy, he was somehow named after the famous Egyptian goddess of motherhood, magic, and fertility. Isis, you may recall, was the mother of Horus, the falcon headed god of war, sky, and numerous other things.
Here is a picture of Horus, Isis, and Osiris. Osiris was the husband of Isis, and the father of Horus. Notice how tidily they stand, without a twitch or awkward movement to mar the perfection. I wish I could say the same for Mr. Isis the cat!
Isis will never gain his fortune making cat food commercials because he loathes the camera.
A nice shot of his tail.
Isis specializes in turning away just as I snap the picture.
This fellow with the kindly face is named Bruno. He's a nervous guy with a number of fears including the wind, blowing leaves, loud noises, and most especially the trash truck. After his original family divorced, Bruno was placed in a Boxer rescue where he soon found a home. His first family were busy people with important jobs, so poor Bruno was confined to a crate for huge portions of the day. He's much too big a dog for such confinement. Crates can be very helpful things, but I don't feel dogs should stay in them for hours and hours and hours at a time.
Bruno was adopted by his new family to provide companionship for Buttercup.
I wrote about Buttercup in a previous POST. Sadly, Buttercup acquired cancer and passed away not long ago. She was a sweet girl and is greatly missed. Bruno misses her too, but is now becoming familar with his only dog status.
Bruno is not completely alone though.
This little blown glass object is a biosphere. It contains two shrimp who may live up to ten years! I never knew shrimp could live so long. I'm told the biosphere initially housed fourteen shrimp, but all mysteriously disappeared save the last two. It's a shrimp eat shrimp world. Biospheres are sealed worlds that require monitored amounts of light to avoid an ecological breakdown within their system. I like it!
Bruno in his yard.
I'm looking forward to knowing Bruno and the shrimp for many years!
I would like to introduce a brand new friend of mine named Lily Sparkle. Though Lily is a Labradoodle, she's much more Lab than Doodle. Unlike the typical hypoallergenic Labradoodle, Lily sheds (and generates sneezes) like you wouldn't believe. Regardless of the flying fur, Lily's a sweetheart and her family loves her very much.
Though I grew up on Cape Cod, I never saw a gray seal. Back in the sixties and seventies, gray seals were rarely, if ever, seen on the Cape. This is no longer the case. Thousands of gray seals now rest on the beaches, have pups, and eat incalculable amounts of fish. They've also become attractive target practice for someone with a gun. During the past two months, six seals have washed ashore dead from bullet wounds. The shooter could be a disgruntled fisherman angry about unwanted competition, or an unstable gun owner looking for sick fun. Either way, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 makes it illegal to kill a marine mammal. If this individual is caught, he could receive up to a year in jail, and a fine of $100,000 per seal. At least the seals are now protected. Between the years 1888-1908 and 1919-1962, the state of Massachusetts paid a bounty of $1.00 to $5.00 for every seal nose turned in to authorities. Though fishermen may not like the seals, the majority of residents do, and are upset by the killings. The seals are also popular among the tourists. I hope the shooter is soon found, as individuals cruel to animals are often cruel to people as well. More information about the killings can be found HERE.
Childrens' lives are enriched numerous ways by the companionship of a pet. Pets teach empathy, help strengthen the immune system, and aid with emotional troubles such as depression. Children with pet friends do better in school, have more traditional values, and treat their parents with greater respect. According to one study, there is another positive aspect regarding pets and children. Children with pets are less likely to develop allergic rhinitis and asthma than children without pets.
Henry Ford Hospital Study
Researchers led by Ganesa Wegienka MS, PhD found that men growing up with indoor dogs developed allergies at half the rate as those without dogs. The study also concluded both men and women were half as likely to develop allergies to cats under the same circumstances. This was especially true if the children were under one year of age during the time of pet companionship. The 565 participants in the study were followed from birth to adulthood. A link to an article about the study can be found HERE. It seems parents who try to shield children from allergens are doing their youngsters a disfavor. Rather than avoiding future problems, the parents are creating problems instead.
So there you sit, all grown up, and deathly allergic to Fido and Fuffy. What can you do?
The no sneeze cat.
The cutie in the picture above is named Pikachu. She was bred by a company named Allerca who works to provide allergy suffers with hypoallergenic pets. Cats produce a protein called Fel d 1. This allergy causing substance is found in cats' saliva and urine. At first, the Allerca scientists tried to disable the protein gene, but were unsuccessful. They then discovered some cats have a unique version of the gene less apt to produce an allergic reaction. After screening thousands of cats, Allerca found enough hypoallergenic kitties to offer pets for the allergic public. It turned out the mutant gene is dominant, so hypoallergenic cats can be bred to normal cats and produce hypoallergenic kittens. The kittens are incredibly expensive. Currently, kittens cost between $6,950.00 - $22,950. Yikes! Since the cats were so popular, they are now selling hypoallergenic dogs for $7,950. National Geographic Magazine wrote an article about the company in 2006.
What do you do if you can't spend nearly $8,000 on a specially designed dog? There are a number of breeds considered "low dander" that may suit your needs. The least allergy producing breed is the American Hairless Terrier. If you prefer something with fur; the Bichon Frise, Irish Water Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese, Poodle, Bedlington Terrier, Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer, and Wheaten Terriers are all a possiblity. A good site about hypoallergenic breeds is found HERE.
Cat Allergy Vaccine
There's some good news for all the allergic cat lovers of the world. A vaccine has been developed at McMaster University which protects people with allergies to cats. You can thank immunologist Mark Larche for this discovery. Though the allergic patient may need between four to eight doses of the vaccine at first, it is safe, and hazards almost no side effects. An article can be found on the ScienceDaily website.
So there is hope for all the allergy sufferers of the world. Pets bring happiness to both adults and children. They're good for our emotional and physical health. It's worth taking the extra effort to allow them into our world.