Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sorry Sweetie, was that your tail 2..?

To the soundtrack of Britney Spears "Oops I did it again...". This time it was Magic's tail I stood on and this time someone did get hurt, temporarily. I was tidying the worktops and making breakfast, cinnamon buns and coffee if you were interested, when I stepped back on her little pencil thin tail. Well, she let out a scream, and so did I as I got a fright too. I chased after her, and so did Red as he seemed quite concerned too, I checked her tail and apart from the pain of me standing on it no lasting harm seemed to be done. No hair loss was noticed either and she very graciously let me apologise profusely.

I think the problem is that the cats see themselves as an immovable object. If you are coming out of a room and they are sitting or lying there then it is up to you to work out how you will step over them. The kitchen is a particular issue as they sit down right behind you, contented just to be near you, but you are unaware they are there...then you step back and realise you've stood on one of their tails. I've no idea of how to persuade them not to do this. If the weight of me landing on their sensitive tails or ripping out a huge chunk of fur is no deterent then I can't imagine what would be.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Just Magic

Because Magic is so dark she can be difficult to snap. Red takes a great picture because of his light fur and I can capture his good looks. With Magic I feel she often suffers by comparison as her pictures are often too dark to show the meltingly sweet way she looks. These are probably the best I have.

Spidey sense

Late one night I saw BOTH cats playing with something and being a bit furtive. Never good and always worth investigating. They had found a second jumbo spider and were batting it off the skirting board. One had appeared some months ago and I had to retrieve it from Red's mouth before flattening it. I dont like killing spiders but I didnt have much choice as I had nothing humane to catch it with and it looked like a biter.

I chased the cats and got a tumbler to capture it with. I photographed it then attempted to put it on the window ledge to let it go. Unfortunately, I was a bit overzealous and lobbed it over the window ledge to fall some floors to the ground, not exactly good for him or my karmic account. It was a bad night for him all round as my colleague pointed out as he only had 7 legs when I rescued him!

Fur heavens sake

Fur, or the shedding of it, has been a bit of a theme in my posts recently so I'll keep going. Following some recent vet visits which will be a post all of its own it would be fair to say that I've been losing the furry carpet war. I am becoming demented trying to keep the place sanitary never mind clean, between the shed fur and frequent vomits. Red vomits furballs and Magic vomits for multiple reasons - she ate too fast, she ate too much, she was stressed, she is trying to communicate she isn't happy that I've gone out to work... you name it, there is no occasion too small for a vomit. The vomits and their general messy eating means I am often to be found on my hands and knees attacking the carpet with vanish, baby wipes and a spray bottle of water with lavender.

I decided this weekend to hand shampoo the bedroom carpet. Really what needed cleaned was the cream (utterly manky) hall carpet but that was too big a job so I thought I'd practice on the bedroom carpet. It came up lovely but was time consuming, difficult to clean without soaking the carpet and also a little dangerous as I managed to splash the vanish solution into my eye. I also had to resort to steam vacuuming it and using a fan heater as it refused to dry and I fancied going to bed before dawn. Anyway, I decided life was too short to continue round the house in this fashion especially given the enormity of the hall job and looked online for a reasonably priced carpet cleaner. I found one and am eagerly awaiting it. At the same time I was also seduced by a new vacuum from the same company which, from the independent reviews, does appear to actually deal with pet hair, so I look forward to it arriving too.

Anyway, this got me thinking. I am no domestic goddess as any one who knows me will attest. However, I have managed to go through a spectacular amount of vacuums in a relatively short time. Some were bought for specialised features but the everyday vac has never survived particularly long. This the the roll call:

The Dyson upright- one of the most useless items I've ever purchased. I'm sure it was one of the early dodgy ones as I've never seen anything with a HEPA filtration system cough 'stoor' into the air before making a noisy and thoroughly ineffectual tour of the carpets. This was the other human's pride and joy and neither logic or pointing out its uselessness had any effect. I then purchased the Dirt Devil as a conflict resolution tool. Eventually after the Dirt Devil failed, I asserted territorial rights and demanded that if I was the only one regularly vacuuming then I got to choose the tool for the job. The other human's compromise was to insist it must be an upright which I conceeded. The Samsung arrived.

The Dirt Devil cylinder - this was purchased to do the 'tight corners' the Dyson couldnt get into and came with a free hand held cordless. The Dirt Devil was the only reliable source of vaccuming but it inevitably 'bit the dust'. It was survived by the Dyson but only because it refused to pick anything up.

The Samsung upright - my pride and joy. I was certain I could hear the downstairs neighbours falling off their ceiling when I turned it off as the suction was so great. Our old sad carpets had never looked so good and we discovered the long lost experience of walking on pile! This was a great machine as apart from being effective it was a doddle to take to pieces and clear or repair.

The Dirt Devil upright - I became the heir to this. It was absolutely split new and I used to alternate it with the Samsung.

The Polti steam vac - This was a very considered purchase as it seemed that it could do a number of jobs and most importantly simultaneously steam clean and vacuum. The vacuum filter was through water which I think is fab for trapping dust from going back into the atmosphere. I still have it but it is a big bulky machine and is a pain to clean at the end of each use. Initially I didnt realise that if you didnt wash out the hoses then the vacuum dust, which was damp from the steam, would cling to the inside of the hose. This meant that on the third use there was a distinct smell of rotting corpse! So, as well as emptying the steam boiler, the water chamber and filter parts you also need to do the hoses and tubes everytime.

While the last three were in use we had a carer who was allegedy supposed to be doing the vacuuming as part of her role to assist with the household load. I say 'allegedly' as it was impossible to see any difference. She had been distinctly offended when I showed her how to work the Samsung when it was new and then the Dirt Devil as she knew all about vacuums. However, she suffered some delusions, namely that the dirt collector cannisters were self emptying, that the crevice tool and the floor cleaning part work together and that a working vacuum doesnt pick things up. Therefore, eventually when I could stand it no more I looked at the state of the carpets in despair and tried to set to cleaning them only to realise that both the Samsung and the Dirt Devil were irretrievably broken. Yes, the homecare expert with her professional knowledge had killed both of them at some unknown point and not even noticed. The only reason the big Polti wasnt murdered was because I had kept it out of her road. Just after this the Social Work dept 'rationalised' their services and decided they were withdrawing housework as one of their services. So vive le nouveau vacuum.

The Vax all singing, all dancing, anniversary verson, pet hair specialist cylinder with turbo tool - By now Red had arrived and was just a bit of fluff but, in future this was obviously going to be an issue. So after carefully reading reviews I bought the Vax. The turbo tool was awesome for the first two uses until Magic's fur and my long hair strangled it. I duly took it to pieces, very carefully snipped out the offending items and put it together carefully as the manual advises...and it never again sucked anything up! When attached it made impressive turbo noises till it touched the carpet then it sat as still as if playing statues. I should have returned it but as the actual Vax was doing the job I didnt bother as I had neither the time nor inclination. There was also a design flaw as even a replacement would have allowed hair into the belted part of the tool causing ongoing problems. Therefore if I am lax about vacuuming I need to physically 'brush' the carpet with the vac first to lift the heavy fur. The Vax is still working and in use but the withdrawal of the carer housework input, althought questionable, was still a loss. So a new solution was found.

The Romba i-robot - Proof if ever it was needed that God is a woman. This little flying saucer does the vacuuming itself. I love it, the cats love it and the carpets used to love it. It is 100times more effective than the carer hoovering - intelligence AND effectiveness, what is not to love. It has some drawbacks - it has a tiny dirt collector as it is a small device and sometimes it gets itself stuck under a bed then cries for you to come and rescue it. Also, it is not designed for major cat hair issues without constant emptying and brush cleaning. On the upside, it vacuums BY ITSELF, it goes back to recharge if it is getting low, it tells you when it needs emptied or the brushes are tangled with hair or it cant find the docking station and it plays a triumphant tune when it is finished. It is also very quiet and I sometimes send it round the living room while I am watching tv or late at night as it wont disturb anyone. Normally you only have to get the Vax or Polti out and Red cannot be found for hours as he hates the noise. With the Roomba cats will happily sit on the floor following it and I've even seen it bump Magic on her arthritic leg and although she scowled at it she was unconcerned. Frankly, you'd have to prie this out of my cold dead hands.

So why, with an apprently effective set of solutions am I buying another vacuum? Well really I am looking for something that will deal with the insane and constant amount of cat fur. Red had an allergic reaction to his vaccines and over 6days scratched out a whole two years worth of unshed fur. He is still a furry boy but looks like the victim of extreme grooming. As a result the house has been covered in white balls of tumbleweed and the carpets are layered with ghostly white fur. Both cylinder vacuums are struggling and I'd like not to have to drag the Vax brush across the carpet before getting down to vacuuming as it is hard work and I am inherently lazy especially if there is a tool for the job. Sadly, if the new upright pet vac works, although I'll be delighted it does mean I'll have to admit to the other human that they were right about uprights being better at getting into the pile...!

Sorry Sweetie, was that your tail...?

Red has a huge foxy tail, but unfortunately he now has a little less than before. In a classic oops moment he had padded into the kitchen and sat right behind me while I was cooking. I only noticed when I stepped back and felt a little tug under my heel as he moved away. I spoke to him but thought no more of it until I stepped back again, carefully, but my heel slipped on something slippy. When I looked down I saw a huge chunk of tail fur which I'd obviously liberated when I originally stood on his tail. Red was completely unfussed, he hadn't even squeaked at the time and intriguingly his tail appeared not to be missing a chunk. The pound coin rather puts the fur loss in perspective!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The day the fur flew

Magic LOVES having her coat combed through with the furminator. She goes into raptures and often when you pass the bathroom, there she is sitting in the bath with her little face just inviting you to pop in and give her coat a going over. She is a short haired cat and the grooming is more for her pleasure than an essential.

For Red the opposite is the case. He sheds fine, fine, soft hair absolutely everywhere. There is no controlling it and the house, humans and furniture are all becoming furrier by the day. I am utterly demented and keep Lakeland's profits up from all the sticky mitts I buy. I have them all over the house, in my briefcases, glove compartment and desk drawer at work.

Red takes good care of his coat and rarely has tangles but the reality is that there is just so much fur he cannot handle it and yaks up quite a few furballs. The would lead you to suspect, like me, that the time had come to finally persuade him to cope with being brushed. He has never taken to being brushed and hates it. I've bought every hair removal device I can think of and all to no avail. I have two sizes of furminator, a zoom groom, a rubber cat mitt, cat combs, a nit comb, one of my old hairbrushes and not one will he tolerate. Being a fairly tolerant boy he allows you two strokes of whatever device you have and then sinks his teeth into your wrist. I'd struggle to say he is biting to do damage as he is not that ill tempered instead it is more a warning delivered with his teeth.

So one night I decided enough was enough and I was going to finally take a hard line on the grooming. Normally Magic wont let him near her but as she goes semi-delirious when being groomed I reckoned she might not notice him watchng her as she lolled about the bath. This would then, I hoped, persuade him that it was a good thing as normally he copies all her behaviours and I've not had to teach him much because he just follows her. I use the bath because it is easier to clean but I've tried Red in other locations and he still wont play ball so I reckoned it might as well be the bath ths time.

Anyway they say a picture is worth a thousand words and these definitely tell the tale. Magic loved it and couldnt get enough. In fact there is nearly enough fur combed off to make a clone of her. I only got a few swipes at Red when it was his turn before I decided his teeth sinking was sorer than I could cope with. Or to put it another way, I decided to see it from Red's point of view - that it was not worth continuing with as neither of us was enjoying it. So all I got off of him was the equivalent of a little ginger moustache. I also dont have a pic of Red actually in the bath as he didn't hang about.

Cat burglar

One morning I went into the other room to get Red and Magic back into their room before I went out. Red was acting very strangely, yep more so than normal! He wouldnt get down and he was lying all splayed out and resisted being lifted off, which was very odd. However, when I lifted him, all was revealed. He had found a bag of Whiskas I'd forgotten about and had obviously been supplementing his diet. Again, like the shredded net curtain incidents, I didnt actually witness him do it but I'd say the circumstantial case was pretty strong.

Dont knock the boy, he is really very handsome

Lots of the preceeding photos show Red doing something daft so this little selection is to redress the balance and show his handsome sweet side. He is shaping up into a very kind and chilled out cat.

We might need a midwife here

I am not sure whether these pictures show a congenital abnormality or the need for a midwife.
We used to joke that Red's daddy was a hare because of his huge back legs so I guess this might prove it as he appears to be giving birth to a bunny. However, the only problem is he is male!

Either way I am struggling to make head or tail or it...!

Let me take care of the paperwork

As any cat owner knows all activities must be supervised and approved by the alpha residents. This means you just get used to retrieving essential paperwork or typing with a cat under your arm. My two are no exception.

When your make-up just isnt working

While I was checking out the contents of the parcel which arrived with my nice new make up I looked up and realised Red had stuffed his head in the delivery bag. Plastic bags come with warnings not to leave small children or pets unattended with a plastic bag because it is dangerous. Red managed to do this within arms reach of me. Unfortunately, he loves plastic especially crunchy bags which he loves sinking his teeth into. As this kind of dumb behaviour is not unusual for him I took a couple of quick snaps before whipping the bag off of his head. This is why the pics are a bit fuzzy. However, even with the poor quality cameramanship you can still see the look of total disgust from Magic. If cats could roll their eyes she'd have been doing it.

The boy with the angora shovels

The boy has huge feet. If he were human he'd have cost me a fortune in outgrown shoes. They are sincerely long and as soft as the best quality angora. He is tremendously gentle in how he uses his paws and barely, if ever, scratches because he is so careful. However he is not past using them to their best effect to get in or out of things.

These are a couple of shots which show the size of them. The first one shows the length from his wrist, which he is licking, to the finger tips. Unsurprisingly he is very good at not just playing fetch when you toss a toy for him but is actually scarily good at catching the toy in a single paw. If he gets any better I might just audition him for the Cravendale milk advert as one of the cats with opposable thumbs.

Save yourself, the woman's having a clear out

I am not known for being the tidiest person in the world but during a clear up when stuff was being piled up in that corner Red decided the safest place might actually be the bin. Why is anyone's guess but he survived the clear out and all the other stuff surrounding him made it to its rightful place...for a day or two at least

Who's your pal...?

Red cuddled up to a Highland cow hot water bottle cover. I suppose it is right what they say- two heads are always better than one.

Time to update

It has been a very long time since I updated the 'Tails of the cats' and I intend to rectify this. I finally also downloaded the pictures from my phone so have lots of pictures of the two cats which I think are worth keeping in this online memory store. I didnt think it had been that long since I downloaded the photos but some are from the Christmas lights going on in the Trafford Centre last year so the evidence rather points to it having been a while...!

I hope you enjoy sharing in the cats year.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Mummy's little prawn

Sometimes it is a hard life being a cat, and then again sometimes it isnt...!

To absent friends

I wanted to write a little memorial to a cat who has recently died but in doing so I need also to mention the rest of his fur family. This fur family belonged to Serena, a friend of mine whom I've know for almost all my adult life. Serena is not her real name but it does describe her as a person and as a very calm, capable mother of two. Or at least she was until her daughter Serenity was born. Serenity is not her daugher's real name either but is a good pseudonym for the child with a name signifying calmness and gentleness who is a holy wrecking ball of a child who certainly knows her own mind and woe betide anyone who disagrees. I've only ever seen Serenity's charming side but know there is more to her. Serena once famously wailed that she thought with her first child she was a good mother but didnt realise till Serenity came along that actually she was a good mother only because her first child was a good baby! She underestimates herself hugely as she is a brilliant Mum but it is occasionally funny when she and her equally stubborn daughter lock horns with both determined not to blink first!

Anyway to the furry ones. Barney was a Birman and quite the most beautiful cat you could come across. He was a perfect pedigree and didn't he know it! His only flaw was that he had the eyes and temperament of a serial killer which was such a pity as he was utterly stunning cat who I'd have loved to cuddle. He was gracious enough to allow you one chance to stroke him before the second resulted in the 'death stare' which clearly communicated that if you kept annoying him when he was big enough he'd hunt you down and kill you...! I was shocked the first time Barney gave me the 'look' and Serena just laughed as he sometimes did this to the family too. Even as a kitten he was like this but it was thought that once he was neutered he'd 'calm down'. Nope, no chance, this was his default setting. He was more loving with Serena and her family but there were still boundaries. Unfortunately, just a few weeks ago he passed away at a very grand age and was the last cat the family had.

All of Serena's fur family have outlived their normal lifespan, probably due to the very good care they received during their life. The first was Magical who was a lovely timid little boy who was devoted to Serena. He had FIV but was a delicate, friendly loving little cat who was happy to nestle in my arms but each time Serena left the room his eyes never left the door and he listened for her every move. He died early but was very well loved and cared for by Serena and the vet and probably exceeded his lifespan under any other circumstances.

The next was Magical's sister, Tiny, a feisty jet black female who knew no fear. She was an elegant, no nonsense cat who took no messing from the boy cats Magical and Pudge but she wasnt above collaborating with them to get what she wanted. I watched one night as the three of them worked away to get a box of crunchies out of a cupboard with her directing, Magical casting fearful glances at Serena to make sure it was ok and Pudge taking the brute force option. She too lived a long and very pampered life.

Pudge was a huge black and white boy for whom the words gentle giant were coined. Just like pedigrees have breed standards so Pudge is my benchmark for a great cat. I have the utmost fondness for him and his sweet, gentle nature and I see a lot of his style in how Red behaves which delights me. Sadly on one occasion this was his undoing as he was badly battered, most likely by a vicious and violent neighbour who'd also assaulted Serena's partner. Pudge bore his injuries and treatment with absolute dignity and never lost his inherent trust in the kindness of humans. His only flaw, if it can be called that, was the nuclear strength smell of his poop. One night Serena and I were in her kitchen making dinner and chatting easily when one of the cats went into the hooded litter box. When she realised it was Pudge she started yelling grab your stuff, get out and throwing plates and food at me. I was quite taken aback and didnt quite grasp the gravity of the situation but once the smell exploded from the litter box I started scrambling for the lifeboats too! Pudge was in his 20's when he died and is sorely missed.

Back again with more tales of the monsters

Once gain I've fallen into the blogging void. Lots of things have happened and as a non-essential recreation the blog falls off the priority list. So, slowly no doubt, I will try to recall some of the cat related trivia which has happened and jot it down for posterity and a giggle of reminiscence. I'm glad I started this blog because when I re-read some of the postings it was nice to spend some time down the cats' memory lane and remember the other memories they evoke which are written only in my head.

So what's new? Red is slowly getting bigger which is unsurprising as he is still a one man food processing factory. I still hope he will keep growning as he suits his gentle giant-ness and apparently some of the longhaired cats dont reach full size till 3yrs old. The vet might be right after all about him being a 'biggie'.

He has had his first real winter coat as last year he was too tiny and only had 'bum fluff'. He's also been having furballs which I'll add in a category all of its own later and has recently had two very little mats that needed cut off from the side of his neck. He refuses any attempt at coat grooming...little wonder I suppose after my impromptu coat styling last year! Furminator, rubber mitt, Zoom Groom, hairbrush, comb - no chance! I've even tried doing it while he is sleepy and warm to no avail. I give him till May to change his mind or it is the Billy Connolly 'pet bag' or an allover crew cut is on the cards.

Recently, I was reading a description of Turkish Van cats and I've always thought he does have some similarity to either them or the Norwegian forest cat. I also found out hairy paws are quite common in these breeds too. So in the absence of any DNA testing I've decided he is probably predominantly a Norwegian as unlike the Van cats he is only moderately fond of water and the Norwegian Forest Cat name is often shortened to 'wegie'. So now it all fits, he is clearly a Weegie given his dislike of water and general grooming. This would delight an ex-colleague of mine (I didnt kill him, he just moved jobs) who used to taunt me for being a 'soap dodger' because of living in the west of the country.

Magic is doing just ok. She is still the very lovely intense little cat who is now the smallest in the house but her dodgy knees are becoming problematic. She is still on her palatable tablet but you can see when she walks more often than not the leg bends outwards as it is unstable. She seems pain free but the vet commented that she is obviously taking the weight on her front paws as she is "bullet shaped". Indeed she is bulkier at the front which makes the poor skinny little cocktail stick back legs even more obvious.

None of this stops her doing anything she fancies. Just last night, at 5am I might add, she was on top of the storage box on top of the wardrobe playing with a bell before chucking it over the edge and debating whether she could jump down and follow it. My snarled "dont even THINK about it" seemed to decide the issue. Coming down usually involves jumping off the box onto the wardrobe, then onto the tv and then the chest of drawers which is still about a metre or so high. From there is it onto the bed and then the floor. However, when coming down she decided just to leap straight off the chest of drawers, either in defiance or because Red was blocking the end of the bed. This suggests for a cat who sounds like they should have an emergency ortho consultation she isnt doing too badly. Some time ago the vet told me she wouldnt be able to climb because of the arthritis and instability in her legs - hmmm!

So all in all they are surviving ok.