Tag Archives: cats

SPCA Tampa Bay Facebook Photo Contest!

Is your pet the Best-Dressed pup in town?

 

Have you and your pet fallen prey to that bizarre phenomenon of looking alike? Do you have the absolute best-dressed animal around? SPCA Tampa Bay wants to see some proof of that for a good cause!  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m the Social Media consultant for the shelter, and starting next week, we’re launching our first of two Facebook photo contests to promote the 3K Pet Walk event coming up on October 16th. 

Pets on parade at 3K Pet Walk

 

If you’ve never taken part in 3K Pet Walk, I highly recommend it and not just because I work with the great people at SPCA Tampa Bay.  This year features a beautiful 3K course through North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg. The beauty of this walk is that it really has no rules; you can bring your four-legged friend to walk with you, you can walk with just your human friends, you can walk  in honor of your cats, rats, snakes or birds, whatever you want. As long as you walk and raise money for the animals in desperate need of medical care in our community, we’re happy! (Sign up to walk here if you haven’t done so yet.) 

'Hotdog' anyone??

 

Among the many cool activities that people look forward to every year at 3K Pet Walk are the Best-Dressed Pet and Pet Look-a-like contests. Pet owners go all out and prepare weeks in advance to take part in these contests and as a former judge, let me tell you, the competition is fierce. I’ve seen wiener dogs (and Collies as seen in the pic to the left,) dressed up as, well, wieners with matching mustard and ketchup to boot. I’ve seen cowboy Weimaraners and princess Poodles and ladybug Pugs with wings.     

'Um, what are you?'

 

In a particular stroke of genius, I’ve seen a mohawked owner and his similarly tressed Chinese Crested draw huge applause with matching blue hairstyles in the Look-a-like competition. The point? I know many of you have some highly creative and hilarious pictures from past contests, Halloweens, etc…that you’re just dying to show off!   

You’ll get your chance to do that starting on Tuesday, September 7th. That’s when we’ll launch the Pet Look-a-like photo contest on SPCA Tampa Bay’s facebook page.  Whether you and your pet are dead ringers for each other or you’re sporting coordinated outfits, we want to see your pics. The look-a-like contest will run from the 7th until Tuesday, September 14th, then all the entries will be judged by the 3K Pet Walk Volunteer Recruitment Committee and a winner will be announced. The winning picture will serve as SPCA Tampa Bay’s facebook profile picture for a month and the winner will also receive a gift card.      

My animals aressed in a Chrismtas theme, with Louie as Santa...

 

Our second photo contest, the Best Dressed competition, will start on Monday, September 20th and run through Monday, September 27th   

...and Maho as Rudolph!

 

 Entries can include pets in any kind of costume or their finest clothing.  The same prizes will be awarded to the winner and the winning photo.  There are no limits on how many entries you can submit to either contest so start picking through those old photo albums or digging through all your digital pics to find that perfect, winning photo! To submit them, visit SPCA Tampa Bay’s facebook page and post your pictures on our page’s wall. I can’t wait to see them!    

   

   

   

 

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Missing ‘the Kids’

Giving kisses to my oldest 'kid' Rhett

Let me say right up front that I don’t have any children and I don’t presume to know just how rewarding, amazing and challenging raising a child must be.  What I do know is that my five animals are like kids to me and the love I feel for them is pretty overwhelming itself.  And when it comes to having to leave them for an extended amount of time, I turn into a neurotic, annoying, mess.

Grandma (our babysitter) with one of her kitties, Isabella

My husband and I just got back from our annual summer vacation in the islands and as usual, it was amazing. What wasn’t amazing was the realization about six weeks before we left that our usual babysitter would be out-of-town the same week as us.  Our babysitter is my mom, or ‘grandma’ as she’s known to the animals. (Well, mostly the dog, who freaks out with joy when she hears that word. The cats, as they’re wont to do, tend to not react at all.)  Anyway, grandma only lives 10 minutes away and when we’re gone, Maho the dog gets to go live with her for a week and the cats get a visit from her every day.  Even though we miss them like crazy, it takes a lot of worry off our minds knowing that our babies are in such good hands when we’re gone.

Cut to six weeks ago when I told my mom the week we’d chosen to go on vacation and her dropping the bomb that she had scheduled a vacation that same week.  Both of us had already paid for plane tickets and such so there was nothing we could do.  Immediately, I started stressing.  I know there are many great kennels and ‘animal spas’ out there nowadays but A.) None of my animals have ever stayed in one before and B.) many of my cats are have special needs, including a formerly feral one who would have to be tranquilized just to get him out of the house.  So we scratched a kennel off the list right away.

Maho looks chill but she's high maintenance

Many of our cats, like Sweetie, have special needs

That left finding someone else to take Maho in and come check on the cats throughout the week.  I have a lot of friends who are big animal lovers so you’d think that would have been a pretty easy task. But my husband and I approached picking that person out like we were choosing a god parent or something.  The checklist was almost comically long: Had they met Maho already and did she like them? Did they have a secure, fenced backyard so Maho couldn’t get out? Did they not have any other dogs in their house since Maho is kind of a big scaredy-dog when it comes to other canines? Did they live close by so they could check on the cats often? Had they met Rhett and understand that even though he’s blind now, he may still attack them?   Did they know about all our cats’ various medical issues and could they handle them?  Did they mind having to clean out four, yes, four litter boxes? (Wow, reading that back over I realize what a high maintenance crew of animals we have.)

Even in these amazing surroundings I couldn't stop thinking about the animals

Anyway, after spending a whole evening offering up names of our various friends, then running them through our checklist, my husband and I finally agreed on the same person, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve read about this cool chick before.  She’s my friend from my old TV station that spent a night climbing fences, ripping her shirt, then getting her hand ripped up as we tried to catch Sweetie (the feral cat) when he showed up badly injured.  Thankfully, she was more than happy to take on the big job of babysitter and we took off for vacation with our minds thoroughly eased.

Louie looks as sad as I feel when I'm away from my animals

Now, that’s not to say we didn’t spend stupid amounts of time wondering how they were doing, talking about how much we missed them, postulating what they were doing at that exact moment, etc…  I even called and texted my friend almost every day just to ‘check in’, (I’m sure she loved that,)  and to say hi to Maho. And the moment we got on the plane to come home, all I could think about was opening that door and seeing the cats come running and hearing Maho’s shrieks of joy. If that’s how I feel about my animals, I can’t imagine what it must be like for all you real parents out there. How do you ever even leave the house?? 🙂

I’d love to hear about your animal love on the Adopt-a-human Facebook page.  It’s dedicated to spreading the word about getting shelter cats adopted into good homes and the more people who participate, the more animals’ lives that we’ll save. Thank you!

Nighttime Shenanigans

They look peaceful on the bed, but they raise heck at night!

Anyone who has more than one animal in their house knows the scene I’m about to describe all too well. You’re sound asleep, deep in a delicious dream about your latest movie star obsession (who, of course, is in love with you and juuuust about ready to kiss you,) when suddenly you’re rudely snatched out of your sweet slumber by the punch of a paw in your face or the sound of hissing, screeching, or barking.  I call it nighttime shenanigans and it happens at my house ALL the time.

The most common cacophony that erupts in our household at night is courtesy of our four cats.  Even with two stories and four bedrooms to roam through, inevitably they all want to settle on the bed with me and my husband and that leads to a turf war.  Quiet hissing turns to slapping, then tussling and next thing you know, two or more of them are involved in a high-speed chase through the house.  And even though they’re small creatures, let me tell you, it sounds like a herd of horses is galloping through the halls.  That will wake you up in a hurry.

High speed cat chase through the halls!

Another nighttime nuisance is the Lucy Jane yowl. I’ve mentioned before how she’s capable of bringing down walls with her wailing since she’s deaf and isn’t aware of how ear-splitting her cry is. Well, she saves her best (or should I say worst,) for the witching hours.  We still haven’t figured out what she’s trying to tell us with her yowling. It’s just apparently random and really, really loud. And it will wake you up, I don’t care how deep of a sleeper you are.  I’m actually considering researching cat ambien on the internet black market. That’s not cat abuse, is it??

Ally says 'feed me now, Dad!!'

Our dear Ally, who recently passed away, also took part in the shenanigans, though thankfully, she only targeted my  husband, Nick.  Ally was a very early riser and immediately wanted to be fed when she got up at the crack of dawn.  Since she was originally Nick’s cat, she determined that he was the one who needed to wake up RIGHT NOW to do the feeding.  How she achieved that was a thing of beauty, let me tell you.  I called it the ‘swan dive.’  She would get as close to one side of his head as she could, then leap in a perfect dive over his face and land on the other side. Then almost immediately, she would do it again. And again. And again.  As his pillow got jostled all around by Ally’s diving, Nick would start wildly waving his hand around his head as if shooing away a cloud of mosquitoes, but Ally would not be deterred.  The swan diving would continue until Nick finally succumbed. Which he eventually always did.

DON'T close a door on Rhett

And what would one of my blogs be without a story about our oldest cat Rhett?  His favorite nighttime game to play is ‘knock knock.’  Rhett hates being locked out of any room.  It’s like a personal affront to him to have a door closed in his face.  So, if we close the bedroom door at night, Rhett will make sure we hear about it.  Somehow he knows when we’ve fallen asleep, then he starts the knocking. He gets up on his hind legs and starts banging on the door with his front paws. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. relentlessly, until one of us finally gets out of bed and flings open the door. And here’s the kicker. He’ll look at us, then not even come in and walk away.  That will teach us to close the door, huh?

So what goes on in your house at night? Please tell us your animal stories on Adopt-a-human’s facebook page and you’ll get a cool toy from the SPCA Tampa Bay Pet Boutique. Plus, by taking part, you’ll help spread the word of the Adopt-a-human campaign which promotes the joys of adopting shelter cats and helps save their lives.  Thank you!

Scavenger Hunt!

I’ve had the pleasure of writing these animal blogs for about two months now and I hope *you’ve* found some pleasure, (and many laughs) while reading them.   But whether you’re well versed in my animals and their antics at my house or this is the first time you’ve read this blog, everyone can take part in my monthly blog Scavenger Hunt!  

Win a cool prize from our Pet Boutique by taking part in the Scavenger Hunt!

 

SPCA Tampa Bay and Adopt-a-human are offering up a great prize from our Pet Boutique to the person who posts all the correct answers on the Adopt-a-human facebook page, in the quickest amount of time.  I’m going to post ten questions at the end of each month and you can find the answers by going back through my four blogs that month.  Since this is the first one, you’ll have to do a little extra digging through my first nine blogs, but hopefully you’ll have a lot of fun during the digging process! 

So here goes: 

1.  What was the name  of my Persian when I was growing up? (Here’s a hint: he could throw up on demand on my mom’s favorite rug.) 

Lucy Jane covers her eyes to keep the light out, but she's not blind. What is her disability?

 

2. What disability does Lucy Jane have? 

3. What two cat tricks did Rhett do when he was a kitten? (And then promptly stopped doing when he grew up?) 

Louie and Ally hanging out with Sweetie hiding in the background.

 

4. Who did I name Ally after? Even though I find it totally embarrassing. 🙂 

5. What items do I HAVE to bring downstairs whenever someone cat-sits for me to ensure that Rhett doesn’t attack? 

6. Name two of the bizarre nicknames I’ve bestowed upon Louie.  

7. Where did I find Sweetie? 

The cats chowing down.

 

8. What do my cats do when they’re eating that drives me CRAZY??? 

9.  Who gave me Rhett and why? 

What is this sweet doggy's name?

 

10. This will determine if you’ve really been paying attention: What is my dog’s name? 

Good luck to all of you and I can’t wait to see your answers on Adopt-a-human’s facebook page.  Don’t forget, there’s a cool prize at stake here!

Cat ‘Tales’

rhett

Rhett, with his 'I dare ya' look.

 

As you can probably tell by now, I love writing about the crazy animal circus that is my home.  But I know I’m not the only one with hilarious and cute cat ‘tales’ to tell.  To  promote June’s Adopt a Shelter Cat campaign, we’re offering a prize drawing for everyone who reads this blog on Adopt-a-human’s facebook page and then leaves a story of their own about their kitties.  You can submit them directly to the facebook page or just leave them in the comments section, then we’ll pick a winning name at the end of June and give you a fantastic prize for you and your felines.   Now, how’s that for a deal?? Prizes for doing what all us animal lovers like to do in the first place: Brag about out critters!  

maho

Maho's bark is bad, but Rhett's bite is worse!

 

Today I’m going to brag about my attack cat Rhett.  Yes, you read right.  We may have a big ol’ Chow/Malamute mix dog that guards our house, but before she came along, we relied on Rhett to keep the riff-raff away.  I’ve filled you in on Rhett’s, shall we say, unique personality in previous blogs, but this story takes the cake.  Or the cat food. Whatever.  

My husband and I both come from a media background and it’s not always easy to get those jobs in the same market.  We spent five and a half years in a long distance relationship and even got married while he lived here in Tampa and I lived in Flint, Michigan.  

Rhett, looking dashing and annoyed in his 'tux.'

 

Anyway, we got married in Clearwater, so even though Rhett had his tuxedo already on him, I had to leave him behind for a week.  My matron of honor worked with me in Flint but was flying back right after the wedding so she volunteered to check in on Rhett while I was honeymooning. Since he’d already met her and not scratched her face off, I agreed.  

Cut to day two of our honeymoon and I get a frantic call from her.  My first reaction was panic that something had happened to Rhett, my ‘only child’ at that point.  Turns out, I should have been worried about my friend’s well being.   

rhett

Rhett likes to guard our bed...

 

In Flint, I rented this beautiful two story condo with two bedrooms and an office upstairs.  Also upstairs?  Rhett’s food, water and litter box.   I listened with growing concern, and a tad bit of silent laughter I must admit, as my friend explained the dire circumstances she was currently facing at my house.   She had made it inside alright, with a minimum of hissing and paw boxing from Rhett, but then things turned ugly.  

As she tried to go upstairs to check on his food/water situation, Rhett apparently turned into the tasmanian devil, speeding past her up the stairs, and standing at the top with his hair puffed up to twice his size and maniacal yellow eyes glaring. (I think that last detail she added was a bit stress-induced, but hey, she was freaking out. That practically demands exaggeration.)   She told me she tried to approach him slowly with reassuring whispers but as she got almost to the top step, BOOM, Rhett attacked!  

rhett

...and the upstairs, even from other cats!

 

Now, thankfully his front paws are declawed or I may have had to pay for a new pair of jeans, and some pricey medical bills.  But he still managed to fight her back downstairs, boxing furiously at her legs and feet and even trying to bite them.   I was really shocked by this behavior, since he’d met her many times before without resorting to extreme violence.  Then it dawned on me that she’d never been upstairs before and certainly not when I wasn’t home.  Rhett was being the man of the house, protecting my second floor lair.  

Feeling very proud of him but also understanding of my friend’s perilous plight, I talked her into running the gauntlet again with the promise that she could forget the litter box and just  grab his dishes, then dash back downstairs.  I stayed on the phone with her as moral support and though there were a few screams from both parties, she completed her journey unscathed.  

rhett

Rhett even likes to guard the upstairs on the cat hotel.

 

I give her mad props for ever coming back to that house, but she did, and everything was fine after that.  As long as she stayed downstairs Rhett kept his complaining down to a few suspicious growls.  And my husband and I learned an important lesson for future cat caregivers of ours: keep the bowls and litter boxes downstairs.  (Though I will admit I did forget once to bring the litter box down and another friend faced a Rhett-rage.  Sorry Doug!! You’re the best!)       

Do any of you have a cat attack story to tell or any other cute tales?  Please share them with your fellow animal lovers on the A-A-H facebook page throughout the month of June.  Can’t wait to read them!  Also, make sure you become a face of our SPCA Tampa Bay facebook page so we can spread the word about all our awesome adoptable animals there.

Hug-your-Cat Day Winners!

Wow!  I’m well aware of what a crazy cat lady I am.  But I had no clue how many others are out there!  And crazy cat dudes too.  Hee.  Now, I’m just kidding when I call you crazy, but I’m totally sincere when I say I was so overwhelmed at how many awesome cat owners took part in our Hug-your-Cat day photo contest on our Adopt-a-human facebook page.  We had more than 60 submissions, all of them totally hilarious, outrageously cute or super sweet.  

And our cat owners’ friends came through in a big way, to vote and ‘like’ their favorites to get them to the top ten for final judging and the big prize.  In fact, we had more than 1000 hits in just four days as people got a good laugh and kick out of the funny felines you all submitted to our contest.  Our big thanks to Holley Sinn and Jerome Ritchey at Studio 10 who had the seriously tough job of picking the top three pictures and the ultimate winner.  (So send your cat hate mail to them. ha!)  Without further ado, here are the top three winners: 

beckett

Beckett in bed

 

One of my personal faves came in at #3 and falls in the totally hilarious category.  Beckett apparently needs a bit of a bigger bed because his current one is having a tough time containing his bulk.  At 27 pounds, Beckett is giving his mom, Kaaren Kane Page the evil eye in this pic, as if to say, ‘Really??? This is a bed for those anorexic size 0 cats! Not a big boned beauty like me.  Get with the program woman!”   At the very least Beckett, your mom won you a basket full of goodies from the SPCA Tampa Bay boutique and yes, we’ll make sure there are plenty of food goodies in there. Feel better? 

pirate

Pirate and Teddy

 

Coming in at second place, and at a very young age for such a big honor, Pirate the kitten!  Oh, and we must give props to Pirate’s teddy bear as well, since he sorta makes the pic, no?  We’re told by Pirate’s foster mom and the very skilled photographer of this shoot, Stephanie Monti, that Pirate wuv’ed his teddy so much and hated to be separated from him.  You can see the love in those amazing big blue eyes of his can’t you?  I’d say this totally falls into the outrageously cute category and it also won Stephanie and Pirate a cat basket of goodies. 

mama cat

mama cat and baby

 

And finally, (drumroll please) we have our winning photo, ‘Mama cat and baby.’  I can hear the oooohs and awwwwws already.  There’s just something so super sweet about the love in a mama cat’s eyes for their baby kittens.  And that kitty is soooooo tiny!  Rich Marker is the proud winner of this picture and this mama cat, and if he’s anything like me, (super softie) he’s also still the owner of that kitten.  

You’ll get to meet Rich and mama cat next Wednesday on Studio 10.  As part of top prize pack, Rich gets to show off his picture and his cat with me and Holley and Jerome, plus receive a SUPER size cat goodie basket from our SPCA Tampa Bay boutique.  Congratulations to Rich and to all our winners!  And thanks to everyone for taking part.  If you’d like to see all the pictures head to our Adopt-a-human Facebook page. The more people who become fans of Adopt-a-human and SPCA Tampa Bay, interact with us and spread our message, the more shelters cats that are adopted and saved.  You CAN make a difference.

Happy Hug-your-Cat Day!

isabella

Have a super cute cat pic like this one? Enter it in our Hug-your-cat Day photo contest!

 

 It’s a holiday weekend, time to celebrate!  No, I’m not talking about Memorial Day.  This is much bigger.  And slightly more dangerous.  For all you feline neophytes, today is Hug-your-cat Day and the folks at SPCA Tampa Bay want to see who you’re hugging.  As part of their Adopt-a-human campaign promoting shelter cat adoptions, they’re holding a Cutest Cat Photo contest.       

 Think your kitty is the coolest thing in town?  Head over to Adopt-a-human’s Facebook page and submit your cutest/silliest cat pictures and be sure to spread the word to all your friends.  The top 10 photos that receive the most positive comments and likes on their photo status will then be forwarded to our judges: WTSP Studio 10’s hosts, Holley Sinn and Jerome Ritchey.        

 They’ll announce the top three photo winners on Studio 10 on June 2nd between 10am-11am.  And get this: the top winner and their photogenic feline will go live on Studio 10 with me, Holley and Jerome on June 9th to showcase your winning photo.  You’ll also get a special Cat Basket from the SPCA Tampa Bay Boutique filled with cat toys and accessories.   So start digging up those adorable cat pics.  (But, of course, finish reading my blog first!)          

louie

Louie likes a good cuddle, even from a box!

 

 Now, it’s only fair that I show you who I’m hugging today. I’ll be giving out four big embraces with varying degrees of success. Cat owners know, it’s not always the easiest thing to do to wrap your kitty in a big hug. Dogs? Sure. Most of them would accept a hug from anyone, even the mailman. Cats? Not so much, depending on the cat’s personality, mood and motivation. The easiest one by far for me, will be Louie.    

 If given a choice, I think Louie would opt for a lifetime-long hug. In fact, many times, I have to pry him off me, foot by fluffy foot, just to get things done. My mother-in-law calls him ‘Louie the Lump’ and for good reason. As soon as he senses me sitting down somewhere, he’s there like a flash, (those short little legs are deceptively fast,) climbing up into my lap and stubbornly settling in for the long haul. It’s very cute and sweet. For about the first three hours. Then, even this crazy cat lady has had enough.      

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Sweetie.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredibly affectionate and quick to hand out a lick and a purr.  That is, when he’s on the ground.  Once he’s airborne, he turns into a wriggling, windmilling, wailing mess.   Since he spent his first few years living the feral life, he never got used to someone picking him up and no matter how much headway I make with him in the trust department, being held remains firmly on his no-no list.  I guess he’ll just have to do with a mental hug instead.  It saves him a lot of stress and me, a lot of scratches.     

rhett

Rhett has mellowed with age.

 

  My oldest cat hasn’t ever been much of a hugger either, though Rhett’s hands-off rule stems more from macho cat-itude than fear.  When he was younger he’d suffer through a short cuddle, sighing loudly to make sure you knew just how darn annoyed he was at this terrible indignity.   But maybe Rhett has mellowed with age because now I can hold, kiss and cuddle on him and feel totally confident, (well, mostly,) that he’s not leveling a crazy cat-voodoo curse on me.   If I suddenly turn into a toad, I guess we’ll know I was wrong.     

lucy jane

Don't sneak up on Lucy Jane when she's sleeping unless you want a slap in the face!

 

 My last hug will be handed out to Lucy Jane, the little stray who is deaf.   Lucy has no problem with the hugging itself since she craves affection at an almost Louie-like level.  I just have to carefully consider how to deliver the hug.   If I ‘sneak’ up on her, she’ll be hanging from the ceiling before I can even get my arms around her.   

 I often forget about Lucy Jane’s disability and her aversion to surprises and end up scaring her to death by approaching her from behind or when she’s asleep.  Word to the wise if you ever visit my home: unless you want to incite a flurry of punching paws accompanied by ear-piercing yowls, make sure Lucy Jane sees you well before you touch her.  

You have until May 30th to submit the pictures of who *you’re* hugging to Adopt-a-human’s Facebook page.  We already have close to 50 submissions so be sure to get yours in on time and spread the word to your family and friends to vote for you.  Good luck!

The Name Game

maho

She's named after a beach so Maho loves to surf!

What’s in a name?  Well, when it comes to our pets, a lot. Most of us put a lot of thought and time into picking out just the right name for our animal. Unlike with our children, it’s our chance to let our creative freak flag fly without fear of them one day being traumatized by the playground bully. Name your child something weird or silly and they’ll be paying for it for years to come. Name your dog or cat something off the wall and their playmates couldn’t care less. (Now, put them in sweaters or bows, and that’s a different story.) But as much work as we put into picking those names, have you noticed that many of us promptly stop using them in favor of crazy nicknames or even downright gibberish? I’ll give you an example. Actually, I’ll give you six of them. 

rhett

He's as dashing and debonair as the real Rhett Butler, no?

 The first cat I ever owned as an adult is Rhett. If you’re a ‘Gone with the Wind’ fan you know where that moniker came from. I had just discovered the dangerous, dashing character of Rhett Butler thanks to a boyfriend addicted to old movies. I was completely swept away by the rocky romance of Rhett and Scarlett and couldn’t wait to bestow that name on my cat. (On a side note, I was so enamored of the movie that I also named my hamster Scarlett. Unfortunately she passed away many years ago, and no, it wasn’t at the hands of Rhett.) But as much as I love that name, I found myself calling him almost anything but Rhett. It started with ‘Boots,’ thanks to his little white feet. Somehow that degenerated into ‘Booter’, then, ‘Bud’, then ‘Budrow’ and finally into ‘Bubba lou.’ Try following that chain of thought.

That trend continued when we got our second cat, Ally. I’m not ashamed to admit we named her after the character Ally McBeal. (Come on, it was a huge hit and you KNOW that dancing baby was hilarious!) Anyway, since she was such a sweet girly cat, so dainty and petite, I almost immediately started calling her ‘Girls.’ Then I added princess to it, as in ‘Princess Girls.’ She was also known to respond to ‘Princess feet’ or ‘Girly cat.’ Yeah, I know, clever nicknames are not my forte.

louie

Louie, the Heavyweight Champion!

Now, those of you who know me from my time in television news may not believe this next one, but my third cat was named in honor of a boxing champion.  I know I don’t look like the typical boxing fan, but trust me, put me in a bar with 100 men watching two men duke it out and I’ll be the one screaming for blood the loudest.  Just about the time my favorite heavyweight, Lennox Lewis, was enjoying huge success, we got our Persian kitten and I decided to pay homage to the heavyweight great by naming the new kitty after him.   I thought Lewis was a tad formal for the kitten’s silly, smushed face, so I shortened it a bit and voila! We had Louie.   Over the years, Louie has turned into ‘Lou Lou’, ‘Lulu-belle’, Boo, Booie, Boozer and Booher.  I’m just assuming that’s how they’re spelled since, as far as I know, gibberish cat nicknames are not included in a dictionary.     

  Next came Sweetie, who I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t actually name.  One of my fellow crazy cat ladies at work named him that when she discovered him living in the woods behind the TV station.  Since he was used to it and would actually respond to it when we’d call him, the name stuck.   It turns out, it fits his sweet and loving personality perfectly.  Even so, it wasn’t long after I took him home that I started in with the nicknames.   ‘Sweets’ came first, then “Tweeter”, “Tweetie” and finally, just plain “Tweets.”  (I’m wondering if I can claim some naming rights money from Twitter since I came up with that, like, six years ago??)     

lucy

Lucy Jane with her ugly yellow cast.

By the time I found our soon to be fifth cat, injured in a CVS parking lot, I was running a little low on creative name juice.  But as I sat with her in our ‘cat rehab’ room while she recuperated from surgery on her foot, a light went off.  I should skip a step and give her a name that’s already a nickname. My dad, who passed away many years ago, always called me ‘Lucy Jane’ when I was growing up, so I figured I would pass along my childhood moniker in his honor.   Now, occasionally, I’ll call her ‘Lucy-cat’ or ‘Little girl’, but since her name means so much to me, I mostly stick to calling her Lucy Jane.  (Ironically, the ONE cat I call by their given name the most is the deaf one, and can’t even hear her name!)      

maho bay

Maho Bay, St. John, U.S.V.I.-our dog's namesake

As for our dog, I gave her naming honors to my husband, and I must say he did quite well.  He named her Maho, after our favorite little beach on the Caribbean island of St. John where we hope to retire someday.  Not that it really matters, since I started calling her crazy nicknames right off the bat.  Maho is, at various times, known by Mee-maw,  Meems, Mi-mi and Mims.  And like the good dog that she is, she responds to all of them.  Especially when there’s cheese involved.      

I know I’m not alone in my nickname-itis.   What silly, bizarre nicknames have you bestowed upon your animals?  I’d love to hear them and share them with our fans on SPCA Tampa Bay’s Adopt-a-human facebook page.  Head over to our facebook page and leave us your thoughts in the comments section under the blog.   And be sure to check back with my blog next week, when I’ll have details about how you and your animals can win some cool prizes and even a chance to strut your stuff on TV!

Feral feline adventures

          

sweetie

A very skinny Sweetie when I first brought him home.

Hey gang!  I hope all you pet mommies out there had a great Mother’s Day!  My four kitties and dog got me the sweetest card, though I’m pretty sure they had a little help from Dad when it came to signing it.              

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, the reason I’ve teamed my animal blog up with the Adopt-a-human campaign is to bring awareness to all the fantastic qualities cats possess and how they can enrich anyone’s life, from any walk of life.  The campaign also wants to educate people about the cat crisis happening at many shelters here and around the country.  The fact is, kittens, puppies and adult dogs are all easier to adopt out than adult cats.  One thing aggravating that fact is the feral cat population, something I have a good bit of knowledge about.  If you’ve stopped by this site before, you may recall that our third cat Sweetie, was a feral cat living behind my old TV station when I found him.  I mentioned in my first blog how it was pretty hard to tame him, but almost downright impossible to get him to our house and I promised to give you all the dishy details about that two week saga.  So, here goes:               
  

Our station was moving to a new building in June of 2004, and after spending the past three years patiently feeding and taming Sweetie, I decided there was no way I could just abandon him there.  But the week before I was planning to take him home, Sweetie threw a wrench into my plans in the form of a terrible fight with another cat.  He showed up late one night behind the station, limping in pain, his right paw crooked and very swollen.    

A very fat and contented Sweetie, with his mom

At that point, I thought he’d been hit by a car and I totally freaked out.  I knew I had to get him to a vet right away, even though it was about 11 at night.  I ran inside and found one of my fellow animal lovers and told her what was going on.  As luck would have it, she had a cat carrier and some blankets in her van, so we grabbed those and ran back outside.  Now, in the best of times, Sweetie was still very skittish and cautious, even with me, and now that he was hurt, he was on high alert.  He took one look at me and my friend armed with the carrier and blankets and quickly hopped off, squeezing through a small hole in a fence surrounding one side of the building.  The fence stretched about forty feet long, but was only fencing in about a five foot width of grass.  Sweetie was crouching about halfway between the two ends of the fence and watching us warily to see what we would do.  What we did was decide our only choice was to climb that eight foot high fence and try to trap him.       

A couple of our photographers were still inside the building at that time, and had one of them by chance walked out to catch the next ten minutes on video, they would have had the next You Tube sensation.   Picture this;  I’m still in my business suit, in a skirt, with about four inch stilettos on, and there I was, climbing shakily up that fence with a blanket clamped under one arm.  My friend was at the opposite end of the fence, climbing that side with a lot more ease than I was.  Or at least I thought she was until I heard this LOUD ripping sound, an ‘oh @#$@,’ then silence, then a faint ‘I’m okay!’   I heard her drop to the ground as I climbed carefully over the top of the fence, giving anyone who happened to be watching, quite the show I’m sure.  Finally, my stilettos hit the ground and we were ready to rock and roll.  Sweetie, however, was just ready to roll.     




Is this the face of a troublemaker??
He sat tensely and watched as my friend (in her now completely ripped and ruined shirt,) came at him from one side with the cat carrier, and I approached him from the other with the blanket.  We made it to about within three feet of him and I was just getting ready to throw the blanket over him, when he pulled a move that would make Walter Payton proud.  He faked to the left, then immediately darted right, running by me before I even really knew what had happened.  Fortunately, since he was  injured, Sweetie’s speed was not up to par and even in my heels, I was able to catch up to him as he awkwardly climbed the fence.

 I lunged at him as he crested the top of it, my hand just grazing his back legs, reaching, grasping for him, but it was too late.  He slipped through my fingers, jumped to the ground and I watched in shock as he took off into the neighborhood behind the station.   I navigated the fence again, no more gracefully than I did before, and spent the next 30 minutes calling his name and shaking his bag of food, but to no avail.              

 The next morning I called my vet and told him what happened, (he had the good grace not to laugh at my fence-climbing antics,) and he came up with a new plan for me.  He gave me some cat tranquilizers and told me to keep an eye out for Sweetie.  He said since it appeared I was Sweetie’s only source of cat food, he was sure Sweetie would eventually show up at the station again, even being hurt and likely traumatized from our ill-fated attack.  I kept the pills in my desk over the next two days, frequently running out back between anchoring the news to look for any sign of him, (and to any of my former managers reading this, yes, I’m well aware this was not how I was supposed to be spending ‘company time,’ but come on!)   I had just about given up, when late on the third day of his disappearance, my fence friend came running up to the anchor set, yelling ‘He’s here! Sweetie’s back!”  

sweetie louie

It took some doing, but Sweetie now chills with his siblings.

Of course he’d come back right when I was in the middle of the newscast and could NOT, under any circumstances, get up to go try to tranquilize a cat.  I told me friend where the pills were and begged her to put them in his food and have the cat carrier ready to go when he finally gave in to the sedatives.  She took off on her mission and for the next 30 minutes, I sat anxiously on the set, reading the news without really even comprehending it, worrying in my head that this wouldn’t work and he’d be lost forever.

Finally, the newscast done, I bolted to the back door of the station and opened it just in time to see my poor friend closing the cat carrier door on a snarling Sweetie, her arms scratched all to hell and bleeding.  Turns out, even with enough sedatives to fell a big dog in him, Sweetie’s feral fight instinct was strong enough to overcome them.  He was definitely woozy but still alert enough to put up quite the fight as my friend’s arms could attest.               

Now, this saga doesn’t end here, not by a long shot, but I’ll save that for another day.   Suffice to say, Sweetie made it through and made it home to my house, where he’s been living quite comfortably for the past six years, snoring loudly in our bed every night.  As for my fence friend?  I think I still owe you a drink for your troubles.  And probably a new shirt.               

 So what are your feline adventure stories?  All my fellow cat addicts at Adopt-a-human’s facebook page would love to hear about your funny, sweet, keystone cops-like dealings with your cats.  Write about your antics in the comments section under today’s blog.  Tell your friends too, since the more cat fans we have, the more cats we can spread the word and save cat’s lives!                   

  

     

                 

   

National Pet Week

Me and part of my brood-Maho, Rhett and Louie

Unconditional love is a beautiful thing.  I get big doses of it every day from my five animals and I never take the joy their love brings to me for granted.  I’m sure all you pet owners out there know exactly what I’m talking about, but since this is National Pet Week, I’d like you to take a special moment to really think about and appreciate the happiness your pets have brought to your life.  Ahhhhhh, that was nice, huh?

Now, that said, I admit having five animals running around the house can be a lot of work.  Consider the shedding issues alone, especially now that it’s springtime and they’re all losing their winter coats.  I can run the vacuum every day (and I have, like three different kinds of vacuums being the neat freak that I am,) and still I find hair.  It’s on the floor, on the couches and chairs, on the sheets, and don’t even get me started on our clothes.  I probably keep those tape roll people in business from just rolling hair off my black clothes alone. (Why do I still buy black? Why, oh why??)  Then, there are those tumbleweeds of hair that collect on the stairs and under the beds and seem to multiply faster than bunnies.  I don’t have enough arms, or vacuums, to keep up.  You’d think the daily brushing I give the animals would help, but even though I have enough hair left over to form a whole new cat after grooming just my Persian, there still seems to be plenty left over to drive me crazy.

Sweetie chowing down, making a mess

And what’s up with the sloppy eating habits?  I don’t own any pigs but I might as well.  Every single one of my cats and even the dog have a certain way of eating and apparently it’s designed to make sure as much of their food as possible will fall on the floor.  I’ve studied this people, and it’s just not right.  They’ll pick up a mouthful of food from the bowl, then STEP AWAY from the bowl to start chewing.  Meanwhile, half the kibble they picked up is now falling out of their mouths and scattering everywhere.  They’re literally ingesting only about a third of the food they put in their mouths.   Do I have a bunch of animals with eating disorders?  Did I accidentally call them fat one day and now they have a complex? Whatever the reason, I do know where you’ll find me after each feeding time: on all fours, paper towels and Clorox cleaner in hand, gathering up food bits and crumbs, only to then turn around and CRUNCH! Yep, another piece of food squashed underfoot.

Louie, Ally and Rhett at the 'trough'

Then, there are the lovely litter boxes to handle.  We have three boxes placed strategically around the house.  Two are upstairs and one downstairs so the cats can easily find them no matter where they may roam during the night.   But, either they’ve all taken a blood oath or there’s something magical about the box in the back bedroom, because it’s basically the only one they will use.  When I go to clean them each day, (and it’s always me, never my husband, go figure) two of the boxes are pristine and the other one is…well, you can imagine with four cats using it.  As clean as cats are, I can’t fathom why they all want to muck around in just one, stinky box.  I’ve tried luring them to the other ones, even going so far as to pick them up and put them in front of the boxes, saying loudly and slowly, ‘This. Is. A. Clean. Box. Use. It. For pete’s sake!’   But for some reason they still haven’t gotten the message.  I guess I should should just chuck the other ones and submit to their will, but call me an eternal optimist.  I live for the day when I find cat poop in another box. (Wow, that’s sad.)

So between the hair, the messy eating and the lone, dirty litter box, my animals keep me hard at work.  But would I have it any other way?  No way.  For every tumbleweed I capture and couch I vacuum, there’s a sweet kiss and a lick of my hand.  For every backache I incur from cleaning litter boxes, there’s a soft purr that lulls me to sleep.   For every time I clean up their crumbs, there’s the warm feeling of them snuggling in my arms.   It’s that unconditional love thing I was talking about.  You just can’t beat it, no matter the cost.

What would you like the world to know about your animal during this National Pet Week?  Leave us your thoughts and stories in the comment section of our Adopt-a-human Facebook page at http://bit.ly/adoptahumanfacebook .  And if you’d like to experience the amazing love that animals can bring to your life, please consider finding your new friend at SPCA Tampa Bay, http://bit.ly/spcatampabay.