Tag Archives: dogs

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!

Cat Olympics

kamona

Adoptable cats like Kamona will amaze you at the Cat Olympics!

The Winter Olympics may have come and gone, but fear not sports fans.  The most majestic of all games are upon us: the Cat Olympics!  Held at SPCA Tampa Bay this Saturday, June 19th, they showcase the finest feline athletes around as they do battle for the ultimate prize…a forever home. 

Watch in amazement as our top notch adoptable cats take on the Tunnel of Tuna, jump into the Leap of Faith, totter across the Cat Walk Tightrope and blaze their way through the Cat’s Meow Obstacle Course. All of that just to get the attention of a new mom or dad!  Plus, you’ll get a chance to show off your cat knowledge during our Cat Jeopardy challenge and win fabulous prizes. (I feel like Vanna White.)  Read more about this Saturday’s festivities here and we hope you join us!

Louie giving 'high ten'

Now, my cats may not be able to pull off a Cat Walk tightrope, but some of them do have some serious skills and tricks up their sleeves.  Louie the Lump, so named by my  Mother-in-Law, will shake off his lumpiness once in awhile and decide he wants to high five me.  This started not long after he grew out of kittenhood and could actually focus on one thing for more than 20 seconds. 

I was putting on my make up in the bathroom and as usual, Louie was keeping me company by lazily hanging out in the sink. But what was unusual this time, he actually got up, ambled over to me, sat up on his hind legs and started pawing at me with one furry foot.  He obviously just wanted some attention, (Louie the Persian wanting attention?? Color me shocked!) But it looked like he was high fiving me, so I said, “Louie, give me high five,’ and smacked his foot with my hand.  If a cat can look delighted by something, Louie certainly did.

But you have to trick Louie to high five outside the bathroom

It has since become a ‘thing’ I can get him to do on command.  I just have to put up my hand, snap my finger and say ‘High five, Louie!”  Nine times out of ten, he’s right there, smacking my hand, and as a bonus, sometimes I even get a high ten!   But here’s the rub.  He will only do this cat trick in the bathroom. I’ve tried in vain to get him to do it in any other room in the house, but he flat out refuses unless you ‘trick’ him by holding a cat toy up in the air.  So it’s not so much a parlor trick as a bathroom trick.  And that kind of takes the coolness factor out of it, no?

My oldest cat Rhett is also my smartest cat and it’s no surprise to me that he’s pulled off a cat trick or two in his long lifetime.  His need to show off showed up early on when he displayed the decidedly dog-like attributes of fetch and catch.  I was a young, pretty poor college kid (weren’t we all?) and using a balled up piece of paper to amuse my new kitten.  I tossed it and suddenly he reared up and snatched it right out of the air mid-toss.  I had grown up with all kinds of cats and had never seen anything like it before.  I spent the next 30 minutes throwing that ball, and Rhett never missed it once.  It was like having a puppy in a kitten’s body. 

Rhett used to do cat tricks to please me...now he pleases only himself.

The next time I went to play with Rhett, I discovered another of his talents.  I threw the paper ball, waiting for him to snatch it out of the air, but he just watched it sail by him.  I was disappointed, but only briefly.  Rhett waited for it to land, then briskly trotted to where it had landed, picked it up in his mouth, ran over to me, and deposited right at my feet, looking up at me expectantly.  I threw it again and Rhett repeated himself.  My baby had added fetch to his repertoire and I couldn’t have been more proud!  This fun, carefree period of cat tricks and pleasing mom lasted, oh, about six months and then Rhett determined he had to please NO ONE but himself and I’ve never seen him perform those tricks again.  But at least I know he’s capable. Sigh.

Lucy Jane waits until you're asleep, THEN screeches!

As for the rest of the cats I’ve had in my life, it’s a bit of a stretch to say they can do tricks.  Sweetie, my feral cat, has the ability to ‘disappear’ if he even senses someone other than me is about to enter our house.  Our deaf cat Lucy Jane does this just awesome trick where she knows exactly when we fall asleep and then lets loose with her insanely loud yowling.  And I had another Persian growing up named Alexander who could vomit on command, always on my mom’s favorite, very expensive Oriental rug, whenever he got mad.  Talented bunch, wouldn’t you say?

If you’ve got a cat with fierce capabilities, we want to hear about them. Leave your cat ‘tails’ on our Adopt-a-human Facebook page and you’ll be entered into a grand prize drawing at the end of June!  Remember, the more people who know about the Adopt-a-human campaign and take part, the more cat’s lives we can save. Thank you!

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.

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!

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.

I’m back!!

The 'crazy cat lady!'

I’m back!! For those of you who don’t know me from my 10 years at Bay News 9 in Tampa, Florida, welcome to the musings of a ‘crazy cat lady.’  Actually, my crazy extends to all animals, but somehow I ended up with a home full of stray, feral, medically unstable cats, so ‘crazy cat lady’ fits the bill best.   I recently got out of  TV news and now I’ve teamed up with the great folks at SPCA Tampa Bay as their new Social Media Consultant and one of my missions is to promote a wonderful initiative called Adopt-a-human.  The goal is simple: to let people know that cats are perfect companions for everyone, from college students and young families to lonely senior citizens.  Unfortunately, there are far more cats than dogs at SPCA Tampa Bay waiting for that forever home, but *you* can now help spread the word and find them those homes.  I’ll be writing a blog each week for the Adopt-a-human Facebook page about the five cats that have adopted me during my adult life and how much love, fun, and general merriment they bring to my life.  I’d like you all to join me!  Write *your* cat story  on the Facebook page and tell the world how being adopted by your cat has changed your life.  Or, if your cat insists, let them write the blog so they can brag about how much joy and happiness they brought into your heretofore sad, pathetic lives. (Their words, not mine!)  It can be be a long story or short one, cute or sentimental, we just want you to help us spread the cat love! Be sure to invite your cat family friends to join us as well and have them become a fan on Facebook at  http://bit.ly/adoptahumanfacebook and http://bit.ly/spcatampabayfacebook .

My own Rhett Butler

So, I’ll start this week with some background info on how I came to be adopted by each of my kitties.  I grew up in a very loving home where taking in strays was a common occurrence, so it was no surprise that I developed an incredibly strong stray-dar. (I totally made up that word and here’s my definition: someone who draws strays to them like metal to a magnet.)  My first homeless friend came to me in college, courtesy of a loser ex-boyfriend of mine who had showered me with, um, NOTHING, on my birthday.  He knew he was in the doghouse, so what better gift to get him out of it than a little tuxedo kitten he stumbled across while delivering pizza?  I gave that boyfriend the boot not long afterward but happily kept Rhett around.  He’s named after Rhett Butler from ‘Gone with the Wind’ and much like his namesake, my Rhett is dashing, debonair and a bit dangerous.

Ally-cat

Ally came into our lives next.  My husband, Nick and I were involved in a long-distance relationship and I thought a sweet little stray from a shelter would help keep him company between weekend flights to see each other.  Ally caught Nick’s eye immediately and though she wasn’t the sharpest knife in the bunch, she was clever enough to hide her neuroses long enough for us to fall in love with her and sign the adoption papers before she completely lost it in the car.  (That is a whole other story for another day.)   I’m incredibly sad to say that Ally recently passed away, but happy that she spent 15 wonderful years with us and left us with countless good memories to remember her by.

Pretty persian dreams

Our perfect little Persian, Louie,  joined the family a few years later thanks to the perfect storm of an incredibly bad day stuck in a news live truck for hours with only an old newspaper to banish the boredom.  Flipping through the pet ads, this smushed little face jumped out at me with the tag-line “Free Persians to a good home.”   A pleading phone call to the husband, a long drive to what I’ll charitably call ‘the country’, and an instant connection with a ball of fur with eyes that wouldn’t stop trying to climb my leg, that ‘good home’ was found.

He may have a mangled tail but Sweetie's gorgeous green eyes make up for it!

At that point, my husband drew a line in the sand saying  ‘NO MORE CATS.”  I sweetly agreed while surreptitiously feeding and taming a feral cat that was living behind the TV station.   Sweetie (named by a fellow crazy cat lady at work) had been dubbed the ‘dumpster cat’, since he was pretty bedraggled, scarred up from fighting and missing half his tail hair.   Of course, that just made me love him even more.   So when the station announced we were moving into a new building, I knew I had to take Sweetie with me.    Selling Nick on a feral cat with a mangled tail was pretty hard.  Even harder?  Getting Sweetie to the house.  I’ll spare you the details for now but I will tell you it involved tranquilizers, a ripped shirt and a big ol’ fence.

Lucy Jane says thank you for saving me!

At that point even I figured we were done, with four cats keeping us plenty busy.  But I should have known better.  My ‘stray-dar’ seemed to call to every maimed, mauled and malnourished cat around and it didn’t take long for me to attract Lucy Jane to our household.   It was a rainy, ugly night, just after midnight as I drove home from work.  I had planned to stop by our local CVS, but because of the nasty conditions, I figured I’d just go home.  But my cat fate stepped in as I started to drive by the entrance, and I found myself hydroplaning into the empty CVS parking lot.  Mind you there was not another car in that lot.  Yet somehow I pulled into the spot where a wet, dirty little cat was huddled and shaking, holding an obviously injured right paw up in the air.  Right then, I made a mental deal with myself:  if the cat would come to me and let me pick it up, I would take it home.   As if she had heard that bet, Lucy Jane practically launched herself into my arms, securing her place as the fifth cat in our posse.

With four cats running around, (and a dog chasing after them,) there is never a dull moment in our house.  I’m looking forward to sharing my cat stories with you each week here at Adopt-a-human and I’m looking forward to hearing all about the fun hi-jinks that the Bay Area’s cats get up to.   Also, if you know of a human looking to be adopted, please send them to www.spcatampabay.org, where many wonderful cats are just waiting to find that perfect match!