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Rare Pairs

I heard one of the funniest stories about crazy animal pairings last week, right up there with that infamous elephant and dog story. (If you haven’t seen this, finish reading this blog first, of course, then grab a hanky and get ready to laugh and cry.)  The story I heard was also spawned by a rare pair such as that.      

Unusual BFF's-Simon and Cottontail

 

Every Wednesday, I take the SPCA Tampa Bay Pet/s of the Week on WQYK and WILD radio stations and on the Studio 10 daytime program to help get them adopted.  Last Wednesday I brought Cottontail the rabbit and Simon the guinea pig and their back story is seriously precious. This unusual pair was brought up together and are best friends. They live and travel in the same cage and in the first 15 minutes I spent with them I watched Simon burrow his tiny furry head into Cottontail’s side and fall asleep, THEN Cottontail used her teeth to pull a blanket over Simon like she was keeping him warm. I about died from the adorableness. (Is that even a word? If not, it totally should be.)   

So while the totally awesome twosome and I were hanging out in the radio station’s lobby, one of the employees approached me and when she heard about Cottontail and Simon’s rare friendship she told me she had an even crazier tale to tell.  She has an 8 month old Doberman puppy and his best friend is, (drumroll please)…a frog. How hilarious is that??        

Could this be your dog's next best friend??

 

 She told me it started a few months ago when she woke up to find her puppy had a new addition in his crate in the form of a sleeping frog. Thinking the  reptile had seriously wandered off course from her backyard, through the open sliding glass doors and through the crate’s bars, (and had gotten seriously lucky that he hadn’t become breakfast for the Doberman,) she shooed the little guy back into the yard and didn’t give it another thought.   

 That is, until the next morning when she discovered the same strange scene. This continued for a couple of weeks.  She’d put the frog outside each day but he’d unfailingly show back up each morning, either in the crate, in the dog’s food dish, and once, even on the landing of the staircase like he was headed up to their bedroom for a little snuggle. At first, she was just puzzled and a little amused, then she remembered hearing about some kind of toad that was poisonous to dogs, and she got pretty freaked out.   

 That’s when she got serious about the relocation process and had her husband take the frog several yards down to drop him off. Can you guess what happened next?  They then took the frog a whole block away, (do you know just how far that distance is for a frog??) but that persistent little bugger still found his way back somehow and was waiting next to his best friend to greet them the next day. At that point, she gave in. She did some research and determined the frog wasn’t the poisonous kind and considering the lengths he was willing to go to be with her puppy, she figured what was the harm? Sometimes there’s just no standing in the way of BFF’s.   

So cute! Sweetie grooms his buddy Louie

 

That story got me thinking about the various pairings-up of my animals. Unfortunately, none of my pets are BFF’s or really even FF’s. They basically just all tolerate each other, but occasionally I’m happily surprised to see two of them chumming around.  The cutest coupling is Louie and Sweetie.  Since he spent his first few years as a feral cat with very little interaction or affection, Sweetie takes forever to warm up to anyone, two-legged or four-legged. So the first time I  stumbled upon Sweetie purring contentedly while Louie licked and groomed his head, I freaked out and took about a hundred pictures. I took double that number when I discovered the tables had turned and Sweetie was the one doing the grooming on Louie. They don’t do it very often, and sometimes it devolves into a catfight, but it still thrills me every time I catch them cuddling up.   

Louie's cleaning fetish means he sleeps in the sink!

Louie must be a stickler for cleanliness because another pairing I’ll run across from time to time is Louie and our dog Maho.  When they’re not chasing each other for fun or struggling for the second in command position of power in the house, (Rhett being, of course, the long-running, undisputed head of the household,) Maho will suddenly decide that Louie’s crazy long hair needs to be tamed by her doggie tongue. Louie will lay there for a good minute, meowing sweetly while Maho laps at him like he’s a peanut butter bone.  But after that first minute, Louie’s tolerance takes a nosedive and his meows get increasingly more annoyed until they become more of a warning signal that he’s about to unleash his paws of fury.  Maho usually takes no notice at all and keeps right on licking until the inevitable happens and she takes an actual ‘lickin” from Louie.    

Rhett rarely pairs up with anyone...

 

...but he'd befriend Ally to take on a shared enemy.

 

And finally, even though Rhett rarely hangs out with any of his fellow animals, he would sometimes deign to pair up with his late sister Ally to take on a bigger enemy: The dog. None of the cats were thrilled when we brought Maho home as a 10 week old puppy, but as the two oldest and most set in their way of the bunch, Rhett and Ally were the most up in arms.  Sometimes it wasn’t enough for them to take her on one on one, so they’d gang up on her just to make sure she was well aware of their disdain.  It was quite comical to see Maho go flying by and a second later, Rhett and Ally running in tandem after her, hissing and howling and generally raising heck. 

  If you have any crazy animal couple tales to tell, we’d love to hear about them on the Adopt-a-human facebook page.  The page promotes the adoption of shelter cats and the more friends and interaction on the site, the more animals’ lives we can save!

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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.

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!

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!