The Badass Polish Street Cats of Gdansk

Before I arrived in Gdansk, Poland, I still hadn’t seen a single cat on the street. There were lots of dogs, but not cats, but little did I know what a street cat population Gdansk had. The first one I saw during my first morning in Gdansk while exploring the Old Town and it looked wet and scared and a bit muddied. I hoped that it had a home to return to because it ran way when I tried to approach it.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I saw at least 8 other cats in the Old Town. And on my walk back from the Solidarity Center in the northern part of the city, I found a longer-haired version of Playbill. Needless to say, I was excited. I purchased cat treats at one of their local drug stores and gave them treats when they’d come near.

The little tabby cat (first photo) was the most adorable and very friendly. He was wearing a collar though so he was just hanging out on the Long Street (actual name!) before heading home. I gave him treats anyways. And on my last morning, I gave the rest of the treats to two cats who were hiding from the rain underneath a car (fourth photo). 

Apparently it’s not illegal to feed stray cats so you’d often see little empty cat food trays on the top of the stairs (like the stairs in the final photo). 

While exploring, I met a woman who was feeding a few of the street cats near her apartment and she gave me a flyer for an organization named KOTangens (’kot’ means cat in Polish) in Gdansk that’s trying to control the feral cat population (basically their version of our TNR programs). You can find them on Facebook here (if there happens to be any Polish people from Gdansk reading!).

Needless to say, I loved interacting with some of the streetcats in Gdansk. Definitely an unexpected surprise of my trip to Poland. 

Still Breathing.

If I’ve been a little quiet the last couple of weeks it’s because a) the atrocity of the election, and b) I was laid off two weeks ago. The first part of that sentence makes me way more sad than the second part. 

My layoff was not really a surprise. There was a hiring freeze, so there was no recruiting to be done, and running the office and HR for a staff of 15 was not a full time job. Honestly, I was bored and just sticking around so I wouldn’t look like I was jumping around again on future resumes. The office felt cold for the last few months. But I do miss most of my colleagues. They were (are) a good group. 

Since I have savings, I decided to take a week off before I dove into job hunting 100% and after the election on Tuesday night, I could not have been happier to not have to show my face to the world or be forced to talk to people in an office. The Democrats fucked up and nominated a bad candidate (not saying she was unqualified, just not a good candidate because she was too strongly disliked). I never thought Clinton had it in the bag, despite what polls told us, and my deepest fears were confirmed that the American people are, collectively, pretty stupid. Clinton included. She didn’t even GO to Wisconsin. Come on. 

How did I cope on Wednesday? I ordered a Trump cat toy off Amazon so she could scratch his face off and went to yoga. 

The toy didn’t go as planned. She likes to sleep with it. I pretend she’s smothering it.

I’ve spent the last two weeks going to yoga daily, cooking, sending out resumes, chatting with recruiters, and hanging out with my cat (her birthday is tomorrow, so I’ll tell her you all say happy birthday). I’m also shocked at how much fun unemployment is with a cat. Speaking of cats, I’m volunteering with a few adoption organizations to clean and feed cats who are waiting to be adopted at the UWS Petcos. This is also fun. And kind of sad. I might adopt 5 more cats. Who knows. No promises.  

And while contemplating my next steps, given my savings and severance, I’m considering doing a 200-hour yoga teacher training course in January with one of my favorite teachers. I don’t know if I necessarily want to teach yoga, but it’s been a constant thing in my life for so many years now and I want to deepen my understanding of the practice. So, I might sign up for that and do temp work until then to keep myself afloat. 

Lastly, I’ve been sucking at this blogging thing lately. I’m still backlogged on my Poland posts and I have so many things that I could just ramble about. So, I’m going to try write once a day if it kills me. Starting today, starting now. Here’s to post #1!

(Really, lastly, don’t forget to donate to Planned Parenthood.)

The Newest Family Member

No, I did not rescue a kitten. I wish. But my parents did and I got to meet her when I was at their house on Sunday for Rosh Hashana. Meet Dani: She is 7 weeks old and she was found with two siblings underneath a dock on Long Island. I bought her a couple of toys – including the one with the feathers that she’s playing with up there. It’s a motion-activated toy that makes a tweeting sound when she moves it. She loves it but my parents will probably not thank me for introducing it into her life. Whatever. Playbill has one, too!

She’s very sweet and will run around and then promptly fall asleep on you or whatever she can reach that’s soft to land on. She does a mean Firefox pose already, right?

But, seriously, I want to rescue a kitten. Someday

Because I’m crazy.

I emailed the woman who I first corresponded with from Anjellicle Cats (the organization that I rescued Playbill from) on Sunday. Playbill has been doing this annoying thing where she meows for attention (not for food, she always has food in her bowl) between 5-5:30am most days (weekends are her favorite). I get up at 6am during the week so I don’t mind it so much, and she doesn’t do it every. single. day. so it’s okay. But on the weekends it can be a little annoying. 

Hence why I emailed the rep from Anjellicle and asked why she was surrendered. I hadn’t asked when I was adopting her and I was a little afraid to because I might find out something horrible. I asked if her previous owners died because sometimes she meows just until she gets a response – so it’s like she’s checking to make sure I’m still breathing. I included a photo in the email to show her how Playbill is doing.

She emailed me back today and said she has cats that meow at 5 or 6 in the morning for food or attention and it’s completely normal. She said it showed in Playbill’s records that her previous owner’s surrendered her so she didn’t think death was a factor in why she was surrendered.

I’m going to assume her previous owner’s were moving and couldn’t take her with them. While this reasoning makes absolutely no sense to me, I’m glad they did or else I wouldn’t been able to rescue her.

Apparently cats can be trained not to meow so early in about 2 weeks, but you have to ignore them. I could withstand the meowing but I’m not sure J could. We’ll see!

Goodnight, Brain.

I once wrote about how I’d had trouble sleeping but that through a bunch of different ways, I’d cured myself. Well, “trouble sleeping” is back again. You see, J snores. Not all the time. And not that badly. But if he falls asleep before me, then all I can think about is “OMG I’M NEVER GOING TO FALL ASLEEP.” This obviously doesn’t help me try to fall asleep. And because I’m the lightest sleeper ever and I wake up if my cat looks in my direction, so I will especially never fall asleep ever if he starts snoring. 

So, what did I do? I bought Source Natural’s Melatonin tablets. And ear plugs (these are the best). And melatonin gummies. And Rescue Remedy’s sleep spray. And chamomile tea. (He uses nose strips, which makes it less worse, and peppermint oil.)

Basically I bought all of the things. 

And then I figured out: maybe I’m simply trying to go to bed before I’m actually ready, and before I’m tired enough. Although I’d love to get 8 hours of sleep every night, I’m “suffering” through 6.5-7 hours each night (because I now get up at 6am to meditate for 20 minutes before going to the gym). It’s great. I actually love getting up early before the sun has fully risen and it’s still quiet. I love sitting on my couch with my legs crossed and one hand petting Playbill while I meditate. 

Additionally, I’ve started to go to bed before J does because he’s a night owl and I’m not, so he can stay up and do whatever he does at those hours of the night in my living room and I can fall asleep. 

It’s really working so far. I still use the sleep spray each night, just as a security blanket, and it’s natural, so that’s OK. 

Let’s hope going to bed later and TM can cure me this time around.

Firsts

I finally handled a possible medical issue with my cat calmly. It was a miracle.

On Tuesday night, after I put my cat down on her cat tower, I noticed there was a little bug on my shoulder. It could’ve come off my cat, for sure. It fell off my shoulder and I bent down to look for it. I found out and tried to balance it on my finger and take a photo of it to send to the vet (because I’m crazy). Unfortunately it fell again and I wasn’t able to find it again so I vacuumed the area.

Then I Googled what a flea looked like. It looked like the bug that I had been balancing on my finger. Then I called the vet. 

I calmly explained to the nurse who answered the phone that I had been administering the anti-flea medicine every month, as prescribed. I told her that I brushed her regularly, albeit with the Furminator and not a flea brush, and wasn’t seeing any fleas. And also that I checked the skin on her neck and didn’t see any fleas or flea feces. 

The nurse told me that if I have been giving her the flea medicine regularly, and if it was in fact a flea, it was on it’s way to die and not to worry. She also suggested that it could’ve been something other than a flea. 

I kept checking her neck periodically throughout the night and giving her extra pets. But I was proud. Mostly of myself. For not losing my shit. #firsts

This is Playbill’s “calm the fuck down, human” face.

The Unexpected Side Effect of New Furniture

When I started gathering boxes and piling books into them last week, I had no idea my cat would notice. Cats are said to sleep most of the time, and eat the rest of the time. But on Wednesday night, as shelves kept being cleared, I noticed Playbill becoming more and more anxious. Then I noticed her dandruff. 

Cats produce dandruff when they’re nervous (hence why cats at pet adoption events often don’t look as nice and clean as they could – they’re stressed out and nervous!) and Playbill definitely had some dandruff going on. 

Although she couldn’t understand me, I told her that we were just getting a new couch and no one was going anywhere. But obviously, she didn’t understand and she was on guard through Thursday. All I could imagine was that the last time she probably saw packing boxes was the time she was scooped up and taken to Anjellicle Cats to be put up for adoption (seriously, who moves and can’t take their pets with them? I don’t understand people). Maybe not. Maybe she just really, really, really wanted to know what was going on because she didn’t understand.

It’s safe to say that I didn’t expect this small anxiety to be included in the process of getting a new couch. Playbill had a tiny bit of dandruff for the rest of the weekend but it’s mostly gone now. Thankfully.

Remember your furry sidekicks next time you’re re-arranging your apartment have no idea what the fuck is going on. And give them extra treats and love. 

Playbill has taken up residence in the corner next to the window and she’s feeling back to herself now, as evidenced by this photo:

The Cat I Wanted

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Here she is keeping the package that my jeans came in warm. She’s so thoughtful. 

When I had toyed with the idea of adopting a cat, I thought I’d get one that loved to be picked up, would sit on my lap all the time (even though this would, after sometime, get annoying), and love to have her belly rubbed. Basically a cat that was really affectionate. 

I’m pretty sure I could tell that Playbill was none of those things when I went to have a one-on-one play session with her at Petco before she came home to my apartment. I mean, maybe it was the fact that I was a stranger and she wasn’t doing well living in a box at Petco, or it was just her personality not to run up to you and jump into your arms. But she’d stuck her paw out of the cage at J and I the previous Sunday and she really needed a good home. And she was so fucking cute.

So, I couldn’t say no. And home with me she came.

I kept thinking that was she still depressed when she wouldn’t sit on my lap and always liked to sit on the chair across from where I usually sit in my living room. She usually slept a lot. She basically acted like a skeptical, stand-offish cat. I remember telling my therapist these things and he said, “It sounds like she acts like her owner.How rude! But true. Touche. 

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Cat with sass on her favorite bag.

Almost four months in and she still won’t sit on my lap – aside from the couple of times that I dared to sit in her chair. She came up to me and pawed at my stomach until I got up – shaming me, I guess, to get out of her chair. 

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Sleeping in said chair. 

And she doesn’t love to be picked up. She’s gotten a little better, but she really doesn’t love it. She’ll let me pick her up for a few seconds, to appease me, I suppose, and then she’ll start squirming and jump if I don’t put her down first. 

She still won’t sleep on my bed with me. She’ll lay in the corner of my bed with me while I read and then once I turn the lights out, she’s gone. Her job is done so she can leave, I suppose? There are hedgehogs and fish to be hunted in the living room. Very important.

And her belly? Usually off limits, but she’s sometimes willing to compromise on that. If she’s rolling around on my bed playing with a toy and I start rubbing her belly. About 60% of the time she’ll swat at me, but sometimes she’ll let me give her a belly rub with a look on her face that says, “Okay, fine, just this once. But make it quick. OK, that’s enough. God, the things I do to make you happy.

So, she’s not the cat that I envisioned myself adopting, but she’s the one who won me over and she’s 8 (48 in human years) so I can’t change her. I could torture her and try to get her to act a certain way that I think she should act towards me, but that’ll make her miserable and in return, I’ll be miserable, too. 

So, the only thing to do is accept her for the kind of cat she is. She’s not super affectionate and doesn’t like being picked up, but she’s adorable and I love her, so who she is is just fine.

This mindset also applies to people. If someone isn’t acting the way you’d like them to, they don’t have to change, but you do. Otherwise your attempts to manipulate and shame them into acting how you want will be met with anger and brick walls. I think this is something that a lot of people won’t accept or acknowledge. We’d all be a lot happier if we did though. That’s for damn sure. 

To end this on a positive note, here’s another picture of my adorable stand-offish cat:

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Cool Apartment

I loved my apartment from the moment I stepped into it. I walked in, took one look around, and said, “I’ll take it,” and thus began 6 months of paperwork and interviews. The set up of my apartment building is neat in that every room has windows – even the bathroom (which in New York is a total luxury). What I didn’t realize until last summer (and was reminded of yesterday) is that my apartment stays eerily temperate on hot summer days. 

Yesterday was New York’s first 90* day since last summer and I was worried about my cat. The air conditioners are from the last owners and they don’t work very well. The “temperature control” on the one in the living apparently doesn’t really work at all, so I couldn’t leave that one unless I wanted it to be on ALL DAY. 

To circumvent killing the environment, I put the AC on for the morning while I was getting ready to cool the place down and before I left, I open two of the windows (not big enough so she could jump out, but just enough for air flow).

While I was walking outside yesterday, I didn’t think it was too particularly scorching out but because I’m fueled by anxiety, I was a little anxious. I know cats like the heat and there wasn’t a lot humidity so I hoped for the best. 

The windows in my place face north and east. It gets a lot of sun in the morning and then not much for the rest of the day. This might sound like a downer if you’re a person who likes SUNLIGHT 24/7, but I’m not. The apartment gets light but not all-day sunbeams in the window creating sun patches for the little lion (aka my cat) to sleep in. 

Although my view is obstructed, somewhat, so is the sun. And that’s awesome because who wants to come home to a super hot apartment? No one, that’s who.

But I did order two new air conditioners yesterday anyway, including one smartphone controlled one, because I was paranoid during the day and I didn’t want to have to feel like that again. 

#cityliving

A really, really, really restful weekend.

I needed this weekend. After seeing a ton of shows these past few weeks, I needed a weekend off from dealing with any plans. J and I went to one of his childhood friend’s weddings on Friday night in Westchester, but we managed to be home by midnight (somehow!). It was a really pretty, simple wedding on the small(ish) side and we both had an awesome time. 

Then a weekend of nothingness commenced. We slept in on Saturday until 10-ish and then ordered in from one of our favorite diners and ate ourselves into semi-hungover oblivion. We spent the rest of the day watching Hush and a couple of episodes of Silicon Valley. And after we went for a painful run (french toast is not a good primer for running, FYI) before stopping off to buy a new kind of wet food at Petco (which my cat will totally not eat and will barely look at it) and eventually ending up at a bar to refuel and watch a basketball game. I started to kind of understand how basketball works but mostly I just watched the guys running back and forth in between bites of my rice bowl.

We slept in again on Sunday (though I admittedly did not sleep in as late, and I used the extra time to write) and made eggs and chicken sausage (and coffee, duh) for breakfast and lounged around for the next few hours. We watched the documentary The True Cost, which is a horrifying expose about the price that the poorest in other countries pay so we can buy a $5 tank top at H&M. Result: I’m halting my long-time obsession with cheap shit at Old Navy and expensive-except-when-on-sale shit at Gap. I’m OK paying more for clothing as long as people aren’t dying to make it. /end rant

We made a plan to meet up at the movies after I went to a yoga class and we saw Captain America. This really should’ve been called “Avengers 3″ as it was not solely about Captain America at all. And it was really long. I enjoyed some parts but watching a bunch of characters that you know won’t be killed off fight gets old really quickly. 

The night ended with Game of Thrones, which I didn’t really pay attention to. When I did look at the screen, it looked like a medieval version of The Walking Dead

I also finally bought a Roomba and although Playbill didn’t know what to make of it, she did enjoy the box and I caught this adorable shot. She totally has Pixar eyes.