My dad posted a link to this article from the New York Times on Facebook today. It’s called Whisker Fatigue, and it’s the reason why your (and my!) cats might have “eating issues,” aka they take their food out of their bowls and eat on the floor.
I’ve always noted that Gus takes his food out of his bowl and eats it off the floor. I never thought anything of it because other people have said their cats did the same thing. BUT! It’s not just a cute cat quirk, it’s an actual medical thing that is resolved by using shallow food dishes to feed them. Whiskers are little antennas and so you can imagine they’d be bothered if they were constantly smooshing up against the side of a bowl while they were eating. They supposedly get anxious and apprehensive because of this.
That’s Gus. See Gus’s whiskers? They’re really long for a little cat. So, being the doting cat mom I am, I went out to my local indie pet store to buy new food bowls and when they didn’t have them, I purchased these on Amazon.
Hopefully he’ll stop spilling his food onto the floor when the new dishes come. I just wanted to pass on my new found cat-related wisdom.
Baby’s Second Vet Trip
A week or so ago, Playbill was due for her routine rabies vaccine and a general check up. She’s a middle-aged cat (9!) so it’s important to make sure she’s healthy as a horse. And I’m a paranoid cat mom, so it’s better to have a doctor tell me she’s all healthy rather than someone else. J had bought her the BMW of cat carriers, a soft one, so it was a bit easier to get her in this time and it had a zippered part on one side so he could pet her while we were in the cab on the way to the vet.
She meowed the entire way there but not nearly as painfully as last time. She wanted nothing to do with the catnip and treats they gave her, as usual, but she was a pretty good patient. They said she looks fantastic for a 9 year old cat and is very healthy. They added that she’s pretty well behaved for a cat that was adopted into a new home only 8 months prior. That makes me think that she still has personality traits that I have yet to see, which is kind of fun to consider.
Playbill was a bit tired for the next couple of days, which is normal after shots, but she’s back to herself now, racing around the apartment like she has to still hunt down dinner.
I really just wanted an excuse to post these photos, though. Because she is the cutest. She hopped up onto the windowsill in between different doctors and nurses examining her. Always looking for the highest place to perch. Typical cat.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
First Vet Trip Success – Sort Of
I noticed a couple of little moving white rice-looking things on Playbill’s butt on Monday night/Tuesday morning and thought that probably wasn’t normal. I called two vets on Tuesday morning and emailed the adoption organization that I rescued her from. I decided to go to Uptown Veterinary Associates because the other vet had awful reviews (one was, “you overlooked my cats cancer and I had to put her to sleep!”) and Uptown had great reviews.
J came over to help me load her into her new cat carrier which I’d picked up earlier that day at Petco and it was a battle. She’s a shelter cat so, of course, she was going to be freaked out at the idea of going into a carrier again. We both felt so bad and told her over and over that she was coming back with us and not to be scared. Of course, she didn’t understand so, that’s one drawback to the Cats Not Kids lifestyle. We eventually got her in and called an Uber, which she hated even more. Anjellicle Cats had said that she hated the taxi ride over to my apartment and she hated this car ride too. She mewed like she was being tortured the entire time. Again, we felt so bad.
A few minutes later, we got to Uptown Vets and checked in and it was only a few minutes until we were placed in a room. The offices were bright and clean and they had an office Chihuahua and three office cats. A nurse came in to weigh her and get her details and a few minutes later the vet came in. Playbill was pretty calm by this time. I kept my hand on her, petting her the whole time. The doctor was so great. She gave Playbill lots of catnip and scratches. She said Playbill was on the high end weight-wise for a cat her size. Oh man, I’d always though she was small!
They told us that she had the most perfect shaped “cat face” that they’d seen in a while and that she was their star patient for the day in terms of behavior (admittedly they said the bar had been set kind of low by other animals that day). Another technician not involved came in and said, “Hello! I saw those eyes looking at me through the door and I had to come in!” Yes, she has huge Pixar eyes.
I gave the vets her stool sample and they gave her some medicine for her worms. They also gave me monthly anti-flea medicine to put on her to keep her from getting bit and getting worms again.
She hated the car ride back, but a little less, I think, maybe because she knew she was going home. She flew out of the cat carrier in my apartment and jumped on the bed, giving me a “I’m never going in there again”-look. It wasn’t a cheap vet visit by any means, but it was worth it.