Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

And Then There Were Three

Friday, January 15th, 2016

For a podcast that’s about chickens, I sure have been talking about cats a lot lately. I should probably warn you that I’m about to do it again, because we lost our big tomcat, The Bone, the other night.

The Bone, watching the chickens in the yard.

The Bone, watching the chickens in the yard.

I’m sure your first question is “why the heck is his name ‘The Bone?’.” That’s perfectly fair. His real name was Hamish, however, my feeling is that you often give people and things names because you have to, and then when you get to know them, you find their real name. He went from “Hamish” to “Hambone,” and then from there you may be able to see that “The Bone” is a logical next step. It stuck. I did try to take it one step further and make up a story that he was named after Leon Redbone and that we should refer to him as “Leon,” but that was a harder sell. So The Bone it remained. And if you met him, it would make sense. He was like The Fonz, in cat form. Ayyyy.

He was also helpful around the house.

He was also helpful around the house.

When we got him, they thought he was about 6, but he had been living under someone’s porch, so they had no idea of his real age. We had gone to the shelter to look at this beautiful Maine Coon, but when we got there, he took one look at us and went into hiding. We then tested out every cat in the place. We needed one that was kid-friendly, and at one point my son, then about 2ish, just laid down on the floor and let cats crawl all over him. He was in cat heaven. There were some nice ones, but none of them really seemed like a good fit, or they had big chronic health issues that we didn’t think we’d be able to handle. Then we noticed this big gray fellow in a corner who had just been sitting there watching us. My son went over to say hello, and the cat stood up and immediately rubbed his face against my son’s, and that was all it took. We knew we had the one.

Perfect for hugging.

Perfect for hugging.

A few years ago, The Bone started to lose weight (he had become a fairly ample gentleman in his time with us) so we took him to the vet. They did a million tests, and found he had thyroid issues. This made his estimated age quite suspect, as cats don’t generally have thyroid troubles until their teens. So we figured he was maybe a few years older than we originally thought. With the thyroid issue treated, he put weight back on, but never got as big as he had been. Then in the past month he started to lose weight again. We brought him in, and all his bloodwork was fine. Then x-rays revealed that he had fluid in his lungs and abdomen, so he would need an ultrasound. The ultrasound doctor was hard to book, so we were waiting to hear, and then right at bedtime a few nights ago something was obviously wrong. The Bone was walking wobbly, and breathing heavily. My wife rushed him to the emergency vet, where it was determined he had congestive heart failure and a blood clot in his legs, that even if they could fix, would leave his back legs paralyzed, and they didn’t think they could actually fix it. And so we said goodbye.

Such a handsome boy.

Such a handsome boy.

The Bone had also had a chronic sinus problem that caused him to blow large amounts of snot on you without warning. He was so charming no one ever cared. He was the calmest cat I’d ever met, but once cornered a 150 pound dog just to show who was boss. He loved going to the vet so much they had trouble hearing his heart because he was purring so loudly. There has never been a cat like The Bone, and I’m not sure there ever will be. But I’m happy we knew him for the short time we did.


Adios, muchacho.

(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: Ruminants (Instrumental) by Lisa Germano)

Music used under Creative Commons license: Ruminants (Instrumental) (Lisa Germano) / CC BY-NC 3.0

Space Management

Friday, November 13th, 2015

It has been an absolutely gorgeous Fall this year. It’s already November, but it’s been so warm, and full of my favorite sort of Autumn days. A little breezy, a little gloomy, but warmer than usual, so you can be outside without a jacket, hanging out and smelling the fallen leaves. What makes it even nicer is that I read an article saying that there has never been a time when the first week of November was warmer than average that didn’t result in a mild winter. I’m really hoping this is the case.

snow heap

The view from our kitchen at the end of last winter. Now you know why I want it mild this year.

What’s been extra nice about it being unseasonably warm (aside from the fact that it makes up for June having been unseasonably cold this year) is that I don’t have to worry about bringing Boss Chicken inside yet. Since she is alone in her bunny hutch, when it gets really cold, I worry that without other chickens to clump with to stay warm, she might get too cold out there. When it dips below a certain temperature (and I don’t have a system for this, at some point I just decide, no, this is too cold) I bring her inside and put her in a dog crate in our storage room. It gets nice light during the day, and she’s close to all the chicken supplies. She kicks wood chips everywhere, but that’s what brooms are for. She’s also killed a number of mice that have gone into the dog crate to steal her food. Even with bum legs, she is not to be trifled with, and she’s helping keep the in-house rodent population down.

mouse killer

Striking fear into the hearts of mice everywhere.

This system is breaking down this year with the addition of Spooky the cat to our menagerie. Spooky, being FIV positive, needs to be kept apart from our other cats in the main part of the house. (We’re looking into ways to peacefully integrate all the cats, but haven’t reached any that we feel confident in. There has to be no biting, and we suspect there will be biting.) Spooky will hopefully also help out with the mouse situation in that room, but my concern is that if you put a chicken in a room where there is also a cat who had been surviving on her own out in the woods, it may not go well. Spooky is a sweetheart, but I don’t know how she’ll behave around a chicken. Boss Chicken would be protected in her crate, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to get at each other (and Boss Chicken might just win that fight). On the other hand, both animals seem like they could use some company, so maybe this could actually work out. That seems a little too optimistic, though.

best buds

My new reality show. Coming this winter.

We have another, smaller storage room that I thought Boss Chicken could go in now, since she doesn’t get around much, and so doesn’t need much space. It gets less light though, which I think is kind of important. I could try putting her in there and seeing how it goes. I had also thought of switching out her dog crate for a big storage tub, in the interest of containing the wood chips some more, but that would leave her more open to attack from above, so she definitely could not be in the same room as Spooky. Spooky also knows how to open some doors, so she might even be able to get into the other storage room. So perhaps Boss Chicken needs more fortifications. There are a lot of ins and outs to this situation. Maybe if the winter is really mild I won’t even have to bring Boss Chicken inside at all, and I can put this decision off until next year. Who knew that collecting animals that have health problems was going to be so complicated?

(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music bed: Just Like A Rainbow by The Columbians)

Too Many Kittens!

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

The chickens continue to molt, but rather than get deeper into the mechanics of all that, I thought I’d share an exciting update with you regarding the “lover boy” cat who had been paying us visits, sometimes in the night, when I would be surprised by his glowing eyes. You may recall that I mentioned that I had seen this cat using our yard as a toilet, and it didn’t appear that he/she was healthy, based on my observations, and terrifyingly deep knowledge of animal poo. We had been wondering if we should try to catch him/her and pay a visit to the vet. Well, this past weekend, my wife did just that, and we have some news. (I suppose the most important part of the news is that the cat I thought was a lover boy is actually a girl. I’m leading with this information just so I can stop having to say him/her each time. Gender has been determined, now pronouns get easier.)

kitty love

Remember this guy? Turns out he’s not a guy.

The mystery cat had been around the yard quite a bit in the last week or so, and ideas of how to catch her were getting tossed about, but we had trouble moving beyond getting a live trap and putting some cat food in it. The downside of that plan was that who knew what we might actually catch instead of the cat, since so many other critters are around? We never came to a full decision on technique, and then on Saturday she appeared on the steps next to the sliding door again. Later that same day, my mother-in-law came in to ask if that was our cat on the front steps. Apparently our visitor had been sitting outside the door, as if waiting to be asked inside. She ran off once my mother-in-law came in, but shortly after that, she was back at the sliding door again. We opened the door slightly and put a can of cat food on the steps. She moved away when the door opened, but only about 100 feet. As she returned to gorge herself on the food, my wife slipped out another door and slowly crept up beside her. The cat kept turning and checking her out, but the food was too good to abandon, and so once my wife was close enough, she slowly went in for the grab, and got the cat. She didn’t put up much of a fight, and we put her in a dog crate with some food and water, and then my wife took her to the emergency vet, as our normal vet was closed. In the meantime, it being so close to Halloween, my son named the cat Spooky.


Don’t mind that she’s not actually a black cat.

The vet says Spooky is either a stray, or a very poorly cared-for pet. She has fleas (which they treated), worms (which we are treating), untold numbers of ticks which we are pulling off as we find them, is possibly pregnant, and is FIV positive. That last one is the big issue, since FIV is spread by biting, and if she joins our other cats in the house, there’s going to be at least a little of that. Our shyest, meekest cat has tried to murder Spooky through the glass when she would come visiting, so that doesn’t bode well for peaceful introductions. We’re going to talk to our regular vet to see what options we have, but chances look good that we may have to find Spooky a different home. This may not sit well with my son, who is madly in love with her. But we don’t want to risk the health of all our other cats, either.

Note the look of concern on the cat's face regarding transmission.

Note the look of concern on the cat’s face regarding transmission.

Spooky is  extremely sweet. It seems odd for a wild cat to be so nice, but perhaps she is an abandoned pet. I’m not sure how she’s survived outside alone for so long, since there are so many predators. The vet thought she might be three, and if that’s the case, we have no idea how she survived last winter outside, if she indeed was outside then. She’s very mysterious. But right now she’s snuggling up in the blankets we gave her, and eating all the food we can give her, so she’s quite happy. We even made “Welcome home Spooky” signs to greet her when she got back from the vet.

My son's is much cooler than mine.

My son’s is much cooler than mine, as evidenced by my using his drawing as the previous illustration.

Spooky is not a chicken, but she probably went sniffing around the coop while she lurked the grounds. She’s kind of small, so I don’t think she’d win a fight with a chicken either, no matter how hungry she was. However, one less predator is out on the streets, and one more kitty is taken care of who wasn’t before. Now we just need to figure out where she’s going to live.


Look at this sweetie. Just look at her.

(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music bed: Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag by Handy’s Orchestra Of Memphis)

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