Sunday, August 30, 2009


On April 14th, 2009, Frank and I went out for a gathering at a friend's place. The weather was nice and Neo wanted to be out so we let her out. We came back past 11 pm that night. We kept waiting for Neo to come home and she did not put in an appearance. I was a bit annoyed but not too worried. She had done this to me recently and come back home the next morning. But everytime she is late, it does worry me. Neighbors always talk about the coyotes that are common to this area. So I went down from time to time and called out for her. She did not show up. It was not like Neo to stay away from her food bowl for too long. We thought perhaps she was taken in by some child who would not let her go. We would canvas the neighborhood in the evening looking for her- in case she had gotten trapped somewhere or was locked in. We had HomeAgain put out a lost pet alert for her (she is micro-chipped). But no luck.

On the 17th, a huge blizzard hit Parker. Everything was blanketed for 2 days. I went out and called her name many times. On Sunday the 19th of April, I decided to walk around and leaflet the neighborhood just in case someone had decided to keep Neo at home thinking her a stray. One nosy neighbor told me that I should not leave a note on the mailboxes as it is against the law and the feds would come after me! Some people thought I was soliciting and would pretend not to be home- which was fine by me. But I also met some friends of Neo's. People who were her regulars. One neighbor called back after he got the leaflet. He described how the pretty blue-eyed, gray stray would come by and how he would always leave her food. He couldn't let "it" in as his cat was jealous. Another, had a really old male cat whom Neo visited regularly- this is the cat she took all the mousy presents to when we didn't appreciate them. Another recognized her as a "porch" cat as she would proudly sit on the porch and scan all. Halfway through my leafleting, one neighbor came and said that if I was looking for the "hunter" cat, his wife told him on Friday that she had seen her lying dead by the side of the road behind our community on Friday.

I went to look for her behind the houses. There was a lot of melt from the blizzard which was flooding the little stream and making it almost impossible to pass. Cars couldn't go through it already and I was worried that she had been carried away by the waters. I tried to wade across to the spot where I saw something dark lying on a little rock. But it was a rag. Frank joined me. He went up the road away from the stream and a moment later I heard him call my name.

She was lying by the side of the road. Her body was cold and stiff. Our poor baby's face was a little smushed but other than that there was not a mark on her. She had been hit by a vehicle. One which was coming towards her but whose speed she didn't quite gauge right. You see, inside the community the speed limit is 15 mph. People had remarked how Neo always checked traffic before crossing roads in the neighborhood. But right outside, on this little access road the speed limit is 30 mph and what's worse, kids and people are always speeding on this road. Neo must have seen a car coming but probably misjudged the time she had to cross since it was not traveling at speeds she was accustomed to.

I carried her home. Frank dug a place for her in the garden. We kept hearing her all the time, in the swish of the blinds, the thudding on the stairs, the sudden weight on the mattress, faint meows in the air. Our hearts felt so heavy with her loss. Her funny ways will always be in our memories. Even now we keep thinking of the time when she got spooked by... or the time she decided to... or how she startled us... She still keeps us in chuckles and stitches. We feel like she is and will always be with us.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Animal Rights Organizations

While growing up (in India) I was part of a family that included dogs. However, I have never had a pet here in the States till recently. I always wanted one but I also always had excuses for why I couldn't have one right then. At last, recently, we were selected by a little cat at the Humane Society Shelter and we brought home Neobe. It has been a revelation in many ways. Not least of which has been an introduction to the health care system and issues facing non-humans in the United States.

I have always believed in and supported organizations that fight for animal rights such as PETA, HSUS, ASPCA and WWF. I thought that by supporting organizations like these, I was helping to make the life of pets and other animals better. I just never realized how they worked. While most of these organizations lobby for and advocate better treatment of animals, this doesn't translate into better care for the household pet in most cases. A recent example is that of the HSUS rescuing many dogs from a puppy mill in Tennessee. The HSUS is doing its best to provide all the animals care and to try and place them in homes and it has shut down the puppy mill. However, if you walk into any HSUS shelter across the nation, you will realize that they are mostly "kill" shelters. This means that animals that don't get adopted are euthanized within a set period of time. Contrast this with many local no-kill shelters that don't receive the kind of money and support and even recognition that the HSUS might receive but that still manage to care for all animals received. Two of these in the Denver area are the MaxFund and the Animal Rescue and Adoption Society. Another wonderful example is D.E.L.T.A. run by Leo Grillo out in California.

Here's another strange fact. Despite the proliferation of all these wonderful high-profile, animal-rights organizations, the United States continues to suffer from overcrowded shelters. I did not see a problem on this scale in other developed nations. Despite all these years of advocacy for pet sterilization, shelters swim in puppies and kittens come a certain time of year. And it is very much a hidden problem unlike the developing world where strays end up on streets to live miserable and brutishly short lives. Here we like to keep them out of sight and mind- in shelters where they can live cramped, anxious and short lives generally.

Despite the presence of this many wonderful animal-rights organizations, the United States also suffers the ignominy of being perhaps the only developed nation where you can take your cat to your vet and have her/him declawed. This is a practice labeled unethical and inhumane in most developed nations. Why aren't we fighting harder to prevent something known to be cruel every where else? How did the other nations ensure that this doesn't happen to innocent cats?

Another revelation is that you cannot find charitable veterinary organizations in communities. Veterinary offices charge a lot of money every time you visit their offices. This ensures that the poor and those with financial challenges (such as students, the unemployed, the elderly) are unable to afford pets or if they are still determined to have pets, then they are generally unable to provide the pets with good health care from a veterinarian without digging themselves deeper into the hole. This also means that if you find an animal in distress, you may hesitate to pick it up and walk into a vet's clinic if you know that every visit will cost you about $50 not including the medications or any treatment.

The cost might also explain why many people won't get sick pets treated. What, you are surprised that there are sick and untreated pets in many households? You can read about sick and untreated pets in most animal care organization reports and veterinary reports (Case in point: It is recognized that owners will often ignore and not treat cat illnesses, and so research into cat illnesses and treatments for them lags behind that for dogs).

Normal household pets need advocates too. Just because a pet is adopted doesn't mean our societal responsibility to it is at an end. This is nowhere more obvious than in this time of foreclosures in the United States when so many former pets are now abandoned or surrendered to shelters with no guarantees to life.

I had thought that the animal care situation in this country would look rosier after so many years of active work by so many wonderfully committed organizations. Yes, let's fight against veal crating and battery farming and puppy mills and seal clubbing and KFC. But let's also educate and make shelters a place of warmth and life and change our philosophies towards pets and their care. Let's not make having pets a luxury only few can afford. I still support these organizations but now I am also finding myself appreciating local and no-kill shelters that try to better the quality of life of so many domesticated and feral animals.

Click on the photos of kittens and puppy to see where they were found. The cat sleeping is Neobe. :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Live Presents

I have been continuing my no-kill hunting expeditions- well, hmm, ok, to be honest, my actions did kill a young mouse but I only meant to play with it and when I was done it was still alive but it didn't know or couldn't make its way back home (still alive in the picture taken by my girl). Since then, I have been gentler with mice and another one has been able to scurry away once I was done stalking and catching it.

Ok, so where was I? Yea, my no-kill hunting expeditions which have spawned a healthy catch & release cottage-industry at my house. (Anything to keep my pudgy girl busy.) So I have hit upon another strategy. I like having bunnies for company and they are getting pretty scarce as most are growing up and some have been eaten up by that big coyote and its family.

We live just the three of us in the house and I know that my girl (I really need to name my female human) likes bunnies. My boy is not so crazy about them- he always shouts and runs around when we get bunnies at home. Sounds something like "Hunter-wire-us." Maybe he is worried I will "wire" him? Dunno. I just let him be. It can't be bad for him to get some exercise too even though I see no reason to be loud about it.

Anyway, so I have embarked on this plan last week. I bring home bunnies and release them at home. They are not smart like me (well, they are generally quite young) and they don't know the way out. They generally hide out under the furniture. Well, I released a couple at home without telling my humans. Later that afternoon, my girl was scurrying about all over the place because while she was talking on the phone upstairs (where I released a bunny, he he) a tiny bunny hopped out from under the dresser. It took her a good 30 minutes to catch it. She then came to me to show me what she was holding. So cute and cuddly! I had to rub against it. Then it was released out again. That evening the second bunny I had released downstairs chose to run around when both the humans were sitting and talking. It was funny. The boy just picked up his legs and shouted "hunter-wire-us" (it's getting old!) and the girl had to scamper around again trying to corner an agile bunny baby. She got it eventually and released it.

Bunnies can be just released outdoors and still survive. But many live presents are not so lucky. In fact, I have heard that a lot of people get kittens and puppies to give as presents to young kids and friends. That is not such a good idea. A lot of people may even appreciate the animal for a short time but not be able to take care of it (almost always the case with little human children). It is mostly cats and dogs that are given as presents and we need tender, loving care and attention.

The live presents trend is one essential source of income for the breeding mills which are inhumane. In addition, live presents often end up at animal shelters. Some of these animals will get re-adopted but a majority are just murdered because many shelters claim not to have the resources to care for so many animals (my girl will write on this on her blog). Dogs are more likely to be adopted from shelters than cats which are turned over to the shelters with such absurd excuses as "it doesn't match my carpet!!" Most cats at shelters are killed (unless you are a lucky cat that ended up at a no-kill shelter like the one in Denver. :(

No one has the right to give or receive a cat or dog or for that matter any other animal as an expendable "gift." While cats and dogs have been domesticated and in most cases, depend on humans for their survival, that doesn't make them less important or sentient or expendable at the convenience of the humans. Please, adopt pets responsibly. And there is no reason to buy pets if you wouldn't buy humans. We are not a commodity.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Living Dangerously

I tend to go out every evening and have my fun chasing little animals (and sometimes bringing them home as trophies- they are part of a catch and release program instituted by my female human) and generally patrolling the neighborhood. I come in plenty of times for refreshment and then continue my detail. By about 11 pm or 12 am I am usually done and like to call it a night and get into bed for lots of cuddles and nap. Sometimes I get woken up by a strange noise and I make sure to go check it out and if it is nothing interesting- like a fly beating against a window- then I go back to my cuddle and snooze.

This other night (now that I think of it, it was the 4th of July!) my humans came back home about 11 pm and I had been cooped up all evening. I didn't mind so much to begin with as it was a bit noisy but later after it got quiet I did feel like it was not fair that I was having to stay in for no good reason. So when they returned home, I went out. Now for the first time that I can think of, my female human went straight up to bed and my male human lounged on the couch watching TV. He was supposed to leave the door open so I could come back home when I was done but that guy has a brain like a sieve or wants to get rid of me or something. He closed the screen door so of course I couldn't get back in. Then he snoozed off in front of the TV. To hear him explain it later, he claims that he was listening for me and would have woken up if he but heard me. Well, let me tell you this dude does not sleep light despite his claims. In fact, he can sleep through anything except being thumped on at night. I know because he only wakes up to hiss at me if I jump on him. So I do that now and again in the hope that he will learn some good light-sleeping skills. Why do I bother?

The night in question, I got stranded out and let me tell you, it turned out to be quite an adventurous night. At first it was all quiet. The I saw a big coyote (that's like a big wild dog without owners) go sniffing for bunnies. I stayed on my stoop as quiet and still as possible. I think it saw me (my eyes are very reflective) and came a bit closer to sniff me but I snarled and raised myself big and he decided that I couldn't be too tasty anyway. I saw him make short work of one bunny soon after. I felt pretty good about taking care of myself so I decided to walk around a bit. As I was rounding a bend I got attacked out of nowhere. It was another cat! And it was certainly mad at me though I have no clue why. I defended as best as I could, but was feeling a sharp pain on my side already so I hit hard and then ran back to my stoop. It followed me to attack but I was now prepared and it was not going to take me by surprise. It tried again and this time I stood my ground- I hissed and snarled back and made a few swipes with my talons. Eventually, the other cat realized it was a stalemate and just went away. Of course, my ever vigilant male human was still snoozing a few feet away on the couch.

I had to retch and bring up the little food I had eaten before I had come out for the night. I meowed a few times to wake up someone who would open the door but no luck. I knew I had to hunker down safely for the night and not get taken by surprise. I stanched my wound and cleaned it up. I tell you that night passed slowly. In the morning, the door stood open so I ran up to drink my water. That got the attention of the humans who had been talking about me and were worried. The dude ran up and sat down to talk to me. I was tired and just wanted to sleep.

I am a little bit more cautious since then as my adventure gave me a new-found respect for the perils of the night. I try to make sure no one closes the door on me by mistake and I try to keep my humans vigilant by going up to them and checking if they are awake (if not, I wake them up as a public service). Those two have no clue how caring and considerate I am. Meantime, I am recovering from my wound but you won't hear me complain- no sir.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fireworks and Freedom

It's been a busy few weeks. I have managed to make my own blogger account so now I don't have to sneak into my human's. So the credits at the bottom should change starting now. And it's the 4th of July. Freedom from her. Yay! Ok, freedom to write under my own name. I have actually grown quite fond of her despite her eccentricities and weirdness.

The 4th of July doesn't mean much to me but coming up on today all kinds of firecrackers have been lighting up the evening sky. Now that don't bother me too much but the noise is annoying and can be a bit startling. Even uncomfortably so. What are these humans thinking being this noisy and disruptive? Aren't there noise ordnances that are being violated here? The worst of it is that some animals and birds have a hard time of it. I'm sure, birds and mammals in the sky (yes, I know about bats) get hurt as they fly by. Why would they fly after dark you ask. Well, fireworks usually start around twilight and so some birds might still be out and anyway, the noise keeps them from sleeping and may startle them into taking flight and then fly into a fire cracker or be hurt by ember showers. Even after dark, it could keep birds from settling down for sleep. And while I am not averse to hunting down a bird or two now and again, it is not the same thing to be so indiscriminately inconsiderate of other species. I have heard that many dogs and cats and outside animals get scared of loud booms following the strange lights in the sky. Haven't you seen pets who are scared of thunderstorms? What's more, fireworks contaminate groundwater and this affects the health of all water drinkers.

I hear from my human that in India it is even worse than here in Divali season when every household gets to light up their own firecrackers. It is a cacophony of noise and light. Every year even humans get hurt and burn. So, even though, I haven't heard about the figures for non-human damages, they have to be even higher than those for humans. Tsk tsk.

Humans cannot control thunderstorms though I hear they are trying. But they can control fireworks and I wish they would eliminate all sound and harm to animals if they would like to continue this tradition of celebrating a day with pretty lights. I don't know what all these people are celebrating with these fireworks anyway but I plan to stay in and try to snooze. If you plan to go out and watch the lights, give some thought- when you can- to how it affects other non-human residents of earth.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Defending Home and Hearth

Last night, after my usual forays in the garden, I came and lay down. My female human was snoozing in front of the TV. I decided to snooze as well. As I lay there, I had a dream where I was eating at my bowl. I could hear myself eat and then it dawned on me that someone was actually eating at my bowl. I leaped to check and there was another cat in the house!

I have seen this cat around the neighborhood. She is a big Bengal. She has come into my garden a few times. She is bigger than me. She doesn't seem aggressive or mean so we have passed each other by without incident. But now...Here she was! In my kitchen! At my bowl! Eating my nice food! I was mad!

My tail fluffed up and the hair stood up along my spine. I'm about half her size but do you think I'm gonna let that get in the way of defending my turf? My female human came up and started making cute sounds at the other cat. Then she tried to touch me but I was already keyed up for attack. It just felt like the other cat touched me so I tore into her. But when I realized it was my human, I was a bit contrite, but come on, who in their right mind would allow another cat to enter my kitchen and eat from my bowl and then cuddle me?

My male human also came down. He and I are totally in-sync in situations like this. I don't get my female human but I get this guy. He took one look at the situation and sized it up - just like me! Then he leaped with a loud hiss at the cat. Now had all avenues to exit been well labeled and open, the other cat might have left. But that audacious intruder took off in the wrong direction. She leaped to go upstairs in my house. I decided to pursue and deter. We screamed as I attacked her. Tufts of fur (exclusively hers) came off as she yeowled in anger and at least a little bit of pain, as far as I can tell. She hid under my human's bed which I consider to be part of my territory.

At this point my female human came up and dragged me away. I got tied up in a harness downstairs and the cat upstairs got both my humans giving her attention. I didn't like it one bit. They eventually got her to leave by the front door. You may well ask, how someone my size (beautiful and compact but about half the height of the Bengal) was able to completely and utterly rout a bigger cat? I want to take credit for my courage and fighting prowess but I can't lie. The Bengal was not able to be a worthy opponent. Not because it was a scaredy-cat. Far from it- it put up as much of a fight that a cat, which has been mutilated by its humans, could. Not once in our fight did I feel its claws. It was not able to defend as well as it could have against my nails. It was not able to make a mark on me. It was not able to hurt my humans even once. All it could do was hiss and bare its fangs.

Why would humans be so mean to cats? It is unethical and wrong! It is like extreme makeover surgery and all for what? Cats need their claws in order to be beautiful, to walk gracefully as if on clouds, to make beautiful acrobatic leaps, to chase flies, to groom... Who cares about silly couches and curtains which are easily replaced? Declawing should be punishable by law just as amputating a perfectly healthy human is. In fact, declawing is illegal in many nations. Declawing is an American phenomenon and one invented solely for the trivial convenience of one species at the painful expense of another. A lot of people seem to be walking around under the misapprehension that declawing is like nail trimming for us felines. Well, it isn't. It is more akin to cutting of your toes in order to prevent your nails from growing. Some cats have been known to develop behavioral problems after this surgery and no wonder. Would you not defecate and urinate on softer surfaces too if the nerves in your feet became too sensitive to walk on or scratch litter? Just because cats don't whine and emote as much as humans do, does not mean that they don't have pain. I am posting a link to declawing (in my links sections to the right) to inform all you other cats and cat-worshipers out there. Please, disseminate and stop this cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on felines.

[The picture shows a Bengal but not the Bengal which visited us last night. The picture is associated with the website of the Swedish Enhagens at Thanks, you cat-loving family.
The Declawing site was created by Dr. Christianne Schelling, a veterinarian. Thank you.]

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Where Littering is Welcome and Appreciated

My male human is picking up some bad habits from the female. Mostly we like to ignore each other or hiss at each other from time to time. I love this male bonding thing (I am not a male, but I'm not sexist either). But now sometimes, he puts out a finger and makes those sounds my female human makes when she cuddles me. Like "stinky poos" (its not me- its the litter dude!). Whatever. It's like he is growing down. And let me tell you, at his size, there is so much more of this growing down to look forward to. Not.

Anyways, the first day I got here from the shelter, I couldn't figure where my toilet was, so at night I discreetly went in a corner in the room downstairs which is only ever used for sitting and watching that TV in. After that, my female human showed me where the litter was by putting it near me and allowing me to get in and sniff around. I was fine with using it after that. When I was younger I thought litter in kitty toilets is the ultimate wonder. You can go poos in it and next time you come around, it is clean! Wow. But then I caught my human puttering around my box which kind of clued me into how the magic trick happens.

The first litter my human got me was made with recycled paper. It is good for the environment which us kitties like. The litter doesn't look anything like recycled paper. It is pellets made of paper and it is flushable (gross and scary but necessary). However it didn't clump and the moisture would kinda be soaked under and remain at the bottom of the box so it got stinky pretty fast.

Then my human went and bought litter made with wheat. Now this one while it seems eco-friendly and flushable, raises the question of whether this is not a bad use of food material. It seems that, from what my human has been told by someone else, this is "not-food-grade" wheat, so we are ok with this. Now you may well ask, what does "not-food-grade" wheat mean and where does it come from? Umm, hmmm...yea, makes no sense to me either. This warrants further research. Not that I am all PETA (though my human is) and care for all kinds of other species like little baby seals, but having baby seals and birds and bunnies and humans does make life so much more interesting, you know. So I wouldn't really wanna poo on what could be feed for someone else. Same goes for corn litter. Plus, the wheat litter is pretty expensive compared to other litters and it does get stinky even with regular cleaning.

Then my male human's friend who has cats told him that he uses clay litter. And when my male human found out that Arm & Hammer made one with baking soda and all that, he went and bought two boxes of that. It was cheap compared to the litters before. But every time my human poured the litter into my box, she would be snuffling and coughing from the dust that the litter sent up. It clumped pretty hard but couldn't be flushed. So you had to have bags of used clay to walk to the garbage everyday. If they didn't walk it right away, I played with it cos the bags make interesting crinkly sounds. Now, I thought the clay is not the best option. It is not environmentally friendly (the clay and all those bags) and it certainly did not perform that great. Also, my human came to know that it is not the safest litter, so my human had to go back and return the other box.

I have left a link to an article talking about the dangers of clay litters to the right in my links section- kitty beware!

I have heard that some kitties are very picky about the litter they use and won't switch easily or at all. Now me - well, let me put it this way - if I was a catholic the pope might be putting me up for sainthood, that's how long-suffering and miraculously easy I am. Anyways, while my humans continued their experiments with litter, I have just been carrying on my life outside and leaving them to worry about such vital things as litter and what it is good for.

All was well till they went and switched to pine on me! The female human thought that it was the best option overall and filled my toilet with it. I'll tell you my toilet smells closest to a new car. Yucky. I'm NOT getting into that! And the stuff didn't feel right under my toes. She left it there to play a game of chicken with me. I decided not to pee or poo. This wasn't too hard as long as I got to go out to chase bunnies because I could always find a better toilet. But things became harder around the time that I hurt that bunny and she decided not to let me out as much. So I had to switch tactics. So I devised a new toilet- and you should know cats are nothing if not adaptable. In the living room behind the pot, next to the blinds and the curtain could be scraped over to hide stuff (on the right side of the picture basically). When my human found it she was not happy from all the muttering I could hear as she cleaned up. She went and put some catnip in my toilet to get me to go in. Talk about strange. Like as if I care if you put catnip in my toilet on top of stinky pine which kills what little sense of smell I have left. No thanks! I went under the curtain again. And then again. Let me tell you- You never play chicken with a cat and win! You just don't.

I have my wheat litter back because paper is not as good and clay is bad. Now I hear sounds about litter made with corn cob. Not to mention under my wheat is pine. It is not too bad together and when you go on the pine, it crumbles. But I refuse to go on it by itself. Yes, I know I said I'm not so particular about litter but a cat gets to change her mind.