Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Rules According to Cats

Dear Benny Russell Terror,

It's been some time since you have been to our house, and we don't entirely mind your presence, but there are a few rules that you need to learn before your next visit.

1) Your mere presence in our home does not mean that you can have the same privileges we do. Doggie paws are icky and should not be allowed on any table surface, regardless of whether our people are eating or not. You don't spend hours cleaning and fluffing like we do, therefore you have dirty paws. Stay down.

2) Similarly, you're not allowed on our beds. You smell, and you drool in your sleep. That's disgusting. The only non-felines allowed on the beds are our people. By feeding us gourmet dinners and worshipping our every move, they have earned their right to lie under the blankets and lay their heads on the pillows. You have your own smelly little bed, and that's where you must sleep. Get over it.

3) While you're having dinner, our job is to sit on the table or shelves above you to see what you are eating, and if one of us finds it appealing, we may swoop down in front of you and take what we want. This does not give you the right to wander over to our own unfinished meal. Our food is our food. Your food is our food.

4) You must cease your vulgar behaviour of humping the pillows, your toys, the sofa, the man's foot, the carpet and any living creature that allows you to get close enough to mount it. Most of the dogs in the neighbourhood are five times your size, and would require a step ladder for you to even see your target. Give it up.

5) You must learn how to restrain yourself when we allow you to play outside in our yard. It's offensive to our sensibilities that you think so little of our space that you immediately take a dump out there. What do you think this is - a giant litter box? Restrain yourself. 

6) Just be quiet. What is that hideous yelp that comes from your throat every time we playfully hiss at you? It hurts our ears. One would think you're being murdered. If you don't want us to turn around and look at you, then don't chase us, for heaven's sake. The same goes for your growling. It sounds like a pathetic attempt to purr and we all know that inferior animals can not purr.  Be silenced.

7) Learn some restraint. Do you not understand that when the people call you by name, clap their hands and make bird-like noises at you, that you're supposed to simply appear irritated and ignore them? Instead you come running out from the farthest recesses of the house or yard to see what they have for you. Foolish canine, they just want to control you, and you're willing to sell yourself for a mere rub on the head. Have you no pride?

8) Stop your incessant jumping. You don't need to launch yourself into the air every time the people touch your leash. How are they supposed to clip it onto your collar if you don't hold still. Nobody is happier than we are to see you go away for a nice looooong walk, so just hold still and cooperate. Settle down.
9) Get down. The human lap is reserved for cats only. You may not wiggle your way onto one of our people, and steal our rightful pats and belly rubs. For some reason, my people think you're pretty adorable. We're not fooled by your head-cocks and cute little noises. The people belong to us. Stay down.

10) This is the most important rule of all. You are NOT to laugh at how one of us looks since a recent stay at the vet* (human explanation below). There have been a couple of unfortunate encounters with the surgeon's razor and knife. Ten days later, one of us returned home wearing a most unbecoming stretchy outfit and a ridiculous blue collar. It is to be worn for the next few weeks, and should your next visit intersect with that period of time, you must refrain from staring, laughing or feeling superior. Remember to ignore it, that it isn't funny, and that you are inferior. Hissssss.

If you can accomplish these simple rules, we will continue to endure your presence in our home. You are a dog. You will never be one of us. But play by the rules and we may just tolerate your existence.

Very Mewly Yours,

Skittles & Zephyr

*Shortly after I returned from the late-September cottage visit, it was evident that one of my cats had been vomiting. That's not so unusual for a feline, given their penchant for aiming slimy fur balls right at that spot where your bare foot hits the floor first thing in the morning. I cleaned it up and forgot about it until it happened again. And again and again.

Zephyr is the least aggressive feline that I've ever known. Skittles, at about two-thirds his size, is by no means a rough cat, but has taken on the job of alpha kitty in this pairing. Nothing is important enough to Zephyr to fight over. Except food. Then he'll win every time.

Most animals have a normal survival instinct and therefore eat to live. Zephyr, the laziest, klutziest cat in my world, lives only to eat and purr. So when he lost interest in both of those activities, and continued vomiting the water he was drinking, a trip to the vet was in order.

That hospital stay lasted ten days, during which time he had:

• X-rays to determine if a blockage existed: Negative

• Full blood work up to diagnose liver issues: Negative

• Exploratory surgery to locate a blockage: Negative

• Liver biopsy: Negative

• Bowel biopsy: Ta-da!

• Stomach tube insertion

• Intravenous

• Anti-inflammatory medication

• Antibiotics

• A funny little t-shirt to keep his stomach tube from getting caught on anything.

• A hilarious blue collar to keep him from licking and biting at his tube or incisions.

Five days after surgery the lab came back with a diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. An encouraging finding because it's usually highly treatable with oral medication, once the vomiting ceases. After a week, Zephyr had begun to keep his tube-fed food down but he was still showing no interest in eating, so the tube proved to be an important procedure.

On day ten, after nibbling a bit, he was ready to come home. I learned how to supplement-feed him by tube, and how to keep the tube site clean. Thankfully his appetite has begun to return, and I no longer have to tube-feed him, though I continue to ensure that the tube remains clear by forcing water through it to his stomach twice daily. This is also in case he regresses and needs to rely on tube feedings again.
He's been home for a week now and doing well. Skittles, whom I feared would pick on him mercilessly, was quite stunned at his appearance when he arrived home, and stayed out of his way.

Zephyr is a good patient, and purrs his way through wound cleanings and force-fed pills. If he continues to improve after the meds are done, he'll have one more quick surgery to remove the tube in a few weeks.

He's a great cat, and well worth the trouble and expense, which was kindly reduced by my empathetic vet. Here's a photo of him in his recovery outfit. Just don't let him hear you laughing.

Ten days at the vet and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and collar.

The collar is supposed to keep him from licking and biting at his incision. It works fairly well considering his tongue can't reach past the end of it. It's actually supposed to be worn turned up. Here you can see the outline of the feeding tube through the material of his t-shirt.

Anatomy of a sick cat.


Anonymous said...

Did you see the smile on that elephant?

photowannabe said...

That's quite a story Hilary. I like your writing style and the pics. to go with it. Very well done.
I'm glad you happened on my blog site, love having you visit and your kind comments. I've bookmarked you and hope you do the same.

awannabe said...

That poor baby!
I was laughing my way through the post, espescially with #4... until I got to the different colored font. I hope the kitty is okay.

Hilary said...


I'm not sure if that was a smile or a grimace. With elephants, there is such a large grey area. In either event, I'm sure she'll never forget you. ;)


I've done better than that - I've linked to your wonderful site. Thanks so much for your kind words. :)


Are you related to Photowannabe above? Same last name and all... ;)

Thanks, he's doing a lot better so far. He's still on meds and still all dressed up with nowhere to go, except back to the vet for a recheck on Wednesday.

Thanks always for stopping by. :)

Reb said...

Very good rules for dogs, your cats are amazingly tolerant and generous.
Loved # 4!!

Glad they found what was wrong with Zephyr and I am sure he will make a full recovery. Especially with such a dedicated nurse taking pictures, um, looking after him.

By the way, I love the blue collar!

Hilary said...

Thanks Reb,

Zeph is in high-fashion for sure.. if we lived in Elizabethan times. ;)

Crabby McSlacker said...

Oh, poor Zeph, that doesn't look fun at all!

We went through a similar thing with a cat of ours many years ago--xrays and exploratory surgery etc--turned out it was dental floss he'd eaten out of the garbage can.

And our current cat has food allergies and requires Expensive Prescription Food or she starts barfing all over the place. But since we all love our cats we do whatever it takes for them to feel better, as we should!

Loved the Cat Rules and all the photos too! Great post.

Leah J. Utas said...

Excellent rules. Your cats express themselves well.
I do hope Zephyr is well soon.

Frank Baron said...

Zephyr looks like a chubby Knight's squire. I'll admit he's kind of cute but like all cats, he wants us to relax so he can suck our breath while we sleep.

Unlike dogs, which are too busy looking for slutty elephants to contemplate evil acts.


Hilary said...

Thanks Crabby,

I hear you on the expensive food. All of my cats (4 in total - 2 of which are long gone) are or were on prescription food for urinary tract infections. Now Zeph needs to be on the hypo-allergenic one. At almost $80 a large bag, several times a year.. it adds up.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Good to see you back in blog circulation! :)

Thanks Leah,

They have been interested in using the computer ever since they first saw the mouse...

Thanks for stopping by.. please come back soon!


Thank you for your TRUNKated version of the differences between cats and dogs.

DJ Samba said...

Wow, That's a fantastic story. It's the sort of thing I'd imagine to infact find on the toilet of a cat owner. In fact, I will be printing it off for my FriendCatOwner :).

Keep up the good work.


Hilary said...

Thanks Samba,

I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope that your FriendCatOwner will too. Of course you know there's no such thing as a cat owner. According to Sir Harry Swanson, "You can't own a cat. The best you can do is be partners."

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Tink said...

The picture of the elephant... WOW. That'll stick with me awhile. *Snort*

I have a dog that lives to eat. She lays down and puts her paws around the bowl. It's pathetic. My other dog is ADD. He gets so excited when we pull out the leash that we literally have to hold him down to connect it.

Hilary said...

Hi Tink,

I thought Zephyr was the only creature that lies down to eat. Paws around the bowl sure has that beat though! I hope for your sake that the ADD dog is a small breed. That would be difficult behaviour for a Great Dane.

Thanks for flying by.

the Bag Lady said...

Quick, call the Animal Police! Hilary's posting photos of the bag lady's cat!! You think you can fool her by dressing that cat up in a diguise? Ha!

the Bag Lady said...

Poor Zephyr. Tommy sends his condolences, and wonders about fur-replacement therapy? He's willing to donate...

Hilary said...

Bag Lady,

I'm not a feline felon!

But that photo you sent me of Tommy sure does show a striking resemblance, sans the outfit of course.

A fur transplant might just work since their colours appear to be identical. I'll keep it in mind.. fur sure! :)

Anonymous said...

Cats are so articulate. Demanding, too. :)


Hilary said...


Yeah, it's tough sharing computer time with them.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Cath said...

Hilary - that is truly cute! Love the letter and you're right - he's just like Mindy although Mindy is perhaps a little blacker, unless it's the lighting makes Zephyr look grey ish.
Hope he is now fully recovered.

Caghs the Cat Lady said...

I have three cats and two dogs, and I reckon this is pretty spot on ... except for one omission:

"If we feel like playing with you, you will behave like a good little chew toy, and refrain from squirming."

Beautifully written :) Sorry to hear about Zephyr, but glad he's on the mend.

My boss cat, Jessi, is allergic to herself (weird, but true), so she spent three months wearing an oh-so-trendy head collar. I lined it with fur and made a matching jacket. If she has to wear it, at least she can look good :D

Hilary said...

Caughs, thanks for stopping by. Good addition to "the rules."

I've never heard of an animal allergic to itself. I'll bet Jessi was in high style with her fur-lined jacket. She could have walked the catwalk. ;)