Mouse Hunt

I have two cats, Feste and Orsino, and Ferdinand the basset hound. The good news is they all get along. The bad news is they all get along. The get along so well they are a hunting pack. The good news is they keep the house free of pests although not so much the insects. The bad news is the only reason some of the pests are in the house is because some member of the hunting pack brought it in through the pet door. Normally they like to bring their trophies to me live. If I realize a prize has been brought in early enough, I can usually catch the prey and release it back outside relatively unharmed. Otherwise I’m on past prey patrol. Voles, moles, and mice are the main prey. Once in Texas, Puck the cat brought me a lizard. I’ve seen one dead bird. Luckily no snakes. Ferdinand the basset hound takes the prize for once while we lived in North Carolina bringing me an adult live opossum. He dropped it off in my bedroom. Wasn’t I impressed? No, I screamed like the girl I am. Eventually I got my wits about me after calling my mom in Texas, which of course was going to help somehow. She told me to call 911 because well it probably wouldn’t be the stupidest phone call they ever got. [Side note: I did call 911. Orange County North Carolina probably doesn’t get that many phone calls expect for drunks on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. In fact in Orange County you are supposed to call 911 for wildlife emergencies which is my justification for calling them. A very nice operator told me they would come help for wildlife that can carry rabies. Turns out opossums have too low a body temperature to carry rabies so all he could do was give me the phone number of a animal removal company. Still, good to know about opossums and rabies.] Anyway I finally calmed down. The opossum kept playing dead while both basset hounds and both cats kept watch to see if it would move again. I managed get a large trash can over it and pushed it down the hall and out the front door all while I was trailed by my hunting pack. After safely closing the door, I watched the opossum finally realize it was free. Before walking off, it looked at me as if to say thanks and possibly give me the middle opossum finger. I then went to go find a very large glass of wine.

This morning I heard the warning signal of both Feste and Ferdinand running across the living room. The I heard a squeak. I investigate, and both of them are staring intently at something. Great. It’s a mouse. It runs. Feste catches it in his mouth. Lets it go. Ferdinand catches it in his mouth. Lets it go. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Finally, Feste grabs it in his mouth and runs downstairs into my office. I then spend the next 20 minutes trying to catch the poor mouse that is trying to figure out how to get out while Feste mainly watches. Several times I would get close to getting a container on top of the mouse, and it would run to Feste for protection. I kid you not, it would run to Feste who would shelter the mouse in between his front legs. They would just look at each other. The mouse would move away. Feste would bat at it a little. I would try to catch the mouse. Repeat. Finally the mouse ran out into an open location where I could get a trash can over it. I got the trash can over it, turned it over, and got it out the front door. Then it took me a few minutes to get the mouse to finally leave the trash can. I kept telling it to be free. I have to go to work. Look there are nice plants and leaves for you to hide in. Be free. It finally did as I asked.

Feste and Orsino

I have had Feste and Orsino for over six weeks now. Last week they got neutered and finished the last of the vaccinations (until next year). They have settled in now. Orsino is still a bit skittish, but Feste is trying to be the cat that curiosity kills. Feste will also one day probably kill me by tripping me as he attaches himself to my ankles and just swarms around while I try to walk. Ferdinand really doesn’t care about the cats, but he does seem to get intimated by them sometimes. To celebrate their neutering, here are some photos of them because the internet needs more cat photos.

Feste and Orsino relaxing

Feste and Orsino relaxing

Ferdinand and Feste demonstrate the double decker couch

Ferdinand and Feste demonstrate the double decker couch

Feste's new favorite toy the rubber drain cover from the kitchen sink. He keeps pulling it out every time I put it back in.

Feste’s new favorite toy the rubber drain cover from the kitchen sink. He keeps pulling it out every time I put it back in.

I assume everyone stores their cats in the kitchen pantry next to the soup.

I assume everyone stores their cats in the kitchen pantry next to the soup.

Orsino keeping Feste under the cushion

Orsino keeping Feste under the cushion

Orsino licking Feste

Orsino licking Feste

Feste and Orsino cuddling

Feste and Orsino cuddling

Orsino watching Feste's tail under the coffee table

Orsino watching Feste’s tail under the coffee table

Introducing Feste and Orsino

Last week I adopted two kittens from a woman who rescues cats from the streets. Both these cats came from the same area, an area where people seem to dump cats. They are both fairly young and thus able to be domesticated. Feste, the gray one is rather adventurous, always trying to get into everything and explore everywhere. He is very friendly and will no doubt trip me one of these days by his constant circling of my feet. Orsino,the brown one is much shyer. He is slowly letting me approach him but is still rather skittish. As to the names I gave them, I name all my pets after Shakespeare characters. Feste and Orsino are from Twelfth Night. Feste the character is a clown or fool, and Feste the cat is a total clown. Orsino the character is a duke, and it just seemed appropriate to name Orsino the cat that.

Feste

Feste

Feste

Feste

Orsino

Orsino

Orsino

Orsino

Orsino and Feste

Orsino and Feste

RIP Chalmette

Chalmette in bag

Chalmette in a bag

This is Chalmette, my mom’s cat. He was born on my mom’s patio to a feral cat. For years, my mom had been trapping feral cats, getting them spayed or neutered with vets who help with Trap, Neuter, Return programs, and then returning them to the area around her townhouse. Her hard work with TNR worked well to lower the population, but Chalmette’s mother got pregnant before my mom could catch her. My mom started touching Chalmette and his sibling a few days after they were born, so they would get used to a human handling them. Once they were weaned, she took them inside. She found someone else to adopt Chalmette’s sibling, but Mom kept Chalmette. She hadn’t had a cat in a while. Chalmette became a wonderful pet for my mom. He was mischievous and sweet. He had an obsession with flowers. My mom couldn’t have any flowers in the house because Chalmette would eventually get to them, then take a flower, and parade around the house with it in his mouth. He gave my mom years of love, companionship, and sometimes entertainment. Today she had to put him to sleep. He was diagnosed with cancer less than two weeks ago, and the vet did not know how much time he had. While he seemed to be in good shape and was alert, he was bleeding in his mouth. My mom wanted to make sure he was never in pain. Rest in peace Chalmette. Thank you for the love and companionship you gave my mom. Thank you for finding me so fascinating and allowing me to invade your house whenever I came to visit my mom.

Chalmette on refrigerator

Chalmette on the refrigerator

Goodbye Beatrice

It all started with Bestoff. I was in high school, and this cat started showing up at our door. My sister is allergic to cats and dogs, so we had never had pets except for a few hamsters at times. Bestoff decided we were good people. People don’t adopt cats. Cats adopt people. Mom started giving Bestoff a little food, and I named him. [There used to be a drug store called K&B. It started in New Orleans where my mom was from. K&B stood for Katz and Besthoff. We had a cat, so I named it Bestoff, only learning later I spelled it wrong.] Then Mom decided Bestoff could sleep in the laundry room when it was cold. Later Bestoff decided he would just live in the house thank you very much. Years later, when I went to graduate school for my Master’s, I took him with me. He disappeared one day over the patio fence, as he often did, but he never came back. Several weeks later I decided I needed another cat. I adopted two littermate kittens who looked a lot like Bestoff. I adopted both because I couldn’t bear the though of separating them, and I was worried one would be put to sleep. Years later, I took Ariel (the female of the littermates) to the vet for some routine test or something. There was the kitten Beatrice sitting in a cage looking for a home. She had wandered to my vet’s house. My vet said she would have kept her, but she didn’t get along with her own cats. So my vet set her up in her office to find her a home. While I was waiting for my vet to see me, I pulled Beatrice out of the cage, put her in my lap and petted her, and she purred up a storm. My vet came out, saw me with Beatrice, and said “I’ll just take Ariel back. You two are bonding.” Next thing I knew I had a third cat.

Years later, Ariel would die. I would adopt a dog. He would later die after five wonderful years. Then I adopted Ferdinand and then Thisbe, both basset hounds. Thisbe died three years ago after escaping from my fenced in yard and getting him by a car. I had to have Puck (the male of those littermate cats) put to sleep last year after 17 wonderful years. Today it was Beatrice. I wasn’t expecting it. She had been having a recurring cold due to feline herpes virus (it’s rather different from the human version). Not a big thing, but annoying. November during her last physical, she had lost a little bit of weight, and one of her blood test values showed signs of early kidney disease. We were going to monitor her, but the vet and I weren’t real worried about it. She had had a cold on and off for a couple of weeks now, but last night she wouldn’t eat, and she seemed to be having trouble breathing. I thought the cold had led to a more severe respiratory infection, so I brought her to the vet this morning. She was getting worse, but it wasn’t an infection. It was severe and sudden heart failure. We didn’t know how long she had, and even in the best case scenario with aggressive treatment, she still probably didn’t have that long. Her body temperature was 90°F when it should be more like 100°F. She responded to having the fluid around her lungs drained, but she was clearly suffering and was clearly dying. I did the only thing I could. I ended her suffering and had her put to sleep. She went peacefully.

For all the dogs and cats I have had, I have been there for four of them when I had them put to sleep. It doesn’t get easier. I guess it is not supposed to be. I know I made the correct decision in each case, but it still hurts to lose another. Now it is just Ferdinand the basset hound and I. My house seems more empty. I’ll probably get another cat at some point. Please God, keep Ferdinand safe and healthy. I can’t lose another right now.

Rest in peace, Beatrice.

Beatrice

Beatrice

Beatrice with a rock pillow. The rock is a hunk of quartz with mica if you want details.

Beatrice with a rock pillow. The rock is a hunk of quartz with mica if you want details.

Cats Laying on Weird Things

I have had cats for a couple of decades now. I don’t fully understand them and never will. One reason why is they sometimes lay on the strangest things. I grasp that they like to be on high things because the better to survey their domain or something. Sometimes that can simply mean laying on top of a book, which puts them all of one inch higher, but whatever. Also, they like to lay in sunbeams, but who doesn’t, especially when it is chilly. However, sometimes they lay on things that just seem plain uncomfortable. This morning I found Beatrice laying in a sunbeam, which I get, but using a rock as a pillow, which I really don’t get.

Beatrice with a rock pillow. The rock is a hunk of quartz with mica if you want details.

Beatrice with a rock pillow. The rock is a hunk of fluorite if you want details.

Last year, my now-late cat Puck decided to lay on top of a dustpan, which I seriously don’t understand. Then again, Puck thought basset hounds made excellent pillows when they stopped moving, although I actually agree with this opinion.

Puck laying on top of a dustpan.

Puck laying on top of a dustpan.

Puck the cat: In memoriam

Puck upclose face

This morning I put my 17 year old cat to sleep. Several years ago he developed early kidney disease. It stabilized with a diet change, but then a year ago, he developed diabetes. I have been giving him insulin shots for a year now, but all of the sudden his kidneys started failing. He spent several days in the hospital last week and was doing better, but then he got worse again. He hasn’t been eating well and was getting weak. I didn’t want him to ever be in pain. A visit to the vet this morning made it clear that he did not have much time left. I didn’t want him to die alone or without me. I hope he knew how much I loved him and that I put him to sleep to make sure he had a peaceful, pain free death.

I adopted him and his littermate Ariel when they were kittens, and I was in graduate school pursuing my Master’s degree. I had just lost my first cat Bestoff (long story on the name), really the family cat, which I brought with me to graduate school. Bestoff was a tabby, and Puck and Ariel, both tabbies, reminded me of him. It was with Puck and Ariel that I started my tradition of naming my animals after Shakespeare characters. I wanted to name them names on a similar theme, so I finally decided on Puck and Ariel, two fairy or spirit Shakespeare characters. My sister suggested if I was going with Shakespeare, I should name them Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but I couldn’t imagine standing at my back door yelling “Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, dinner!”

Puck was my lap cat. He was a total cuddle bunny. He loved belly rubs, and he loved anyone who would pet him. Several years ago, he had pancreatitis and was in the hospital at North Carolina State Veterinary School for a week. They took wonderful care of him, and when I came to take him home, one of the vet techs admitted that they were kind of hoping that I would not come back for him. They wanted to keep him. Years ago, a friend of mine was pet sitting for me, and she said that she had walked by him laying on the back of the couch. He reached out his front paw, and with one claw grabbed her skirt until she came back and petted him.

Puck has lived with me in four homes, three states, four basset hounds (three adopted, one foster), and two other cats. He has been with me through a Master’s degree, three jobs, a Professional Engineer’s license, and a Doctor’s degree. He was always ready to be in my lap. He always welcomed basset hounds into the house because he found they made very fine pillows next to which or on top of which he could sleep. As a bonus, my lap or the basset hound was also a nice heating pad. He was a smart kitty. As long as I was with him, he was perfectly happy with whatever, including going to the vet in a bag on the bus. Please allow the indulgence of sharing a few photos of him.

He knew how to stay warm in the winter. He simply sat on top of the vent.

Puck on vent

The lump in the covers next to him is actually Beatrice the cat under the covers.

Puck and Beatrice under coverCuddling with Hamlet, my first basset hound.

Hamlet and Puck

Sleeping with Ferdinand and Thisbe, the basset hounds.

Ferdinand, Thisbe, and Puck

WIth Ferdinand

Ferdinand and Puck back to back

Ferdinand and Puck

One more with Ferdinand, but this is more a tribute to the patience of Ferdinand. One of Puck’s hind feet is in Ferdinand’s ear and the other is in his eye.

Puck in Ferdinand's ear

With Ferdinand, right, and Horatio, upside down, my foster dog.

Ferdinand HoratioAre you noticing a theme with the photos? This photo with Horatio, the foster basset hound, was taken three days after Horatio moved in. Puck wastes no time making use of a basset hound as a pillow. Actually, I took this photo as Horatio was recovering from an adverse reaction to the ivermectin I had just given him. I covered him up in a blanket to keep him warm, and Puck came over to give him comfort.

Horatio

Puck didn’t like my laptop so much, as that meant my lap was occupied, and I was not petting him. Here he lets me know what he thinks of that.

Puck on my hand

Sometimes both Ferdinand and Puck would try to push the laptop out of the way. Puck would generally just end up on top of Ferdinand.

Ferdie laptopI am going to miss my Pucky so much. He gave me so much comfort and love. He kept me warm on cold nights. He let me cry on him when I had to put Hamlet and Ariel to sleep. I know some people think cats are unaffectionate and aloof, and some are, but not Puck. He just wanted to cuddle. Ok, in his younger days, he liked to chase bugs. Perhaps a few squirrels. The squirrels were afraid of him.

Puck and squirrel

Goodbye my Puck. Rest in peace my love.

Puck in basket

New Orleans Above Ground Cemetery

Masonic cemetery

There is an old joke in New Orleans that you know you are from New Orleans when you worry about your late relatives coming to visit you when it floods. The joke of course being based on the fact that most cemeteries in New Orleans are above ground where human remains are buried in stone crypts and mausoleums. The water table is too high for remains to be buried six feet under. While some of the plots are rather simple, many of the crypts are quite beautiful and ornate. All of these photos were taken at Masonic Cemetery, where many of my relatives are buried. Some more information about and photos of Masonic Cemetery can be found here. Masonic Cemetery has some large tombs that hold numerous people related by professional or social organizations. Such as this large Masonic tomb, which has an usual staircase to its roof.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is also a tomb for the Red River Pilots.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

However most of the tombs are owned by families. They can be quite ornate.

Gated vaultThey can also be more simple.

tomb with statues

Some of the tombs list the family name on top.

Gould tombThen list most or all of the family members buried inside.

Gould namesOthers list only the name of the family or of one person buried inside. The one below lists one person buried inside, A.F. Parmalee but the stone vase on top says “Mother”, so probably A.F. Parmalee’s wife is buried inside with him, and their children put the vase their to honor their mother.

ParmaleeBelow are a few more photos from the cemetery.

graves with steps

graves and columnMany of the graves have unintentional greenery.

fern on Masonic tomb

fern on tombFinally here is the cat that lives nearby somewhere and escorted me while I toured the cemetery. He was well fed with a collar, so presumably he has appointed himself as an unofficial comfort cat for you to mourn while he gets petted.

cemetery cat

Cat in a Bag on a Bus

I live about a mile from my veterinarian’s office. While I can drive there, the parking situation is kind of annoying. Often if it my dog that has an appointment, we will walk there. If a cat needs to go, I will just take the bus. Puck, my 17 year old, very laid back cat, needed to go today. I have taken him to the vet before in the car where I just stuck him in a shoulder bag because, seriously, he doesn’t care and won’t try to escape. He will stick his head out to observe, but he seems to like the adventure. I really need to get a soft over-the-shoulder carrier because they are so much easier to use than the hard bulky carriers that I have. Today I decided to take him on the bus via a shoulder bag that can be zipped up. I think he enjoyed today’s adventure. Here he is on the bus to the veterinarian.

He did have to come out of the bag at the vet, so he could get his blood drawn and be examined. Once it was over, he happily returned to the bag while I paid the bill.

Then he rested on the bus ride home. I am fairly sure no one on either bus realized I had a cat with me. [Pets are allowed on the bus as long as they are secure.]