Tag Archives: cats

Training Cats–attempt #1

20130531-175321.jpgIn October of 1987, I went to a circus in Moscow and watched well trained cats jump through hoops, perch on poles, and walk across tightropes. When we had our first kitten, Figaro, we managed to train him to fetch. Okay, so he only fetched green things–beans and scallions being his favorite– but, it was a predictable trick. We tried to teach him to keep his claws out of our sofa by squirting him with a spray of water only to learn that he liked it. He would go up to the sofa, dig his claws in deep and turn his face to accept the spray. We gave up and bought a leather sofa. Score one for us.

A few years later, a new house, and new furniture, we were back to having a cat attack the furniture. We ended up using “sticky paws”–a double sided tape–to some effect. But, it turns out as he aged, Figaro didn’t spent as much time scratching as he did as a younger cat and he didn’t cause as much damage to the new furniture. After he died, we got our two new kittens– fully grown cats now–and I did my best to not really see what they were doing to our furniture. Our chenille sofa is much worse the wear, and I am ready to get rid of it. The kids don’t see it the same way, but that is probably another blog post all together. I am really hating the shreds of fabric and bits of white stuffing that are popping out all over.

20130531-172709.jpg The new sofa comes next week, and I decided to do some pre-emptive cat training by getting some new, more interesting scratching options for them. The first picture shows Inkidu for scale. He is just yawning after having spent some time ripping at it and then sleeping. It’s a round kitty lounger/ scratcher designed to give the cat a place to lounge or scratch. I opened it less than two hours ago. The cats took right to it–so much so that they did enough damage that it’s already trashed. I was hoping for a longer, more slow destruction.

I think it’s time to try them with the squirt bottle.

Day two:



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Water Woes

Oh yes. Again.

At least there’s no water damage this time.  For those of you who haven’t followed my life closely over the last few years, let me fill you in on some details.

In 2006, there was a very nasty windstorm in the Seattle area dubbed the “Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm.”  It happened in December and power was knocked out in the area. We were out of power for seven days, which turned out to be a blessing in some ways, but that’s beside the point.  Our house is built on a hill and has a fancy footing drain that takes water from the front of the house to the back when it rains heavily.  This drain failed because it was plugged with blackberry vines, and the sump pump in the basement had no power to take care of the water as it slowly filled that floor.  We had eight inches in the basement.  The cold weather prevented mold from growing as we waited for power to return so we could use blowers to dry things out.  We had to replace the carpeting, the furniture, the computers and repaint the walls.

Okay, not our cats, not our sink--but close enough and too cute not to share.

A year and a half ago, the kittens were in the laundry room late one night playing with the laundry room sink faucets.  The sink is directly above the library.  I woke to the sound of pitiful kitty cries and a sense of displacement to the waterfall sounds within the house.  Let’s just summarize by saying water flows in strange ways when it travels from one floor to the next–the water missed the musical instruments and most of the books in the library.     And I had a new-found appreciation for how USAA insurance jumps in to help.

These things don’t sound so bad when I look at them, but at the time they were pretty darn traumatic.  Then, we had the issue with the Water Association insisting we put a second water line up to our guest house.  Fine.  We paid for it.  Then we had this leak in the system that ended up with $1000 water bills for months on end before we could figure it out.  Great.   We hired a company that empties the water lines and fills them with a gas and walks around with special stethoscope to listen for the leak.  Another chunk-o-change, and we experience our first “regular” bill of $30 a month.  That’s been fixed for a while now.

The water we get from the street has almost zero pressure.  So, we have a pump on each service that provides us with pressure.  It draws the water from the street up to the houses and pushes it through so that we can fill a glass of water in a few seconds rather than, say half a minute.


Sort of like this.

Now, I finally get to this week’s water woe.  They are adding a road behind us and the water district had to rebuild their lines up an adjacent street.  To do so, they turned off our water.  They didn’t tell us exactly when they were going to turn off the water, either.  We knew, vaguely, that it would happen and the first time it was off it was for about half an hour.  Then, it went off for a whole day.  When the work was done, our pumps started doing some strange things.  It started with the first pump to the guest cottage.  Then the pump to our house…and now both of them are cycling non-stop even when we are not running water at either location.  Sighs.

The plumber is sure it’s due to the fact that grit was somehow introduced into the system during the  road work.  Still, it’s a huge pain to have to repair and replace the water pumps.  At least water seems to be our main bugaboo on this property.  Not like we have to worry about…say…changing light bulbs.

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How much is a pet worth?

As I wait in the vet’s examining room, I look at my uncomfortable kitty and wonder what this latest feline adventure will cost. Don’t get me wrong, I love my two cats, but there is something about how much we are willing to spend on our own animals that bugs me. Even as I don’t question the fact I’m going to approve whatever treatment the doctor comes up with for our barely two year old Gilgamesh, I find it more than a little disturbing how easily I drive by hungry humans asking for pocket change on a daily basis.
This little visit will, no doubt, cost us about $100 just to assure us his spate of puking all over the house is just an anomaly and not something like a hairband or stray yarn causing a blockage. Our last cat, Figaro, cost us thousands over the twenty years we had him. Sofas that perished under claws and urinary tract infections, medicines, office visits, and vaccines added up to a hefty chunkachange over time.
If this were my child, I’d be willing to mortgage the house to pay for whatever would be needed to make him well. There would be no questioning my desire to go to the ends of financial ruins for the life of my child.
What’s the breaking price for a cat? That I can even think in terms of “How much is this other living being worth?” sort of boggles my mind. That I can put a cat’s needs–no, my cat’s needs–and life over that of a human stranger is probably understandable to most people even if it’s ideologically outrageous.
I suppose there will come a time when I see someone I know standing by the road with their hand out. I’d like to think I’d be so bold as to do more than hand over the change in my pocket.
The vet has now examined Gilgamesh, and we’ve decided on our plan of action. I won’t give the gory details, but it’s not looking all that serious for the moment.

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