You Rock My World!

It’s laundry day #2, and I’m tackling the bedding in my bedroom.  As usual, my two faithful helpers have been ever-present, inspecting every detail and nuance of the process.  In stripping the pillowcases and sheets, and separating the down comforter from its cover to wash it, I had several typical cat reactions from Toby and Timba. The natives were restless indeed! Toby hopped from spot to spot on the bed to evade the “dangers” of me pulling and wadding sheets. Like a faithful “tree” kitty as opposed to a “bush” kitty, he hopped on the top bookshelf for a “safe” view of the ordeal.  Timba, on the other hand, was fully participative, white whiskers prominently displayed and pink nose at every turn. When I returned to my room from putting the bedding in the washer, Timba was sitting on the bare bed with the most bewildered expression on his face.

At this point I laughed, a good hearty one too, because Timba’s face said it all: You rocked my world!  And how true is it? The most minute changes cannot escape the attention of a cat.  And let’s face it, change is not something any cat is keen on. Environmental change can be intriguing at best and devastating at worst.  From the small things like changing the sheets, opening mail, bringing in groceries or new items in boxes, to the big changes like a trip to the vet and that ominous car ride, or moving apartments or homes altogether. Cats … do … not … like … change. It rocks their world!

But you know what? As much as we can rock the world of a cat in big and small ways alike, they also can rock our world.  Having once lived with a roommate where we peaked at 8 cats together, I have had plenty of time and opportunity to observe “cat nature” at its finest. It’s the little things that amuse me, the little things that delight me: the “eye blink” (or cat “I love you”) for example.  Now that I know that this is how cats communicate affection or acceptance, Timba and I regularly exchange affection in this endearing way. Or Timba’s paw bump to say “hey”, or tapping a paw from my side or behind me to say “gimme some love mom”, or Toby’s odd meow that is more like a prolonged “meh”, or Timba’s “Mike Tyson” high-pitched meow elicited from that big brutish body. From Toby’s sophisticated paw drinking method to Timba’s subtle eye and ear signals that say “you’re pissing me off human” (which I do intentionally quite often because it’s so darn cute and amusing), they rock my world.

The big things do as well, like the fact that I seriously considered getting rid of Toby to spare him from Timba’s early harassment phase.  Or the time that Timba chased a paper wad over the side of the bed facing the wall and suddenly went quiet.  He had gotten stuck upside down. I knew something was wrong, called his name, heard him struggle, and just as I lunged to rescue him he came struggling back up the bed and literally gasped for air for the longest minute or two ever. I can never forget that day, and about tear up just writing this. It was such a scare, rocking my world so bad that even a few months later when he flies over that side of the bed to chase Toby or toys I tense up and listen for signs that he’s moving on elsewhere, despite now keeping the bed a safe distance from the wall.

I love my two cats. I really do – they rock my world and have changed me. Life is better, my perspective is better, my heart is better. I’m so glad I can rock their world too, because the ways in which they react to it rock my world in turn, giving me moments of laughter I will forever cherish.



Cat Proofing Your Home

I’ve not owned cats long enough to know all the cat proofing tips out there, so I’m going to include a link to an article that provides tips on keeping your cats safe within your home.  All the obvious ones seem to be included, safeguarding your kitties from being poisoned, injured, electrocuted, and taking a spin in the family dryer.  I’d hate to see the end results of that oops … that would be one nauseated kitty!  I’m sure the clunking and yowling from dear kitty would cause a person to get the cat out of the dryer before any real damage.  However, as a cat lover and cat mom, I am unwilling to check the internet on those statistics.  I am very visual after all, and Stephen King novels provide me enough horror and gruesome details such that I need not more, especially those involving animals.  Suffice it to say that Cujo will not be on my reading list.  The movie was a source of childhood traumatic fear of an aunt and uncle’s Rottweiler.  I can hang with Rots these days.  But Dobermans and Pitbulls remain threats in my psyche even if they aren’t frothing at the mouth like lunatics.

Alas, thank God for cats …

While I borrow tips from the article referenced above and provided at the end of this post, I would like to add a couple of tips based upon personal experience with Timba.  As a Flamepoint Siamese, he is fearless, adventurous and appears to have a healthier than normal amount of kitty curiosity.  This has gotten him into a bind with regards to spaces between objects and walls or windows.  At my former apartment I had a short four-shelf high bookcase pushed against the window to minimize destruction of the blinds.  It was a window that went from the floor nearly to the ceiling, and access to the bottom would’ve been the blind’s demise.  Oh, and the book shelf served another purpose – to prevent my other cat Toby from possibly being seen by the management.  I was among the ranks of those who could only afford one cat deposit and monthly pet rent, plus Toby is persistent with blinds.  In fact it was he who ruined that set by jumping on the book shelf to poke his curious head through for a view of the trees and birds.

At any rate, this particular window faced the outside beside my first floor patio, and one day I went outside on the patio to sit.  I heard some noise against the window, and got up to discover an upside down Timba wedged between the bookcase and window.  I couldn’t help but laugh at his baffled expression, and went inside to rescue him.  Only later did it dawn on me the terrible danger of this Timba-sized crevice if the same thing were to happen while I was away from home.  I shudder to think of it.

I shuddered even more two days ago here at my new home, where Timba once again found himself upside down in the space between my bed and the wall.  I happened to be in the room laying on the bed and typically found myself laughing at his rigid legs and spread toes sticking up from the crack like twigs.  He tried to upright himself as I reached for my phone to take a picture of his latest misadventure.  But he fell in a little further and become still and silent.  A trace of alarm sparked dimly in the back of my mind and I leaned forward to help him as I called his name.  Before I could get to him, he’d struggled his way up.  Once on the bed he began gasping, coughing, and wheezing, whereby that dim alarm became a flashing brightness.  I pulled him near and pet him, talking soothingly to help him get calm.  After perhaps a minute his breathing was fine and I just pressed my face into his fur and prayed over him.

Afterwards Timba returned to normal, getting a bite to eat, drink, and walk around the room.  Yet as time proved the normalization of his state of being, mine began to deteriorate with the growing realization that my cat’s airflow had obviously been cut off while wedged upside down in a position he may not have been able to overcome.  Again, what if this had happened while I wasn’t in the bedroom? I am nearly nauseous as I sit here writing this.  You can bet your sweet tuna that the bed was immediately moved further from the wall with lesson learned.

Here is where I share those additional tips.  I’d definitely advise you cat moms and dads to be mindful of the spaces between objects and walls – beds, dressers, shelving, even stacks of boxes where they can climb to the top and fall in between.  Most of the time cats don’t venture to these places in our homes, but Timba is proof that slips can happen.  I’d also like to add to the article’s section on poisonous plants and medicines to beware of foods that can harm cats.  Onions and garlic are things I like to cook with frequently and are major “no’s” for cats.  They harmful in any form: raw, powdered, or cooked.  So be careful when chopping them that your cat doesn’t nab them from the counter.  Pick up any pieces from the floor or lingering in the sink.

Other things dangerous to cats are chocolate, bread dough, and alcohol.  I read on one website that cream based alcoholic beverages are particularly dangerous because cats are drawn to milk and cream and therefore attracted to these kinds of mixed drinks.  Also beware of moldy foods.  If I’m really sick my dishes tend to stack up on the counter or in the sink and I have at times discovered mold in containers when I finally felt better to tend to them.

While all these things, and more I’m sure, are helpful in keeping cats safe, I do believe the biggest prevention of all is knowing your cat.  Pay enough attention to them so that you are familiar with their habits, quirks, behaviors, and interests.  Some cats are drawn to things that other cats could care less about.  For example, I know that Timba is a notorious chewer and consumer of all things non-edible:  pens, pencils, yarn, rubber bands, paper clips, twist ties, cellophane or regular wrappers, styrofoam pieces in packaging, etc.  I even found a chewed off toy mouse tail in his stool once.  Who would’ve thought?!

I hope this equips you as readers and cat owners and gets you thinking offensively about the possible dangers hidden in the simplest of human things.  Pass the advice along to friends with cats if you don’t own any, and feel free to share your own tips and experiences in the comments section.  I love to hear from you!

Desperate Times & The Sell-Out Cycle

I’ve heard it said that desperate times call for desperate measures.  I hate to say that personal experience has tested the truth of this saying.  My life has been in economic upheaval for a good 5 years now.  I have had to sell a lot of things just to get by.

My father sold his musical instruments throughout his life and is left empty-handed for the most part.  I inherited musical talent from him, but as I grew and collected various instruments I vowed that I would never sell what was was so intrinsically a part of me, that I would never for the sake of money, end up like my father – empty-handed, no instruments, no beautiful outlet for the creative undercurrents in the ocean of my deepest self.

Yet, that tested saying listed above wedged its way into my life.  It gagged me, bound me, and forced me to stare at my empty wallet, my pressing needs, and my loves before me – my musical instruments.  I have since sold 5 amazing djembe drums to try and rise above my pending squalor.

Now, I must do what I never thought possible: sell my musical first love (my Roland keyboard).  I feel so cheap and helpless.  But it is the only way to meet my current needs.  Unemployed and in need of moving in just 2 short months, I have to have money with which to move.

How many of you have had to sell that which you love? How many of us have gone the route of selling, or giving away, those which we love? Here I am referring to our pets.  It’s an American epidemic if we were to ask any shelter worker in the United States.  For various “desperate” reasons many of us at some point part with that which formerly meant so very much to us.

I am glad to say that I’ve matured enough, through painful lessons of giving other animals away as well as selling instruments, that I will in no way part with Toby and Timba, no matter how desperate the times. Music has always been at the core of my humanity and personality, yet I would rather sacrifice this expensive keyboard so I can secure a new home for myself and my cats.

I won’t have another keyboard like this for a sad and long time likely.  I will be without musical outlet and creative expression for who knows how long.  I may be able to blog from time to time, but even writing can’t hold a candle to what musical exploration and composition does for my soul.

I feel like a sell-out to myself, and perhaps to God.  But I don’t know what else to do.  He gave me musical gifts, and for the sake of money I feel I have no choice but to toss those gifts aside, or at least tuck them away for a time.

In light of this sorrowful event, I am glad Toby and Timba are my other precious gifts.  Though not an intrinsic part of me, they are an enormous part of my life.  Someday I hope to have djembes and steel tongue drums with which to drive my cats bonkers.  I hope I will never again be in the position to have to sell any instruments I may acquire down the road.

Maybe my resolve to hold onto Toby and Timba, to no longer be a person who gives their animals away in desperate times, will serve as a steel rod in my character for the future.  Maybe I’ll be strong enough to find another way and not sell the things which are so critical and life giving, not just to me, but to others as well.  Maybe, just maybe, I can break the sell-out cycle …

Beyond The Threshold of Fear Is A Better Life

Life with cats is wonderful, from laughter at their quirks and antics, to a tendered blooming heart at their sweetness. But one thing I find odd is the parallels that sometimes occur. It takes some introspective thought to see these sometimes, but maybe I see them more because I’m thoughtful and observant, quite like a cat.

So the most amazing thing happened here in Toby and Timba land. After 5 months of living in our new apartment, fearful Toby ventured out of my bedroom. The night before I decided to take him out and close my bedroom door. I placed the food and water bowls, along with the pop-up tunnel and cube configuration, into the hall area which for 5 months has been the Hall of Doom to Toby. He wasn’t out for long, and he stayed primarily by my door, crouched as low to the ground and as close to the door that he could get. After about 30 minutes I just gave up and opened the door and into the bedroom he fled.

Was it this exercise of forced confrontation, or was it the discouragement that must have seeped off of me when I let him back in to his personal chosen confines? I don’t know, but yesterday evening a loud bang against the bathroom door surely wasn’t just Timba. Lately Toby has come far enough out of my room for a little chase fest with Timba. Usually he scurries right back into the bedroom. But alas, too far from the door to close it, in walked Timba as usual. Why do cats feel the need to be with us in our ‘litter box’?

Suddenly, I see a grey head peep around the door frame, checking anxiously to and fro for danger danger danger, then in walks Toby to inspect the bathroom. Yay for a total breakthrough. Even better: later that evening Toby came out into the living room all on his own, and while crouched low to the ground, lean and long with outstretched neck, he indeed explored the entire area. He has been out of the room now all day today, finally living in the courage that cats are made to live in, and finally comfortable that this whole place is his whole home.

I,too, have been forced to confront my fears of the great unknown. I found out last Friday that my outsourced company is downsizing, so my position will be ending. While I will get one month of severance pay, the great unknown is still scary. There are interviews to be had, following devoted searches, cover letters, and postings of my resume. I have a few leads, and I have surprisingly little of the anxiety that I may typically have had in other seasons of life.

It is the shove that put me where I had previously been wanting to go on my own: into a position with better income and a better workplace culture. I love my 2 fellow outsourced employees, but for many months now we have been on separate floors and I am alone, virtually, on the floor with all of the folks who work and act like family. For some reason, it is just how they are: consciously or subconsciously keeping the outsourced outsider out of the inner loop. The isolation, frankly, has been a daily dying to me. I am sociable by nature – personable, connecting, highly valuing of people and relationships.

So thank God for that little shove. Thank God that Toby responded to his own little shove. Together we each venture out into places more exciting, more spacious and liberal and relationally healthy. I know Toby will thrive more, because his courage, confidence, and sense of ownership will increase as he settles into the Great Beyond. And I am only hoping (hoping and hoping) that my own Great Beyond carries an income that will not only relieve the years of stress and struggle, but allows me to have those few but very essential things for my own relief and happiness. There are cat trees and djembes and steel drums to be bought, there are drum workshops and maybe even guitar lessons to be had. There is the vet fund to be created, and aging parents to be helped. And for once in about 5 years, there is a Christmas in which I might actually be able to buy my friends and family some presents.

In A Crisis: WordPress Daily Prompt

Cartoon, humor, bill and opus

My Problems

Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?

The WordPress Daily Prompt writing exercise for today is a revealer of true colors for those of us brave enough to air the dirty litter.  We’d all like to think we’re calm, cool, and collective 24/7.  We all know we’re not.  Only the percentages vary per person per circumstance.

As for me, take a look at the above picture.  Nope, it’s not a penguin blog, if indeed the tuxedo fellow up there is a penguin.  It’s a cat blog, and in a crisis, this raspberry blowing kitty represents me. This is how I respond if the crisis is mine and if it’s financial.  I mainly freak out about financial crises because they have persisted for far too long.  I got stretched to the max till I have nothing left but a frazzled bundle of raw nerves waiting for the next little blow to my financial boat.  Actually, I’m on more of a raft tearfully waving goodbye to my volleyball friend. “Wilson!!!”

Now that the state of my affairs has been stated, aka I’m not rich by any means, I do have some redemptive potential when it comes to a crisis.  Generally speaking, if the crisis belongs to someone else, I am a cool cat. I can offer advice with a clear head, pump you up with encouragement, and let you know hands down, thumbs up that YOU are going to be ok.  I can have faith in others’ problems working out much better than I can my own.

So basically, with my problems there’s a lot of slobber flying around with my frazzle cat “thwppps!” going airborne with every breath.  But if another is in crisis, hey baby, chill, it’s all good, easy breezy nice and cheezy …


Your Problems