Winter in Pensacola is mercurial, one minute the temperatures are in the seventies, and the next minute we are covering our more fragile plantings and hoping they make it through the freeze. This year we had hibiscus blooming that has suffered from the winter two winters ago, a very cold winter, and we weren’t sure they would survive – for two years!
When the temperatures go down, the Qatari Cat begs to go out into the garage (he remembers it is a very warm place) but two minutes later he is saying “I made a big mistake! Let me in!”
Last year we bought an electric bed for him. It doesn’t get really warm, not as warm as a heating pad, but it gets warm enough that he thinks it is heaven. He could stay in the bed just about all day, rolling around so that every part of him gets some of the warmth some of the time. He doesn’t leave it much except to eat.
I keep it in my office, at my feet. He dreams, snorts, shudders, moans and growls, and nothing I do bothers him in the least. He has found his happy place.
Who knows what a cat is thinking? This morning, I found the Qatari Cat’s baby by my side of the bed. Sometimes I find him at the foot of the stairs. Never in the Qatari Cat’s chair. But when we came home, I saw this:
I had to take the Qatteri Cat to a boarding facility today, and I had a really hard time with it. First, when I got home, he was all stretched out in his heated bed. I had unplugged it earlier, and I had not filled his bowl at noon, and I figured the combination of hunger and not-warm bed would encourage him to come downstairs, where I waited for him with his cage. I had brought the carrying cage out several days ago, because he always freaks out when he sees it, so I leave it out until he gets so he can walk past it without running.
But this time, I kept going upstairs to check on him, and even though his bed was no longer heated, he just kept stretching and turning over.
Finally, I took his bird/stick toy, and teased him a little, at which point he was wide awake, and chased me merrily down the stairs and around the house until we got to the cage, where I scooped him up and popped him in.
As we drove to the inn, he complained a little, but he was lying down in the cage and looked pretty relaxed. I had a big pit in my stomach. I felt bad about tricking him out of his bed and turning his toy into a manipulation to get him into the cage. I know, I know, I am over-thinking this and feeling bad over not much.
So we get to the inn, and QC goes right into his upper berth, a two room suite with a special covered area for his litter. He steps right out of the carry-cage and into his room, and doesn’t even look back. We fill his dish with lunch, and shut the door. The tech brings out the kitty-treats and QC’s eyes light up.
I don’t know which was worse, feeling bad about bringing him to the boarding place, or feeling bad because QC didn’t appear to mind it that much, LOL.
As many of you who know me may know, I am mildly obsessive-compulsive. I like things to be in their designated space. I like a clean house, down to the baseboards and the hidden places. I suppose it gives me some mystical illusion of control in a world where there is little (I believe) that can be controlled.
I believe my faith is pragmatic; I have learned – at least in my life – that God is in control, and that his plans are far better than my plans, although when I am in the midst of chaos, I have problems clinging to that belief, LOL.
But he sends me messages. As I have ended the old year and started the new year in a frenzy of cleaning out and organizing, I have come across lists from nightmare times in my life, mostly getting ready to move or settling in to a new location. Lists and lists of things to be done, things to be checked on . . . and I am comforted to know that what – at the time – was overwhelming, the details sorted themselves out. Things got done. Little by little, we ate the elephant.
As I came across notes and lists this morning, for buying this house and getting settled in Pensacola, I was able to take a deep breath. We survived. We got it all done. Lists and lists of details, and we got it all done. All of a sudden, things assume their proper perspective, and I thank God for this view of what my life looked like a year ago compared to what it looks like today.
We are settled.
I have friends.
We can pay our bills.
We have a house to live in and cars to drive.
We are in good health, and we have a good doctor.
We have a place where the Qattari Cat can stay when we go out of town.
We are registered voters, and have driver’s licenses and pay our taxes on time (insh’allah.)
We have a strong and rewarding family life, and activities we enjoy.
Life is sweet.
The Qatari Cat occasionally has a little problem with cleanliness and hygiene, and since we don’t know if it might be a sign of something serious, we booked an appointment with a vet, the vet everyone talks about as being the best vet in town, so caring. We’ve visited her operation on open house day and we were impressed with her professionalism and knowledge, so we called her.
It was a really really good thing we did. When it came time to take him to the vet, I just plonked the cat cage down next to him, picked him up and put him inside, before he even really knew what was happening. He complained all the way to the vet, but nothing serious, like our diabetic cat who hated car motion and always threw up and defecated when we would take her places.
We signed in, visited with the three little kittens seeking adoption, and then, our name was called. We took QC into an examination room where the assistant weighed him and stroked him and told him how sweet he was. He ate it up. He was as good as gold.
The vet came in, and took a look, said it didn’t look serious but that sometimes you see this problem in big cats and long haired cats, so they would just clean him up a little and shave his bottom.
“Hold him down like this,” she showed her assistant, and the Qatari cat cooperated. Er, well, he cooperated until the first vibration of the razor hit his hind-end hairs, at which time he did an instantaneous transformation into The Demon Cat From Hell, twisting, howling, hissing, trying to bite or scratch, little legs going in reverse, back writhing . . .
“I can’t hold him!” the assistant cried, and she hid her terror, but her voice trembled.
“Get the towel,” the vet said calmly, as she held him down with her two strong hands while the demon-cat-from-hell told her he intended great harm to her as soon as he could get free. She threw the towel over his head, which only made him madder and squirmier, but as the vet tech struggled and held the Qatari Cat down, the vet calmly continued with the “grooming.”
“We use these to clean the bottoms,” she said, pulling out those antiseptic wet-wipes we all carry around to wash our hands when there is no water around.
I just laughed. I have chased the Qatari cat around with warm wet cloths, with wet wipes, with towels . . . he does not like anyone messing with his bottom.
“Now that you’ve shaved him, I think he’ll be OK until the next time,” I said.
Trust me, Qatari Cat, when he is rational, knows I am the alpha. He obeys me. I can tell him to come in out of the garage and he will come; I can pat the bed and he will come lie down next to me. He knows my signals and he acknowledges my Queen-of-the-food-supply-and-warm-body status. Mess with his bottom, however, and all rational thought (in cat terms, rational thought, not our terms) flies out the window as the basest of instincts takes over.
Here is the sweet part. The clinic wrote us a thank you note for our visit. When it came in the mail, I was almost afraid to open it, afraid they would tell us that unfortunately, their practice is full right how and that they would like for us to find another vet for the Qatari Cat. Not so. It was a genuine thank you note, thanking us for our visit. They are totally a class act.
For four months now, since we moved here, AdventureMan and I have been looking for a good cat hotel for the Qatari Cat. When we are away for short times, our son and his wife look in on QC, making sure he is well fed, well loved, etc. but if we are going anywhere for a longer time . . . we don’t want to burden a family with two working adults, a baby and three cats of their own.
Seeking a good cat boarding facility in Pensacola has been daunting. The very best one we found prior to today had a separate, quiet floor where the cats were boarded, but the cages were sterile. There was one cat, who looked just like QC, and the veterinary technician said he was a BAD CAT, and poked her finger in at him and told him he was a bad cat. They had great dog facilities, play times, etc. Cats were . . . chopped liver
And that has been our experience, desperately looking around Pensacola for a GOOD place to leave QC. We have visited so many places, veterinarians, grooming places – cats in steel cages. One place had larger steel cages, but cats in dark, damp, smelly rooms, cats warehoused in the same dank, dirty place with DOGS, cats in steel cages, looking miserable. Honestly, how can we travel? We can’t leave QC alone too long; he gets really depressed and stops eating and stops taking care of himself. And visiting all these boarding facilities was just depressing. We would walk out with a pit in our stomach.
Today, we passed one place – it looked cute. AdventureMan said “you run in and see if they board cats” (it looked like a dog place). I walked in, and there were three women grooming dogs, and it was quiet. The dogs all looked really happy. No, they don’t board cats yet, not yet, because they want to do it right, had I ever heard of cat condos?
Yes! Yes! Like the Kitty Ritz in Kuwait, a place that understands cats, understands their need for security, for privacy in their litter, for some variety and some stimulation under controlled circumstances. We loved the Kitty Ritz, and we loved the cat hotel we used to take our cat to in Germany, where they had kitty condos and a cage full of mice that kept the cats fascinated for hours. Our cat loved to go there! They even knew how to give her insulin shots twice a day.
So we went looking, one last time, and we found what we were looking for, at Village Groomers and We Tuck ‘Em Inn in Pace, less than half an hour from our house.
The place is CLEAN. Orderly. The cat dorms are roomy, one room for sleeping and observing, another room with litter and food. Each cat has his or her own drawer with his or her name on it with special foods and cat toys and blankets – anything from home to help the cat be content and secure.
We reserved an upper dorm for Qatari Cat. It gives us so much peace of mind knowing he will be well taken care of.
I always get up grumpy on Wednesdays these days. My early water-aerobics class at the Y helps my mood, but when I get home, I have the dreaded cat litter to take care of. Thursday is garbage pick up, so Wednesdays I dump out all the old litter, wash out the litter box, dry it and refill it. I gather up the garbage from all over the house, put it in the can, move the can to the curb and then it’s picked up on Thursdays.
I think it took me all of 30 minutes.
I probably grumped about it about three hours, until I had it done. It occurred to me that I was letting a very small (but unpleasant) amount of time totally spoil my outlook. Literally, doing the job, doing the job well – takes minutes. Why do I grump about something so small?
Cleaning out cat litter is not a pleasant task. When I was pregnant, AdventureMan took over the job, because cat litter can hold parasites harmful to babies. Thirty years later, AdventureMan looked at me speculatively, his eyes all squinted up, and said “Isn’t the risk to your pregnancy about over by now?”
You can read this entire story at The NPR Website
No Mouse Is Safe: Cat Gets World’s First Bionic Paws
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Oscar, the cat with a pair of prosthetic paws, is seen in an undated photo.
June 25, 2010
Oscar the cat may have lost one of his nine lives, but his new prosthetic paws make him the world’s first bionic cat.
After losing his two rear paws in a nasty encounter with a combine harvester last October, the black cat with green eyes was outfitted with metallic pegs that link the ankle to the foot and mimic the way deer antlers grow through skin. Oscar is now back on his feet and hopping over hurdles like tissue paper rolls.
After Oscar’s farming accident, which happened when the 2 1/2-year-old-cat was lazing in the sun in the British Channel Isles, his owners, Kate and Mike Nolan, took him to their local veterinarian. In turn, the vet referred Oscar to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, a neuro-orthopedic surgeon in Eashing, 35 miles southwest of London.
Together with biomedical engineering experts, Fitzpatrick gave Oscar two metal prosthetic implants that are a bit wobbly, to imitate a cat’s natural walk. But first, he covered the brown implants with black tape to match Oscar’s fur.
Fitzpatrick said he and biomedical engineers designed the artificial paws so that they would be fused to the bone and skin. “That allows this implant to work as a seesaw on the bottom of the animal’s limbs to give him [an] effectively normal gait,” he said. “Oscar can now run and jump about as cats should do.”
Haven’t done a shot of the Qatteri Cat for a while, and I am always getting requests. He is sleeping with his Dad (AdventureMan) right now, keeping him company while he takes his JetLag Nap.
Here’s a shot from earlier in the day. We get the early morning sunshine, and the QC takes his morning sunbath, watching the world go by:
He is losing a little weight, slowly, the way the vet recommended. When you know how many people in the world are going hungry, it is obscene what a Diet Cat food costs. The QC now weighs under 20 lbs; this is a good thing.
This is a tiny little Qatteri street cat, found wandering, cold and hungry, with an eye infection, on the Corniche in Qatar about 7 years ago. We have promised him no more long airplane trips; it was just too traumatic for him. But – that was yesterday. As long as the sun is shining and the Qatteri Cat is warm, hey, life is good.
One of the things that totally blows us away in the United States is customer service. Every now and then you run into bad customer service and it is so noticeable because most of the customer service is so GOOD. It is so good so often that you take it for granted, if you haven’t lived in countries where sometimes they treat you like you are lucky they notice your existence and maybe you aren’t good enough for their product, LOL!
I have a sweet, very elegant Indian friend in Kuwait. One time she told me she wanted to buy a beautiful pen for her husband, but when she went to the store, the man behind the counter didn’t want to show her the pen she wanted – because she is Indian. She said “here he is, working behind the counter, and he treats me like he doesn’t think I can afford to buy the pen I want to look at!” How insulting is that??
Oops. I digress. Sorry.
We decided to check out the Navy Exchange in Pensacola. Pensacola is a big military retirement area. It is a beautiful place, beautiful white powdery sands, green to turquoise to blue to purple waters, green palms and trees and right now azaleas blooming everywhere – many military people think it is heaven on earth, and come back to retire here. It’s a fun place, the Blue Angels practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; you can hear them thundering through the skies and over the Gulf, practicing their moves.
We get to the exchange (the souks, for my Gulf readers ) I am disappointed – it’s small. There is another building, but it is also small, and I am looking for big appliances, like a clothes washer and dryer. As we are leaving, a store guy asks us if we found everything OK, and we said ‘no, not really’ and he listened to us and then laughed and told us we were at the wrong place, and he took his time to tell us how to get to the right place, and to make sure we understood.
When we got to the right exchange (and it is HUGE!) there were lots of parking places – I love this place. We parked next to a reserved space. There are lots of reserved spaces – remember, this is a military base. The commander of this, the commander of that, a space for flag officers (generals) and then . . .this space. It gave me a big grin. And there are TWO of them, right in front of the Naval Exchange:
In my seven years in the Gulf, in Qatar and in Kuwait, I saw some amazing changes, including going from total disregard of handicapped spaces to increasing respect for the handicapped spaces. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a couple Expectant Mother spaces reserved in front of the Co-ops, and maybe in front of Toys R Us, and the hospitals?
Once inside, I was looking at washer and dryers, and a lady asked if she could help me. I said no, but then I couldn’t find the ones I was looking for, the ones recommended by Consumer Reports and I saw the lady behind a counter so I asked her. She said if we didn’t see them, we could order them, looked them up and told me the price, which was only minimally lower than I had seen them off base, except that on base we don’t have to pay the sales tax, which would make a difference.
But then, she started telling me more. Right now, we could take off 15% for this sale, and get a $50 mail-in rebate (better!) but if I could wait to order until April 12, the price would be 20% off for three days (woo hoo, even better!) AND if I used my Navy Star card for the first time, I could take an additional 10% off anything I purchased on the first day (WOOO HOOOOO, better and better!)
We are about to set up an entire household in a country where we haven’t lived for 12 years. We need EVERYTHING. We’ve been saving, so this isn’t going to put us in debt, but it’s like God just handed us this huge gift when he sent this woman our way to explain how it all works. So I applied for the credit card and was instantly approved, and I asked if I should put AdventureMan on the card and she laughed and said “no!” because what if we wanted something else BIG down the road, then he could apply for his own card and we would get the 10% all over again.
Now, my friends, THAT is customer service. What a woman!
2 Plasma TVs
wireless BlueRay/DVD player channels Netflix
We are going to save a bundle.
First, AdventureMan is coming with me to our Water Aerobics class at the YMCA. He has toured the Y, met the instructor, and no longer thinks this is going to be ‘girly’. From there, we will head for the NEX (Naval Exchange) to make our purchases and place our orders.
Next week, the major start-up grocery shop. Imagine, starting your kitchen once again from scratch. No, I have pots and pans and tools, but the basics, from salt and pepper, through olive oil, flour, sugar, etc . . .everything. oh, AARRGH.