Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Adopting an Adult Cat

There's been a lot of talk over the past couple of weeks about adopting an adult cat versus adopting a kitten, as everyone is posting about adopting "less adoptable" animals.   As you can imagine, adult cats have a much harder time finding homes than kittens do.  And while I'd never suggest that kittens do not deserve homes too, I always find it very rewarding to adopt an adult.  Three of my own cats were adults when we got them - Charlotte, Annie (though considered a YOUNG adult) and most recently, Romeo.

Adopting an adult cat is very rewarding, because the cat knows full well that he or she has been rescued.  Usually this means that they're grateful.   My thoughts on adopting adult kitties are that it's easier than some might lead you to believe, as long as you're willing to keep three things in mind.

1.  It takes patience.  Maybe some adult cats are more gregarious than mine, but all of mine had issues that they needed to work through before they could let themselves trust me.  Romeo is still working on that a little bit, but he will grow to trust me as well, in his own time.  Charlotte didn't trust me to do anything besides feed her and scoop her litter box until that first fateful night at the emergency vet.  It sounds crazy, but I think that she KNEW that we had the power of life or death over her that night, and we chose life.  She's been a very affectionate cat ever since.  But it did take months for both Charlotte and Annie, and it will take months for Romeo.  And that's okay, because I know how great it will make me feel when he voluntarily jumps into my lap and starts head-butting me for attention.  (He already sleeps on the bed with us, though I suspect that's partially because he knows that sleeping with the humans affords him some protection from the other cats.)

2.  It takes respect.  Cats are sticklers for respect; and they don't hesitate to let you know if they feel you haven't respected them enough.  I've learned to give them space when they want it.  They come to me on their own accord when they want my attention, and it's so very rewarding to see them choose to spend time with me because they WANT to, not because I pick them up and force them to sit on my lap.  I think that this is difficult for non-cat people to understand sometimes... if you're more used to dogs, it seems so foreign.

And have you ever had a cat sulk for hours because you made the mistake of laughing at him when he fell off the back of the couch?  Or even if you were able to restrain your laughter, had the cat sulk just because you had the audacity to witness his moment of clumsiness?  Yeah, your lack of respect has been noted.  :)

3.  It takes consistency.  I have yet to meet a cat that likes chaos (unless, ironically enough, they're the ones causing the chaos, then they revel in it.)  They like routine, and they like calm.  Nothing upsets our cats more than for us to wreck their routine by going out of town, inviting guests over, or  even waking up at a different time.  Not that I'm going to rearrange my schedule or forego vacations for the sake of the cats, but it's good to at least keep the cat's comfort levels in mind, and try to reduce the number of stressors in the environment as much as possible.

Really, those are the big ones.  I think that anyone who's willing to be patient, respectful, and more or less consistent, will earn the trust of a cat.  Especially if feeding and treats are involved.  :)  
Charlotte, in a basket way too small for her... girth.  As you can see, there have been many treats.
Disclaimer:  Charlotte is pudgy, and it's all my fault.  But don't judge!  She's terminally ill with congestive heart failure.  We've just decided to let her enjoy what life she has left, and with Charlotte, that means eating what she wants.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chance and Lady

Update:  Chance has been adopted!  

I had the privilege this morning of walking two of the dogs that Steel City Greyhounds has up for adoption!  Their names are Chance and Lady, and they are both fantastic dogs.  My husband and I brought out own greyhound, Argos, with us mostly because it would be too sad to leave him moping on the couch while we went out and have fun with other dogs, but also to see how the "adoptables" would react to having another dog around.

We actually met both of these dogs last weekend as well, when we volunteered at a Petco Meet & Greet.  I followed up with this walk to get to know both of them better, and to snap lots of photos of both of them.

Why?  Because I want to tell you about both of them.  If you read this post, and think either one sounds like a good fit for your home, please contact Steel City Greyhounds!


This is Chance.  He is only two and a half years old.  He is brimming with youthful curiosity (he wanted to sniff everything!) and would love to live with a person who would introduce him to the wonderful world of parks, walks, toys, and most importantly... treats!

He is very gentle with people.  In fact, my first impression of him was as I was leaning over him, checking to make sure that his leash was firmly attached... he looked up at me, craned his neck, and gave me the softest, gentlest kiss on the nose.

As an added bonus, Chance loves other dogs as well.  He was very impressed with our dog Argos, and set out to imitate him in every way!  He was also noticeably attached to his kennel mate Lady, and kept nuzzling her, and keeping an eye on her so that she didn't get too far away from him.  I do think that he would bond very quickly to another dog, if there was one in a household that adopted him.

Chance is highly food-motivated.  If you offer him treats, he promises to love you forever!  (Well, I think that he would do that anyway, but they can only help.)  He is instantly alert to the presence of food, and has a particular fondness for people-food.  (I wanted to kick myself for forgetting to bring treats along for the walk this morning, but do remember last weekend, watching as he happily gobbled McDonald's french fries offered to him by someone in the Petco store - along with dog biscuits, dog treats, and one attempt to eat jellybeans.)

Chance has been with Steel City Greyhounds for about a month now.  He's being very patient, but thinks that it's high time that he got a home of his own, and someone to love him.


And here is Lady, who is in addition to being energetic, is  sweet and cuddly and spent most of the walk trying to convince one of us to pet her or scratch her behind the ears, or even to give her hugs.  

This smart girl seemed like she remembered me from the Petco last weekend, and must have been pleased to see me again, because her tail immediately started wagging.  She was very motivated to stay close to my side the entire time that we were walking, and was very in tune with my mood - if I laughed, she would look up at me and wag her tail, if I stopped to look at something or say something to my husband, she would give me a questioning glance.  But nearly always, her gaze was on me.  She is so ready to bond with a human companion who will love her!

She seemed perfectly happy to interact with both Chance and Argos, so would react well to other dogs, but she really preferred to get attention, hugs, and pets from me and my husband. 

Lady is very young  - only three years old!  

She also was very intent on getting into our car for some reason.  I'm guessing that her adopter will have no troubles getting her to go places!  

I am posting a few other candid shots that we took of both of them.  I apologize for all of the shots that contain bits and pieces of my husband, the other dogs, or me:  we are newbies when it comes to walking multiple dogs, and it was difficult to get good individual shots of them!

This was a great shot, by the way, then Chance moved in, my husband followed, and Lady decided to sniff the little box that I kept holding up and pointing at her.

Chance, being curious about a clump of grass.

It makes me sadder than you can imagine that I can't adopt both of these sweethearts, but if I can't, then someone else will be able to enjoy them!  Will that someone else be you?  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I have a Bit Back!

I have a Bit back!  Well, I think that we've been getting her back for a couple of weeks now, slowly but surely.  But we got good solid evidence of it the other night.

You see, after we got Romeo, Bit became 100% obsessed with him.  She would leave him alone for long enough to eat, drink, and use the litter box, but little else.  She even stopped grooming herself, and didn't ask for Petromalt, something that she normally LOVES.  Every other spare moment (when she wasn't shut out of the room he was in) was spent watching him, spying on him, stalking him, chasing him, and otherwise driving the poor boy to nearly have a nervous breakdown on us.

But something has been happening... Romeo has started to fight back.  Just a little, and not with consistency, but enough to make Bit think twice about approaching him.  I think Romeo was probably not used to being in a house with other cats, and didn't know HOW to deal with others of his kind, particularly one who was a stalker.  But he's learning.

Which means that Bit is starting to lose interest in him.  (Thank God!)   Oh, she still feels the need to pick on him a little bit, but she approaches with more caution, and will actually leave the boy in peace for longer periods of time.  (He is happily sunning himself on the window kitty shelf now, in a Bit-free environment, as she and Annie chase each other through the other rooms.)

But the other night, Bit did something that she hasn't done since we got Romeo.. she jumped up on the bed with us and stayed there all night.  This meant that I didn't get much sleep at all, as Bit firmly believes that she can sleep all day, but at night, it's time to wake mommy up for some petting and cuddle time.  And I let her do it, because I'd missed it.  She ran up and down the length of my body several times, curled up on the pillow next to my head, and would kiss my nose every time I started to drift off to sleep.  When I'd open my eyes to look at her, she'd start to purr. 

It's so good to have you back, Bit.  Now if we could only get Jeff to be a lighter sleeper, she might pester him a little more and let me get some sleep!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pittsburgh Marathon 2011 and Steel City Greyhounds!

Steel City Greyhounds is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that is devoted to finding homes for retired racers.  In fact, they happen to be the group that found Argos for me, so it is safe to say that they are near and dear to my heart for introducing me to my great doggie love.  

And I have found out that they are assembling a team to run in the Pittsburgh Marathon this coming May in  order to raise funds for the dogs.  

If you are a marathon runner, want to be a marathon runner (or walker) or even if you just want to run a half-marathon, I ask you to join their team.  You need not have adopted a greyhound to join up.  You don't even need to be from Pittsburgh (just willing to travel here!) Or if you have a friend that you think may be interested, let them know about it.  

And if you're like me, and would probably expire if you even had to run one mile, donations are gladly accepted!  :) 

You can visit the following website for additional information:  http://www.active.com/donate/SCG_MarathonTeam

I love the idea of humans running to raise money for these ex-racers.  It is just somehow very fitting.

Argos agrees.  Though Jeff has pointed out that for some reason, Argos always agrees with me when I'm interpreting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adopt a Black Cat

Black Cats are among some of the most difficult animals to adopt out.  Nobody knows exactly WHY, but what we DO know is that they've done nothing to deserve it, and can be gentle, loving, affectionate companions.

They do not cause bad luck, do not have poor personalities, and are absolutely gorgeous!

So give a black cat a new chance at life, and adopt one from the shelter today.

There are two very special kitties in the Pittsburgh area that desperately need homes.

This is Kitty Kitty, known as "K.K.," showing everybody how sleek and beautiful she is, and such stunning green eyes!

She is only six years old, with so many years of life left in her.

She is being kept in a foster home through the Western Pennsylvania Animal Rescue League, and would love to meet you!

The ARL site has this to say about this beauty:

With bewitching green eyes and genuine interest in everyone, you would swear that Kitty Kitty (aka K. K.) is trying to talk to you. Whether she's saying that it's dinner time, or time for cuddles, KK has a personality that's larger than life.
KK is very loving and attentive to her human companions, yet she isn't needy. She's a lapcat extraordinnaire, and enjoys a snuggle in bed. Her signature move is the lick-headbutt-body-rub-spin-around-and-lick-again manouver. It's very complicated, but KK has perfected it.

So please, someone give this lovely lady a home.  She and her foster mom would love to hear from you!  You may email at sstewart@chemimage.com.  The Western Pennsylvania Animal Rescue League's website is at http://www.animalrescue.org.

And now, introducing Mr. Wilham... living proof that being gorgeous is not just for the lady kitties.

He is only a little over four years old.  That means that he's past the sometimes annoying kitten phase, but is still very young and can be your companion for many years!

Mr. Wilham is actually at the same foster-home as Kitty Kitty.  Here is what the Animal Rescue League site has to say about him, or rather, what HE has to say about himself:

The name's Wilham. Mr Wilham actually.

Tell me I'm not the handsomest guy on this page!

This is my Hugh Hefner pose for the ladies. "Cause I love the ladies.

But I can be a man's cat too. I'm tall and muscular and love to gallop around the house chasing my toys.

Basically I'm pretty much the perfect companion for any type of person. I'm shy, and prefer adult people. I would be happy as your only companion, however I don't mind female cats, as long as they're OK with some rough and tumble games. My foster mum says I'm a champion head-butter and nose-nudger! At 3 years young, I love being petted, and I'm very loyal to my human friends. I will sit in the bathroom while you shower, and fall asleep beside you on the couch. 

He's been with the ARL for a long time now, and really needs to find a home of his own.  Just as with Kitty Kitty, you can contact his foster mom at sstewart@chemimage.com, or visit the Animal Rescue League website at http://www.animalrescue.org.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life in the House

And now for a less distressing post than the last... I always love updating how the animals are doing, especially when there hasn't been any trauma!


The 'gos is as drama-free as usual; I cannot believe how easy-going he is, at least most of the time!  He's more relaxed when we turn him loose in the backyard now, and I think that he's finally accepted that we ARE going to stay out there with him and not just leave him to his own devices.  He made some minor attempts at digging, in a part of the yard that he had seen me trying to dig to plant a shrug.  (I was stymied by an enormous plate of rock under the ground.)  He gave up after a few minutes, and just laid there with his head in the hole, sunning himself.

Yesterday, he went with us to Petco for a Meet & Greet for Steel City Greyhounds.  He did very well with the crowds, as he usually does, and with the huge number of dogs and cats that were there... there were NUMEROUS breed-specific rescue groups there, including one with a very noisy Great Dane mix.  There were also some cats that were rescued from the Tiger Ranch a year or so ago.  WE had a couple of adoptable greyhounds there as well, and I would have happily adopted both of them if we had more room!

Argos, who only sits when he doesn't want to get his belly dirty!

The Cats

The cats are sorting out the whole hierarchy issue.  We've stopped intervening in the fights, at least until it starts to get too protracted or nasty.  We do still separate them if we're going to be gone for more than an hour, and that's mostly to protect Charlotte.  Because there has been a lot of Romeo vs. Charlotte confrontation this week.  He has started to learn how to make Bit back down, though she is incredibly persistent.  He doesn't perceive submissive Annie as a threat, and doesn't even acknowledge Argos as a living being...  which leaves Charlotte, the Queen.  He's been challenging her a little, and she doesn't like it at all.  Lately they've been scrapping over who gets to sit in the recliner, which is traditionally Charlotte's perch.   So we don't let these fights get too out of hand, since Charlotte DOES have a heart condition.  Still, it appears to me that she's holding her own, and Romeo had probably better concede to her.  Now, to convince him of that...

It's not easy being the Queen.

A temporary cease-fire was declared so that everyone could take a nap.

Annie would like to point out that she doesn't ever start any trouble.

Argos, sticking his head under the recliner for some reason.  
Okay, that last picture was neither here nor there, but it made me laugh, so up it goes.

I hope that everyone has had a good weekend!  I forgot to mention that it is a very special weekend in the House of Carnivores. .. it's Adoption Day for the three "girls."  Two years ago this weekend, we got Charlotte and Bit from the shelter, and went back to get Annie two days later.    It's been a lovely two years, my girls!  I wouldn't trade you for the world!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Earless Dog Rescued

Once again I am stunned at the viciousness, depravity, and sheer savageness of the human race.  I stumbled across this article:

http://www.ocregister.com/news/dog-266692-phoenix-bait.html nstrack=sid:328163%7Cmet:102%7Ccat:3165555%7Corder:1

To sum up, for those that don't want to follow the link to the news article:  a dog was rescued from the pound in Los Angeles.  His name is Phoenix, and he is a German Shepherd.  Notably, his ears had been sliced off.  What this told them was that he had been used as a Bait Dog for a dog-fighting ring.  I had no idea of what a bait dog was until today, but was horrified.  The article does explain it better than this, but in short, a bait dog is used to teach the fighting dogs to attack.  His ears were sliced off to prevent an injury that would have to be treated, and his jaws were wired or tied shut so that he couldn't fight back even if he wanted to.

Ugh.  That story feels like a punch to the gut.  How people can do that to any living creature is a mystery to me.  I have no love for those that have anything to do with dog fights:  those that raise and train the dogs, and those that watch the fights and bet on them.  I despise them all, and hope that we do all that we can do to eradicate that despicable criminal "enterprise."

There is no excuse for doing that to any living being, none at all.  If these low-lifes are ever caught, I hope that they get more than a little slap on the wrist.  If the law can't catch them, then I at least hope that karma comes and takes a huge chunk out of their hides.  May they get exactly what they deserve.

But it doesn't accomplish anything to rant and rave about these criminals, thugs, monsters.  It is much better to focus on Phoenix, aptly named, in my opinion, finally in the hands of humans who are going to treat him kindly and look out for his best interests.  He's been bathed, treated for fleas, has no doubt enjoyed plenty of food and kind words.  They will continue to work with him, and will eventually find him a home, hopefully with kind, gentle people, who will provide for him and love him for the rest of his life.

Because damn it, he deserves it, especially after all that he has been through.

And every time I start to feel rage at the scum that do this to dogs, and start to despair of the human race, I remember that there are also people out there that work tirelessly to save them.  Rescue groups like Coastal German Shepherd help restore my faith in humanity, at least a little.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


We always take some time off late summer or early fall, but usually have been using that time to make renovations to the house, or to do household chores that never manage to get done in day-to-day life.  This year, we decided to take a couple of days in the middle of our time off and get away - and we chose Blackwater Falls State Park, in West Virginia.  We just got back today.

We chose this park because it had "pet-friendly" cabins, and we wanted to take Argos with us.  And it worked out really well - we had to rent an SUV to get everything down there because the park's regulations stated that we needed to have him in a crate if he was left in the cabin unattended.  And while we didn't leave him very often or for very long, we did go down into the nearby town (Davis, WV) a few times for meals, and couldn't bring him with us.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


We've made some progress on the Romeo front!  Well, that is to say that Romeo himself has made some great progress in getting more comfortable in our home.  I think that he is starting to feel better - now that his stomach issues and his bladder infection have cleared up, he's more curious about his surroundings, and doesn't just sit in the window or on our bed all day long - he wants to explore.

In just the past two days, he's jumped up on the dresser to look around up there.  (Granted, he promptly got yelled at, and told to get himself back DOWN, but even if it was technically misbehavior, I'll take that over a lethargic, unhappy cat.)  He's also stumped across the floor and checked out Argos, once he realized that Argos was in his crate and therefore couldn't eat him, tried to use the scratching post, explored the closet, AND today he went downstairs of his own volition.  And then when we got back home this evening, he was in the living room, sacked out in the papisan chair that we have back in one corner.

Sorry for the lack of focus in the picture above; I was trying to snap it quickly because I could tell he was nervous when Jeff, Argos and I burst through the front door and we all (the humans anyway) started making a fuss over him and snapping pictures.  I realize that a cat napping in the papisan chair is not newsworthy normally, but this is HUGE for him.  Usually when he's in the living room, he's back in the corner so that no one can sneak up on him, and he will NOT come out.

He and Bit are still at odds; she still stalks him quite a lot... but I think it's getting better.  He's actually gotten her to back down a few times by hissing at her.  In fact, I'm watching them even now, and Bit has backed off and is sulking, watching him from a distance.

Annie and Charlotte still don't get along with Romeo very well either, however we can trust both of them to more or less leave him alone.  Charlotte is going to growl and hiss at him if he gets too close to her, but she isn't going to go out of her way to make his life miserable.  Annie always looks vaguely confused and hurt when he hisses at her; she really doesn't have much aggression at all!

And of course, he's never had much issue with Argos.

Speaking of Argos, he's still enjoying the yard, though we're having some difficulty making him relax out there.  We've finally decided that he's nervous; it's something new, and I think for some reason he's worried that we're going to leave him outside by himself.

Here's some pictures of him grazing on what little grass I managed to root this summer...  does he not look like some kind of forest deer?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fences and Greyhounds

We have a fence!  It's a very small yard, but it should give Argos a place to blow off some steam...  I would say that he approves!  He was VERY excited about being turned loose in the yard.

Though after he got his running done, he started to get anxious.  I think he must have thought that we were going to leave him back there by himself, because he suddenly became major velcro-dog.

Don't judge for the lack of grass.  It really has come a long way!
And here's some other visitors to our yard, and the ones that are probably responsible for eating all of my zucchini blossoms:

Wild turkeys!
So yes, our big news for the week was that our fence is finally up.  Argos is pleased, we're pleased, everyone's pleased.

As for the rest of the house...  Romeo's bladder infection has cleared up, though he's still on the antibiotics.  We're starting to take him out and force him to integrate a little more often now.  We've figured that the longer that we keep him cloistered, the longer it will take for everyone to get along.  Keep your fingers crossed that we won't have any set-backs... no diarrhea, no bladder infections, nothing of the sort.

Bit seems to be reveling in her new-found dominance over Romeo, and is now extending that behavior to everyone else - especially Argos.  She drapes her pretty little self across doorways to prevent the other cats and Argos from going through.  She sits on the stairs to prevent Argos from going up or down.  (She has figured out that he's afraid of getting reprimanded, so will not pass by her or over her on the stairs.)  I think that she'd like to prevent the humans from access too, but hasn't yet figured out how to prevent us from stepping over her.

Little brat.  We do move her whenever we see her doing this, but with Bit, it takes awhile to sink in.  She's beautiful, and has moments of pure sweetness, but she is not always very bright.

No good pictures of the cats this week, so here's another picture of me and Argos, at Frick Park, last weekend.  I feel like we should be in some English gothic tale.