Cats · My Thoughts

How about a Cat For a Pet?

Jesse, my cat
My cat, Jesse

How about a cat? My life took a major change after my divorce from having dogs my adult life to having a cat. What a life transformation!

When my ex-husband and I divorced in 2008, I couldn’t take our wolf dog hybrid, Kita because I couldn’t manage him. For the first time in many years, I faced life pet less which I didn’t like. I discussed with friends getting another dog, but I traveled a lot and knew that wouldn’t work.

As soon as I talked about the prospect of getting a new pet, a pro-cat colleague encouraged me to get a cat, but I had never had a cat. She reminded me anytime I mentioned buying a dog that a cat was a better choice.

One day away from my office at a staff training, my phone rang, and my pro-cat coworker exclaimed, “I found your cat. He’s a stray. I’ve fed him outside our office. Come and see him.”

So, I drove to the office and met her outside. A filthy Siamese Silver Tip cat hedged his way around us. Skeptical, he kept his distance and meowed his Siamese yowl.

“I heard him crying last night when I left the office after a training I facilitated,” I told her. It felt eerie in the dark.

“Take him home tonight!” she directed.

I refused and went home but dreamed of cats all night, so the next day she helped me gather all the cat supplies I needed and I took him home. When I closely examined Jesse, my new pet, after a quick clean-up, he looked much better than the day before which made me realize he probably belonged to someone.

So, I took him to a vet to see if he had a chip—he did. Then, the vet called the owners, and they turned him over to me. When I talked to them, they identified Jesse’s vet so I had access to his total history. The vet told me Jesse’s age: he was six years old when I found him.

When I first got Jesse, he was not a “lap” cat. He kept his distance but seemed to appreciate our shared home. I quickly adjusted to having a cat, and I realized leaving him was far easier than a dog. When my Mom and I went on extended trip to California in 2010, a colleague’s son watched him. I called home every few days and talked to him through the answering machine. Mom thought I was whacked, but I knew he’d recognize my voice and not be so lonely.

After Lin proposed, and we contemplated to a new life together, I had to face his dislike for cats. He suggested first for me to get rid of Jesse and get a dog. I couldn’t do that! So, he compromised by wanting Jesse declawed because he had a leather loveseat. I found a vet that did the laser surgery which was supposed to be more humane that the traditional declawing method, but Jesse still suffered with the surgery.

We moved in with Lin in 2011 and found a system that worked for all of us.

In 2012, I had shoulder surgery and Jesse instinctually knew I needed extra care and often sat in my lap. Now we both enjoy our nightly ritual.

Jesse absolutely loves Lin and responds to him anytime Lin comes into a room with a big meow. A couple years ago, Lin and Jesse started a morning ritual: meowing back and forth like they actually understood each other. I laughed at the connection they have made.

I’ve had Jesse now for eleven years, so he’s seventeen. At seventeen years old, Jesse’s human age is 84 years old, a Senior cat. https://www.purina.co.uk/cats/key-life-stages/ageing/cats-age-in-human-years

In 2016, Jesse got really sick, and I found out he had feline diabetes. When this happened, he might have suffered a stroke too because he started this bizarre pumping of his back leg whenever you touch his neck. At first, we managed the diabetes with special food, but that didn’t work. So, we added insulin and have increased the doses over the years. I now give him shots twice a day.

He has never fought me with the shots. In fact, sometimes he meows and stands by the refrigerator reminding me he needs his shot!

I found a fantastic pet sitter who comes to our house twice a day when we’re gone to give Jesse his shots and plays with him. He loves her dearly and I feel safe with her watchful care. She has texted me photos of Jesse to show how he has faired during our absence.

Now my husband and I laugh about Jesse being senile. He sleeps most of the day, searches for that shaft of sunlight to warm his aching bones, and meows often for food or just to let us know he is still kicking. Another part of being a senior cat, Jesse can’t hear very well anymore which surprised us because he used to have amazing hearing.

Jesse, my cat, on the arm of the loveseat
Jesse perched ready to watch TV

Jesse loves to join us nightly on the arm of the loveseat. First, he perches there, then he moves to my lap to spend the rest of the evening. I love his rhythmic purr, a wiggle up closer and a contented sleep!

Last week I talked about the dogs in my life. Click here to read it!

This week I introduced my cat, Jesse to you. Dog or cat—to me it doesn’t matter! I just need a pet because it adds so much to my life!

Jesse, my cat, reaches over and lays his paw on my hand!
Jesse, my cat, reaches over and lays his paw on my hand!

How about you? Dog? Cat? Both?


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Cats · Dogs · My Thoughts

Dog or Cat? What’s Your Preference?

Dog and Cat

Cat or dog? Strong feelings about one or the other? Which is the best pet? For many, a strong opinion prevails—I’m not one of them. I like them both and see the advantage of each. Here’s my pet history in two parts: my dogs this week and then my cat next!

When I was growing up in a rural country town, Dad felt dogs belonged outside, so we lost many of my early childhood dogs to people running over them—you know how dogs like to chase vehicles! Then my uncle gave us Kimo, a Chihuahua, and Dad finally agreed to an inside dog. This little one won all of our hearts. He didn’t last long though because he got hit by a semi-truck right in front of our house!

My half-sisters and half-brother lived in Denver, Colorado and brought a stray cat with them any time they came to visit. Dad counted at one time, and we were responsible for about 35 feral cats roaming our little village. Dad didn’t want cats inside either.

Nameless

Nameless, my last childhood dog, had a fun-loving personality and roamed our town freely. He loved to follow us everywhere we went. On a hike to Brown Springs in the mesa above our town, he tangled with a porcupine. I ran to the nearest house and told our family friend, Fred Smith, “Nameless got quilted!” He immediately knew what I meant.

To deal with this disaster, Dad took the front gate off of its hinges and placed it on top of Patches so he could remove the quills. This wasn’t Nameless’ first meeting with a porcupine. The first time, Dad tried to just kneel on him and pull out the quills, but Nameless bit Dad, so the gate served as protection.

Nameless had a bad habit of raiding the neighbor’s chicken coop, so our angry friend shot our dog, and Dad couldn’t defend him. I still felt bad with this loss!

For the majority of my adult life I have had dogs.

Windy, my dog
Windy & a young me! Notice the color of Windy’s eyebrows!

Windy

My first husband’s grandmother raised miniature poodles, so she gave us Windy as a puppy—a black haired ten pound ball of energy. Really that’s the reason she gave him to us; he was too much for her to handle. What a joy he was to us, and no, he was not a “yappy poodle.”

When my husband and I divorced, we each made a list of what possessions we wanted, prioritizing them. Windy topped my list; my husband wanted our water bed as his first choice.

Windy loved to travel with me, so when we went to Branson, he curled up in the seat and slept until we neared home, then he whined and barked, knowing we were close. He enjoyed going out on the ranch with Dad, Mom and me with his head out the window and his ears blowing in the wind.

When I moved to Raton, New Mexico and lived in a mobile home, I didn’t have a fenced yard, so when I let Windy outside, I had to put him on a chain I had attached to the steps. One morning, I let him out like usual, but he didn’t scratch at the door as quickly as he normally did.

I opened the door to see if he was okay, and he was hanging from the chain unconscious—I thought he was dead, so I called my folks sobbing. He came to before I arrived at the vet’s. He seemed to be okay, but within a couple weeks, my all black poodle’s eyebrows turned white. The vet thought it was because of lack of oxygen.

Windy lived seventeen years. I made the choice to put him to sleep because he had become senile and couldn’t control his bowels anymore. Mom went with me when I took him to the vet. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’s buried in the backyard in Branson.

Patches, my dog
Patches – notice the color of his eyes!

Patches

While I had Windy, my second husband and I rescued an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix puppy who had one blue eye and one brown. When we got Patches, ticks covered his body, so we had our work cut out for us.

I remember a funny experience with him. Even as a pup, Patches exhibited his natural herding instinct. We had a big backyard in our home, and one afternoon, he herded Windy and a friend’s Great Pyrenees clear to the back of the yard. We watched him do the work systemically. He didn’t care he was a third the size of the Great Pyrenees!

Patches never wanted to be an inside dog except when the thunder and lightning crashed. He required little care but gave so much love.

My mom volunteered often to take care of him when my third husband I traveled, so they had a special relationship.

At the end of his life, Patches faced numerous cancerous tumors, and we agreed to spend the money to treat him, no matter the cost. He died in April 2003 in our living room between us. I cut a piece of his multi-colored fur and still have it stashed away in an envelope in my desk. What a gorgeous dog he was!

Kita

We waited until November 2003 to look for another dog because we had a big square dance festival commitment for Labor Day that required lots of travel during that summer. After several visits to the Humane Society, we had identified three dogs as our future possible pet, but we ended up with Kita, who was supposed to be an Akita/Chow mix.

On our final visit, a volunteer noticed a yappy puppy had caught our eye and redirected us to Kita. She said, “That puppy will drive you crazy. Look at this quiet one.”

Kita laid silent and almost blended into the concrete with his coloring. With big solemn eyes, he just looked at us. We took him outside to see how he would be with us, and he attacked a leaf and entertained himself easily, so we went home with our new pet.

As Kita grew, we realized he had been misclassified. On a trip to the wolf sanctuary in southeastern Colorado, they confirmed our suspicions. Kita was a wolf hybrid. We became aware afterwards that the Humane Society couldn’t identify him as a wolf. We took him to another wolf sanctuary in New Mexico and they agreed with the other one—we had a wolf on our hands.

Kita demanded a lot of attention, so my ex-husband wrestled with him nightly. Once, I watched Kita drag a lounge chair around our back yard—he needed activity. He demanded a daily walk and lots of rough-housing!

Losing Kita in the divorce devastated me, but I couldn’t manage him, so I let him go. Yet I yearned for a pet.

Next week, I’ll tell you about my change over to the cat world and how that went! So dogs or cats? Which is it for you?


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Cats · My Thoughts

Do You Own a Pet?

My pet, Jesse with a Christmas bow
Last Christmas, Jesse with a bow!

The answer for me is a resounding “Yes.” I rescued a Siamese silver tip cat ten years ago, and his name is Jesse. At the time, I was going through a divorce from my third husband. We had a dog I loved, and the Ex got the dog, so I yearned for a pet.

Petless, I floundered. Friends said I needed to get a cat instead of a dog because I traveled a lot and they’re easier to leave. One afternoon, one of my colleagues who pushed this idea repeatedly, called me and said, “Where are you?”

“I’m leaving a training and will be back at the office in about thirty minutes.”

She proclaimed, “Your cat is here!”

When I got there, she ushered me out a side door outside, and I saw this compassionate lady’s work: she had food and water out. She lured the cat with treats out of the bushes, and I was smitten.

The night before I had left the office late after doing a teacher’s training, and as I closed my door, I heard that eerie Siamese cry. I stopped to see where it was coming from, but it stopped, so I went home. I guess it was this cat.

But wait a minute! As an adult, I had never owned a cat! I was a dog person! I have had dogs my whole adult life—a cat??

We admired this sad, scared animal. She urged me, “Take him home tonight!”

My immediate response, “No, way! I’ve got to think about it,” so I went home catless, and felines ran through my dreamed all night.

After my restless night, I succumbed the next day, and this enthusiastic cat lady helped me buy a litter-box, scoop and cat food, and home I went with my new companion. I named him, Jesse, a name I was almost given as a child.

After he settled down and l examined him, I realized he had recently been cared for and wasn’t a stray. I waited until Saturday and took him to VetCo to see if he was chipped. He was! The veterinarian called the chip place, got the owner’s name and called them, then they called me and relinquished ownership of him to me! Jesse was officially mine.

Over the years, Jesse has been an angel for sure. He has made me laugh. He used to like to do late night antics after the lights went out like throwing my shoes around the bedroom and walking all over me.

Since Lin and I married, he’s not allowed in the bedroom because Lin has cat allergies, so needless to say, Jesse doesn’t wake me up with those crazy cat behaviors, but he loves to meow first thing in the morning! Lin and Jesse have a meow fest to start the day!

At first, Jesse wasn’t a lap kitty which I preferred, but I had shoulder surgery in 2012, and his instinct told him I needed extra love and care, so now he takes up residence in my lap anytime I’m relaxing in front of the TV, and I love it. In fact, he’s such a habitual kitty, he parks himself on the arm of our loveseat in anticipation of TV time.

In 2015, Jesse was diagnosed with feline diabetes. He was so sick at the time. Normally he weighed around 20 pounds—fat cat, but he lost down to 13 pounds! At first, we changed his food to diabetic cat food and that helped some, but then the vet added insulin and now has increased the dosage to 3 units twice a day.

Jesse loves our Christmas tree and hides under it whenever he can. After I add gifts under there, he gingerly steps over the packages to get out of his hiding place.

As Lin and I prepared for future travel plans next year, I texted my pet sitter about watching him. She is so conscientious about Jesse’s care. She related her concern about me leaving him during the winter with the possibility of a snowstorm and her not able to get him his insulin shot! Wow! So, we’re coming up with contingency plans. What an awesome pet sitter for sure!

My pet, Jesse relaxing
Jesse Curled Up & Sleeping!

I love this 16-year-old senile fat cat! He’s gained up to over 16 pounds now, and we have managed his diabetes. He’s aging before my eyes, sleeps curled up in a favorite place and moves slower. He loves the sunshine and follows it wherever it is during the morning. In the morning, I make sure I’ve given him his shot before he trudges upstairs to the loft to find his beam of sunshine. Often in the evening, Jesse meows at me like “It’s time for my insulin.” I wonder–does he know?

He’s just precious! I’m a committed pet owner through and through!

What are your feelings about pets? Cats? Dogs?


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