Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day

It only seems like the stress the boyz sometimes create is taking years off my life...

Study finds health benefits to owning cats
McClatchy Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS – Here, kitty kitty....

A new study suggests cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than people who, well, don't own cats.

The study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota, found that feline-less people were 30 to 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with cats.

Yet dog owners had the same rate as non-owners. "No protective effect of dogs as domestic pets was observed," said the study, which was presented Thursday at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

Dr. Adnan Qureshi, a stroke expert at the university, said he decided to raise the question because other studies have suggested pets can help reduce stress. He and his team analyzed a group of 4,435 people who had answered questionnaires about pet ownership and other risk factors.

But the cat-dog differential came as a surprise. "We don't understand this completely," he said, but "it's probably not a coincidence."

Asked if he owns a cat, Qureshi replied: "No. Maybe I should get one, though. With this new research, I think the time has come to change."



–90 million cats are owned in the United States

–36 percent of U.S. households (or 38.4 million) own at least one cat

–56 percent own more than one cat

–74.8 million dogs are owned in the United States

–39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog

Source: American Pet Products Manufacturers Assoc.

UPDATE: Theo stood on the floor underneath the kitchen table during 'our' time. He mewed so I pulled out the chair and he hopped on to that. With a little encouragement I got him to make the next leap, on to the kitchen table. Hopefully his confidence in his ability to make the whole leap will return shortly...

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I've looked hard to find some 'alone' time for Theo and I. Both the other boyz have carved out a regular time for my undivided attention.

For Diego-san it comes first thing in the morning as I'm drinking my coffee and reading the morning newspaper. He likes to hop up on my lap and often tries to climb right to the top of my head. He also has time alone with me when I first go upstairs to get ready for bed. This is his signal that it's time to be combed.

For Thompson, his special time with me is right as I hop into bed. I usually watch a little TV so I'm half sitting up and half laying down. Thompson takes this as his signal to come over and hop up on my chest to get his face rubbed.

About a month ago, Theo and I found our time. It was when I came home from work and brought the mail in and over to the kitchen table for sorting. Theo would jump up on the table and rub his face into my arms. Unfortunately yesterday as he was doing this he missed his jump and hit his face against the side of the kitchen table and scampered away. Today as I brought in the mail he stayed on the ground not even attempting the jump. I hope he doesn't give up trying because 'our' time was one of the small moments of my day that I've really come to look forward to.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

He Better

Parker asked the question a few days ago if Thompson knows how cute he is... My answer is, "he better know since I'm always telling him so." Here's another photo that is proof positive of the fact...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's That Time of the Year

Theo got a reminder card in the mail today that he's due for a checkup at the vet. Since taking all three boyz to the vet is a bit too much of a chore, what I've done is take Theo by himself and then Thompson and Diego-san together later on. I think it's equally traumatic for Theo to have to go to the vet as it is being left all alone in the house without the rest of us...

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Movie Star

I was watching Ingmar Bergman's epic film, Fanny and Alexander. The boyz took their normal movie watching spots- Thompson and Theo on my chest and stomach, Diego-san perched on the ledge of the sofa behind my head.

We got to the scene where the bishop sits at his desk and signs a contract. I almost did a double take because on the desk sat a black cat who was a dead ringer for Diego-san. Indeed the cat looked so much like Diego that for a second I thought I was seeing Diego's actual reflection and I had to turn my head to make sure he was still sitting where I last saw him sit. It's the cat's lone appearance in the three and a half hour movie and it signals the movie's turn to the supernatural as Alexander moves from the staid 1910 world to a world full of ghosts and demons.

Diego is pretty darn talented and I'm sure if he was the cat in the movie he would have received an Academy Award nomination for his work.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Nice Write Up, and a Whiff of or Wish for Spring

The boyz and I wanted to thank Kellie the Orange Cat for such a nice (and unexpected) write up on her blog yesterday.

It's supposed to get over 30 degrees fahrenheit this weekend. Woo bleepin hoo. Quite a change from the subzero temperatures of the past week. I suspect pretty soon the highlight of the boyz's day won't be running into the bathroom to get in line for fresh water out of the tap, but rather they will be able to enjoy the fresh air brought in with open windows. Although given the frigid weather it's hard to remember when that was possible...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Survivor: FvF

Well that was a disappointing episode of Survivor Fans vs. Favorites. I was rooting for Yao Man although he had little chance of making it to the end since he was so likable and smart. That said, I kinda agree with Cirie's decision. She has just as much chance in the couples alliance since Parvati and Amanda can be trusted probably just as much as Jonathan, Ami, and Eliza...

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Came home last night and found a roll of paper towels unrolled all over the kitchen. Somehow this little surprise had Diego's signature written all over it. (Although to be fair he probably was the one who knocked the roll off the counter and he might have had help unrolling the roll from Theo.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blast You Groundhog

I'm just about this close to sending Thompson off to Pennsylvania to track down that damn groundhog who saw his shadow ensuring us six more weeks of winter.

On my way to work this morning the thermometer read minus 11 degrees fahrenheit. The bank billboard indicated it was minus 26 degrees celsius. This is much too cold. It was 28 degrees and snowing when I arrived in Louisville last week. I'm tired, I'm cold, and as this post proves, I'm whiny.

Go get him Thompson. I'm counting on you to make sure that darn groundhog never sees his shadow again...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bizarro World

Apparently I've returned to some type of a Bizarro World. This afternoon Diego-san and Theo actually sat together peacefully looking out the bedroom window.

Usually when Theo joins Diego on a piece of furniture, Diego will immediately go someplace else. Did a little bonding go on between the two in my absence? (Of course the peace didn't last forever as the boyz ultimately ended up in the normal high speed chase.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

What's In It For Me?

On the rare times when my dad would come back from an out of town business trip my brother and sisters and I were always anxious to see what souvenirs he brought back for us. I'm not sure that's what the boyz are doing in this picture or if they just smell hotel on my suitcase. The only thing I did bring back was a souvenir bat from the Louisville Slugger factory and a couple of horse shaped magnets.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Just flew in from Louisville and boy are my arms tired... ba dum puh..

Which reminds me of the one Kentucky joke in my vast repertoire. How do you pronounce the capitol of Kentucky?

Actually you pronounce it "Frankfurt." ba dum pa.

Was in Louisville on business but I did make it over to the Louisville Slugger factory where I got to see them make bats. Also made it to the Muhammad Ali museum five minutes before they closed. There I saw Ali's Rolls Royce.

It's good to be home...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Food Lady

The lady who's been coming over to feed us is nice and all but Diego hogs all her attention...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Something's Up

The dork packed his bag and left in a big hurry... This can't be good...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Makeshift Pillow

I don't blame Thompson for his use of a roommate as a pillow. Diego-san is awfully soft- his fur is about the softest thing in the entire house.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Alex

Contrary to the stunned look of disbelief on Thompson's face, I still haven't told the boyz I'll be gone a few days this week. I think Theo caught him off guard with a kiss on the cheek.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Latest

Thanks to Diamond Emerald Eyes for alerting me on the latest thing I bought for the boyz.

While the drinking bowl is probably better suited for dogs, I couldn't resist it when I saw it. Theo and Diego-san immediately drank from their new dish. Thompson, ever the proudest of the trio, didn't much want to drink from the toilet bowl. That is until I poured cold bottled water into it. Then even he couldn't resist...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

What I Wouldn't Do For My Cat

By Ada Calhoun

Feb. 08, 2008 | Our cat is 6 years old, black and white, and he spends most of his time lying on his back, a loudly purring pillow for our 1-year-old son. He is so loving and gentle that when a hippie neighbor gave him to me and my husband as a kitten, we named him Ferdinand after the peace-loving bull in the children's story. Our Ferdinand carries stuffed animals around in his teeth and leaves them at the foot of our bed each night. I love our cat.

And yet, I still don't know if he's worth $1,300.

One morning, as I was making coffee, I noticed Ferdinand seemed sluggish. In the past, he'd had some urinary tract trouble, common among neutered male cats. When we'd taken him in for this complaint, he'd been treated with a change in diet and occasional tablets. So I called the vet's office expecting more of the same. But when I described the way he was acting, they seemed to think this was more serious.

"You have to bring him in," the receptionist said.

"Now?" I asked.


My husband, Neal, rushed him over, then called an hour later to say the vet had put in a catheter and was keeping Ferdinand overnight.

"The vet said he could have died," Neal said, "that it's good we got him there in time. He said it's very common and easy to fix, but that he'll have to be kept at the hospital for a couple of days."

I was alarmed that the cat had been so close to death. If he had died, I would have been devastated. And yet, with some guilt, I also worried about the cost.

"How much did the vet say it would be?" I asked.

"Hundreds. And then the vet looked at me like he was daring me to flinch."

Neal handed over his credit card.

This scene is played out every day in veterinary clinics across the country: vet quotes high figure; pet owner turns pale but finds some way to come up with the money. Part of it is that we love our animals; part of it is a lack of alternative. No one wants to feel like a monster for refusing to pay for a pet. But should there be so much shame in acknowledging cost as a factor?

In a Slate piece called "How to say no to your vet," Emily Yoffe described what she saw as the two factors leading to the rise in veterinary care costs: "One is the increasing acceptance of the notion that pets are family members (thus the movement to change the word owner to guardian). The other is the convergence of veterinary and human medicine -- pets can get chemotherapy, dialysis, organ transplants, hip replacement, and braces for their teeth."

Another factor, I think, is the luxur-ification of every aspect of American life. For those who can afford it (and for those with credit cards, able to pretend they can), there's no shame in spending disgusting amounts of money on stylish sweaters, "doggy daycare," Prozac and $400 pet strollers (yes, pet strollers). But our cats don't have any of this stuff. They have no more than a catnip mouse or two.

When Neal went to pick up Ferdinand, the total charge was $1,300 -- more than a month's rent, more than all our electronic equipment combined, more than two months of baby sitting. It was depressing; we'd just gotten out of debt. And now Neal and I were spending more on this one vet bill than we had on our own medical care over the past few years.

Of course, unlike the cat, the baby and I have health insurance. While pet insurance is available, it's still pretty expensive, often about $300 a year. If we'd had it, we wouldn't have blinked at the bill, but we also would have already paid in about $1,800 to the insurance company, plus deductibles.

According to MSN Money, "Pet insurance is a nonstarter for many pet owners, simply because they take a pragmatic approach to their animals. If the cost of treatment got too high, they would choose to put the animal to sleep."

l'm not saying we would have chosen "economic euthanasia," but I was surprised it was never offered as an option. I guess I expected a vet to say: "To save your cat will cost more than a thousand dollars. We can put him down for $100. I'll leave you alone with your decision."

Instead, the vet told my husband, "It's such a routine, simple procedure," as if this urinary tract blockage was a common cold. But common colds do not cost $1,300 to remedy.

Recently, I called our vet, Dr. Timothy Mann of Northside Veterinary Clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y., to ask him what would have happened if we hadn't opted to pay for surgery.

"We don't believe in putting animals to sleep because of money," Dr. Mann said. "If someone can't afford or won't pay to save an animal who can be saved, we'll save the animal and then keep it or find it a good home."

The thought of Ferdinand being adopted by another family because we wouldn't pay for his surgery made me miserable and ashamed. But what if it hadn't been $1,300? What if it had been $13,000? There has to be a limit, right?

I asked Dr. Mann the most he'd ever seen an owner pay for a pet's treatment.

"When I worked at an emergency animal hospital," he said, "I saw someone spend $25,000 to save a dog." (The dog had a systemic infection resulting from an untreated wound.) Dr. Mann also told me about pet owners spending thousands on chemotherapy for a pet so they could have a few more months "to say goodbye."

"That seems extreme," I said, thinking Dr. Mann and I would have a chuckle together about people spending what, for some, is a year's salary just to have three more months with a pet, no matter how beloved.

"Well, what's more important, a dog or a car?" Dr. Mann asked. He wasn't laughing.

His at-any-cost philosophy is not unusual in the veterinary community. That's their job, after all: keeping animals alive. The Humane Society of the United States offers a guide called, "What You Can Do If You're Having Trouble Affording Veterinary Care." Some of their suggestions: "Consider taking on a part-time job or temping," and "Pawn your stuff. TVs and VCRs can be replaced. Your pet can't."

And so it is that Americans spend billions of dollars a year on veterinary care. According to the New York Times, vet costs are rising by 9 percent a year, three times the rate of inflation. Nearly every pet owner I know has spent hundreds of dollars on a pet at some point. A co-worker tells me he racked up $1,200 in vet bills in his dog's first month home because he brought her in for every little thing, including diarrhea, which he later found out could have been treated with rice in her food rather than IV fluids. I'll never forget an acquaintance of mine in college who -- ironically, I thought -- spent thousands of his student loans on cancer surgery for his ferret the same year he ate a dead rat as part of an art project.

"They're like our children," people often say about their pets. I used to think of my cats that way. I took too many photos of them. When family members called to catch up, they would ask of the cats, "How are the kids?" I thought nothing of making sacrifices for their welfare. When our very old cat, Leon, got diabetes a few years ago, Neal and I gave him insulin shots twice a day until he died some months later.

Since we've had a baby, I've started to see things differently. Our two cats still get plenty of love and attention -- more now, really, because our son worshipfully pets them every day. They still sleep with us every night. But from the moment they handed my son to me in the hospital, I realized the vast difference between an animal being your child and being like your child.

Medical emergencies throw this difference into stark relief. If our son, God forbid, needed some astronomically expensive healthcare, I would sell all our possessions, take on five jobs, max out every credit card in sight. I would do anything to save him, up to and including laying down my own life.

As for Ferdinand, our sweet, lovely cat? As much as I adore him and care for him, I don't feel the same way. My love for him, it turns out, is not unconditional.

But the brigade that enforces the pets-as-children analogy can be ruthless. Internet chat rooms are full of people with sick pets anonymously begging each other for help because they're afraid of going to the vet and ending up in debt. These posts are almost always followed by caustic for-shames.

On a site unfortunately titled "Thrifty Fun," there's a "urinary blockage in cats" thread describing our same predicament, although some of the cat owners in there have already spent thousands. Mixed in with the complaints is some boasting: "What can I say? I love my cat!" is a recurring theme. In a Yahoo chat room on the subject, one person trying to figure out how to help his cat without spending so much money is attacked from all sides. One poster tells him, "You obviously could not care less about your cat or you would get it the medical care that it needs."

So, are poor people, or even people who find themselves temporarily unemployed, not allowed to have cats? And isn't there something sort of unseemly about spending so much money on one animal given the state of the world? According to the American Humane Society, 9.6 million animals are put to sleep every year because they don't have people to care for them. If we hadn't saved Ferdinand, we would have eventually adopted another animal from the pound, saving it from euthanasia, and we would have had a thousand dollars left.

A thousand bucks might not seem like a lot of money, but it's a lot of money to us. In most areas, Neal and I have resisted excess. The baby wears hand-me-downs. We have an old, boxy TV. We eat a lot of pasta. But now, suddenly, here we are with a luxury cat.

When a refurbished Ferdinand returned to the house and we got him out of the carrier, he looked great. His coat was shiny, and his eyes were bright. It was wonderful to see him again. I'd missed him so much. He and the baby had a warm reunion. And immediately, it was like he'd never been gone -- except for the hit to our credit card.

"Come on," Neal said. "What were we going to do, let Ferdinand die?" There was an awkward moment as we glanced over at the purring cat. I was glad he didn't understand what we were saying.

"Of course not," I said. The truth was: We loved the cat, and with some extra work and expense reductions, we could afford it.

And yet, what if he gets this blockage again? And again after that? At what point do you say, "We can't do it anymore"?

A friend tells me her one-time boyfriend's cat needed three small surgeries, each of which cost about $300. "The first time, it seemed like a lot of money," she told me. "Then the second time, you're like, 'Oh no, not again!' And by the third time you're sort of numb." I know exactly what she means: What are you going to do, say the cat is worth $600 but not $900?

It's a bleak scenario to contemplate: If you couldn't spend that kind of money, you might lose your cat to someone who could. And one day, you'd see him rolling down the street in a $400 cat stroller and think, I knew him when he was free.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites

A new season of Survivor. Can't say I was too disappointed with the first person voted off- Mr. Fairplay. It certainly would have been more entertaining watching him scheme all season long but there's still plenty of others to do that...

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I have a three day trip to Louisville, KY next week. I haven't told the boyz yet. Then at the end of the month/beginning of next month I'm housesitting M-'s boyz at her house for six days.

After that I should be home every night until July...


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What I Learned Yesterday

Just like Diego-san I love to learn new things. Yesterday I learned the plural of the word "caucus" is not "cauci" but rather is "caucuses."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Downtime Expert

In a house full of experts on the subject of rest, here is the best rester of us all. (Just try to resist that face...)

Monday, February 04, 2008


The boyz and I greatly enjoyed the outcome of the Super Bowl. Like my mom taught me, we always root for the underdog (even though I can't remember the last time I rooted for a team from New York). Besides, perfection is so unrealistic.

The boyz were quick to point out how many of the commericials featured animals.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

In Dreams

Diamond Emerald Eyes tagged me with a dreams meme. Here are the rules:

The rules are:
a) Post who tagged you and link back to them and then to
b) Then answer this question: What three things would you do that you have never done before, if you knew you wouldn't get caught, get in trouble or suffer any consequences?
c) Then tag 3 other kitties, beans, woofies, or any other assorted animal.

Since I've never been much for rules, I'm going to modify them some here and list one for each boy.

1) Thompson: Sneak out of the house for a day, chase rabbits and return to a warm bed with nobody any the wiser.

2) Diego-san: Sneak into the refrigerator and eat an extra meal.

3) Theo: Sneak into the refrigerator with Diego without him noticing and eat an extra meal too.

I tag all those who are reading this who haven't already participated...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fetching Options

Theo loves to play fetch. As soon as he hears the sound of the crinkly balls that we have in multitude, he'll come running from wherever he is and wait for me to throw the ball so he can fetch it for me. Once the ball is in his mouth he'll saunter over and drop it near me waiting for the next throw. Problem is he'll evenutally bat the ball somewhere out of reach- under the couch usually and the game will come to an abrupt end unless he cries long enough for me to retrieve it for him. We must have about 100 of the crinkly balls and mice and none of them are in sight meaning all of them are under some piece of furniture.

Yesterday Theo expanded his options by grabbing a plastic ball and dropping it at my feet. This game of fetch actually ended with Theo tiring of the activity and me putting the ball back in the toy box.