Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stumpy

Stumpy did, indeed, turn up after work yesterday, so he got his medicine and I got a look at his paw--the top side, anyway. I tried to peek at the underside as he walked, but no luck. He wasn't leaving bloody footprints, so I assume the scab reformed.

His paw looks so funny with two naked toes and two furry ones.  :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cat report

I'm getting a bit concerned about Stumpy--for one thing, I haven't seen him in 3-4 days, so he hasn't gotten his antibiotics for those days; and for another thing, I found blood in the food bowl this morning, as if a cat with a bloody paw had stuck same in the food bowl to scoot it around. I'm pretty sure that's Stumpy and he's just torn a scab loose, but I sure wish he'd turn up when I'm at home so I can check him and give him his medicine. Maybe after work today. This temperature will be a lot better then, anyway, much improved from the teens (and even worse wind chill) that we've had the past few days.

Whenever it gets so horribly cold like this, I just want to scoop up all my ferals and bring them inside. I can't, of course--and what a spray-and-snarl fest that would be if I did!

While Leo and a couple of the other ferals sniff around my door wanting in from the cold weather, my inside-outside cat Minnie, being quite insane, wants OUT, particularly when it's time to pee or whatever. Dopey girl...it's like every now and then she forgets that she can use the litterbox. This morning, as part of her I'm-going-nuts-let-me-out routine, she climbed straight up the curtains in my bedroom! Well, it worked to get me out of bed, anyway, since I had to go grab her. She continued to zoom around like a loon until I finally plopped her in the litterbox and reminded her what it's for. She still wanted outside after that, but not quite so urgently. Crazy cat.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Caution: Diet and exercise may lead to strange behavior

Like, for instance, cooking lunch at home on a Saturday! This is entirely unheard of in the entire history of Me. But I did--had a nice piece of halibut and a big bunch of veggies, followed by a sugar-free chocolate pudding cup. OK, and two lemon Girl Scout cookies, but that was the only naughtiness. Although I did have two thin mints later with a big glass of milk. Well, nobody can be good all the time.

I've been on a rather strict diet for the past week or so--a variation on the Special K Challenge (more info here). Instead of wimpy ol' Special K cereal in the morning, I eat my usual good-for-me mix of Great Grains & Cheerios, my usual regular-food lunch at work (Fiber One yogurt, wheat bread with Smart Balance butter, a hard-boiled egg for protein, fruit, and a Fiber One granola bar; I'll be adding a small salad starting Monday, since I just realized there haven't been any veggies in my lunch for a while) or veggies or a salad at home, then a Special K protein meal bar and fruit for supper. I often eat the wimpy Special K cereal for a pre-bedtime snack (especially after exercising) so I don't go to bed hungry, and I have snacks of low-salt mixed nuts, raisins, or Special K protein water between meals. Believe me, my stomach's capacity has shrunk, which is a good thing.

The Special K protein water is problematic because it requires buying and disposing of way more plastic bottles than I normally do. I tried the protein water mix, but it doesn't mix worth a toot. Anyway, I recycle the bottles, so maybe I won't go straight to hell for adding more plastic trash to the planet.  :)

Two more elements: I've cut down to one or two sodas a week, and after the last three in my fridge are gone, I probably won't buy anymore (which is not to say I'll never in my life drink another Dr. Pepper; it is the Elixir Of The Gods, after all). And I seem to be losing my taste for M&Ms, which keeps me out of the dispenser at work. (That's the milk chocolate M&Ms; I haven't "tested" the dark chocolate kind since starting this diet.)

I'd be lying if I said I'd been faithfully exercising all this time, but I have gotten back to it. In addition to Wii Fit, I've started doing exercises from The Core Program: Fifteen Minutes a Day That Can Change Your Life by Peggy Brill (check it out at Amazon) to strengthen those "core" muscles my Wii Fit trainer keeps nagging me to use. So far, the Core Program exercises don't seem like much more than stretching, although that does feel good and gets me limbered up for Wii Fit. The jury's still out on the efficacy of the book's exercises, but....But....DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!

I've lost four pounds! That's two more than the two pounds I've continually lost and regained during the past few years!

It's probably mostly due to the diet, including switching my larger, real-food meal to lunch instead of supper. But according to Wii Fit last night, I'm no longer obese, merely overweight (albeit at the top end of that range)! Boy, it was good to see that. Hopefully, with continued discipline, and keeping my eyes on my twin goals of avoiding future back spasms and returning to a sensible weight, I can keep it up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Keep a close eye on your credit card charges!

What a scare I had yesterday! I got a message on my answering machine from my credit card holder's fraud department, couldn't follow up sufficiently through their phone robot, so I got online instead--and discovered several big charges on my credit card that I hadn't made! EEEK! Needless to say, I hopped on the phone to the credit card company immediately and got hold of a real person to tell my troubles to. It's OK now--she said I won't be liable for those charges and, of course, my card will be cancelled and replaced. I also signed up for identify theft watch--cheap insurance, in my rattled opinion. I'm sure I'll remain a little nervous about this until I get documented proof that, yes, my credit is OK and those fraudulent charges are gone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama is IN DA HOUSE!

I watched the inauguration on a spotty Internet connection hooked up to the projection screen in the conference room of my office building, and I was SO thrilled! My god, what a sea of humanity turned out to watch it in person! Obama was cool, serious, and apparently so eager to get rolling, he ran over the administering justice's words a little. Didn't they rehearse that at all? Oh, who cares--we have a new president!

Not only that, a president who listens to scientists regarding, for instance, global warming and stem cell research and will make his decisions based on scientific fact instead of ultra-conservative bullshit; a president who will get us out of the quagmire that is Iraq as soon as prudently possible; a president who will fully support advances in green technology instead of throwing a token dollar or two at it while keeping oil companies fat and the Detroit Big 3 complacent; and a president who will call upon the best economic minds to map out a path out of the financial mess we're in and help strengthen our economic structure.

Man, that's a lot to expect of one guy. That and much more.

It's so good to have hope for the future beyond more of the usual bickering politics.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The patient is doing well...

...and the meds-in-the-stinky-meat trick worked like a charm. Stumpy got his first proper dose of antibiotic today at suppertime. His wounds are scabbed over well and he's walking much better today.

I gave Minnie some stinky meat first to distract her while I slipped out the door with a second dish. Stumpy was curled up in the same spot by the fence. I waited while he licked up all the liquid around the meaty bits. He also ate most of the meat. Leo was sniffing around very intently the whole time, but I kept him away until Stumpy was done, then let Leo finish off the leftovers.

Tomorrow, I'll dish up three little bowls, feed Minnie, then go take care of the two boys.

I felt so good about my victory, I treated myself to a little bit of spaghetti. It's not exactly on my diet, but I filled half the plate with steamed veggies, so I was a mostly good girl.  :)

Note to self

Never wash a tomcat-stinky towel with your other, regular-use towels--you'll stink up the whole load. Individually de-stink the thing first.  :P

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stumpy update 2

After making himself scarce all day, I finally saw Stumpy in the yard around 6pm, waiting (along with several other ferals) for the "Crazy Cat Lady" to fill the food bowl. I did that, then approached Stumpy nice & slow so as not to alarm him. His paw looks better--scabby but a lot cleaner than it was yesterday. It's still sore, but he's limping along pretty well.

When I got close enough to him, I squatted and reached out a hand to let him smell me. He did, then slowly walked over and headbutted my knee. It felt like a sweetly shy thank-you. I got to pet him a little, then he limped off and I carefully herded him in the direction of the food shelter. I was glad to see his appetite is good.

I tried a few different ways to give Stumpy his dropperful of antibiotic, but didn't get much into him. I got a few drops on his nose that he automatically licked off, but that's it. Tomorrow, I'll try putting it in a little blob of stinky meat. Of course, if I give Stumpy stinky meat, I'll have to give Leo some, too, or he'll try to eat Stumpy's, and if Minnie's around to see that, she also had better get some or she'll throw a big-eyed fit at Mom giving away her bestest treat. It'd be really useful to have three arms at that point, so I could give them each their goodies in the same nanosecond (thus avoiding combat), but ya gotta work with what ya have.  :D

Jeez, it's like trying to make sure all the kids feel equally important and nobody's getting special treatment.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stumpy update

Stumpy's going to be fine, although how I'm supposed to get a dropperful of antibiotic down his throat every day is something I haven't figured out yet. Should be interesting!

The vet said he'd scraped the skin off his paw pad--landing wrong on the edge of a fence, maybe; I worry about that every time I see a cat do it--but it should heal up nicely. Stumpy's neutering went well, of course, and he had his rabies shot and a clean FeLk test, so he's in good shape. When we got home, I let him out of the cage in my garage and made sure he got a good look & sniff of the cathouses with their comfy bedding, in case he wanted to crash there for a while. Instead, he wandered off to the far fence (to get away from me and my cage, no doubt) and sat there quite a while just soaking up sun and maybe getting his bearings back. I don't see him outside now, but it's dark, and he might be in the garage. I don't want to bother him--he's had a rough day.

He was very quiet coming back from the vet, unlike the meowing and occasional hissing he did on the way there. During the morning drive, I hummed "Beautiful Dreamer" several times to calm him down. No kidding, it works! I discovered that with Minnie. Music hath charms, and all that.  :)

He sure was a stinky booger on the drive back--worse than on the way there. Wound-up-tomcat smell, I guess. I hosed the backseat of my car down with Febreze, but I'll have to get a carwash tomorrow, too, I'm pretty sure. Pee-yew!

"Beautiful dreeeeemerrrrr, wake unto meeeeee...."

Stumpy's "Gotcha" Day

What an adventurous morning I've had! Stumpy, one of my ferals, turned up at breakfast limping on a bloody paw. Since he's so friendly, I first just let him into the house and then tried to push him into Minnie's regular carrier. No dice--Stumpy turned into a hissing ball of fur and slithered out of my grasp. With that bad paw, though, he couldn't go too far. So I got one of my humane traps, baited it with good ol' stinky meat, and slowly coaxed him into the trap. BOOM, gotcha!

Here's a pic of Stumpy hating me totally, and a closeup of his poor little paw. (Click to biggify.) Yeah, he's a feral, not my pet, but I take care of him otherwise (food, water, a safe yard to lounge in). I'm not exactly Daddy Warbucks, but I couldn't let Stumpy suffer with that mangled paw. What's another month of debt....

His beautiful white feet are usually clean as new snow, but he's messed up today, poor thing. I took him to my vet for treatment, neutering, a rabies shot, and tests for FeLk, etc. He's in for a no-fun day, but he'll be much improved afterward. I'll be picking him up later this afternoon, and I'll post an update on his condition.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cat toys and new litter

Holy smokes, I actually found a catnip toy--a toy of any kind--that Minnie likes! Minnie came to me as a stray--probably turned out by some wretched college student when they left for home at the end of the semester--and didn't know how to play, at first. She's learned how since then, but only for a little while at a time, and only uber-stimulating stuff like Mom dragging around a bootlace for her to chase, or shining the red laser dot hither & yon. Static toys haven't presented much interested for her.

When I was at PetSmart yesterday getting litter, I spotted this Dr. Noys feathered carrot catnip toy and it reminded me of an incident early in my acquaintance with Miss Minnie when she turned up at the end of her morning constitutional holding a little stuffed cloth carrot in her mouth. I had no idea where she got it, and I was afraid she'd raided some other kitty's toybox for it! In any case, she brought it in and played with it for quite a while.

No carrotless kitties ever showed up at my door demanding their toy back, so maybe some kind soul gave it to her.  :)

So, anyway, I bought this carrot toy for Minnie and as soon as she saw it, she made a beeline for it, picked it up in her mouth, and carried it off to play with it. I had put the catnip packet inside even though she's never seemed to react to catnip. I'm not sure she did this time, either, but she did seem to get a little weird after playing with the carrot for a little while, as if she didn't like it anymore. When I got up this morning, though, I noticed the carrot was in a different position than I left it at bedtime, so she did play with it during the night.

Do cats who don't react to catnip grow into it? Does Minnie like this carrot because she remembers that other one (even though she stopped playing with the "stolen" carrot after a while)? Got me! All I know is I'm going to try some more Dr. Noys toys on Minnie next time I have the money.

Referring back to litter, which is why I actually went shopping in the first place, I'm going to try to switch Minnie from her accustomed clay litter to something more environmentally friendly. Clay cat litter sits in the landfill forever, never biodegrading, which is not good for the planet. I tried Feline Pine, but Minnie didn't like it--the odd shape and appearance maybe; it looks like little sticks instead of being granular like the clay litter she's used to. So this time I bought a bag of her regular litter and a bag of Nature's Miracle which is made from ground-up corn cobs. It's granular like regular litter, so the switch from clay to NM ought to be more transparent. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

And the mystery exercise is...

Well, my sister caught me (never buy anything on eBay that you don't want your relatives to spot on your bidder list!), so I might as well confess: I bought a Wii console and a Wii Fit balance board & fitness program. It cost a ton (they're very popular right now), but I had a 10% eBay coupon at the time, so I wiggled it into the budget.

I'd been considering it for a while because the commercials for Wii Fit actually made exercise look like fun for a change, but the thing that made me decide to go ahead and get it was throwing my back out two days in a row. My boss told me "they" say strengthening my abs will prevent future back spasms (or whatever it was I did to myself). I Googled it and she was right.

At the time, I couldn't even bend over to tie my shoes, let alone do crunches, but I determined to get serious about exercise as soon as I was able. However, I knew I wouldn't continue anything that was boring longer than two weeks--I never have. So I started thinking seriously about getting a Wii Fit. I came up with three solid reasons for it:
  • I need to lose weight;
  • I need to strengthen my "core" muscles so my back will stop spazzing; and
  • I'd like to improve my balance, if possible (I have Meneire's disease, which makes me an even bigger klutz than I used to be).
I'd also add that I need to lower my cholesterol, but that sorta goes along with losing weight, and anyway, it's more diet-related (I think).

Wii is a fancy videogame outfit and I'm of the Pinball Era, so I had to do some research on the thing to figure out what I needed to use a Wii Fit. You tech-savvy folks already know what a Wii is, but for the rest of us, it consists of a console (little box hooked up to your TV) into which you insert game disks (basically CDs), a sensor bar that goes on top of the TV, and a couple of remotes. One looks a lot like a TV remote; the other is sort of a one-handed joystick-thing called a nunchuk (I haven't tried that one yet). My console came with a disk of four sports games: baseball, tennis, bowling, and boxing. You wave the remote around in certain ways to pitch, bat, throw an imaginary bowling ball, and so forth. The sensor bar picks up the movements of the remote in your hand and the action takes place on the TV screen as the game responds to you. It's pretty cool.

The Wii Fit balance board operates like a remote, except that you stand on it instead of holding it. The program reads your weight, position, and force (for instance, during lunges or the yoga Warrior pose). There are lots of different exercises in the Wii Fit program; they're divided into yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics. The program gives you feedback about your performance and keeps track of your progress, including BMI and weight. As you rack up exercise minutes, it unlocks new activities or more advanced levels of current activities. And the activities do make you work to the point of sweatiness, so it's not like you're just playing passive sit-&-click videogames. It's like having a personal trainer but without the continued expense. You gotta "Wii" every day, though, or the program will gently nag you about skipping days.  :)

While doing the various exercises, I've discovered that my forward/backward balance is pretty good, but my left/right balance sux rox.  :D  I can't stand on one foot to do exercises--I invariably fall off the balance board--but there are plenty of activities that don't require emulating a flamingo. And I'm sure I'll improve as I go along.

One part of me that has unexpectedly gotten a workout is my FEET! Wow, are they tired at the end of a session, mostly from minding my center of balance (which was way off) during the various exercises. I also feel the workout in my knees for a bit afterward, but it's not too bad. One unexpected bonus has been really good sleep. I do my workout from 8-9pm, cool down, go to bed about 9:30 or 10pm, and sleep through the night without chemical assistance (until Minnie wakes me for scritches, of course). Gee, the doctor, your mother, your health-nut friends, your cat, your dog, "they" were all right--exercise helps you sleep. Wonders never cease!

Wanna know more about Wii Fit? Go to the official website.

By the way, here's a site I found on back pain and back exercises, plus a little squib on what core muscles are: BigBackPain.com. Yeah, well, I didn't know--it wasn't relevant when I was studying anatomy for art.

OK, end of commercial. We now return you to your regularly scheduled cat blogs.  :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to work, plus books

I love my job, not least because I get two weeks (or nearly that) off from it for Christmas and New Year's every year. But, man, is it hard to go back to work after all that lovely off-time! Getting up at 6 a.m. again blows industrial-grade chunks.

I did a lot of reading while I was off work, of course. First is The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama, our soon-to-be new prez. It's very interesting and makes me alternately hopeful that such improvements could come to pass and wistful that they may be just pipe-dreams. I don't know which to believe yet; probably a mixture of both. Anyway, still working on that book.

On the entertainment side, I'm currently reading Bones by Jonathan Kellerman, one of my favorite mystery writers, and Helen Hath No Fury by Gillian Roberts, also a mystery. Roberts is a new author for me; this is part of her Amanda Pepper series. Good stuff--I'll have to dig up the rest of the series!

I also re-read some short stories and bits of older books. Nothing like revisiting old friends now & then.  :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Mr. Black story

A nice comment on yesterday's post reminded me of a funny story. When I first started trapping ferals to be fixed, I had one fellow I called Mr. Black, a dignified black (obviously) sorta-long-hair cat. I'd never set a trap before, so like a dummy, I put it on the grass in a spot where ferals regularly walk through. My yard is pretty uneven, but I tried to get the trap in a level spot. Bait with Stinky Meat, hide in the house, watch for nibblers.

Mr. Black came along, sniffed the goodies in the trap, and looked at the entrance but did not go into it (he was no fool). Instead, he pushed & pulled the trap around until it was in one of the many dips in my yard, tipped it over, then lay down beside it & hooked a paw between the bars to scoop out every bit of that Stinky Meat! I watched this whole process in awe of his brilliance.

When I came out (smothering laughter) to reset the trap somewhere less "tippy," Mr. Black just stood up, gave me a smug look, and strolled off. He was quite pleased with himself...and rightly so!

I never did capture that smart kitty.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! and Happy Birthday, Minnie!


In addition to being the beginning of a new (and hopefully much better) year, today is Minnie's official 5th birthday, so I made a concerted effort to get some new photos of her. She got a bit annoyed at me chasing her around the house with the flashy-box, as you can see here.  :)   I lightened the irrelevant background of this pic in Photoshop. There are a few more new pix on my Flickr site.

Nineteen days 'til Inauguration Day. I'm counting the minutes.  :)