Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: cats

Second thoughts and scattered thoughts

Upon reading my last post, about my father, after I had posted it, I realize that it is an even rougher first draft than I had thought. It does altogether too much telling and not enough showing. It needs a serious rewrite, but I won’t post the rewrite. Everything I post here will need to be revised before publication and there is no use boring you by posting multiple revisions of every chapter.

Jerry Jenkins describes himself as a “pantser”, one who writes by the seat of his pants without having a clear idea in mind of where a particular story is going to take him until he is finished. That is what I am most comfortable with, but I think a memoir needs a rough outline to know what episodes in my life are worth including, and in what order. I will get back to posting further chapters of my memoir in a few days.

– When did the pronunciation of schism change? My wife and I say shizm. I have three current dictionaries of Canadian English (Oxford, Collins and Nelson-Gage) and they all say skizm. How long has that been going on? The Brits say sizm. In French it is shizm, maybe that’s where we got it. My impression is that all Canadians used to pronounce it that way, is my memory playing tricks on me?

– There is a scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends find a chasm barring their way. The Cowardly Lion is afraid to try jumping over it. One of the group suggests he go back and take a run at it. “But that’s not the way a cat jumps,” he responds. Indeed it isn’t. Cats have powerful muscles in their back legs and usually just crouch and leap. Our Pookie doesn’t even crouch. He is the smallest of our cats, with legs that are a little longer than most cats. He walks up to our bed , 66 cm / 26 inches high, slightly flexes his legs and he is on top of the bed. It looks like he just floats up without much effort.

– We always thought the mounds of fine rich soil in gardens, lawns, fields and pastures were the work of moles. Some folks told us there are no moles in Saskatchewan and we didn’t believe them. What else would do that? Yesterday there was an unfamiliar rodent lying dead beside our front walk, courtesy of one of our cats. It took some searching, but we discovered it is a Northern Pocket Gopher, and that they make exactly the kind of mounds we are seeing and are hardly ever seen above ground. Another lesson courtesy of our cats. There must be a whole city of these critters beneath our feet.

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How much do cats really know?

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I took Angus to the vet this morning; Angus being the middle of our three cats, officially described as domestic short hair, but mostly Siamese in temperament. He knows what’s in store when the cat carrier appears and did not enter it willingly. Once the car was moving he commenced a deep-voiced mournful wail that he repeated frequently during the 15 minute trip.

Once we got to the vet office he was quiet, probably not wanting to draw the attention of the big dog that came in just after us. Once in the examining room he willingly walked out of the carrier and quietly submitted to the attentions of the nice lady vet, including the two needles she gave him for booster shots. Then he walked back into the carrier and was reasonably quiet on the way home. He knows the drill, just likes to let us know that this is not his idea of a fun way to start the day.

Two years ago, on the way home from the vet clinic with Angus, we decided to go on to Swanson to pick up our mail. As soon as we passed the O’Malley Road corner he began an agitated wail and only calmed down when we made the right turn on our return. How did he know?

Several weeks ago, my wife mentioned that she hadn’t seen any gophers this year and wondered if there none around our acreage. The next day Angus appeared at our front door with a freshly killed gopher in his mouth. He didn’t get any further that day. The following day he managed to smuggle another freshly killed gopher into the house, gopher-888841_640.jpgwalked up to my wife seated in front of her computer, and dropped the gopher at her feet. The gift was not appreciated, but Angus had made his point – he knows more about what goes on around this acreage than we do.

Next my wife foolishly wondered if there were any mourning doves around this year, she hadn’t seen or heard any. A couple days later Angus walks across our front yard meowing loudly, or as loud as he could with his mouth full of a feathery creature. My wife dashed out, crying “No birds, Angus. No birds!” Angus dutifully opened his mouth and the mourning dove flew away. It appeared that he was more interested in show and tell than in a feather sandwich.

How did he know what she was talking about? mourning-dove-1601916_640.jpgOr are these all total coincidences?

Cat or dog: which is smarter?

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I will confess my prejudice right off the bat – I think cats are smarter. I have met some well-trained dogs that gave every evidence of having a keen intelligence. Most dogs, though, if left to themselves, don’t seem to have a lot of smarts. They chase cars, defecate on the lawn and have really gross personal hygiene.

Nevertheless, I have fond memories of a dog that looked just like the one in the picture. He was just a land race collie of the type that was common on Saskatchewan farms years ago. He was my protector when I was a toddler. I clearly remember my frustration one day when I wanted to go to the barn. He knew I was too young to venture out there where the big animals were, so he simply stood in my way. I tried and tried to go around him, but he always stood in front of me and wouldn’t let me pass.

A cat won’t do that, but cats are more cuddly and they purr. They are fastidious about their personal hygiene. They are capable of a much wider range of vocalizations than a dog. Cats can rustle up their own food if needed. I once knew a 20year old arthritic cat that was still a successful hunter, bringing home mice and moles that he had caught.

Cats have a distinctive call when they have caught something and want to show it to you. Some years ago our cat came up to the house making that call. She had a toad in her mouth. She didn’t intend to eat it, she just wanted to show it to us. The toad wasn’t hurt at all and hopped away as soon as she let go of it.

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When we were first married we had a domestic long hair cat, not the same colour as the picture shown here, that we called Moochie. For a few days we also had a dog. At night we closed the door to the stairs, with the dog downstairs and the cat upstairs with us. The cat’s litter box was also downstairs, but we hoped she would be good till morning, or wake us up if she had to go. We slept peacefully through the night. I got up in the morning to get ready to go to work, and there was Moochie peeing down the bathtub drain. Show me a dog that has that kind of smarts!

Cats and compassion

We share our home with three cats. Each one came to us as a feral kitten at about six months old. This summer they will be 15, 7 and 6.

They are dependent on us for shelter, food and affection. They tolerate each other, but don’t appear to really like one another, though Pookie will let us know when Angus wants to come in. But as soon as Angus is in the door Pookie acts like he wants to fight with him. They never do each other any harm, though.

Angus came home twice with a bloody ear and now has two neat v’s notched on his right ear. My wife thinks he was scrapping with some other neighbourhood cat, but he showed no other battle wounds. I think that both times he probably lost a game of tag with the magpies.

They appreciate the comforts of home, having a special preference for the two recliners or the two office chairs, which happen to be our preferred seats also. They often interrupt our work with loud demands for food, for brushing or to be let outside.

Our laundry centre is located beside the hallway between the office and kitchen. Every once in a while we will hear Angus calling loudly. There he is, on top of the washing machine and wanting one of us to come and pay him some attention.

Two of the cats shed a lot of hair; we are often awakened in the middle of the night by a cat wanting to go out. The only reward we get is knowing that they like us and feel secure being in the same room as us. And nothing can compare with the contented purring of a cat on one’s lap.

Despite their annoying habits, we love our cats and think most of the distractions are good for us. Which leads me to ponder: am I as compassionate towards the people around me as I am towards my cats?

The old cat and the old door

When Panda was a young cat, she loved to explore the great outdoors and often wasn’t ready to come in when we wanted to go away or to lock the door for the night. My wife discovered a surefire remedy — kitty treats. She only had to rattle the bag and Panda would come running. That served our purposes and we were happy to have found a way to call her in.

But we soon found that she now expected to be rewarded every time she came in. Whether she came of her own accord or was called, she would immediately go to the place where the kitty treats were stored and would not move until we paid up. In her mind, this was now written into her contract and we owed it to her.

As time went by Panda got older, and so did the house. A leak above the front door caused the frame to rot and we sealed off that door. The side door now became our main entrance. I tried to patch the leaky roof, not very successfully, and looked for someone to do some repairs. Everyone was busy on big jobs, no one seemed interested in this dirty job. Plus, I really thought the rot had probably spread beyond the door frame. Finally, after five years, someone came, saw the damage was not as bad as I had thought, patched the roof, replaced the door frame and our door is better than new.

Panda grew older, wasn’t so often interested in going out anymore, and had ceased to ask for treats when she came in. Our two younger cats never knew there was supposed to be a door just off our kitchen and dining room. They still run for the side door when they want to go out and are slowly adjusting to the idea that we might let them in by the front door.

But Panda remembers. She knows all about this door, and she knows that when she comes in this door we owe her some kitty treats. She has taken to going out much more often than she has for a long time. She only stays out a couple minutes, it is now December and she likes to be warm. But every time she comes in that door she heads straight for the place where we keep the kitty treats. They are in her contract, after all.

Scrambled thoughts on a Monday morning

I woke up some time after 7:00 am and found I was alone in bed. I wondered how long that had been. Through the closed bedroom door I could hear the muffled sound of the washing machine. What was that about? I thought she did all the laundry on Saturday.

After stumbling around groggily for a few minutes, I made my way to the computer and chequed our bank account. Since this is the third last banking day of the month I expected to find that our pensions had been deposited, and yes, they were. I took the next few minutes to spend half the money on bill payments.

Then my wife explained the reason for using the washing machine. She had been washing last night’s dishes at the kitchen sink when she discovered water running out of the cabinet on to the floor. It took a lot of towels to sop up the water and clean up. Then the towels had to be washed. The kitchen tap has a pull out faucet and the connection to the flexible hose had worked loose. It was no big deal to tighten it up again and stop it from leaking. The effects of the loose connection had been a big deal.

Then I weighed myself and found that I had gained five pounds. When I stepped off the scale, though, it did not return to zero. I adjusted the scale back to zero with nothing on it and then I was back to my normal weight. That was better, but still a long way from being good news – my normal weight is 50 pounds, or 25 kg, more than it should be. I feel it in my knees. Yes I’m getting older, but that’s not the whole problem; I’m sure my knees would complain less if they didn’t have to lift that extra weight.

A few years ago I took our badly overweight Panda to the vet for her annual shots. The vet explained to me that dry cat food is far from ideal for cats. Canned cat food contains all the essential nutrients for a cat, is easier to digest, and contains more liquid, causing a cat to feel full sooner than with dry cat food. Since then we have been feeding our cats canned cat food twice a day, plus making dry cat food available to them. Panda has lost 2 kg and is more active and agile at the age of fourteen than she was a few years ago. I’m not going to try her diet, but I have noticed that most weight loss plans ask you to drink lots of water. Maybe there is something in that for me.

I tend to put on weight in the winter when I don’t get outside much. For years I have experimented with different exercise devices and none of them seemed to offer what I needed, nor were they very appealing to use. Then someone suggested a rebounder (mini-trampoline). My daughter has one and she wasn’t using it, so I borrowed it to try out before I decided to spend any money. I have been using it daily, aiming to increase my time to fifteen minutes a day. I have a hiatus hernia and have to be careful not to do anything that would make it flare up and cause me pain in ordinary activities. Last night I came across a recommendation to bounce on the rebounder three times a day, five minutes at a time. That sounds like something I can do.

So now I have done my morning five minutes, cleared the cobwebs from my brain and it’s time to start work.

Looking for sense in the scent

My wife woke me at 7:00 AM Saturday, saying “We’ve got to get out of the house!” When the cobwebs had cleared from my brain, my nose told me the cause of her concern. The pungent odour of skunk was permeating the house.

We live in a mobile home and were aware that a skunk had burrowed under the house. We have every intention of sealing off the perimeter of the house so this won’t happen again. But we don’t want to seal the skunk in, and we can’t do much as long as the ground is frozen. As long as the skunk was minding its manners it seemed like waiting was the best plan.

I got up, turned the furnace off to stop circulating the aroma through the house, then opened windows. Saturday was a sunny and mild day and the house didn’t cool down all that much. We left for part of the day, had dinner in the city and came home to a house that was somewhat less repugnant. I turned on a few electric heaters for heat and we tried to stay away from the part of the house that smelled the worst.

Angus, our middle cat went outside in the evening and it was quite late when he returned home. We didn’t notice anything on him, except that he was wet (and it was not raining outside) and seemed nervous. A few minutes later he was attacked by Pookie, our smallest cat. We separated the two and put Angus in a room by himself for the night. He seemed traumatized and even afraid of us. He has scratches on his face and shoulder; we don’t know if that happened outside or was the result of Pookie’s attack. These two often squabble, but no harm has been done before. It was almost like Pookie didn’t recognize Angus – perhaps he didn’t smell right.

Angus has made a quick recovery and there is no more evidence of animosity between him and Pookie. Today there is a little white-faced tabby on our doorstep.He comes running whenever he sees us at the window, yet dashes down the hole dug by the skunk when we get too close.

Could there be a connection between the skunk spray, this newcomer and what happened to Angus? We don’t know, but it has been an eventful weekend.

The skunk scent has dissipated from most of the house, except right by our entrance door. The hole is close to the doorstep and I suspect the wood under our entrance is saturated. So if you come to visit us, hold your nose until you get further into the house.

Three cats in the house

We are two elderly people and three cats in a fairly small house, and it is winter. All five of us spend much more time inside these four walls than we would if the weather outside were more clement. This makes for some conflicts. We provide nice cushions for our cats, plus two recliners and two office chairs for ourselves. The cats prefer our chairs. Plus, they prefer to be in the same room as we are.

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Panda, the oldest at thirteen, coming fourteen in summer, is a big black Maine Coon cat. She wants to have her long hair brushed or combed several times a day. This grooming must take place in one specific corner of the living room carpet. If we try to brush or comb her when she is somewhere else she will get up and walk to this spot and lay down. She also loves to be vacuumed and will come whenever she hears the sound of the vacuum cleaner. The other cats maintain a respectful distance between themselves and that noisy machine. When Panda wants my attention she will use her claws to tug at my pant leg. She is a patient cat; if I speak to her emphatically she will lay down and wait for a more opportune moment.

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Pookie, the youngest and smallest, will be five in summer. He is a flame point Siamese, and the most talkative of our cats. He will let us know vocally if he wants our attention, and if ignored will reach up and tap our arm with a soft paw, the claws fully sheathed. He will also respond well to being told to wait awhile.

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Angus is a year older than Pookie, a Siamese in conformation and temperament, but all black. Everything is an emergency to him. He begins by running back and forth, punctuated by plaintive cries:”The sky is falling! the sky is falling! Do something right now!” If we ignore him he will bite one of us on the arm to make his point. The bite is not a vicious bite, never leaves a mark, but it does get our attention. Most often, the reaction is a shriek from my wife which startles Angus enough to make him forget the cause of his anguish, at least momentarily.

Why do we put up with these nuisances? Why do we feed them, groom them, take them to the vet and vacuum up the cat hair? A few answers have come to my mind.

  1. Having other living creatures around that are dependent on us keeps us from becoming too engrossed in our own thoughts and health problems.
  2.  There is something very soothing and calming about having a cat jump on your lap and start purring when you sit in the recliner and put your feet up.
  3. Cats are very forgiving. It is reassuring to know that our cats still like us and trust us even if we accidentally step on one’s tail, or take one on an unwelcome trip to the vet.
  4. There is an object lesson in all this. If I can love and accept my cats, with all their foibles and annoying habits, why can’t I love and accept the people around me in the same way?

[The cats in the photos are not our cats, the pictures were downloaded from Pixabay. Our cats do look very much like the ones in the pictures.]

Our cats missed us

When we came home Sunday night Panda and Pookie, two of our three cats, were in the house. Angus, the third, streaked through the yard a few minutes later as we were cleaning the last of our stuff out of the car. He stopped, saw that it was us and dashed in the door. Michelle said she saw Angus a time or two while we were gone but he would never come close.

We hadn’t been gone long – five days, four nights – but they didn’t want to let us out of their sight for most of the day yesterday. In the afternoon I sat in the recliner, put my feet up and instantly had two cats on top of me. This morning I slept late and when I awoke all three cats were lying beside me, each one snuggled up next to me, but not touching each other.

I know that dog lovers all have good reasons for loving their dogs, but there is nothing that a dog can do that compares with the purring of a cat. There is power in the contented purring of a cat that draws tension and anxiety from the mind and body. There is a different kind of purring that cats do when they are hungry that isn’t so relaxing – I’m not talking about that.

For two older people, our cats are just what we need to make sure our days aren’t totally boring and dreary.

He hath torn and he will heal

I took our little Pookie to the vet a few days ago; Pookie being our three year old Flame Point Siamese. This was a follow up visit after his latest ear infection had cleared up; the vet is trying to figure out why he so often gets these infections.  Her theory now is that it may be a food allergy.

Pookie makes these trips a few times each year and nothing horrible has happened to him yet, still he does not like these trips to the vet. He complains all the way there, all the time he is there, and only a little less when he know that he is on his way home.

Once we are home he is my friend again. He is a very friendly cat and will often come to me to let me know he values our friendship and wants a tummy rub. My wife is the one who applies the medicine in his ear, something he would dearly love to avoid. Yet when she sits in the recliner and puts her feet up, he will come and curl up in her lap. In other words, this little guy holds nothing against us for the scary treatment we sometimes mete out.

That reminds me of the words of the prophet Hosea that I quoted in the title. Sorrow and pain are a part of every human life, some experience less than others, some much more. Sometimes it is obvious that we are suffering the consequences of something that we have done; at other times it seems like we are victims of random acts of fate. Whatever the case may be, it would have been in God’s power to prevent the pain and sorrow.

Job found that it was futile to demand that God give an account of these things, partly because the interplay of our actions with the actions of others around us, aided and abetted by unseen spiritual forces, is simply beyond the capacity of our understanding.

Besides, blaming God, or demanding an answer of God, will do nothing to make our circumstances any better. Yes, God allowed this to happen. But, He is also the only one who can help us in such circumstances. So may we come to Him without bitterness or recrimination, love Him and seek His help and comfort.

That is the message of Hosea 6:1-3. Here is the full text of that message.

Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

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