NEW YORK — It took only six seconds for Jenna, Mikey’s new human, to open the bathroom door when guilted with mournful meows on Wednesday, the newly-homed cat reported.
The 28-year-old human woman entered the bathroom without her recently-adopted feline at approximately 6:22 pm on Wednesday.
“I said to myself, ‘Mikey, we gotta nip this in the bud right away. We can’t have her thinking she can use the bathroom without us, can we?'” the white moggie said.
Mikey launched into a routine that involved scratching the frame, reaching under the door and meowing frantically — “the classics,” he said.
Six seconds later the bathroom door opened, revealing a concerned Jenna.
“Oh my poor baby, are you okay?” she asked, extending a hand as Mikey padded into the bathroom. “I was worried! It sounded like someone was strangling you!”
Mikey said he milked his new human’s sympathy for all he could get.
“I flopped onto my back, gave out a little ‘Muurrrp!’ and looked at her with my big, sad eyes,” he told reporters. “A few minutes later she was in the kitchen, showering me with snacks. Easy peasy!”
Mikey, who spent almost three months in a local shelter as younger cats were adopted during kitten season, said he’s proceeding cautiously in his new home and plans to use his keen feline powers of observation to develop a meticulous catalogue of which buttons to push at specific times “to yield maximum snackage and massages.”
“I haven’t used my solicitation purr yet,” he said. “So far my human’s been pliable and gives me what I want, when I want it. The other night she spent four hours laying in a very uncomfortable-looking position to avoid disturbing me while I napped on her shoulder. I want to see how far I can take it before bringing out the big guns.”
Patience has paid off, Mikey said.
“Her boyfriend came over the other night,” he said. “I could have hissed, peed in his shoes, chased him off. After all, there can only be one man of the house. But he brought a gift for me, one of those track towers with the ball you swat around, you know? I have to admit, I was impressed that he knew enough to pay tribute to me. That guy’s alright.”
Back in the Dark Ages of kitty cognitive knowledge, when scientists wouldn’t go near a cat with a 20-foot pole because they were considered impossible to work with, the conventional wisdom was that as long as a cat was fed and watered, its needs were met.
Going away for three days? Leave a few bowls of dry food and water and you’re good to go, or if you really want to splurge, get an automatic feeder, the prevailing wisdom went. Gonna be away for a week or two? Get someone to check in on the cat a few times a week just to make sure food and water is available.
“If you want a dog but you don’t have time to meet all of its needs, get a cat,” people would say. “They take care of themselves.”
It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong the “prevailing wisdom” on cats really was, and thankfully in recent years we’ve seen a boom in research into cat behavior, intelligence and emotional needs. Among the many things verified by those studies is the fact that cats absolutely are emotional animals and are not the cold, indifferent automatons many people insisted they were.
One reason for that enduring myth may be cats’ famous stoicism. Ignore a dog and she might cry, become destructive or pee in your house, but one thing’s for sure — she’s going to let you know she’s not handling the isolation well. Ignore a cat, and he’ll just withdraw.
I’ve seen plenty of examples of the latter in the homes of friends and acquaintances. The cats are just sort of there, existing like the furniture or plants, interacted with rarely and given affection only occasionally. Those poor cats are quiet, seemingly indifferent, expecting nothing and sadly accepting of their place. They are neglected.
But when you pay attention to your cats they come out of their shells, so to speak. They warm to you. They reveal their hidden emotional core.
Of course, when you raise a cat with attention and love, that’s there from the very beginning, and they WILL let you know when they’re not happy with your absence.
Who do we know who’s like that? His name sounds like Bum, or maybe Bunny, or…oh yeah! God forbid I should ignore Buddy. I’ll never hear the end of it. In fact, he’s on my desk right now, butt parked next to the mouse, and I’m sure any minute now he’s going to decide that I’ve been writing for too long and declare it’s Buddy Time.
Of course, the little jerk attacked his own cat sitter, a friend who has been caring for him when I’m away since he was a kitten! That complicates things.
If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering how long you can really leave your cat alone. The answer is no more than 24 hours without someone dropping by to check on kitty, refill the water and food bowls, and give him some attention.
If you’re gone longer you’re going to want to make concrete plans for a cat sitter to be there every day.
“You should not leave your cat alone for a prolonged period,” veterinary postdoc Mikel Delgado told Inverse. “Cats also have emotional and social needs that can’t be met when they are left alone for extended periods.”
If your cat likes to play, that’s great, but even if the little one doesn’t, your cat sitter can make things easier by simply hanging out, Delgado said.
MATO GROSSO DO SUL, Brazil — Fisherman and naturalists working in the Pantanal have reported a strange sight in recent weeks — a domestic cat tagging along with jaguars.
The gray tabby was observed lounging on the banks of the Amazon, napping in a tree and struggling to take bites out of a caiman killed by a generous jaguar, witnesses reported.
“HQ, we’ve got something extraordinary here,” a naturalist was heard reporting over local radio channels. “A jaguarundi is — no, scratch that — a house cat! A house cat is following a group of jaguars from the river bank into the deeper jungle.”
The feline in question was identified as Buddy the Cat of New York after his concerned human reached out to local authorities and appealed to the Brazilian press for his safe return.
“He does this all the time,” the New York man, identified as Big Buddy, told an interviewer from Folha De S. Paulo. “First he broke into the tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and tried to get the tigers to accept him, only to be claimed as a cub by one of the tigresses. It took weeks to convince the zoo to get him out, and when I got him home I had to bathe him five times just to get the stink of tiger saliva off his fur.
“Then somehow he made his way to Tanzania, where he wandered around the Maasai Steppe for a few weeks trying to get into a lion pride. He failed miserably in that endeavor, too. Now with the jaguars. It never ends.”
The exasperated New York man claimed responsibility for his failure to keep his “ridiculous” cat from adventuring, but also blamed the transportation industry for accommodating Buddy.
“Who the hell allows an unaccompanied cat to take a bus or board an airplane?” he asked. “How did he end up in first class, sipping champagne and buzzing the stewardesses for more turkey every five minutes? I’m told he got quite drunk and threatened to become combative if he didn’t get an entire fried turkey.”
Asked why his cat was obsessed with ingratiating himself to larger cat species, Big Buddy answered without hesitation.
“He’s a dumbass,” the human said. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very cute, very loving little guy, and often a good boy, but a dumbass all the same.”
Buddy’s human said the 10-pound domestic cat often tears around the house, ambushing animate and inanimate objects and practicing his roar, “but he sounds like Elmo singing a funk song in falsetto.”
As of press time, Buddy the Cat still hadn’t returned home. Jaguars are known to be extraordinarily laid back compared to other big cats, and a loosely-affiliated group of the South American apex predators seemed to tolerate the domestic kitty.
“I can’t leave now,” Buddy told reporters. “They’ve begun to accept me! It would be a violation of trust if I just left them to eat all this delicious food by themselves.”
Kinich Ahau, the local jaguar elder, said his extended family had taken a liking to Buddy.
“Have you heard of this turkey? We did not know of it. It is wondrous!” the great jaguar said. “Buddy, or Kinich Bajo as he is known to us, has also shared great wisdom in the form of new and comfortable napping techniques. On the first night, we observed him construct a soft bed of leaves for himself in the crook of a branch, and over the following suns and moons we have come to appreciate softer napping spots.”
Buddy had sparked a renaissance in jaguarian napping technique, Kinich Ahau said.
“Nobody naps like Buddy,” he said. “No one!”
With the fond support of the Amazon’s jaguars, Buddy was set to undergo an ancient shamanistic ritual involving the imbibing of Ayahuasca, a powerful psychoactive brew said to reveal cosmological secrets to those who drink it as part of a spiritual ceremony.
“We would not have invited Kinich Bajo, or Buddy as you call him, to commune with the ancient B’alam (jaguar) spirits if we did not sense a deep spirituality and wisdom inside him,” said an elder jaguar shaman named Mike the Melanistic. “He has shown us the way in matters of snacking and napping, and now as we welcome him to our ethereal fraternity, we shall accompany him on his journey to the stars, where he will drink of the deep knowledge of our ancestors.”
Buddy himself told a reporter he was looking forward to the ceremony.
“It’ll grant me, like, awesome powers and shit,” he said. “I’ll be able to disappear in a puff of mist like the jaguars do, my muscles will get bigger and, like, I’ll be able to sniff out snacks from up to a mile away. Pretty cool, if you ask me.”
At press time the jaguar shaman elders said the ceremony does not, in fact, grant such powers.
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been kind to pets, but the virus itself has done little damage to animals compared to the actions of scared and misinformed people.
After finally admitting it had a human-to-human transmissible virus on its hands — months after it knew privately about the virus outbreak — the Chinese government waged a war on pets in the first few weeks of 2020 as the world watched in horror.
People abandoned pets en masse in empty homes and apartments, while government authorities shot dogs and cats on sight to prevent the spread of the virus even though there was no evidence they could be infected, much less pass the virus to people. As paranoia and misinformation spread, people even resorted to clubbing pets to death on the streets.
Now we know cats can get the virus, but there’s still no evidence they can transmit it to humans, which makes the practice of killing COVID-infected pets even more infuriating in addition to pointless.
The latest incident is from Vietnam, where authorities killed 15 dogs and a cat belonging to a local bricklayer who returned to his home province after work dried up. Authorities seized his pets and “destroyed them” last week in what a government official is now calling a mistake prompted by “COVID prevention pressure and local coercion.”
That story follows an incident in the Chinese city of Harbin, where three cats were euthanized in late September — over the owner’s objections — by authorities who said they were worried the pets would “re-infect” their owners.
Pet ownership and respect for animals among the public has increased in countries like China and Vietnam in recent years, prompted by an increase in disposable income and the influence of the internet. Both cases caused widespread backlash in their respective countries, with users defying laws prohibiting criticism of government to complain about the pet killings.
“It doesn’t seem very realistic that the cats would contaminate the environment so badly that they would be a risk for their owner to re-contract COVID,” Rachael Tarlinton, a virology professor at the UK’s University of Nottingham, told Reuters.
He REALLY Wanted His Cat Back
Meanwhile in Australia, a former soldier has pleaded guilty to reduced charges after he “stormed” a pet shelter in Melbourne’s suburbs to recover his cat in January.
Prosecutors say 45-year-old Tony Wittman was outfitted with a fake but real-looking rifle and full military gear when he went to the Lost Dog’s Home in Cranbourne West late on a January night, holding a female employee at gunpoint while demanding to know where the cats were kept.
Wittman had called the shelter 10 minutes before it closed earlier that night, Australian media reported at the time, and was told the shelter had recovered his cat, but that he’d have to wait until morning to claim her.
Wittman, who threatened to shoot the employee if she didn’t comply with his demands, told the court he suffers from PTSD and felt he needed to retrieve the lost feline immediately because he “loves his cat and relies on his cat for support.”
Wittman got spooked and left the shelter before taking his cat. He dumped his tactical vest and other gear in bushes not far from the shelter.
The incident was captured on the shelter’s security cameras, and Wittman was caught when he dropped by the following morning to pick up his cat as if nothing had happened.
“The victim and her work colleagues are absolutely traumatised by what’s happened,” a detective told the court in an earlier hearing. “He’s aware of their workplace. He lives close by. He has shown a complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the general public.”
Wittman’s lawyers were able to negotiate a deal with prosecutors in exchange for a guilty plea to lesser charges
How could you force your husband to dump his beloved 18-year-old cat?
That’s the question many incredulous Redditors are asking after a woman told her story on a popular sub-Reddit called “Am I The Asshole?” for people second-guessing their decisions.
The woman who wrote the post said she and her husband got married about a year ago and they took the usual steps when introducing her pit bull to her husband’s cat. They started, she wrote, “by initially separating them, then by introducing them to each other’s smells, followed by letting them see each other whilst at a safe distance.”
“They appeared to get along, but after a day, the cat began making [its] dislike for the dog VERY clear,” she wrote.
The couple hasn’t been successful keeping the peace, she added, and a veterinarian who examined the cat said he was in perfect health, apparently eliminating health reasons for the cat’s alleged hostility toward the dog.
Finally, the wife “brought up the idea” of surrendering the cat. “Brought up” may mean “demanded” in this instance, but the nature of stories like this means both parties would be unreliable narrators. We just don’t know. She said she’s pregnant, which was another factor in her decision.
“We argued virtually nonstop about this for days, until my husband finally agreed to take his cat to said cat sanctuary,” she wrote. “However, he is still pretty upset with me.”
Most users weren’t too happy with the wife, others waved the post off as the work of a troll — albeit one who forgot the cardinal rule of trolling, that it should be funny — and some blamed the husband for caving.
“Anyone that rehomes an animal for someone they are screwing deserves the shit they will have to put up with being with that person,” one ticked-off user wrote.
Most of the condemnatory posts came from people who were incredulous not only that the wife made her husband give up his cat, but that the poor cat is 18 years old and has known nothing but a life with his human.
“Dear God, I hope this isn’t real,” one user wrote, while another summed it up succinctly: “Everything about this sucks.”
The feedback wasn’t split along gender lines either. Most users who identified themselves as female expressed concern for the cat.
“My husband’s cat passed 3 years ago at 18 years. And he would absolutely have rehomed me before he rehomed his cat,” one woman wrote. “Not that I would ever have suggested it, of course – I loved that little fart machine.”
I don’t have much to add to this, as the people who responded pretty much covered the bases. I’d like to believe this was someone’s misguided idea of humor, but in one sense it doesn’t matter because scenarios like this one play out all the time. If it is authentic, then the subtext says a lot: While the author says she “brought up the idea” of rehoming, she also says she and her husband “argued virtually nonstop” about the situation for days, and acknowledges that “he’s still pretty upset with me.”
It’s probably safe to say that’s an understatement, especially if she’s soliciting judgment from strangers on the internet as she second-guesses herself. (Side note: The idea of a sub-Reddit specifically for “catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you,” is pretty cool. All of us could use some outside perspective at times.)
As cat-lovers (and animal-lovers in general) know, rehoming is brutal on the pet, leads to depression and can cause serious physical ailments. For an 18-year-old cat, it’s even worse.
I hope the wife has a change of heart and they take the cat back, then get to work on figuring out how to keep the peace for real this time.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.