The Three Truths of Cats

I’ve been a cat owner essentially all my life.  We got my lil sister Sweetie Pie when I was three.  Jack-Jack was an adoption of a 12 year old boy who needed respite from his busy house.  Tony and Gino were adoptees from the Katrina disaster.  Razputin, my current baby, was an adoptee who wouldn’t let me leave without him.  I’ve had a full menagerie in my life, but I always come back to cats as the lil furry companions I relate the most to.
Over the years I’ve found some things that cat owners will completely understand.  In the spirit of our Third Anniversary I thought I’d mention the top three things cat owners understand.

3.) They are the pauper kings/queens of the residence:

Every cat rules his or her house.  At least they believe they do.  Strangely however they are all entirely reliant on their chosen hairless housemate for food, water, and entertainment.  It’s unusual to have a tiny little fur-face essentially tell you what to do (and you do it…at least you’d better) when you are, at least logically, the boss round the place.  As royalty they can also be adorably mentally abusive.  They will innocently use noise (mreoow…mreeeeow…MREEEOW) to get you up at 2am.  Then look at you like, “what? Oh did that wake you?  Sorry, but as long as you’re up…look at this toy!  Or these treats!  And pet me here!”  They can destroy your whole world [40k players understand how a furry monstrous creature, eternal warrior, with hatred (all models), and 12D6 attacks can wreck your gaming s**t].  Then look at you with a sweet kitty face and make you love them for it.  If that’s not the behavior of an insecure monarch I don’t know what is…

2.) They see many things…maybe even dead people…
They will stare.  Stare at things.  There’s nothing there…but there’s SOMETHING there.  Sweetie (miss my lil sis) stared mostly at ME.  It’s unnerving to be eyed by a predator.  Even a little cute one.  Jack-Jack (he was connected to me and we gave him the best last years of his life we could) was nearly blind but his hood-eyed scowl often drew attention.  Tony only stares to smash things and even as a senior cat now he still has that young man athleticism.  Gino (miss my lil crazy booboo) would just stare…at dust or fuzzies or microscopic particles only visible with an electron microscope.  Raz stares up walls and at ceilings.  But often…there’s nothing there.  At least nothing I can see.  Occasionally I’ll spot a tiny bug or a spot on the wall that has his attention.  But sometimes nothing.  He’s intently staring at the air.  And cats do that.  Just stare, fascinated by the various nematodes and bogeymen only visible to cat-kind.  I know this.  I’m not worried about it…but every now and then I’m drawn into the fantasy.  I get up to check what he’s staring at.   I think he does it to laugh at me…

1.) You mean NOTHING….but you mean everything…

Cats are the world’s greatest actors.  They make you feel tiny, usually from self-important cattitude, but in the end one slow blink, one head butt, or one nose touch lets you know that, even though they make you feel utterly beneath contempt…they’re as glad to have you as you are to have them.  I know my various babies liked to pretend I mean nothing to them…but for all the kitty bravado they all loved to have me there…even when all they wanted was for me to be in the same space as them.   And for us, we’re happy to be in their space too.

Look for Life with Raz Cat coming soon on RevPub!  A webcomic series featuring stories from life with a Mad Russian Blue!


It’s good to be the king…

Weird Pets: We Love Them Too

When I tell people I have a dog and a bird, I get raised eyebrows and strange looks. Sure, most people understand the dog, but a bird? They ask, “Why do you have a bird?” “Does it talk?” and “What do you do with a bird?”

A lot of people think a pet should just be a dog or a cat. Dogs and cats are “real” pets because you can play with them and/or cuddle with them. If you have a bird, reptile, amphibian, or any other animal that doesn’t fall into the traditional pet category, it’s weird.

These people should open their eyes (and minds) a little.

Friday afternoon as I sat in traffic, I received the call about my bird, Snowflake, passing away. She sat comfortably in her cage, where she used to lay eggs, and fell asleep for the last time. She did not suffer and simply died from old age.

Snowflake the cockatiel
She loved to explore our bedroom.

I won’t lie, it hurt. A lot. I cried the whole way home. I thought, if she wasn’t a real pet, this wouldn’t hurt so much…

We adopted Snowflake 15 years ago when she landed on someone’s head, and they brought her to us. Growing up, I only had dogs and maybe a cat, but there was no way I would let her just fly out a window. She needed a home, and I was happy to care for her.

Snowflake was more than just a pied cockatiel. She was sweet and affectionate. She was moody and hostile. She hated men of her kind and mine. She loved heavy metal, hated the answering machine, protected the women in the house, and only wanted to socialize on her terms. She loved popcorn and Doritos. Snowflake had personality.

Snowflake the cockatiel
Snowflake rubbing her head on my cheek.

When I got married and moved into my current house, she was the only thing – other than clothes and a few posters – that was mine. Sure, she was the family pet, but we shared a special bond. I talked to her like she was a person, I let her fly around my room, and she loved to walk on my bed. And she’d fly back and forth, from one window to another, when she didn’t want to go back into her cage. Sometimes I’d cuss at her for that, too, as I balanced on chairs and my bed while offering my hand as a perch.

No matter the animal, we grow attached to them. Sometimes we talk to them when we can’t talk to anyone else – animals can’t gossip or argue. In fact, they may be the only ones in the world we can completely trust. There’s no judgment or criticism.

So, to those who don’t understand why someone has a nontraditional pet: Think about having a confidant who is understanding, loyal, and can offer peace and normalcy during the toughest times. We depend on them, whether we realize it or not, just as they depend on us for food, shelter, and water. We need them as much as they need us.

A special thanks to Snowflake, one of the best pets I’ve ever owned. The house won’t be the same without her…

Snowflake the cockatiel
Perched on top of my curtain rods where she’d spend hours in my room…

Off the Charts: River Monsters

Off The Charts Header

“I love a fishing show.”

Words I never thought I’d say.  Or even consider.  Having grown up in the era of Bill Dance and Bass Masters and seeing balding men in fiber glass boats holding skinny fishing rods on calm lakes I can see why that would be…  But in 2009 Jeremy Wade changed the dynamic with the show River Monsters.

I first thought the show would be a Monster Quest-style hunt for cryptozoological creatures.  It still sounded intriguing, but a little kooky.  Then I thought it would be some kind of sensationalist program where they kill big fish and show them on camera.

I was pleasantly surprised that it was neither of those things.

The show is part detective show, part environmental show, part fishing show, part anthropological show, and part travel show.  It does all of those things better than almost any show I’ve seen.

Jeremy Wade is kind of the man.  It’s weird to say that about a fisherman given my TNT fishing show upbringing.  He’s a real outdoorsman (not the camo jacket, shaggy beard type).  Jeremy can live in the rainforest, with local tribes, or in 3rd world urban sprawl all the same.  He’s also a biologist, so instead of just fishing and looking at the big creature he understands its evolution, how it lives, and how it fits into the ecosystem.

He makes fishing a scientific extreme sport, both cerebral and physical.  He has strategies and it’s fascinating to hear how to go about catching different kinds of fish.  Where to set up a line (hearing him strategize about fishing in rapids, near the swirling slack, with an eddy nearby in case he falls in is pretty interesting.  The few times I’ve been fishing I randomly threw my bait in.  No wonder I’ve only ever caught one blue gill…); what kinds of hooks, baits, and lines to use; and most importantly his regard for the fish he’s catching.  He reveres them and doesn’t want them to come to harm.  He’d rather have them understood and respected the way he respects them.

He is as deferential to the people he meets on his journeys.  He wholeheartedly takes parts in the local customs, traditions, and superstitions.  He often says his logical side knows it should work…but the number of times he struggles with catching what he’s looking for, meets with the local shaman, then finds it are remarkable.

My favorite episode (except maybe the season finale of last season or the season premiere of the current season) is the pilot, before it was even called River Monsters, fishing for a monster fish in a fantastical river in India.  Seeing the creature he finally pulls from the river (and what he does to catch it) made for truly terrific television.

Jeremy Wade with the Goonch he caught on the River Monsters pilot.

Some of my favorite episodes are the ones you can’t find to buy unfortunately.  He produced a show prior to the River Monsters run that involved a trek into the South American jungle in search for an Arapaima.  We see the cameras rolling when his plane goes down in the jungle and…then see the journey continue after a day of recovery.  There is also a two-hour version of the pilot that is even better than the air version.

When the world lost Steve Irwin, an environmentalist of true enthusiasm, integrity, and charisma I wondered whether environmental entertainment would ever be the same.  Jeremy Wade is similar in many ways, his love for the environment, his desire to teach them to his viewers, and his utter stubborn dedication to accomplish his goals are all the same.  He does replace Irwin’s unbridled enthusiasm with a stoic intellectualism that is charismatic in its own way.

It’s one of the best shows on television.  If you haven’t seen it check it out.  It’s a rare gem on TV these days!

Check out the official website here.

Jeremy Wade’s official website.