Those tiny paw prints at the bottom of the photo belong to Gabby, our five-pound adventuress.
The other, much bigger prints likely belong to a full-grown coyote.
Even though I tell myself I need to stop worrying when one or more of them is late coming home for dinner, I still go out calling and looking for them until all the Kibble Kids are safely inside their ‘dorm building’ for the night. (Their little cardboard box beds lined with old sweaters and blankets look like the Seven Dwarves’ home in ‘Snow White.’)
Being a ‘pet parent’ actually is comparable to having teens around the house.
But at least the Kibble Kids won’t ask to borrow the car keys.
This huge mural at Elysian Heights Elementary School in Los Angeles honors ‘Room 8,’ a stray gray cat who spent the school years from 1952 to 1968 being the much-beloved pet of all the kids. Room 8 was featured in many news stories over those long years, as well as having a book written about him, a movie and many tributes from the kids etched in the paving stones around the school. Atlas Obscura is keeping his legend alive.
Abishag would’ve pointed out that she never made such blatant errors in her writing; the joke would’ve gone over her furry little head.
But she always let me know when something didn’t ‘sound right’ in a piece I was working on. Her comments ranged from a mild “Humph” to a look of “You’ve got to be kidding.” Given that look, I knew at least a paragraph was in dire need of rewriting.
A dear friend has said Abishag is doubtless hard at work on more books and now has her very own typewriter (paw writer? claw writer?) to set down her thoughts.
However, I don’t think any old modified typewriter would do. Abishag has the latest model of laptop, on top of her own desk. And woe betide any brother, named Ira or not, who bothers her while she’s writing or thinking. Abishag always believed in immediate correction – and she has one heck of a right hook.
It got a bit cold last week (after days and days of unrelenting fiery heat) and Hoss Cartwright decided a good solution was a furry portrayal of Yin and Yang one chilly night. Uncle Fred made a perfect heating pad.
Abishag, Ira, Abishag and Ira again – Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day, everyone. If you’re currently catless, please consider going to your nearest shelter or rescue for a black cat companion. They’re very smart, loyal, talkative and loving. And sadly, often overlooked in favor of another color coat. Abishag and Ira would be most gratified. Purrs!
The cutest photos can be seen on “Love Meow” – this one’s no exception. The teeny, month-old kitten in the incubator is named ‘Alexander,’ and he was rescued in Las Vegas after his mother couldn’t be found. Patricia Lika is his foster mom, and she’s doing a spectacular job! Find them both at https://www.instagram.com/fosterkittensvegas/
A cat isn’t fussy – just so long as you remember he likes his milk in the shallow, rose-patterned saucer and his fish on the blue plate. From which he will take it, and eat it off the floor. Arthur Bridges
It’d been so hot all day, the Kibble Kids – original and v.2 – had been in and out of their hunting grounds and the house yards repeatedly. Fred came in about 5:30, looking worn out, telling me it hadn’t been a very good day for hunting.
Finally, I got their small building cooled off to a bearable temperature, and began scooping them up in my arms and putting them through their cat door, thereby securing them against coyotes and other hazards. Sis went in first, then Ta’Male (more about him in a future post) and Hoss. Fred was still resting in the cool grass, watching me as I helped Pete retire to his greenhouse – and I started calling the last little missing one – Gabby.
Then I realized Fred had disappeared too. It grew later. Seven o’clock. Even calling “Gabriella!” and “GingerFred!” didn’t bring them in, and I was getting worried. At only five pounds, she’s a very petite smokey grey girl – just right for a coyote’s dinner. And Fred’s strong and athletic, but no match for a coyote or two. I went across the street to the huge cornfield and called. No one. Walked down to the edge of the property and the old oak trees.
Last week, Fred and I had had a very uncomfortable fast walk home of about a quarter mile, going along the edge of the neighboring farm’s wheat field – and listening to two coyotes calling back and forth. Fred kept watching over my shoulder when I picked him up, and I’ll admit the hair was standing up on the back of my neck. He growled when the second coyote answered the first call. We were both very glad to reach the safety of their building.
And now – I wondered whether the same coyote pair was out and about, only this time watching the cornfield for dinner. I turned and started back towards the house and their backyard building, discouraged. Then I heard Fred calling!
He and Gabby had come out of the cornfield and were running quickly across the street, Fred making no allowance for Gabby’s shorter legs and stride, but hurrying her along. I ran to meet them and scooped Gabby up in my arms. Fred was at my feet and we took off across the newest apple orchard and the back fields. Fred was watching over his shoulder, and Gabby was trying to see over my shoulder, just as Fred had done the week before. “Don’t look back,” I said to Gabby. I was afraid if she saw a coyote behind us, she’d panic and jump out of my arms, running on her own – and start a coyote racing to catch its prey. “Don’t look back. We’re almost home.”
Obviously, we all made it back, Thank Heaven. I thanked Fred, too, for going to look for his niece, Gabby – he’d had to hunt at least half an hour for her, tired as he was. And he ushered her home, no dawdling!
So Fred’s a hero. Wish I’d had some caviar to give him. He deserved it.
“There is something about the presence of a cat… that seems to take the bite out of being alone.”
Louis J. Camuti
Louis Camuti was the first veterinarian in America to have his practice totally dedicated to cats. He made house calls in New York City for over 60 years to treat his furry patients. You may enjoy reading his autobiography, “All My Patients Are Under the Bed: Memoirs of a Cat Doctor”, published in 1980. I certainly did!
Herman and Luna starting their wrestling match – the floor stripe makes it convenient to determine who’s out of bounds. They’re only ten months old, and already Herman is larger than most cats. If he grows into his feet, he’ll be the size of a bobcat. Luna is still smaller than he is, but can be just as stubborn, willful and scratch/bite/pounce.
It’s been a month of many adjustments.
To have an office morph from having a staid lady cat, a bit elderly, but nonetheless with an important co-editor job to perform and very conscientious in doing so resident … to a pair of high-energy, let’s find the newest thing to push off a desk or workbench, only nap when you fall down with exhaustion kittens has been difficult. Their mother, Jamie, is only two years old herself, and has discovered toys, the luxury of clean litter boxes instead of being outside, and the marvel of air conditioning. To my dismay, all three must be treated for fleas ASAP.
The three having to leave the garage/workshop area where they’d lived since birth was a necessity. And the only other place they could inhabit was my office. Yes. I was reluctant. It’d been many years since kitten-proofing was a concern.
‘Sometimes’ I grit my teeth; other times I bellow. ‘Sometimes’ they’ll allow me to work at my desk (this is one of those times) and we have regular scuffles as to what “No cats on the desk!” really means.
Then the ‘sometimes’ that show they’re maturing: a purr when they wind around my ankles without biting or clawing, the simple joy of looking out the window glass in the storm door to the office, the pure delight in playing with a new toy or watching avidly as I show them how two cats playing together are definitely much more fun.
We’ll survive. And Abishag would understand the reason for the move. Perhaps she’s the influence encouraging them to ‘grow up!’
Pete stays inside a small greenhouse at night, to be safe from coyotes and warm in winter, cooler in summer. He always greets me as I walk past his translucent windows, whether I’m going to or from my office. Sunday night however, Pete was calling the minute he saw me, and not just a casual greeting. Something was wrong.
I opened the door and stepped inside. When I turned off the fan, I heard a weak buzz. Pete was still anxious, and watched me closely from the shelf opposite his food and water. At first I couldn’t see anything even with a flashlight, but when I shone the beam on Pete’s water bucket there was a wood bee, swimming very slowly, exhausted.
Around here, we appreciate wood bees (also called carpenter bees) because they patrol their home area and will literally chase or fight off the red wasps. Since I’ve already been painfully stung three times this year, I say ‘Thank you’ to any bees hovering around me.
I got a small wooden stake, coaxed the bedraggled wood bee up on it and then carried the stake outside to a huge sage plant nearby. The nearly-drowned wood bee was visibly panting, but after he’d rested a few moments, he crawled off the stake onto a grass blade and clung to it.
Going back inside the greenhouse, I told Pete he’d saved the wood bee’s life and I was proud of him for being so compassionate. He jumped across to his food dish and water bucket, and carefully peered inside when I shone the flashlight on it, to make sure the bee was indeed rescued. Then he relaxed and started crunching kibble.
Was he afraid the bee was going to sting him? I don’t think so. It takes a lot to scare Pete. (He’s the size of a cocker spaniel.) Had he nearly swallowed the poor bee while getting a drink? Or did he honestly figure that a beneficial insect in distress needed rescue?
I’d like to think it was altruism on Pete’s part. He’s one cool cat.
When Abishag wasn’t even a year old, she went missing for an entire day and evening. We’d called and looked everywhere, we thought, and were really beginning to fear the worst. Then about 9:30 pm, we heard her behind us, and there she was, standing at the foot of the maple tree, looking up at us.
Wonderful! We told her how happy we were to see her, unharmed and now safe and sound. After a big round of hugging and petting, I asked her, half-jokingly, “If you could talk, Abishag, I’d ask you where you’d been.” I’d noticed when I picked her up that her fur smelled like pine needles.
She almost smiled. Then she ran up the trunk of the maple tree and turned a back flip. (Yes. I’m not kidding, and I never saw her do another.) She meowed a complete explanation, and then sat down and looked very expectantly at us.
There. I told you. I was here all the time, but you didn’t think to look in the branches of the pine tree. I chose it because it was taller.
Apparently something had scared her badly, and she climbed quite a ways up the pine, staying there until she felt safe once more. We had some roving dog packs at that time, and of course coyotes were (and are) prevalent, so she had listened to her instincts and rescued herself.
Watching the younger outside cats gleefully rolling in the dirt brings back a memory …
Two brown cats were casually strolling up the driveway. Brown ?!? No brown cats lived here – what was going on? When they got closer, the smaller cat looked as if it was smiling; the larger one, a bit sheepish.
The pair were Ptolemy and Abishag. She’d shown Ptolemy what fun it was to roll in the dirt, and now the sable point Siamese was an all-over dark brown. So was Abishag – what black cat?
After they got dusted off, they were still enjoying their silly prank on the humans.
And yes, they proceeded to ‘change color’ again, the very next day.
Readers, you may already know about this, but I found out Walgreens has a partnering service which will print copies of photos you’ve taken, whether with your phone or a camera.
Above is a print of one of Abishag’s very best photos, taken in February, 2015, showing the wheels going ’round in that little hard head of hers. (Being a Taurus, she was very determined – just a hair away from being ‘stubborn.’) The prints aren’t at all expensive, and you can get home delivery if you want, rather than driving to the store.
BTW, I’m not getting anything from Walgreens for mentioning them here in Abishag’s blog. I just wanted all of you to know about help available in keeping memories.
So please don’t keep those special memories stored on your phone or in the cloud – get them copied and up on the wall, where they can brighten a dreary day with a reminder of a sunnier one.
As you, our readers, are extremely observant, I’m sure you’ve all noticed the erratic postings from Abishag, especially once 2021 started. The wonderful, funny, rambunctious, bossy, adventurous Bombay Siamese black cat that had been partners with her brother Ira in our publishing office, Write Up The Road, began to decline in health.
Abishag was finally slowing down (except for beating up packing papers and writing her books) and the arthritis in her hips was becoming very painful. She lost weight, began to hear less well, and then came down with a severe Upper Respiratory Infection with awful nosebleeds about four weeks ago. At 16 years old, home care wasn’t sufficient.
Several trips to the excellent veterinarians at Reelfoot Animal Hospital seemed to help – but only for a day or two at a time. And last week, she was definitely losing ground. She couldn’t eat, groaned when she lay down to try and sleep, and then Friday March 5, suffered what apparently was a light stroke. I’d been sleeping in my office to be with her, and she had another, much more severe stroke about 3:20 am Sunday morning.
A little after 9 am Sunday March 7, Abishag set out on her final journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Now I must believe there’s no paralysis, no arthritis, no pain, no shortness of breath – and she can run and leap again like her brother Ira. She also must have her tail back, as her form on the other side is perfect.
This office is certainly empty. She had a real presence, and incredible intelligence – and is terribly missed. We love you, Abishag. May we all meet again at the Rainbow Bridge and cross into a wonderful Heaven together, never to be parted again.
Goodbye for now, sweetheart. I hope there are cooperative dragonflies and moles for you to hunt but not harm. Laters, Abishag.