<$cats, rats, pets, advice$>

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Meet the Staff, Part II

This golden boy is Toby, who came to live with me in June 1992. Toby is 15-years old and one of my best buds. He visits me in the bathroom each morning, sitting on the counter to get pets while I comb my hair. He's next to me on the couch when I watch TV. He likes to sleep under my left arm.

Toby came from the Knox County Animal Shelter when he was around a year old. The staff were desperate to find a home for him because he was slated to be put down; they had already given him one "stay" of execution because they thought he was such a wonderful cat. I'm glad they did.

Although his name is Toby, he has a number of nicknames: The General, because he takes charge; the Taliban Cat, because he always watches the morning news with my boyfriend (and for the past five years, the news has been about the Taliban); Toby Joe; and plain ol' T.

T is a cat of routines. He wants his breakfast and dinner at the same hour every day, and will beg for food at the appropriate time whether there's food in his bowl or not. He scratches on my bathroom door at the same time each morning, which coincides with me drying off after a shower. He leaves when I finish combing my hair. He jumps on the couch at 7:15, 'cause that's when he and David "Taliban" (catch all the bad news on CNN). It's very disconcerting for him to have his routine disturbed.

Toby likes Just Right cereal, catnip, chicken, anything salty, and laying in front of the fireplace. And best of all, he likes me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Baa Baa Black Sheep, Have You Any Wool?

The floor of my office room looks like I've been shearing black Welsh mountain sheep. In reality, I gave Dougall and Armand a good brushing with this brush. Looks rather medieval, doesn't it? The cats love it, and it removes enough undercoat to knit sweaters for a family of five.

Yes, that's a big pile of cat wool on right side of the bottom photo. That's Armand in the upper left, one of the wool donors.

Excuse me while I get the vacuum.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

No Sour Grapes

Frozen grapes were a big hit with the rats last weekend. At first, they didn't know what to do with them; they ran around the cage, carrying the grape in their mouths. Then they settled down for a nice, cool munch.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Catie Copley

I love this story about the dog who lives at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. It seems that the greatest luxury a guest can have is a fuzzy face greeting them in the lobby.

One of my favorite things about the B&B I stayed at in Bangor, Wales, was Oliver the cat. He'd sit on the dining room table while I ate breakfast and curl up on my bed if I left the door open. He made me feel quite at home.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cat Burgler

I love this story about the glove-thieving cat! When Elsinore was a kitten, she stole my jewelry. Things kept disappearing: my watch, a bracelet, my new Cross pen. Then I saw her dart under the bed with something shiny one day, and when I looked underneath, I found a glittering stash of my stuff. We could have made a fortune together at Tiffany's!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Please Help

Vandals broke into the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area (near San Antonio, Texas) last night. They maimed and killed animals, poisoned food and cat litter, and damaged the building and equipment. Please make a donation to these folks to help them get back on their feet. Their address is 1920 Kuehler, New Braunfels, TX 78130.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Send Me Your Spare Kleenex...

Cause I'm reading John Grogan's Marley & Me. Since Lucy rat died a few days ago, this probably isn't the best book for me to read at the moment. The author reported in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer column that Howard Stern cried so hard while reading it on a cross-country flight that a flight attendant asked if he needed assistance. I'm in trouble.

I had a Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my wallet, I enjoy Grogan's Inquirer columns, and I love animal stories; I've read all of James Herriot's books multiple times. I know I'll love this book, even if my waterworks run full blast.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Ice Rat Cometh

We're still suffering due to the heat wave. I gave the rats a bowl of ice cubes tonight to help them keep cool. They like to graw on ice and drag it around their cage.

On the other hand, the cats have elected to hang out in my non-airconditioned office room (aka, The Cat Room), even my Maine coon. Go figure.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stop all the clocks...

cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with the juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and, with muffled drum,
Bring out the coffin. Let the mourners come.

We had a death last night at Catz 'n' Ratz. Poor little Lucy Rat died of unknown causes. She was only about 6 months old. She took ill on Thursday evening, and I took her to the vet on Friday afternoon. The vet, a specialist in exotic animals, couldn't even say what was wrong. Maybe viral, maybe bacterial. He began treatment and gave me some Baytril and Prednisone syrups to treat her at home. But around 10:30 last night her little heart gave out. We buried her near some bushes by the swimming pool. I miss seeing her happy face at the top of the cage when I open the lid, and I'm going to miss how she gently chewed the ends of my fingernails. She had a short but very happy life. No rat was spoiled or cared for more. In that I can take consolation.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Waste Not, Want Not

Rats love the vegetable parts we don't. The tip of a carrot or broccoli, cauliflower and spinich stems...the parts we often throw away...these can make a feast for ratties, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, and mice. They're especially good for rodents in the summer because they contain water and help keep our pets hydrated. When I make a salad for me, I make a salad for them.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meet the Staff, Part I

At age 18+, Elsinore is the oldest animal at Catz 'n' Ratz. She showed up on my front porch in June 1988 when she was approximately 8-weeks old. I opened the screen door, she ran inside, and that was that.

"Kitty prison" came into creation due to Elsinore. I had three older cats when she was a kitten, and she went through a spell of terrorizing them every night. One night I had enough. I put her in the cat carrier (aka "kitty prison"), placed her in the living room, shut the bedroom door, and got a decent night's sleep.

She's doing pretty well for an old kitty. She walks with some stiffness, has lost some weight, and doesn't get into trouble like she use to, but she can still jog a little, eats a lot, and loves to be petted. She also like to "talk" while I'm on the phone.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cool Pad

Hot weather can be rough on caged pets, whether their pen is outside or inside an unairconditioned apartment. A manager at my nearby Petco gave me this advice: fill an empty soda bottle with water and freeze it. Once it's frozen, wrap it in a towel and place it inside your pet's cage. It will chill the surrounding air, and animals often will curl up next to the bottle to stay cool.

One caveat: I tried this and didn't wrap a towel around the bottle. When the ice melted, my rats chewed a whole in the plastic bottle, making a watery mess for me to clean up first thing in the morning.

By the way, my rats love to lick and play with ice cubes. Try it with yours; it gives them something to do and keeps them hydrated on hot days.

Talking Cats

This is the funniest cat video I've ever seen.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cat Can't Hold Its Licker

Need your computer screen cleaned? Then click here. Give it a few moments to download.

This is only one site featuring this cute kitten. I've also seen screensavers similar to this featuring other cats and dogs, too.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Animal Charity of the Month

The July--and Catz 'n' Ratz innaugural--animal charity is Road Home Animal Rescue in Crossville, Tennessee.

Road Home serves mainly as a shelter where abused women can leave their pets while they get out and get settled away from their abuser (most women's shelters don't allow victims to bring their pets). However, these good folks drove a bus to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and filled it full of abandoned pets. Now they're not only trying to find homes for the original pets, but for the babies born before they could get the moms spayed.

This organization truly does the creator's work. They don't spend donation money on further solicitations or high-paying salaries. Please visit their Web site and donate if you can.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Welcome to Catz 'n' Ratz! I'm the chef, housecleaning staff, and masseuse for four cats, four rats, and an aquarium of tropical fish. I'll be posting about my pet experiences and tips on pet care (please send me yours!), as well as sharing photos.