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Feb. 17th, 2011

bonnie looking up

Grief, animal friendships, and other people's reactions

In case you didn't see it on Facebook or Twitter, Karsten and I had to put our cat Bonnie to sleep yesterday morning.

It was a tough decision to build up to, but a surprisingly easy one to make the morning of. She had a squamous cell carcinoma growth on her tongue which was diagnosed nearly a year ago, and over the past few weeks it had grown enough to make it difficult for her to eat. Once she could no longer eat at all, there was no way we were going to let her suffer to death, so we helped her die without having to starve.

So we've been grieving pretty hard over the past 24 hours, and I expect that's no surprise to many people who know us. We're obviously animal lovers, after all -- when you're living with six cats at once, and you're vegan, and you advocate for animal rights, and you support organizations like Farm Sanctuary and HSUS and ASPCA and PETA, it should be pretty easy to be profiled as an animal lover.

But the thing is, there've been a number of interactions with people over the past day, both online and in person, that have suggested that those people view my grief as a little over the top. I'm not someone who goes out of my way to be emotionally dramatic, so it's a little surprising to get this reaction, but it's clear these people are genuinely surprised by my grief reaction in the first place, so I can't fault them for what feels like insensitivity.

In fact, I guess I feel a little sorry for people who don't seem to understand why Karsten and I are experiencing so much grief over losing Bonnie. They must not have ever had the kind of close relationship with an animal friend that forms a true, genuine connection.

Bonnie was more than a "pet" to us; she was part roommate, part hang-out buddy, part comic relief. I never thought of her as a child. (We don't generally think of these cats as our "furkids" as some folks do.) Bonnie was a good deal smarter than our other cats, and incredibly loving and sweet. She was one of the three tightly-bonded littermates we adopted in '98 -- our first time adopting animals as a couple -- and she was the surrogate mother-figure to her two brothers. She would nurture them and groom them, and then she'd swat them on the head when her patience ran out. She had so much obvious personality, it was hard not to imagine her as a human in a cat's body.

I've truly never met anyone like her, and I'm going to miss her like crazy. But I also know this: missing her doesn't make me crazy. It makes me someone who's lost a dear and special friend.
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Oct. 20th, 2008

relaxed, black cherry

Maybe she's reincarnated from another crazy black cat.

Last week, while combing through his parents' house, Karsten found an old book called "The Cat and the Captain," and kept it for an art project he's dreaming up using old book covers. But he just now walked into my office and handed me a page cut out from the book, saying "I think they wrote this about Black Cherry."

Black Cherry

On the page is a poem called "The Bad Kittens" -


You may call, you may call,
But the little black cats won't hear you,
The little black cats are maddened
By the bright green light of the moon.
    They are running and whirling and hiding,
    They are wild who were once so confiding,
    They are mad when the moon is riding ---
You will not catch the kittens soon!
    They care not for saucers of milk,
    They care not for pillows of silk,
Your softest, crooningest call
Means less than the buzzing of flies.
    They are seeing more than you see,
    They are hearing more than you hear,
And out of the darkness they peer
    With a goblin light in their eyes!


And that, I swear, is EXACTLY why we have to lock the cats out of the bedroom at night.

Jun. 15th, 2008

hand on head - b&w

Priorities

2D27F9E2-61D5-4290-95E9-6105CA79A6ED.jpgKarsten and I have often talked about disaster preparedness, and a lot of our concern has to do with our six cats. In an emergency, we want to be able to get everyone to safety, of course. That seems marginally feasible with six, but having now seen this picture, I’m so glad I haven’t had to try. My heart goes out to both of the men shown in this picture, as of course it does to all the Iowans trying to make life right again, but I feel a special kinship with this man who appears to put saving his cats above saving anything else in his home. I suspect I’d be that person, too.

(I also can’t help but think that those terrified cats are probably scratching the hell out of him, poor guy!)

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Originally published at The Bee Hive. You can comment here or there.

Feb. 9th, 2008

hand on head - b&w

Why it’s not easy to get anything done in my home office on Saturday mornings

Why it’s not easy to get anything done in my home office on Saturday mornings

Originally uploaded by Kate O’


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Originally published at The Bee Hive. You can comment here or there.

Dec. 1st, 2007

hand on head - b&w

Sorry about all the movie-watching

Check it out:

“The anonymity of the Netflix Prize dataset has been broken by a pair of computer scientists from the University of Texas[…]. It turns out that […] it’s straightforward to find a match by comparing the anonymized data against publicly available ratings on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)[…] in the process possibly working out their political affiliation, sexual preferences and a number of other personal details”

Oh no! Someone’s going to figure out I’m a bleeding heart bisexual liberal/progressive.

I suppose I should consider this a privacy violation of some sort, since I’m almost certainly represented in the data set, but whatever.

For that matter, my ratings data may very well have been one very useful data set in helping the computer scientists crack the anonymizing code.

Whoops. Sorry I’m such a movie geek.

In honor of my likely indirect contribution to this situation, I offer my first-ever LOLcat.

sorry i watches so many movies

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Originally published at The Bee Hive. Please leave any comments there.

Nov. 10th, 2007

hand on head - b&w

I did it!

I finally managed to pull up the blinds in the morning without scaring all the birds away from the feeders.

Normally the cats are looking at me like “gee, thanks, dumbass.” Now they’re entranced by the dozens and dozens of birds on the ground and on the feeders.

Hey, it’s the little things.

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Originally published at The Bee Hive. Please leave any comments there.

Sep. 16th, 2007

hand on head - b&w

What, me? Drunk blogging?

Originally published at The Bee Hive. Please leave any comments there.

I think it’s really great how, even though Black Cherry and Barbra don’t have sex anymore, they totally aren’t awkward about it.

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Aug. 23rd, 2007

barbra, embarassed, peeking out, hiding

Although come to think of it, Paris might not get my mind off of rats...

OK, right off the bat, here's the sucky thought du jour: I can't decide if we should go through with the trip we were planning to Europe. Though I'm in luck if I need to travel, because I've got bags under my eyes that could hold my entire wardrobe. Why? Because we spent the night in a hotel room with all six cats while we fogged the house for fleas.

I cannot properly do justice to the level of annoying this whole flea thing is. And it's not just fleas annoying me. Allow me to whine for a moment.


  • I'm pretty sure I saw somewhere that it's the hottest August ever on record in Nashville. Even if it's not, it should be. So let's just get that out of the way right now, 'cause the extreme heat sure isn't making anything (or anyone) easier to deal with. 


  • Remember the rats? Well, they've apparently nested underneath and in the walls in the back of our house. (One of my coworkers suspects that this is where the fleas are coming from, but I don't know if there's any way to be sure.)

    OK, and side note -- this is a bad story. Feel free to skip to the next bullet -- Karsten went out weeks ago and got rid of the junk pile, busted up the old deck, and started digging out the weeds around the house. He hit a nest with tiny wriggling ratlings (it's easier to call them ratlings than "kittens" when your aim is to get rid of them). It was an awful scene and he was devastated at having hurt them but the aim is, after all, to eliminate the population from our property. So as a compromise, whichever babies weren't already killed from the impact of the shovel got carried off to an empty lot a few hundred yards away.

    But anyway, even after all that there are still rats in the walls, and we're not sure how we're going to win this one.


  • Baby Clyde is doing better, we think. He apparently had a blockage in his digestive tract so when they x-rayed him, his stomach looked totally full even after a day of intense vomiting. Not sure how or why, but the next day's x-rays showed his stomach clear and his lower digestive tract filling up, so the vet was satisfied that things looked to be on the right track. But I'm still nervous because we don't know why he was having trouble in the first place. Which in my mind means it could happen again anytime. But considering I thought he might be dying on Sunday night, I'll be relieved if all we're dealing with is a bad case of indigestion.


  • And the fleas! The fleas are driving me nuts. I mean, it's just exactly the kind of thing that really gets to me. I can't take any kind of insect in large quantities. I won't even release ladybugs in the garden 'cause they freak me out en masse, but individually I'll let them crawl all over my hands and arms. A whole mess of bugs I don't like under any circumstances invading my living space? Definitely gonna mess with my mind.


  • One of the other cats, Blackberry, has had a long-standing problem with urinating where he shouldn't. We've fought it for a while, but it had been getting worse recently. Took him to the vet and found out he has a pretty serious bladder infection. Uh, OK. Now I feel like a terrible cat person. So we've been giving him pills twice a day for weeks, and if you've never had to give a pill to a skittish cat, well, you just haven't experienced life.


  • Between the overages in the house renovation and the flea/rat/vet/hotel expenses, we've depleted our checking account to levels we haven't seen in years. It really sucks and it makes me feel anxious. I think having had the experience of losing nearly everything we owned and getting as close as you can get to bankruptcy without actually filing, I'm having traumatic flashbacks to my anxiety level at that time. Our situation right now in no way resembles our situation then, but it's hard to shake an experience like that.


  • Oh, and I'm trying to accomplish about a million things simultaneously in the next few months at work. So there's that, too.



I'm really trying to keep everything in perspective by remembering that we have a house, we have our health, and we're not broke (yet). But the amount of stuff we're having to deal with is enough to make me whimper.

So yeah, I can't decide if we've now spent enough unbudgeted money on all these various problems to mean that we should hold off on our long-awaited vacation. The vacation that coincides with our 10 year anniversary. The vacation we've been trying to take since 1999. The vacation we could really freakin' use right about now.

You see what I'm saying? We've been really looking forward to this. So to put it off, while it certainly wouldn't be the end of the world, would hurt and would suck and and and. Yes, we'd get over it. But it would be a big disappointment.

Anyway, it's not time to decide yet. For one thing, I don't think we're out of the woods with the whole pest control issue, so there may actually be even more money to spend. But also because we still have a little time before we have to make the decision, and I may yet come up with some genius plan to make everything work. Hey, it could happen.

Mais il y a peu de chances. Le sigh.

Aug. 19th, 2007

hand on head - b&w

A little more at ease

Well, we're finishing up at the emergency vet. They're treating Clyde's symptoms because most of his vital signs look OK. But the vomiting has the vet concerned and he said if that's still going on tomorrow, we should take him in to his regular vet. For now, he's had forced hydration and an anti-nausea shot, and he has to sleep in a cage at home so he doesn't eat or drink, but there's hope for some sleep tonight.
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sad face, baby clyde, sorry

Don't know what to do

Baby Clyde has been throwing up since this afternoon. He looks pretty ragged. I'm sure we'll take him to the vet in the morning if he's still acting and looking this bad, but I can't decide if we need to take him to the emergency vet now.

Is there a chance, however remote, that this is a delayed reaction to the Hartz flea treatment? You all got me really spooked with that. Should we be calm and wait until morning or freak out and take him in right now?

This is my most beloved cat. He's wonderful, and he deserves the best treatment. I just don't know if there's anything to be gained by taking him in right now.

Ugh. I know I won't be getting much sleep tonight either way.
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