March 18, 2014

Some Truths About Cats & Dogs

I've mentioned before (I think) that I was not much of an animal lover before I met my wife.  But she came with a dog and two cats so something had to change, right?  Over the years we dated across state lines I became more of a critter person, but there's only so much you can learn about living with animals on the weekends.  Now after several months of sharing a house with all the critters (both cats still and now two dogs), certain things have become apparent.

For a reminder, the two cats are Kali:

and McNally:

They live in our sun room, which - to head off any angry letters - has heat and air conditioning, so they're not being left in the elements.  More critically for my observations is that, somehow, I have inherited the job of catering to their whims, i.e. feeding, watering, and litter box patrol.  Maybe this was somewhere in the vows when K and I got married, but if it was I don't remember it.

What I've learned performing that duty is that, in spite of having constant access to food and water, the cats, McNally in particular, are only comfortable eating in my presence.  In fact, McNally will sit at the kitchen door and meow like crazy for someone, for the love of gods, to please come see him, only to turn and make a beeline for the food bowl the moment you open the door.  Kali is more subtle about it, but tends to follow his lead.  Or maybe she puts him up to it?

If they can't eat without me, they can certainly, um, deposit while I'm absent.  Most of my litter box experience prior to last year came from attending to one of my in-law cats, Torrie, when her people went on vacation.  Torrie has the personality of a grumpy Vorlon bureaucrat on a bad day, but, to her credit, she has dainty litter box habits.  Our cats, not so much.  For one thing, they fling the litter all over the place, even though they have a very stylish Buckminster Fuller style domed litter contraption (so it's not a box, technically).  For another, there is no way two normal cats can produce as much stuff as I scoop out of said contraption every night.  My working theory is that they kill drifters (small ones), cut up their bodies, and bury the parts in the litter.  I only pray that my food, water, and scooping services will keep me on their good side.

Whatever the cats are up to, Maia definitely has figured out one of the oldest organized crime schemes, the protection racket.  You remember Maia:

When we first got Maia we rewarded her with a treat for going outside and doing her stuff.  Positive reinforcement and all that.  Good plan, except we never stopped the rewards once the behavior was established.  This was a bad idea, as Maia has now caught on to our scheme and has figured out how she might have many treats through the course of a day.

While we're at work, gone for hours, she's able to manage not to do anything inside (most days), but if one of is home or, heaven forbid, we both are home on the weekend?  She needs to pee every hour.  She does with this look on her face that's like, "nice wood floor you got here in the family room.  Shame if something happened to it."  In my head, it sounds almost exactly like this.  Maia has become a Mafia dog!

As for her sister, well, when we first got Uzume she had two fully functioning eyes.  Now, thanks to an infection she lost one altogether and the one she's got left just doesn't work anymore:

In spite of that, she knows when her picture is being taken, somehow.

When she went blind, we read about how animals who lose their sight will adapt to their surroundings, making a mental map of their little world to get around in.  Based on Uzu's experience, I'll quoth Opus and proclaim "that's a bunch of crapola."  At the very least, Uzu's cartographical skills aren't very good, as she continues to ram head first into walls, furniture, and whatever else might get in her way.

Or, maybe, she's just playing it smart.  After all, with our concerns about her concussing herself into oblivion, it means that Uzu pretty much gets picked up and carted anywhere she needs to go in our arms, as her privileged status demands.

Wait a second, I sense a trend here.  Have I been outsmarted by my critters?  Dammit!

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