Grateful thoughts of the day

I’m grateful…

  • that I’m part of a knitting community that isn’t full of yarn snobs.
  • for having made so many connections with strangers all over the world, who share kind words and thoughts that I’d never have expected.
  • for a boyfriend who, despite my mental and physical illnesses and his frustrations for being so far away, sticks with me and makes real efforts to help me in whatever way he can without making me feel bad.
  • that I have a friend who keeps me productive and lets me earn a bit of extra pocket money to tide me over in difficult financial times, while being fully understanding of my problems and giving me the space I need. (Seriously, how many people can say they have such a lenient and awesome boss?)
  • for the craft of knitting; very few things are as satisfying as learning, creating and being proud of your creations!
  • for the friends in my life who I may not talk to every day, but who are there for me when the need strikes, and who pick up conversations with me as if we’d never been apart no matter how long it’s been.
  • for the friends in my life who listen to me ramble on and on every single day and never complain.
  • for my family, who may not be perfect, but who are always perfectly trying. ❤
  • for my fur babies for loving me unconditionally and being the best and most precious kitties I could have ever asked for.
  • that I’m capable of being independent in most areas of my life, even with my disabilities.

Sometimes life seems like it works really hard against you. At those times it can help to put things you’re grateful for in a list. We’re always far more blessed by life than we realize. I have many great things to live for, even when it seems there’s nothing but pain and struggling. Life is good if we allow it to be.

Advertisements

Keeping your cat indoors

It’s true that many cats who are outdoors can live long and healthy lives, but in my experience talking to cat owners who allow this, there’s also an incredibly high risk that they won’t live long and healthy lives.

As some of you may know, I have two wonderful cats for the past 3 years. A 4 year old gib and a 3 year old molly, if one wants to use the correct terms. (It really just means a fixed male and a fixed female but it sure sounds fancy.) One is white and deaf, the other is a relatively small tux, both European short hairs. As you can imagine, letting deaf and undersized cats outdoors is a bad idea by itself, but some of the reasons I wouldn’t let a big healthy cat go outside are pretty big too.

For starters there is traffic. I’ve seen enough dead cats smushed to pieces on the side of the roads and highways when I was still working and commuted daily. Then there are many acquaintances and friends whom have shared tragic stories of cats being lost to traffic more than once. I live in a country that fits 10 times in the state of California with a high density population of almost 17 million. There are no vast remote forests or deserts to live in here, the next city is 5 minutes over in most cases. But even if you live in a remote area, there are other things you need to look out for.

Predators. Whether those are (wild) dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes or other predators who can kill cats, there are a risk almost everywhere. I often hear people say “But my cat is smart/strong and stays away form them”, and I just shake my head. What if you cat gets caught up in a trap? What if they break a bone and can’t flee? There are so many reasons why a (hungry) predator will have the upper hand, it scares me to think people just shrug this possibility off as unimportant.

If it’s not other predators, what about other cats? FIV and other diseases are transmitted through fighting and reproduction. Not to mention the injuries that can be sustained from serious fights! I don’t know about you, but I really don’t enjoy seeing my furry babies be hurt, and I see no sensible reason in allowing that to happen when it’s not necessary.

There’s also a reason you need to be careful with indoor cats and plants – many plants are toxic, and quite a few of them are appealing to cats to nibble on and ingest. It’s not uncommon for them to be poisoned this way and either suffer immensely or even die. Indoors you can control the plants you keep (and even keep plants that are specifically for them to nibble on without any negative side effects).

Let’s not forget that the world is inhabited by really terrible people. Every now and then a story pops up in the newspaper that tells us about how a local cat population was poisoned, abused, tortured or even killed by some animal hating psychopath who found outdoor cats to be the most easily accessible victims for their sick pleasures. Even if your cat is shy towards strangers, it can still be caught in a trap. If your cat is friendly towards strangers, what will stop it from approaching? You can’t teach your cat to not take candy from a stranger the way you can teach a child.

But cats are SUPPOSED to be outdoors! It’s cruel to keep them inside!

This is a popular argument used for outdoor cats, and it’s one that is incredibly easy to debunk. No, cats are domesticated animals. If you put some time and effort into making your home suitable for cats and you work with them, you can meet ALL their natural needs and have a content cat who is not left wanting for a single thing. Saying a cat is a wild animal that needs to be outside is like saying our dogs need to be dumped outside to do as they please because they’re ‘just like wolves’ and can fend for themselves. By domesticating animals we’ve inevitably removed their ability to fend for themselves – domestication means they rely on humans to exist and thrive.

Territory – Simply place cat furniture around the house to give them their own territory to mark. Cats mark with numerous glands on their bodies, including the cheeks and paws. Scratching posts in different parts of the house are a good start. Tall cat trees work too. It’s also useful (and fun) for cats to have accessible, high shelves where they can observe their domain in peace. This will create confident cats who have their own territory established and are content with what they have.

Hunting – Play time meets hunting needs. Get feathers, mice or other toys on strings on a stick and trigger their instincts to hunt. If you exhaust them to the point where they lay down and rest or pant, you’ve met their need to hunt until tired. Following play time you can feed them (to reward them with their ‘caught prey’) after which they will groom themselves and go to sleep. If you do this in the morning when you get up and before bed time, they will also adjust to your schedule and not keep you up at night either.

Exercise – I know people feel silly doing this, but put some time into getting your cat to walk on a leash. If you have a kitten, get a small harness and get her used to it as soon as you can. Most cats will be very dramatic and first and ‘drop dead’ and act like they can’t move. Don’t be fooled by this! Before you attach the leash, get them used to the harness. Feed them treats and stimulate them to move while they wear the harness for about 5-10 minutes, then remove it and reward them with pets, verbal praise and playtime. Create a positive association. Do this daily and increase the duration until they move naturally and don’t even realize they’re wearing the harness anymore. If you create a positive association not a single cat will mind the harness, so it’s up to you to make ‘harness = good thing’ a reality. Don’t give up. After this you can attach the leash and go outside. Put your cat down and let it take the lead at first. It will be cautious if it’s not used to being outdoors, but if you do this every day it will become more confident and start walking. Give gentle tugs to encourage a walk and eventually your cat will understand that you’re taking a stroll together. (Please don’t drag your cat across the floor. If necessary use low-calorie treats to encourage your cat to walk). This is not always an easy process, especially on older cats, but I’m confident that every cat can do this. It’s a great way to get exercise in for your cat and let it experience the outside world without all the risks that are involved with it.

These are 3 basic needs that every indoor cat is met with if the owner puts effort into it. Many indoor cats are happy and fulfilled, but it’s no uncommon for pet owners to neglect their pets and let them fend for themselves out of laziness. There’s really no excuse for having an unhappy indoor cat.

To make matters even more shocking, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is anywhere between 13-20 years. An outdoor cat is only expected to live between 3-5 years, and that’s being generous. Do some outdoor cats exceed this and live happily? Sure. But a vast majority don’t, otherwise the average expectancy wouldn’t be so heartbreakingly low.

My cats are my babies. I don’t plan on having children of my own, but I consider my pets to be my children. (Don’t worry, I still treat them like cats, but I won’t deny the bond I have with them is extremely deep and as close to being my children as it gets.) When I research the risks outdoor cats have, a piece of me dies as I try to imagine letting my cats go outside. It’s so unnecessary, they go everywhere with me (to friends and family, on walks and so forth) so they see a lot of the world, I play with them, they are comfortable and confident with their territory – they aren’t unhappy in the slightest. They’re very happy, very relaxed, very easy going and content. Why would I even bother taking all these awful risks? There’s no benefit for them outside.

This is why I strongly encourage cat owners to keep their cats indoors. It’s up to everyone how to live their lives, but really, are all these risks worth it? These are not children who can be taught how to cross the street, which people are trustworthy, what plants are safe and which are not. They’re animals who act on instinct, even if they’re incredibly smart and do things that amaze us. When it comes down to it they are vulnerable creatures in a harsh world. We’re their guardians. We should be guardians in every aspect, not just by name.

Will I think poorly of an outdoor cat owner? I will be unhappy with it, but I won’t judge. I’m doing what I think is best for my babies and I know there are people who will disagree with me, just as I disagree with them. That’s fair enough for me. I just hope that this post will be useful to cat owners and cat owners to be and help make an informed decision. I’m not a cat expert but I am very knowledgeable and have very well trained cats, so if you have any questions about anything in this post, please leave a comment.

Here are some resources that have some extra information on the matter, too.

http://www.cat-world.com.au/indoor-vs-outdoor-cats

http://www.vetinfo.com/indoor-outdoor-cat-life-expectancy.html#b

http://isp.netscape.com/homerealestate/feature.jsp?story=catmyths

Isn’t this a shit storm?

I’m so beyond exhausted and depressed. The whole process of starting up trajectories for disability, social work, debt counseling, getting someone to take over all my finances and charting how much I owe everywhere feels like being bulldozed into the ground every single day. The only reason I’m still doing it is because the choice has been taken out of my hands and I’m not doing this alone. If I was, I’d probably have crawled into a hole again and hidden from the world. Hopefully within the next 4-6 weeks my disability will be paid to me again so I can afford to live and work off that. One step at a time.

A debt collector came by last week and took possession of over half my furniture. Their intention is apparently to sell, but I’m mind boggled as to how they’re going to try and justify all the expenses with stuff that’s not even worth €300 when combined. Half of it is severely worn down and damaged by my cats (does anyone really want to pay money for 4 red chairs of which 2 are partially broken and all of them are scratched to the point where stuffing is falling out?) and the rest is just… old. Everything I own is second, third or even fourth hand. My microwave’s display is broken.

The debt I owe to this company is 1.2K. The debt collector racked that up with another 1.3K (totalling 2.5K) by going through the process of claiming my possessions, making a list and putting out ads to sell it all. They won’t even make back the money to put out ads if they do manage to sell it all.

The bastards didn’t even have the audacity to write down my dryer. Damn thing is broken and useless and I’ll happily get rid of it, but out of all the things I own that’s the ONE thing they didn’t write down. Ugh.

To top everything off, I miss my boyfriend terribly and don’t know what to do with myself half the time, and my cat’s health is going up and down so much I’m not certain how long I can put off a vet visit. I’ve managed to collect €90 for the vet bill, but I don’t want to go in until I have at least €150 to cover all possibilities. And then I still need about another €150 for any follow up treatments, as experience has proven that I can’t allow too much time to pass between the vet visits due to everything starting up all over again. If you have a couple of spare bucks lying around to help my cat get better, please check out my fundraiser.

Honestly, I’m amazed I haven’t had a massive breakdown yet. Thank god for knitting and gaming.

I’m begging for your help

Please reblog this if at all possible, sharing will be so incredibly helpful to me!

http://www.gofundme.com/d4gqok

20140811_160628

My darling Dette is a very smart and loving cat. Last year she developed a hot spot from a minor scratch. We visited the vet twice, and it almost healed up completely with numbing shots, frequent disinfection and applying special creams until her shots wore off. Then the cycle started all over again. Despite wearing a cone, it was too small and she managed to get around it to lick and bite the spot.

Last week she was given a new and bigger cone to avoid that. Today, I saw she’d been agitating her entire leg with the edge of the cone, which is now coated in both blood and serum.

20140817_064126

All of the wetness is serum, excreted through the wound from all the chafing. This is after I cleaned her up. She’s at serious risk of infection due to the large area that’s afflicted. She does not stop agitating it no matter what I do.

While I had a stable income when I adopted her, allowing me to take care of her medical needs (she’s chipped, fixed and vaccinated), I fell ill in 2012 and was put on disability. I love my cats very much and I save up every year to get them their shots despite my limited funds. When money is short for food, their food comes first.

I’m reaching out because I can’t stand to see her suffer like this and I’m at my wit’s end. She’s forced to wear a cone constantly because without she will chew through her skin into her fat and muscle tissue. She’s in constant distress from the itching and aching. A couple of measly shots from the vet stop this and allow her to heal so she can become a normal cat again.

Estimated vet bills are approximately €300. They don’t have payment plans for regular non-emergency visits so I’m forced to wait until I have the money to get her treated.

I have very little to give in return, unfortunately. As a knitter I’m investigating animal charities to see if I can knit for animals in need or knit items to sell for charity to pay your kindness forward.

If you can’t donate, sharing this page would be incredibly helpful. Thank you for your time and please give your pets a big, squishy hug from me!

Cats and burritos

20140814_103050[1]

Yesterday was supposed to be burrito day. I ended up taking a nap at 3pm that somehow turned into a 12 hour coma, so I missed dinner and woke up hungry at 3am. I spent a couple of hours loitering on the internet and then did dishes while watching a Yogscast playlist: Minecraft – Hole Diggers on my tablet. (Got to do something to make chores fun, right?)

So when 9am rolled around, I figured it was time for a little breakfast. Fixed up some meat with bell pepper and corn, burrito seasoning and made myself a very awkward wrap with grated cheese, garlic sauce and bunches of lettuce. In case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t know how to wrap burritos. I actually looked up a YouTube video that taught me how to after I took the picture! Once the filling cools down, I’m wrapping 4 more burritos to keep in the fridge for later today and tomorrow. (Maybe I can even freeze them!)

What I don’t understand is what makes a burrito filling so dang interesting for my tuxedo cat. I can leave all sorts of food on the stove and she won’t touch it, but the second I leave some burrito filling in the pan I can’t turn around or she’s eating away at it. It’s so bizarre. The only thing I can think of is that the seasoning is especially attractive. Or my cat’s just really really weird.