Spenny's Blog

April 14, 2010

Spenny meets scratching posts

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 1:59 am

This is actually quite an old story now. It goes back to the time just after we first got him, in fact, and he was still kind of getting used to the house. We had noticed that he had a tendency to velcro himself to .. well .. just about everything. He didn’t seem to know how to retract his claws. You could hear them making a faint tearing noise as he walked over carpet, and any attempt to pick him up would result in the carpet coming with him. This was further borne out by being scratched all the time whilst playing with him.

So I started clipping his nails, which had a reasonable effect, but it was clearly time for him to get a scratching post. There wasn’t really anywhere that we could fit one, so we opted for a flat upright model that could be attached to a surface using screws.

Up the scratching board goes, and Spenny obviously ignores it. I dunno, maybe he thought it was just a piece of modern art or something. Catnip impregnated, my ass. So I spray some soluble catnip on it. All that results in is Spenny banging his head against it 

Of course, I probably shouldn’t have been all that surprised by Spenny not knowing how to use a scratching post. I mean at the end of the day he didn’t really know how to use his tail or his claws either, and those are parts of his body, so when it comes to a scratching post I should have known that we would be out of luck.

So we try picking him up, he’s confused, but tolerant for the time being. I try picking his paw, which thinking back was probably a bad idea, and rubbing it against the scratching post. The paw just flops back out of the way, and the claws completely miss the scratching surface, whilst Spenny isn’t paying attention to that at all because he’s more concerned with why I’m holding onto his paw like that. I try again, the claws miss again. How the hell does that happen? Normally when he’s walking around he can’t retract the claws at all, and yet now the claws aren’t coming out one little tiny bit.

A few more rubs later, and Spenny’s tolerance is starting to run out, and he’s wriggling around. Time to give up, so we sit down and have a think. It’s decided that one of the things that’s making things hard is the necessity for one of us to hold Spenny up whilst the other tries to rub the paw along the board. So we take the board down and put it on the floor. Whilst clearly being held up like that was an indignity he wasn’t willing to suffer, the promise of catnip in the air is still sufficient to hold his attention, fortunately. It was indeed fortunate because it meant that we didn’t have to retrieve Spenny from one of his many, at the time, hiding places around the house that we hadn’t managed to discover.

So Spenny is back. He’s standing up investigating the scratching board, cautiously. Again I try rubbing his paw against the board, trying to hold it at an angle so a claw might hook and spark the faintest glimmer of an idea as to what this weird object is for, at the back of his walnut-brain. Hmm. Still not working, and now Spenny is starting to look at me like I have managed to escape from an asylum.

I pick Spenny up and rub him for a little while, in what I hope is a soothing fashion. Spenny still has a mildly confused expression on his face, though that’s hard to distinguish from how he always looks, but he’s getting rubbed so it’s ok. After a while he signals he’s had enough and wants to get down. It’s time to try a slightly different tactic. Holding Spenny with both hands under him, I dangle him over the board and drag all four paws back over it. Finally a few claws snag on the material, so I pop him down on the board to see if he’s got the idea.

No, don’t be silly, of course he hasn’t. All that’s happened is he has lain down on the board, being careful that none of himself goes over the edge, and the catnip-board is completely surrounded. Apart from his tail, that wasn’t part of him yet, not for several months.

Now, Spenny, see that’s not really how they work. I try to pick Spenny up, but oh the irony, Spenny has managed to velcro himself to it, and the board comes with him. Not that that helps at all, I guess he’s just used to finding himself strangely attached to things, it happens all the time.

I’m starting to tire of this little adventure in Spennyness now, and after trying a few more times dragging all four paws along it, I essentially give up. We hook the board back onto it’s screws and decide to try again tomorrow. Spenny is still looking intently at the board, so as some sort of last-ditch attempt, I pull a paw up and pull it down the board. It catches, there’s a faint glimmer of recognition, as Spenny looks up and flicks his tail, but then it’s gone.

Next morning I come downstairs, half asleep, to try to find something to eat. Something seems wrong, but I can’t place it. As I return from the kitchen I notice that a section of the scratching board has been shredded, and has fibres hanging away from it.

Gee, I guess Spenny did finally get the idea of scratching posts. It would seem that when he does get an idea into his mind, it’s hard for it to leave again!


Spenny’s new brush

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 1:54 am

One day I bought Spenny a new brush, he initially ignored it, but I suspect that’s because he wanted me to feed him as soon as I came through the door.

So he jumps up on my desk, as is his usual habit when he wants me to give him attention instead of my monitors, and interposes himself with a flurry of the reasons for me buying the new brush. Now was my chance, out comes the brush.

Some time later, there are several things apparent;

– Spenny is now much thinner.
– He’s shiny! So shiny and soft, it’s like he’s been washed in fabric softener.
– I have a hairball of epic proportions.
– Spenny still doesn’t think anything apart from his tail exists.
– The only exception to the above is the two inches in front of his tail.
– Spenny is starting to smell … funky.

I’ve been saving the fluffballs for some time, since he won’t let me put my head on him I’m going to make my own Spenny pillow

As for his head? Well. I’ve been spending a lot of time working through the fur behind his cheeks and on his neck, he can never groom it and though I try it with my fingernails I can never really work out the slight background level of matted-ness. The new brush is working them out easily though. This is his head, this exists. This is good.

There is a drawback to this though … it’s not just his head that needs brushing, it’s the rest of him. He’s been shedding fur like it’s going out of fashion for the last few weeks, and it’s making my girlfriend a little wheezy. It’s even getting to the point where it’s starting to make even my nose bunged up. Not to mention the hairballs. Oh god the hairballs.

So you brush his side, he sits there or wonders around a bit, tolerates it. You can tell though, he’s not happy, that’s not what he wants brushed. After a while he turns around and almost yells at the brush in a very demanding way until you start brushing his head again!

– “Will you sit still?”
– “Quit messing around, and brush me!”
– “Look, I’m trying to brush you.”
– “No you’re not, you’re just faffing around back there.”
– “Come on, look at all this, it’s all manky.”
– “Dammnit, I’m up here, get brushing up here you damn stupid human.”
– *sigh*

As for the smell, I think he’s been trying to “clean” himself immediately after eating, thereby spreading wonderful fishy essence into the triangular patches just behind his shoulders. Whilst this is clearly the feline equivalent of a sophisticated fragrance, it doesn’t smell all that good. He may need the B-word soon.

February 15, 2010

Mashed potato and accidents

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 12:40 am

The thing that gets me about mashed potatoes is the way that he goes for them.

He knows when we’re making food and usually works out pretty quickly if it’s something he’s going to like or not. Things containing fish are a good bet, for example, and various meats. Then there was something I couldn’t understand.

I don’t eat meat, there seems to be something in it which makes me throw up, certain types of fish do it too. I’m not sure what it is or why this is, but even things like eating an egg that’s been fried on the same griddle as bacon without being cleaned will have an effect. That sucked until I worked out what was causing it – no more fried egg sarnies on the way to work  😦

Anyway, I digress. Since I don’t eat meat, there’s often a lot of meals where Spenny knows that I have something, and will try to investigate it, but goes away disappointed. Except for a few. Quorn sausages and mash was the first I noticed this on. He would always stick around and wait despite my protestations that there’s nothing for him, but I didn’t know why. A little after that, my girlfriend has had a pie and mash, but not eaten all the mash which has been left in it’s container.

There was this … sound. So many things with Spenny begin with a sound, as I’ve mentioned before I have become attuned to things out of the ordinary. Usually I like to transfer these sounds to ASCII, but in this case it’s far too complex, so I’ll try to describe it; imagine the sound of an asthmatic suction pump that’s trying to suck up something that’s rather too viscous for it, but it’s making a damn fine effort at it anyway, and there’s an organic squelching component to it as well.

I turn around slowly, as the sound contains none of the usual Spenny-chaos hallmarks, and search for the source. My eyes settle on a black fluffy shape perched on girlfriend’s desk with it’s head in the container for the mash. It turns out it was indeed an organic suction pump, of sorts, and Spenny is well dug into the mash and completely oblivious to the outside world.

– “Watcha doing Spenny?”
*schlurp* *schlurp*
– “Spenny?”
– (Looks up, irritated) “MEeeaaaooaarrr?” *schlurp* *schlurp* *schlurp*
– *poke* “Are you sure you’re supposed to be eating that, Spenny?”
– (Jumps off the desk and saunters off, offended)

Five minutes later he was back on the desk, imitating a suction pump once again.

Never mind the remains of the steak next to it, the mash is obviously where it’s at.

What I’m never sure quite where it’s at, is Spenny’s mind.

A little later, there’s a noise, gradually getting louder …
scr-scr …
scr-scr …
scr-scr …
scr-scr …
scr-scr ….
– “MRRAAaooooaaaaAAAAaaoooAAAAOOOooooo!”
– “Spenny, are you ok?”
– “mrrmrrbribribibribribib” (The sound Spenny makes running up the stairs)

He then arrived at the top of the stairs and came into the room to be rubbed.

Now he’s just lying on his back at the top of the stairs looking down them. I have no idea what happened either, but lying like that can only end badly.

Spenny meets worming tablets

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , , — squiggleslash @ 12:24 am

There was a time when Spenny thought worming tablets were just another sort of cat treat and just lapped them up. Given you’re reading this here you have probably already guessed that this time is not now. The turning point for this is pretty clear-cut unfortunately, and that was changing to a different brand.

The worming pills come in two types, the first for roundworm and the second for tapeworm. The roundworm pills from the new brand were, as previously, lapped up with barely a second thought. The tapeworm pills didn’t go so well. Spenny comes along, sniffs it and starts licking at it until it sticks to his tongue.

Oh dear, the pill has stuck to his tongue all right, but it’s also started fizzing. Spenny doesn’t like fizzing things, especially not in his mouth. A look of alarm crosses his face and he starts trying to scrape the pill off his tongue. In the meantime the pill’s condition has been upgraded from “fizzing” to “frothing” which has really not improved Spenny’s thoughts on the matter one bit.

He manages to extract the pill and spits it out onto the bed where it lies in a puddle of froth. Free of the offending object he regards it with distaste and tries to get rid of the enormous lumps of froth forming around his mouth. His innocence and naivety are now gone forever.

Unfortunately I’m not making things any better as I pick the pill up from it’s puddle, wipe the froth off Spenny’s mouth and try again to get him to eat it. He’s still confused about what’s going on and seems willing to give it another try. It doesn’t even get stuck to his tongue this time, and he spits it out as the frothing renews, leaving the wreckage of the former-pill lying in it’s own mound of disgusting cat-spit and anti-worm pesticide bubbles.

Ho hum, I guess that’s sealed things then.

I give up on that pill and entomb it in a wad of tissue. Time to try again. How do you work out what dosage of worming pill has been absorbed like that? We hazard a guess at about half a tablet, judging from the bits left over and subtracting a bit for the frothing that occurred. Well, Spenny needs 1.5 pills so we’ll leave it at that.

We would leave it at that, at least, if we could convince Spenny to take this pill. He’s not having any of it. His mouth is firmly closed, except for periodic instances where he’s scraping bubbles off his tongue, and he’s avoiding the pill like it’s covered with a cat repellent material. I guess it’s going to have to be the hard way then.

Waiting for Spenny to open his mouth again I pounce and manage force his jaws apart, with the aid of both hands, long enough for girlfriend to post the pill through. The pill goes in, the pill comes out. The pill goes in, pill and froth comes out. As this is happening I’m vaguely aware of my pain nerves screaming “major lacerations detected” through the adrenaline. The pill is starting to lose it’s structural integrity as I separate Spenny’s jaws one last time and my girlfriend slam-dunks the pill past Spenny’s tongue.

Finally it’s over, the pill is inside Spenny, and I leave my girlfriend to feed Spenny a cat-treat to try to regain some of the Spenny-points we have just lost in the escapade whilst I go to treat my wounds.

A week later it’s time for another dose of roundworm pills. Despite being the ones he “liked” he refuses to even entertain the notion of the pill coming near him. Persuasion and blood finally result in that dose being taken, but we decide we must be missing something.

Some time later I decide to ask our vet for help, as we’re just coming up to the time when Spenny needs another (de)worming. It’s clearly not the first time he’s been asked this, and launches into what seems to be a well rehearsed spiel with some advice on how to get cats to take pills whilst avoiding (serious) injury. He shows me how to hold a cat’s head in such a way that it’s lower jaw all-but falls open, and is in a position where the cat can’t reach you with his claws. Ah ha, we are missing something. The vet demonstrates on Spenny, who I’ve been stroking and trying to calm down, he reacts with an expression of alarm and confusion that is covered with “Hey! What the hell? This is not cool! Stop it!” The vet let’s him go and Spenny reacts by trying to burrow into my t-shirt to get away.

The time comes for another round of worming tablets. Using the vet’s technique the roundworm tablets go relatively smoothly. Spenny is obviously really very unhappy about this and let’s us know. Thankfully forgiveness is available in the guise of a can of tuna.

Tapeworm tablets are due the next week. Oh boy. Not only is Spenny upset by being forced to take the pill, but he is really really upset by the frothing again, except this time he can’t even get rid of it because I’m holding him down. Finally we get the pill to stay inside his mouth, by my effort of clamping his jaws closed with both hands and girlfriend rubbing his throat. I am now holding onto a tiny concentrated ball of rage, claws, froth and soaking-wet fur. Major lacerations are once again detected, and the ball of fizzing rage shoots under the bed.

Finally it’s over, and I regard the damage. The bed where we were doing this is covered in a mixture of cat-spit and worming-pill bubbles, my hands are bloodied and sliced open in many locations, and I actually have the shell of one of Spenny’s claws left behind in my wrist.

I’ve had enough of this, and studying the packaging I discover the maker of the pills has a telephone number you can call regarding problems. As I use a pair of tweezers to extract the left-over portion of one of Spenny’s claws, my mind muses the fact that this does indeed constitute a problem. The phone is answered by a very posh sounding woman, who appears to have been sucking plums as she talks her entire life.

– “Hi, is this <worming tablet company>?”
– “Yes it is, how can I help you?”
– “Well, I was wondering if I could talk to someone regarding the worming pills you sell.”
– “I can help you with that.”
– “Oh good, I was wondering if you could tell me something. Does anyone there own a cat?”
– “I’m sorry?”
– “Do any of you actually own a cat?”
– (offended) “What do you mean?”
– “Well, I was just wondering if you owned cats and used your own products on them.”
– “I have two cats, as it happens.”
– “Ah, and have you tried giving them the worming tablets, I mean actually tried giving them worming tablets with your own hands?”
– (very offended now) “I’m not sure what you’re getting at, of course I have!”
– “What, really?”
– “YES!”
– “And you didn’t notice any problems, like the way the tapeworm pills froth up in the cat’s mouth?”
– “Well, some cats do find them slightly unpalatable.”
– “There’s a slight difference between unpalatable and a very frightened cat running around with froth dripping out of it’s mouth like a basset hound.”
– “I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.”
– “Surely at some point you must have noticed that cat’s don’t just dislike the tablets, they’re actually pretty distressed by them.”
– “Have you tried putting them in the cat’s food?”
– “Butter.”
– “Pardon?”
– “Butter.”
– “What do you mean?”
– “Cover the tablets in butter before you give them to the cat.”
– “Cover them in butter?”
– “Yes.”
– “Why don’t you coat them in something when you make them?”
– “I don’t know, but try covering the tablets in butter.”
– “And that works?”
– “It’s what I do, my cats love the butter.”
– “Of course cats love butter, but surely that’s just going to end up the same as putting it in food, you’ll just end up with a clean pill left over.”
– “Seriously, try covering them in butter, the cat will hardly notice the pill.”
– “Never fails?”
– “Never fails.”
– “I’m pretty sure Jasper Carrott did a sketch about this with moles instead of cat pills.”
– “Look, what do you want me to say?”
– “You could suggest another worming product that doesn’t leave my cat traumatised.”
– (starting to lose her posh accent) “Just try the butter.”

So today, we tried the butter.

I won’t say it’s been a complete success, but it’s better. The whole tablet, covered in butter, went down pretty well. Spenny spotted the big glob of butter, wolfed it up and continued licking my hand to gather any remaining butter. The half tablet didn’t go so well. He licked it up and found the spiky edge of tablet, spitting it out. Several more coatings of butter later it’s pretty clear that we’ve been rumbled. Still, he finally took the tablet using a mixture of butter and the vet’s method, and I’ve only received one scratch in the process, so all in all that’s pretty good going.

He still ate all the butter though

February 14, 2010

A day in the life of Spenny

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 11:54 pm

08:00 – It’s noisy, there’s something making strange loud noises. It does this every morning, but I don’t know why.

08:09 – Noisy again. Mum is being mean to me, she’s trying to push me into a smaller space, doesn’t she realise I’m trying to sleep?

08:18 – Noisy yet again, same as normal. Bleah. The cover is poking me and being uneven and uncomfortable, I subdued it last night but it seems to have recovered.

08:30 – It’s been noisy for a while, but thankfully it’s stopped. Mum woke up and rubbed me on the head when she went past. I like it when she does that, but I wish she’d let me sleep.

08:45 – Too noisy to sleep now, always with the noise, I try to ignore it.

08:55 – Feel hungry now, I try to tell mum but she’s ignoring me. Why won’t she feed me? She won’t let me in.

09:11 – Watching the clear door at the end of the stairs, there’s something on the other side and it’s thrown stuff through. I’ll keep an eye on them

09:20 – The stuff from the door hasn’t moved at all, but there was something I saw in the corner of my eye. It disappeared when I looked at it though.

09:30 – Tried to tell mum I’m hungry again. She said something back but I can’t understand it. I’ve been trying to teach her how to speak for ages but I’m not getting anywhere. I think I’ve learned a few of her words, they’re very hard though.

09:35 – Finally, just as I’m getting comfortable mum is going downstairs to feed me.

09:36 – She said it’s “choonah” and walked off. I don’t know what that is, but I like it. There were more things, but I don’t know what they were. She’s gone through the big door that’s always cold on the other side.

09:45 – Finished eating now. Going back to sleep now, still tired. Mum2 is still in bed when I get there, but ignores me.

11:10 – Time to find something to do. Mum2 isn’t here any more, wonder where she went?

11:11 – Found her. She’s in the room with the big flat moving pictures. She’s eating something that smells good but won’t give me any.

11:12 – Yay, she gave me some. I’m going to use the flat thing that mum sits on to sleep I think, it’s nice.

11:40 – Too noisy in here. Mum2 has this thing which keeps making the noise, then she talks at it. I can never understand what she’s saying though. I think she wants it to shut up.

12:03 – Found somewhere nice and quiet. The warm high-up bright thing is around today, so I’ll sit by that and the white warm thing on this ledge. The ledge is kind of weird though. There are these things dangling which get in the way, and there’s some sort of wall I can see through but is hard.

12:07 – There’s zooming things swooping around outside, I keep asking them to come and play with me but they never do. They make me feel hungry, I don’t know why.

12:09 – Told mum2 I was hungry, she ignored me, told her again and again, still ignoring me. Not fair.

12:10 – Hey this bit of floor is warm, I think I’ll stay here whilst I wahba3jhuyhbkloias

14:22 – Oooh, warm still. Feel tired, damn I must have fell asleep, I hope I didn’t miss anything.

14:48 – Mmmm, warm. I saw that thing out of the corner of my eye again, I ran after it but it had gone. Now all my legs ache, need to stretch.

14:50 – Told mum2 I’m hungry again, I don’t think she cares. She did rub me though so I guess I’ll roll around a bit and make the most of it.

15:08 – There it was again! Ran all the way after it, but I lost it when I went downstairs. Stopped for a second, and it’s going past in the other direction, chased it again into the big empty room with the fluffy thing. It’s gone again.

15:09 – Since I’m here I may as well watch stuff through that wall thing with the dangling bits again. Humans are weird, they put these everywhere. They’re kind of fun though. I was there was a warm high thing here too, but there’s only a warm white thing. Can’t have everything I guess.

15:43 – You know, humans really are weird, there’s loads of them walking past. Did I mention they come in different sizes? There’s even some kittens too! Humans treat their kittens so well, look they push them around in little baskets. Why didn’t I get pushed around in a basket when I was a kitten? Not fair.

16:03 – Mum2’s outside, she’s about to come through the door with the coldness on the other side. I’ll go tell her I’m hungry.

16:04 – She ignored me. Not fair again! Why are humans so unfair? She left to the door to the coldness open.

16:05 – Told mum2 the door was open, she rubbed me on the head for a bit. Nice but not what I’m trying to ask for dumbass.

16:06 – Finally got her to follow me, sheesh this is seriously hard work. Showed her the door to the cold was open a bit, she made a noise and shut it. Woo! Told her I was hungry again.

16:07 – Mum2 picked me up and carried me to the food bowl. It always feels weird when she does that.

16:08 – Hey! There’s food here, smells like that choona stuff again. When did this happen? I didn’t see her do that. Why couldn’t she do that earlier! Wish she’d given me something different though, why can’t humans work this out between them?

16:10 – Going to have another nap now on the big soft flat thing. I’ve folded the cover over so it’s even softer. Nice.

19:12 – Heard a noise, and thought mum was back. She’s not, but that weird thing I saw is. I followed it out to by the stairs but it’s gone again, I’ll try to catch it out.

19:15 – There it was again! I see that damn thing every day and I can never get to it. I ran into the big empty room with the picture thing by the see-through wall, but it’s gone now.

19:16 – Hey, there’s loads of these grey tube things here. They’re so awesome, you guys should try these some day. I stopped them ALL from moving, every last one that Mum2 threw to me. Even the ones that zoomed like the things behind the see-through wall! I’m so awesome.

20:28 – I can hear a big rumbly noise behind the see-through wall. That’s got to be mum again. Damn, my legs ache again, I must have fallen asleep in the grey tubes.

20:30 – Woo! Mum’s here again! I missed her so much.

20:31 – Mum picked me up and rubbed me around the head and straightened the fur around my neck. It took me ages to train her to do this, but now I can just move my head and she’ll rub where-ever I want. Bonus, she makes my bum warm when she holds me against her tummy so I spread my legs apart to get more warmth, I wonder if she’s noticed?

20:32 – Told mum I’m hungry and she gave me food straight away, told you I had her trained well, didn’t I? She said it’s more of this “choona” stuff, and said there’s “prorns” and “skwid” and “mussulls” too. I love this stuff.

20:34 – WEEEEOoooooOOOEEEeooo! Feel all bouncy and great! I’m going to chase that thing that keeps bugging me around, see you later.

20:55 – Phew, tired now. Still didn’t catch that damn thing, it just keeps disappearing. So frustrating!

21:41 – Feel better after a snooze, but I’m hungry again.

21:42 – Told mum I’m hungry, she tried to ignore me, how dare she! She’s staring at the moving picture thingies.

21:43 – Poked mum to get her attention, she’s gone grumbly now. Hmpf.

21:44 – Still ignoring me even when I poke her. She’s saying stuff I can’t understand, but I don’t care because mum2 is rubbing me on the tummy.

21:45 – They’re both rubbing me now, that’s better. Still hungry though.

22:01 – Feel like guarding the stairs and the door to the coldness. Be back later.

22:34 – Hey, mum is suddenly here, I didn’t see her move. I think I’ll ask to be rubbed!

22:35 – Dammit! Mum made me fall off the stairs. It’s a good thing I can land on my feet, why did she do that! She does this often you know, if it wasn’t for being rubbed I’d get really fed up with that, it always surprises me. She’s making a weird repeating heaving noise though. She always makes that noise like that, I think she does it on purpose.

22:37 – Mum’s using her litter tray, I think I’ll get some more rubs.

22:39 – She’s still ignoring me when I tell her I’m hungry, what’s going on, she usually feeds me afterwards?

23:38 – Mum’s got the dot thing out for me to play with! I’ll practise on that for that weird thing I keep seeing. She called me “faymus.” I don’t know what that means, I’m Spenny, not faymus.

23:39 – I wonder if faymus is something you can eat, like choona?

23:45 – That’s really hard work, I think I’ll just sit here and watch it instead.

23:46 – Bored now, but I found the warm bit from earlier again.

00:49 – Mum’s back again, she’s still ignoring me, I managed to make her go to the room where her litter tray is, maybe she’ll feed me soon.

00:51 – Eeek, wet stuff, I’ll wait out here away from the freak human getting wet.

01:03 – Finally, being fed. I think they said it’s “sahmun” or something. Never going to get the hang of this.

01:15 – Hey, it’s gone dark, where is everyone?

01:16 – Found them, they’re in the big wide flat soft thing. Yes, they’re in it, like it’s eating them or something but it always let’s them out. Told you they were freaks, but this is where they sleep.

01:18 – Mum’s stopped rubbing me, still wanted rubs, not fair. I’ll guard them instead, if they give me enough room.

01:31 – The big wide flat soft thing was moving, but it’s ok, I stopped it. I bit it a lot, and it stopped moving when I put my paw on it. It’s so dangerous but I’m awesome enough to protect mum.

05:24 – What was that? Never mind, it’s gone whatever it was. Need to use the litter tray now, dammit.

05:27 – Phew, feels better now.

06:01 – I’m hungry.

January 30, 2010

That’s my chair!

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 7:50 pm

Spenny is a basket case

This will come as no shock to anyone; cats sleep a lot. What’s more of an interest though, is where they sleep.

In the picture above Spenny is trying to sleep in the laundry basket that contained a hitherto clean towel. Nice and soft and fluffy and warm. When he sleeps on our bed he will usually try to sleep on a section that has multiple layers of quilt under him. That’s only one class of places to sleep though – soft and warm.

The second class of places to sleep are the weird places. Things like lying with your neck bent 90° against a shelf support, or on a mattress, in the gap between things. In Spenny’s case under my desk to one side probably comes under this.

The third class of places is where things get really interesting though. Let’s call this “Places Where Humans Want To Be” I’m fairly certain I am not the only person to have noticed this, so that leaves the question; why? You would think it would be obvious they’re somewhere we want to be and about to get removed and/or chastised, and this would make one of the numerous other soft/warm/uncomfortable places they have to snooze more preferable.

The most common target for Spenny’s snooze-attack is my girlfriend’s chair. Let’s take this fairly typical conversation…

= girlfriend, in this case
= Spenny, still

– “Oi! That’s my chair!”
– Opens eyes and looks up, “is it?”
– “Are you going to move, Spenny?”
– Blinks, “move? What’s a move?”
– “Move.” Pointing arm.
– Folds paws under chin.
– “Fine.” Picks Spenny up and places him on the floor whilst he’s still curled up.
– “Mrrf.”

The other way that plays out is my girlfriend sits down with Spenny still on the chair and shuffles backwards, leaving Spenny with a 6 inch wide triangular gap in which to look grumpy from the side. The record for tolerating this is about 30 seconds, before he squeezes out between girlfriend and armrest. Such an imposition, isn’t it Spenny?

Unfortunately, my girlfriend isn’t the only victim here. I don’t usually find Spenny on my chair, though, because he’s learned to associate the sound of my car being parked on the driveway with my arrival and impending food. On occasion, though, I come back, pull my chair out from under my desk, and find it is already occupied with a round Spenny.

= me again.

– “Hey, I’m pretty sure we’ve already had this conversation.”
– Looks innocent, blinks.
– “OK, so are we going to do this the hard way or the easy way?”
– Blinks again.
– “Hard way then, no problem.”
– Curls up, presumably expecting to be picked up by me, like my girlfriend does.

At this point, my evil-bitch side comes out again.

Both Lum and myself have office style swivel chairs in the study. The solution is obvious. Swivel chairs go round, so does Spenny. Round and round, spinning gently, Spenny sits up slightly, watching the scenery of the room as it flies past. He seems a little confused – the room isn’t supposed to do that. I’ve been doing this for about 10 seconds now, and I’m starting to wonder if cats throw up when they get dizzy. 15 seconds, Spenny is starting to turn his head to watch things as they go past him, and I realise that if Spenny does throw up, it’s going to be distributed in a nice efficient pattern around the room at about knee height. 20 seconds, Spenny stands up and leaps off the rotating chair with a rather wobbly fashion and walks to the centre of the room where he sits down.

Ah-ha! I win. Spenny obviously holds an expression saying that he always intended to get off then, and stoically sits watching me, giving off the impression that being spun round had no bearing at all on him getting down. The next day I pull my chair out from under my desk, there’s a round cat there again. Spenny looks up at me. I look down at Spenny, tilt my head and raise an eyebrow. Spenny jumps down off the chair. My chair, Spenny.

The only other bone of contention regarding sleeping arrangements is my sheepskin rug. It always used to be the case that Spenny would avoid setting paw on it at all costs. If he wanted to get to the other side of it, he would walk all the way around and balance a narrow path just so he didn’t have to pass over it. At some point in the last four years, though, he realised that it is in fact the ultimate in warm and fluffy places to sleep. Which is a shame, because I rather like sitting on it. I did try to come to a compromise with Spenny and use him as a pillow, but he rejected the offer by extracting himself from under my head, turning around, and shaking his whole body whilst glaring at me with pure disdain. Pity, I always wanted a self-warming pillow in the winter months.

He seems unwilling or unable to learn not to sleep there though. For a time I started rolling him up in the rug and picking it up with Spenny’s head sticking out of one end and his tail sticking out of the other. This generally went down fairly poorly with Spenny, who jumped out before I could deposit him somewhere else. After a while he started leaving the rug as soon as I picked up a corner. Nowadays I’ll find him sitting next to the rug yawning and looking as innocent as can be, despite the tell-tale warm spot.

The theme, generally, is that if he is in a place where I want to be, he’ll give it up to me. My girlfriend isn’t so lucky though. To be honest I think Spenny is trying to usurp girlfriend from the number two spot and replace her. The ultimate in feline replacement is when I’m having a nap and my girlfriend comes home late. I’m in bed because I’m tired, and I’m woken by the sound of her coming in. As I open my eyes, I can see in the half light a black shape with two yellowy-green glowing eyes in the bed opposite me. No, my girlfriend hasn’t crawled into bed, it’s Spenny. To be precise, it’s Spenny lying on his side with his head on the pillow.

My girlfriend removes her pillow from the bed, letting Spenny’s head flop onto the mattress.

Spenny does that a lot. Whenever my girlfriend is away for work, I’ll usually find Spenny is taking up the whole of her side of the bed. Often I’ll find him copying the way one of us sleeps. He’ll never sleep under the quilt though. That’s a shame though, again, because I’d really prefer a warm cat to a hot water bottle! girlfriend is not so certain.

Poor girlfriend.

Don’t need no litter tray

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , — squiggleslash @ 7:36 pm

Spenny has an interesting relationship with his litter tray. Well, as interesting as you can get with a tray full of ammonium-soaked slaked lime, at least. You’ll probably remember that the further away from Spenny’s head a part of his body is, the less he considers it to be part of him. Can you see where this is going yet? This includes his bum when he can’t see it.

I’m used to Spenny dangling his bum over the edge of the litter tray because he doesn’t realise it extends that far back. It’s pretty grim trying to clean cat pee off the floor when that happens. It’s been getting better over the years, nowadays if he fails to position himself properly the pee stream usually hits the edge of the tray and sprays everywhere, including on himself, as well as over the edge. I wish there was some way I could teach him that just because he can feel litter under all four paws, that doesn’t mean his bum isn’t dangling in the air.

We’ve actually gone to some pretty extreme lengths to try to counteract it. I mean, seriously, how the hell do you teach a cat where his bum is?

Putting down plastic sheets around the litter tray. That didn’t work because he pulled the sheets into the litter tray thinking they were more material to cover it with.

Putting down paper towels under the litter tray. The pee just soaks through.

Different types of litter. This is how we discovered Spenny loves to pee in wood pellets, but will he take a dump in them? Nope!

Little trays around the litter tray to catch the stray pee. Spenny notices they look different and goes into the tray a different way around.

We tried turning the tray through 90° thinking he might not have had enough room. Oh boy, that was a real classic. He didn’t notice the orientation had changed and peed and pooed right all the way over the side, instead of just nearly.

For crying out loud Spenny, it’s a tray of dehydrated limestone, how on earth can you get it wrong! The bit that gets me every time is that if there’s poo in the litter tray, he will refuse to deposit another one until the first is removed. Even if it’s completely buried and invisible. Every time the litter tray has fresh litter or is scooped, he has to inspect it. Every. Time.

After a while I came up with an elaborate scheme. The floor is covered with a layer of sweepable wood-chip litter that Spenny rejected for pooing on. On top of this, to prevent Spenny from seeing the litter and just peeing on it anyway, is a layer of paper towels. In the most common place for mal-aimed pee, there’s a little plastic tray. Finally, on top of all this, lies the litter tray, in all it’s “glory” for Spenny to (mis-)use.

The absolute pinnacle of Spenny’s achievements regarding the litter tray came one day when I was replacing the sinus-boring concoction with fresh litter. The tray had been removed, and the contents extracted with the liner. The tray was lying to one side as I was wiping it out. Spenny comes up to it and Investigates it. It’s not what he’s looking for it would seem, so he pushes past me. He steps into the cupboard where the tray normally lives, where there’s a fresh layer of paper towels having been laid down. “Wait Spenny, no, it’s not ready yet, wait! Please! Wait!” I cry.

That, it would transpire, is what he was looking for. In what would normally be the exact centre of the litter tray he squatted down, despite my protestations, and let rip. Spenny doesn’t need any damn litter tray. I could swear he looked pleased with himself as he jumped out and resumed his position watching me work.

Why can’t you aim your pee that damn well normally, Spenny?

The lesson from this experience was obvious. Close the damn door whilst working on the litter tray! Still, this didn’t solve the main problem, actually cleaning up the aftermath. The fact that the effluent has been caught in little trays or absorbed doesn’t change the fact that at some point, sooner or later, you have to get rid of it

As it happened the solution came to me during my day job. I was looking at the regulations for the storage of diesel for emergency generators – the diesel tanks need something called bunds around them to catch leaks or spills. The light-bulb was lit! Leaks? Spenny leaks and spills all the time!

Spenny is now likely to be the only cat in the world with a double-bunded litter tray. When the bund becomes an issue all you have to do is take it out of the house and wash it with water.

Spenny meets pickled onions

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 7:03 pm

I’m not sure whether you have pickled onions in the USA, or other parts of the world, but here in the UK they’re pretty common. Despite their name they’re usually very small onions or shallots, so it’s not like we’re talking enormous onions the size of a tennis ball here or anything. The first hit on Google happens to be a recipe for making them on H2G2, so that should give you some idea if you’re not familiar with them.

They’re very strong-tasting and have a distinct sharp smell. I love to have them with a plate of fish and chips.

Spenny, of course, loves it when I have fish and chips too. For the reasons mentioned in the previous story he is especially diligent about placing himself in a location where he’s likely to get a scrap or two of fish or chew on a piece of discarded batter. In the older house, there was a piece of the stairs where he could stand and get a human-height view of whatever we were carrying past.

One day, he has already realised that we’re having fish and chips, and has positioned himself ready for us to go past. I can see he’s making ready to reach out with his paw. Evil cat. Well, I can be more evil. I turn my plate in my hands so that the closest thing to Spenny is a cluster of three small pickled onions. As I walk up, sure enough he reaches out with his paw, so I pre-empt him by offering up the plate. Spenny is ecstatic by this point because he thinks he is getting the fish offered to him first, and sticks his nose right in … to the pickled onions.

One sniff later, and the rate at which Spenny recoils is nothing short of awesome. He has a big noseful of pickled onion, and does not look happy at me. It’s my fault, apparently. As I walk past, the plate appears to be surrounded by an invisible forcefield as Spenny pulls himself away with an expression of utter distaste and disdain.

Pickled onions – not compatible with feline smelling equipment.

Spenny meets the pepper grinder

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , — squiggleslash @ 6:57 pm

It’s become something of a habit that when we’re eating, if it’s something palatable to cats, we will give him a little bit for him to eat too, so he’s a part of it. So it turns out, Spenny likes chilli-con-carne, but that’s not what the story is about because he isn’t allowed to eat it due to the onion content.

We’ll be sitting down watching something on TV with the meals on a tray, and Spenny will be hovering around in front of us waiting for something interesting to appear for him to eat/lick/reject as appropriate. This particular night we’re having Italian food, and I have some arrabiata sauce on some pasta, which means that the cheese especially has attracted Spenny’s attention.

I offer him a piece of cheese, he noses it and knocks it onto the floor, where he sniffs at it before deciding the cheese isn’t good enough. Since I’m holding back, he thinks, he has his face right up to the pasta and keeps reaching out with a paw until I slap his wrist.

I’m just applying some pepper to the top before starting to eat, which Spenny spots and diverts his attention to. I stop grinding and hold out the grinder to him, he sniffs at it curiously, but I pull it away so I don’t end up with cat-snot in the end of the grinder. Back to grinding I go, and as I’m fond of freshly ground pepper, this is taking a not-insignificant length of time, during which Spenny diverts his attention back to my food. At this point, I do something which is, in retrospect, probably quite evil.

As I’m grinding, I wave the grinder towards Spenny, and a cloud of torn-up peppercorn floats gently towards him. This hasn’t gone un-noticed, and Spenny thinks it’s food. Hhe closes his eyes and waits for the food to reach him.

Spenny always closes his eyes when waiting for something to reach him, when he’s tracking toilet rolls, if he doesn’t want to catch it, he’ll put his head in the path with his eyes closed and wait for it to hit him. Likewise with a piece of fish, ham, or other piece of food, I can’t count the number of pieces of which he has deliberately positioned himself so they hit him in the face. This is one of the reasons we don’t let him outside; I can just imagine Spenny deciding that cars are interesting and deciding to catch one by waiting for one to hit him in the forehead.

Now he’s doing it to pepper.

The first granules reach him and cascade down his face and whiskers.

He opens his eyes with a mixture of surprise and horror.


I’ve never seen him sneeze with such force before, and since he’s looking hopefully up at me I’m hit in the face with a piece of slimy cat-snot. Serves me right, I suppose, but before I can react with revulsion, Spenny lowers his head and shakes it.


Oh dear, poor Spenny, and poor me, now I have cat-snot on my foot too. He’s had enough of this and wheels around to his right to start running away. He doesn’t make it far before pausing ..


He shakes his head again and runs at full speed out of the room. Pausing to sneeze again in the hallway.

Spenny is now scared of the pepper grinder

Rough tongue redux

Filed under: Cat story — Tags: , , , — squiggleslash @ 6:49 pm

Spenny has finally managed to find a way of getting to his tail without lying on his side revolving at high speed, scrabbling frantically to catch something that is moving away from him at the same rate that he’s approaching it.

Part of me is kind of sad about this, because Spenny trying to grab hold of his tail is just pure comedy cuteness gold. Part of me is glad though, because his new technique, whilst it lacks the frantic nature of the previous, makes up for it in pure Spennyness.

So it goes something a little like this;

1 – Spenny starts off lying on his back, not an uncommon position for Spenny as it is the most effective from which to emit Cutions [1].
2 – Spenny places both his rear paws on the floor either side of his tail and braces himself.
3 – Next he curls himself up drags the front half of his body forwards with his front paws.
4 – Now folded in half, Spenny braces his front legs backwards and folds his back legs up.
5 – Success! He is now sitting on the small of his back, folded in two, with his tail within easy reach and restrained.

6 – Look up, bewildered, at the humans peering down at you and laughing.

[1] – pronounced cute-ee-ons, the elemental particle of cuteness.

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