The Complexity of Cats

by on November 29, 2010 · 24 comments

in Anna's Video Pick, Culture


All photos by Rich Kacmar.


Today My Beloved and I dismantled the 90 pound dog cage that has sat in the middle of our very small living room for the past two weeks while we cared for our cat Blu. I am sure that the dry cat food (Whiskas meaty selections) that I was providing to our outdoor cats ended up being the kiss of death for our male cats. Jet died a terrible agonizing death last month, unable to pee and he is buried next to our front porch. When Blu started to show the same symptoms, I made an appointment with our vet and opted for an extreme, costly surgery to save his life.

I talked to my cousin yesterday about our cat situation. She is a dog person, and opined that dogs have masters and cats have staff. This is very true. Our cats have taught us to turn on the water faucet in the bathroom while we are sitting on the toilet. They jump up on the sink and butt our heads until we turn on the tap.

They launch themselves against the screen door on the front porch at 6:00 am every morning, who needs an alarm clock? Saturdays and Sundays included, making sure that they get kitty kibble at the appointed hour. And they sit on our chests and give us the ultra- powerful cat stink eye if we try to sleep in. It is impossible to sleep in with a 19 pound cat on your chest delicately exploring your eyelids.

If you are a cat lover, check out Simon’s cats in the video below.




So this morning we took off the bell collar around Blu’s neck. The sutures are healing nicely and we gave him his last liquid antibiotic a few days ago. Blu is a Siamese cat that showed up in our yard almost four years ago. He has a clipped right ear to show that he was neutered by the Feral Cat Coalition and returned to the neighborhood. I am certain that Blu was abandoned by an owner who gave him lots of pets and a warm place within his or her home. I talk to him in Spanish as well as English.

It is a heartbreaking, common phenomenon here in my neighborhood to find beautiful animals that could not be taken to a new home, for whatever reason, abandoned to the streets. We have adopted as many of them as we could. At one point we were taking care of fourteen neutered cats, which qualifies us as ‘crazy cat people’.

Over the past years our four indoor cats have had a chance to sniff Blu up through the screen door on our back porch; therefore Blu’s transition to our living room was relatively peaceful. Blu had become depressed, however. My dog loving cousin wanted to know how I knew this.

My cats and I have a relationship in which the sound of my voice alone is enough to get them purring sans contact. There was nothing I could say in Spanish or English that would get Blu purring. Epic fail. When I slipped off his collar this morning he did purr. And purr. And purr. I held him on my lap, gently stroking him, while I read through the OB Rag this morning. When we turned on the vacuum cleaner he knew we were trying to kill him and his shaved ass and hid under the bed.

I have no idea whether Blu will turn out to be an indoor cat. We have certainly had other cats who managed to jettison themselves through the screens, and all of them eventually crawled back, broken, to our porch and to die there. I truly understand the concept of “Live free or die.” That is a tough concept for cats though. I look at Blu and ask:

“Look, I saved your shaved ass from death. What more do you want?”

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Mann November 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

For the lovers of cats, who believe in their complexity and, yes, genius (even those of us that are allergic):,2814/


Frank Gormlie November 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

Mary!!! Hey, howdy! Where are you? How are you? We were trying to get in touch with you about a guy who is writing something and wants to talk with you.


Mary Mann November 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Hey Frank – just saw that email today, I’ll get in touch with him. I am doing well, living in NYC, and interning at, well, The Onion. It’s good, albeit increasingly chilly (I forgot about that whole winter thing). How are you all doing?


Patty Jones November 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Ah, the winter thing… even here we are starting to experience that! We are all doing pretty well considering, well, unemployment, lack of health care, limited funds, leaky roofs, plumbing problems… You should get in touch with Lane, he’s not faraway in Jersey City!

I read your piece in the Onion. Kudos!


Shane Finneran November 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm

The Onion? Nice! Such an awesome site! I actually had a subscription to the print edition back in 199something. The Onion rules. Say hello to T. Herman Zweibel for me ;)


annagrace November 29, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Mary- I read the article out loud to the cats; one walked away and curled up in a box, the other resumed her position on the part of the stove warmed by the pilot light, and the other two fell over on their sides and immediately went to sleep….

Mary- good hearing from you! We need an update on your life!


Gary Ghirardi November 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

You might consider having the local butcher grind you up some cheap grade ground beef with some bone and heart and see if your cats will adapt to this as part of their daily food ration. Also, buy the expensive anti urinary stones dry food and dish that out in addition to their regular cat food if your on a budget. Our cat started having problems and I switched her to the above diet and now she seems fine and her energy improved her coat got shinier and she craves less of the cheap purina style cat food which is really not the correct food for healthy cats. –


annagrace November 29, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Thanks for the suggestions Gary. I am already giving one of our indoor cats ground beef or canned chicken. For years we have used nothing but Science diet dry food and only had one other cat with this kind of urinary tract problem. We opted for the same surgery and he lived a long life. Our vet was surprisingly non-committal about the Whiskas, but he also said to use the anti-urinary stones food. I was surprised to hear that one out of four cats continue to have problems, even after the surgery.


Gary Ghirardi November 30, 2010 at 7:22 am

Cats, like people, are on a diet of misinformation. Cats are succumbing to cancers and health disorders from bad food just like us. Margarat, over at Dexters raw food pet deli in Del Mar, said that the idea is to re-create a carcass. That they do better with all the parts that balance their digestive and nutritional construction. This is not easy to do without buying live bunnies and rats for your cats to eat. I am not into hearing furry little animals in the throes of death agony. My vet here in Caracas was very nice but also non-comital about taking a stand on food. It seems Purina has long arms. Margarat assembled a list of sites that she recommended for learning. She seems to know her stuff. I will post them here if Frank will allow it on the comments system after this comment:


Gary Ghirardi November 30, 2010 at 7:22 am

scroll down list for kidney and urinary handouts

Amazing shelter, downloadable resource guide, may find something useful in there.

Don’t know this site, just found it.

Don’t know this site either

This should get you started, hehe


Sarah November 29, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Anna – I love the picture of your cats looking out the door! Good for you for fixing up the stray kitties!

I think Bill and I are crazy cat people, too. We only have the one, but I’m almost ashamed to admit that we did make her a Facebook page.

Our cat is deaf, and perhaps a little bit “slow”. We can’t let her out so she sits in the window and gazes at the ocean and the birds in the bushes and the occasional suitor-cat that wanders into the yard. Bill takes her out for “walks” by carrying her in a wicker basket. She just rides along, calmly and quietly.

We’re definitely her servants!


jim grant November 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm

That opening photo is adorable !!!!


annagrace November 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm

High praise from you, Jim! My husband Richard took it.


Patty Jones November 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

It is really a wonderful shot.


lane tobias November 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm

you guys are saints for what you do for the local cat population…..and I can tell you that I have no idea how I would be able to deal, emotionally, with an extreme surgery. It must be heartbreaking.

I will give my cats a little extra love when I get home today, and also…Anna, oh how I miss you.

Send my regards to the whole lot of them. and Rich of course!


Patty Jones November 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Man, your ears must have been burning… see me above, mentioning you to Mary.


lane tobias November 30, 2010 at 11:15 am

i just saw that. what timing! Miss ya’ll.


Frank Gormlie November 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Heeey dude! Have ya seen yurself on Terriers? Miss you guys and OB has been downgraded since it no longer has your writings and observations.


annagrace November 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Lane- I miss you and Carianne and think about you both so often! How are your cats doing? The really terrible thing about making medical decisions for an animal is that many people don’t have the money to pay for spay/neuter services, let alone major surgery.


Goatskull November 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm

In case you ever wanted to know how to wrap a cat, here it is.


annagrace November 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Goatskull- ours have figured out how to wrap themselves! (But they still prefer a brown paper bag or a very small box.)


Goatskull November 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Our cat has a preference for Trader Joe’s bags.


Shane Finneran November 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Thanks, Goatskull. I’m hoping to give bonsai kittens as gifts this Christmas, but if I can’t find any at market, I might have to make due with wrapping up a few of the neighborhood tabbies. Cheers!


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