Category Archives: Cats

Ivy’s Outdoor Adventures

Last fall, in an effort to try to help keep Ivy the Wonder Cat’s weight under control, as an experiment, I purchased a harness and leash and to see if going out for a walk would be of interest to her. As described in the blog post “Taking the Cat for a Walk”, she surprised me as she really enjoyed it.

Over the winter months, not surprisingly, the walks got shorter and I completely respected that. I never forced the issue with her especially since getting 4 booties on her paws would likely leave me with scratch marks all over my body.

Funny enough, in bad weather, she would still meow to go out for a walk, but because she seemingly didn’t believe me when I told her that the weather outside was frightful, I would put the harness and leash on her anyway, as if we were going for a walk, as per her command. When she looked outside, saw the weather and made a u-turn back into the house, the decision was hers that this wasn’t a good day for a walk and then the meowing stopped.

But after the snow melted, our mud puddle yard dried out and the days got longer, the visits outside became longer and more frequent. In her ritual to announce that it was time for a walk, she would stand by the pet gate and meow a few times, and when I’d join her, she would walk me to where I hang my coat. She is a smart one!

Now, in late spring, the walks are definitely part of our routine. She expects them now.

Her reaction to the harness is strangely irregular. Some days, the sight of it has her running to the pet gate with great enthusiasm. Most days she stands perfectly still and even sticks her head willingly into the right loop. Other days, she puts up a huge fuss, attempting to bite me. When that happens, I learned that I just have to create a diversion to get her attention on something else, and try again one minute later. Continue reading

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Our Cat’s Reaction to Working from Home

When we were first instructed to work at home due to Covid-19, for all of us, it meant some adjustments.

Initially, I commented on how interesting it will be to see how Ivy the Wonder Cat copes with her dad (and soon-to-be two dads) always being around. I honestly thought that she would get sick of us encroaching upon her routine, and would become increasingly distant.

The truth is that I underestimated how much attention she really craved.

When I first met Ivy at the pet store, where the local shelter offered cats for adoption, she was the calmest, coolest cat I could imagine.

I didn’t make the connection at first, but she liked having people around. I eventually figured out that because the clerks were in her line of sight from 8 am to 9 pm, in addition to all of the visitors passing by to say hello, this extroverted cat was likely in what was paradise for her.

As much as I was told that cats were pretty independent, little did I know that my pre-Covid work routine might not have been enough attention for her, even though the signs weren’t that obvious to me at first.

I assumed that she slept all day while I was at the office. The evidence showed that at some point she woke up and circulated, as her quota of food was consumed and the litter box was used.

I was under the impression that her world generally revolved around her little basket, with the comfy blanket, overlooking the backyard, supervising the birds, the squirrels and the folks walking their dogs, in between her naps. Continue reading

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My Feline Security Detail

It never ceases to amaze me how a cat can pick up a strange habit, seemingly out-of-the-blue, and we end up having to adjust, whether it makes sense or not.

It could be as innocuous as a different inflection in our cat’s meows, or to find her somewhere she doesn’t usually hang out. Sometimes it’s a favourite toy that is suddenly no longer her favourite.

Sometimes it is a little more challenging to deal with it, like a sudden and complete dislike for a food that was a long-time favourite.

In recent months, Miss Ivy has picked up a strange habit as depicted by the picture. When she is doing it, I just turn around and see her backside, with her face looking in the opposite direction.

It’s not like she has done this once or twice. She started doing this a couple of months ago, and seems to be doing this all the time now to the point that it is a little creepy when I change rooms and she does the same thing.

The question is, why?

It doesn’t matter that she has a cat bed, two perches with a full panoramic view of the yard, and an unlimited supply of comfy throws on practically every horizontal surface in the house. She has suddenly taken to parking herself on the hardwood floor, two or three feet behind me, facing in the opposite direction.

In addition, there are two very willing laps she could sit on, which she does at least once or twice per day, but for the rest of the time, why the hardwood floor?

Is she acting like a sentinel? Is she my private feline security detail? Is she trying to be a guard cat? Continue reading

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Taking the Cat for a Walk

At Ivy the Wonder Cat’s veterinary check-up two years ago, the vet said that she was within an acceptable range for an adult indoor cat, but to ensure that she didn’t take on more weight. At that time, we put in place a few strategies to keep her on track.

Before our move to the country, when things were calm, normal and on a regular routine, her calorie count was pretty consistent without me needing to monitor her intake.  

However, there has been so much commotion over the last year between renovations, staging, selling, packing, boarding, relocating, living among boxes, unpacking and more renovations, it was challenging to keep to the structure and certainty that this cat needed to thrive.

Given that she was on the streets for nine months before she was brought to a shelter, it should come as no surprise if this cat eats for survival in times of disruption. So she gained a little.

When the stress of the move had passed and Ivy was feeling more like her usual self, our new vet recommended that we start looking at measures to bring her weight down.

The vet recommended that we moderate and measure her food intake in an effort to reduce her calories, and to switch her to a prescribed food that should make her feel more satiated. Sold!

The part that was a little tricky was the recommendation to play with her more, to give her more exercise. Engaging a six-year-old indoor cat in longer play sessions is easier said than done. I can’t tell you how many times we started playing a game together, only to find myself playing alone when I realized that she had already walked away after approximately 42 seconds.

Over the span of a few weeks, I pulled out every favourite toy that I knew she enjoyed, only to find that she was over it pretty quickly. So much for the exercise part of the program. Continue reading

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Giving the Cat a Bath

When we put up Ivy the Wonder Cat at her cat hotel during our recent move, I thought that Miss Ivy might enjoy a little extra attention and pampering during this challenging time. I signed her up for a “spa treatment” in the form of a feline version of a shampoo and blow dry.

When I picked up Ivy, the spa owner advised that Ivy responded well to the bath as she was purring contentedly when it was over. She noted that during the service, a lot of hair came off.

The last comment wasn’t a surprise. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I might brush Miss Ivy, I always seem able to collect enough hair to potentially knit together another kitten.

When I brought Ivy home, I couldn’t get over how fresh she smelled. To be clear, she was never a “smelly cat” like Phoebe Buffay sang about in the TV show “Friends”, but the light fragrance from the shampoo was delightful and stayed with her for more than a week.

What was odd was that after her arrival in our new home, whenever she seemed to be cozy and in a relaxed mood, I would try brushing her, as was always our routine. Maybe it was the stress of the move talking, but she got up and walked away. After five years, I have learned to take signs like that at face value. For some reason she wasn’t interested, so I let it go and tried again another time. However the reaction was the same.

I didn’t worry about it too much as she had been through a huge transition period and some significant changes to the routine and living arrangement.

But about four weeks later, as I woke up one morning, bleary eyed, getting her breakfast bowl ready, I found myself stepping in a puddle in the kitchen. Miss Ivy coughed up a hairball. Continue reading

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How My Cat Survived the Big Move

In the five years since Ivy the Wonder Cat’s adoption, most days I would think that Ivy is one of the coolest, calmest and most predictable cats on the planet, given her innate ability to stick to a schedule which includes 14 hours of sleep per day.

When I say stick to a schedule, I mean you can set your watch by her. God forbid if I should miss her 9:00 p.m. treat time or should slip by more than five minutes for her regularly scheduled feeding times. Let’s just say my extroverted cat is not terribly subtle and if I am ever late, her mild meow builds up to a full ambulance siren within a matter of minutes.

I often ask myself who is the trainer and who is the student?

With a cat whose routine is so deeply entrenched, we are fortunate that harmony is a two way street. She knows when it’s her humans’ bedtime and she doesn’t typically wail by the door. She seems to understand our work-from-home routine and keeps herself quietly entertained during business hours. And she doesn’t usually beg for food outside of her appointed meal times.

But with that strong sense of structure, a sensitivity to disruption may be part of the package deal. Every November and December, as the holiday decorations go up and our schedules stray from the normal routine, she does get a little discombobulated, but then again, don’t we all to some extent? Continue reading

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The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 5)

I knew that for the duration of the showings and open houses, it would be best for everyone to send Ivy the Wonder Cat to her cat hotel.

Not only would it avoid the need for me to withdraw from my work day and relocate Ivy each time someone wanted to see the house, but for a cat that is so structure-oriented you could set your clock my her nap, meal and treat times, avoiding the change and disruption altogether was likely the best idea.

Given her early signs of discombobulation and confusion from just having some furniture leave the house for the staging process, I contacted her hotel to see if they could take her sooner. I was relieved that they could.

I knew she would get the best of care and attention for the duration of her stay. I’ll never forget the time I went to pick her up after an extended holiday and she jumped out of my arms and ran back into her room. I was heartbroken, but also deeply reassured that Ivy liked it here.

Just the same, letting her go was a challenge. I didn’t foresee that this would be such a difficult part of the home buying and selling process. Continue reading

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The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 4)

Up until now, my only experience with self-storage has been the occasional viewing of the TV show “Storage Wars”.

As much as I have witnessed self-storage facilities sprouting up throughout the city at a crazy pace, I never really gave them much thought as I assumed that they were just for people with too much stuff.

When my real estate agent suggested that I needed to edit out some furnishings to help certain rooms feel bigger, I didn’t really resist the idea as I trusted that my agent knew best.

Frankly, I relished the idea of trying out the self-storage solution as I knew that this would be an interesting new adventure for me.

Shortly after we put the offer on the house, I called the storage facility company to check on availability, knowing full well that I may need to do some editing. Last summer, a friend of mine was put on a waiting list because demand was so high at that time, so I worried that might be the case for me as well. My fears were put to rest as they said (at that time) that there were many spaces for rent in all sizes.

When the real estate agent gave me her official verdict on the staging situation, when I called to make arrangements for a space, the size I was looking for was no longer available, so I went with the next size up.

The day that the movers came to haul some boxes and the marked items to the facility was also my first time setting foot in the warehouse. With my signed contract already on file, it was just a matter of handing me the keys to my space, showing me around the facilities, and demonstrating the security features to access the space. Continue reading

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Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Cat?

After almost five years of being a parent to Ivy the Wonder Cat, I’d like to think that we’ve reached a point where we understand each other pretty well.

We both like structure and we both lean toward strong adherence to a schedule, which is already half of the battle when it comes to understanding cats (and humans). In doing so, she has adjusted to my schedule and vice versa.

When Ivy meows about something, the timing and the location from where she meows is all the context I need to know whether it’s related to food, water, treats, litter box, sleep, play, attention or whether she is just making small talk.

While I make a point of regularly ensuring everything is neat, tidy, on time and according to her preferred specifications for all of checklist items above, there are times I may get caught up in the trappings of responsible adulthood and that I might miss one little detail… How foolish and selfish of me.

The rare time she might get up on the dining room table is her form of “escalation” to say that I didn’t respond properly and an identified issue remains outstanding. I don’t get mad at her when she does that. I just slowly walk over and softly ask “Should you be up there?” to which she immediately jumps off and provides another sign of what she wants.

It’s a pretty good system and seems to work… Most of the time.

Then there are those out-of-the-blue days when I have to ask “who are you and what have you done with my cat?” Continue reading

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What the 2010s Meant To Me

New Year's festivitiesIn recent weeks, not only have we been bombarded with retrospectives from the last year, but as with any year ending with a “9”, we’ve seen our lives flashing before our eyes with scenes from the last decade as well.

One evening, as I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic (again!), just for fun, I asked myself what were my own favourite moments of the last decade.

It was a fun activity that completely took me out of the drudgery of traffic. My spirits were lifted as I rattled off a list of great memories. When I got home, I took out the iPad and started noting them, one-by-one. In the days that followed, more ideas kept coming to mind and the list continued to grow.

Just like everybody else, I experienced personal and professional highs and lows. But it was because these experiences that I will remember this decade fondly as the one where I experienced the greatest and most significant personal growth.

Despite what I thought was a pretty good tool kit for handling stress, this past decade offered a pressure cooker of situations that tested my tool kit to its limits when anxiety took over. With the help of a psychotherapist, I was able to establish better boundaries which not only contributed to enhancing that tool kit, but also helped to prevent some situations from festering into anxiety in the first place. Continue reading

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