Tag Archives: Animals

The Licki Brush

I received a delightful Christmas gift from a friend at work. It was a Licki Brush. What is a Licki Brush? It is, quite obviously, a tongue-shaped brush you put in your mouth so you can “lick” your cats. Duh.

Much to the horror of my friends and family, I was tickled to death by this unexpected little treat. Social grooming is everything in the cat world – the ultimate sign of acceptance. To finally bridge the gap from Poop-Sifter to Contributing Clowder Member would be the breakthrough of a lifetime.

I was, of course, a tad nervous about what this brush might symbolize. I mean, the signs were all there: not only did I receive a Licki Brush for Christmas, I also received a Snuggie, a Slanket and a new set of loungewear. My family is basically cajoling me into a life of solitude. Yeah, it’s all bubble baths and Kenny G mixtapes for now. But before you know it, I’ll be holed up for good. Trapped in a nest of my own making, living on garbanzo beans, boxed wine and tuna.

slanket

The Slanket: my go-to for fancy times.

snuggie

The Snuggie: my choice for holidays, work and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.

But that’s weeks from now. And not at all what I’d planned to write about.

No. Today, I review the Licki Brush.

As mentioned above, the Licki Brush is a tool for humans to groom their cats in true cat fashion. Like an As Seen on TV product, it masterfully treads the line between self-aware and utterly ridiculous. It is absurd and yet it makes sense. It is the answer for people, like me, who often wonder, “How can I be sure the Clark line stops with me?” Or, “How does one even begin to commit to a life of abstinence?”

The packaging is a light, bright sky blue. It’s clean and simple and thus not at all indicative of the experience of actually licking a cat (though I suspect this was intentional).

le-brush

The brush itself is quite large – much larger than you’d expect. By my measurements, it is about twice the size of Joan’s little pea head. (Editor’s note: If you, too, have a cat with an abnormally small face, I suggest you wield the brush carefully.)

If I were making a list of pros and cons, I would first note that the brush is surprisingly satisfying to chew on. It’s like a big rubber block. A Kong for humans, if you will. On the downside, I found it difficult to juggle both chewing and drinking, and so I struggled to reach my ideal wine intake. And that I would not stand for.

Does it work? Does it really help you bond with your cats? Honestly, it’s too soon to tell. Joan and James had very different reactions to it. James made a run for it the moment I turned to face him. This did not surprise me, for he is my gentle giant. My Ferdinand.

Joan was a bit more interested. She inched closer, gave the brush a few good sniffs. I took this as a good sign, so I leaned in to groom her. At which point she countered with this:

bet

I’ve yet to test my luck again.

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The Great Escape

A few days after I published my Mother of Cats post, I found myself (quite ironically) missing a cat. Joan stepped out on me. I suspect it was in protest to my public acknowledgment of another feline, though I can’t be sure. She’s a fickle creature, my Joan.

People have suggested I write a post from her point of view. Where she went, things she saw, raccoons she met. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel like the father of a teenage daughter. It all goes by so fast. One day, she’s reading Animorphs to her pet rats. The next, she’s wearing velour pantsuits and dating a boy with an Astro Van. Much like my dad must have felt during this time, I don’t want to know the intimate details of Joan’s escapades. All I want to know is that she made it home relatively unscathed.

So instead of giving Joan’s account of The Incident, I’ll give my own.

Re: slithering.

Re: slithering.

It happened when some men came to install a new AC/heating unit in my apartment. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay home to supervise them, though they assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.

The day before they came, I called to give them the rundown: two indoor cats, both of whom would perish in the wild (I’ve raised them on a strict grain-free organic diet. The fault lies with me). Keep all doors closed, and leave the baby-gate up in the hallway in case Joan manages to slither past the first round of blockades.

 

The next morning, I called them to go over Joan’s security detail one last time. I then taped a huge reminder note on my door and left for the day.

The note

Fast forward to 7 p.m., when I came home to find another note taped beneath my own.

The response

They left this note at 10:30 a.m. and made no attempt to call me, even though they knew I’d be at work until later that evening.

I ran into the first floor apartment. She wasn’t there.

Cue my complete and utter mind loss. Tears, screaming, sweating, the works. To make matters worse, I had a date that night. And he arrived not five minutes into my tantrum (to his credit, he stayed to help me look).

After an extensive sweeping of the grounds, I determined that Joan was nowhere to be found. Thus, I opened my first-ever missing persons investigation. First order of business: assemble the witnesses and begin the interrogation.

I called the owner of the AC company and did my best to crack him. When did you last see her? Where did you last see her? Did you actually see her run into the first floor apartment or are you just assuming that’s where she is? Have you always hated animals or do you also kidnap children?

I should note that at this point in time, I was days deep into a Serial binge, which meant I thought myself something of an investigative reporter. It also meant that everything he said sounded suspicious, inconsistent. So by the end of our conversation, I’d convinced myself that he’d orchestrated the whole thing just to cover for an employee, who’d stolen Joan for himself. (It’s a valid concern. She has a beautiful coat.)

The guys at work made this awesome yard sign for me.

The guys at work made this awesome yard sign for me. Unexpected bonus: she’s now a potential gubernatorial candidate.

Four days I looked for her. Night after night, I crawled around the neighborhood, rummaging through people’s backyards, gardens and tool sheds. I contracted such an assortment of bug bites I was certain they would kill me, if grief didn’t do me in first.

And then one dark and rainy night, she returned. Just like that. She just showed up at my door, crying and howling, though it was soon impossible to tell where her yowling ended and mine began. It was a miracle.

To this day, we haven’t discussed her whereabouts. The things she saw, the tool sheds she pooped in…nothing. Not a word. I’m confident that she’ll tell me when she’s ready. But until then, I’m just glad to have her home.

 

Three friends. And a forehead vein.

Three friends and a forehead vein.

Reunited at last.

“Give us a moment, will ya?”

Lovahs

Reunited at last.

 

Mother of Cats

A few weeks ago, I made a very important decision that will undoubtedly change the course of my life. I adopted another cat.

My Crazy Cat Lady Halloween costume a few years ago. The front of my sweater is dedicated to cats currently living, the back to those who have sadly passed on. For the record, I do not smoke (asthma), thus this cig is unlit.

And so it begins.

When I made the news public (after a private meet-and-greet with family and close friends) the first question I got from nearly EVERY PERSON I told was:

“So how many does this make?”

Oddly enough, this is the same question I faced upon adopting my first cat, Joan. It really makes me wonder what people think of my home life. I imagine they picture my apartment to be a wasteland of shag carpet and empty tuna cans. Perhaps it’s filled with Precious Moment figurines, or a series of portraits honoring cats that have since passed on. But I’m just spitballing here.

James. A cat without a care in the world.

James. A cat without a care in the world.

Anyways, the purpose of this post is to introduce the world to James, my new son and heir. Now, I understand what this looks like. “Two cats?!,” you might say. “What’s to stop her from getting a third? A forth? A fortieth?!”

Though you’re right about the slippery slopeidness of my situation, the truth is that I adopted James as a gift to please m’Lady Joan. You see, I did not want to make room in my heart for another critter. Joan is my sun and stars. The Albuterol to my asthma. The Eucerin to my eczema. But Joan is also a very high maintenance being — thanks in part to my helicopter parenting and incessant pampering — and thus I felt she needed someone to keep her company in my absence. Someone who could withstand her rough-and-tumble play, but who would also readily adopt the role of her humble servant.

But even though I was offering James to Joan in good faith, I knew it wouldn’t be a smooth transition. Joan has grown accustomed to my unhealthily undivided attention, and James would prove a disturbance in the force.

Exhibit A.

Unhealthy attention exhibit A

Exhibit B.

Unhealthy attention exhibit B.

So to avoid the full force of Joan’s wrath (which typically ends in strategically placed dingle berries), I decided that the safest POA would be to facilitate a gradual introduction. For the first few days, I’d keep James in one room and Joan in the other. That way, they could safely get to know each other via under-the-door sniffing — a practice often employed by the parochial school system in high puberty years.

What is this plebeian doing to my castle??

“What has this plebeian done to my castle?!”

That plan, however, failed the moment I brought James into the house. Why? Because I forgot to account for the fact that my entire apartment is actually one giant room. Separation is impossible. Thus, I had to resort to Plan B: Throw them together and intervene only when bloodshed appeared imminent.

Needless to say, it was a rough first few days. Joan was clearly disappointed in me, and I’d be lying if I said she didn’t make me cry a few times. But as time passed, their hatred subsided. Now, instead of stalking and striking poor little James, Joan pins him down and gives him regular full body lickings. I take this to mean that things are looking up.

Where we started. James pictured center, Joan pictured atop the window for fear of her life.

Where we started. James on the bed, Joan fearing contamination.

Where we are now. Joan pictured big spoon, James pictured little.

Where we are now. Joan pictured big spoon, James pictured little.

The Whole “Silver Linings” Thing

I’ve recently discovered that I’m not a fan of the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” Not only is it cringe-worthy in both text and tatt form, it’s perhaps the most unhelpful way of cheering someone up. I’m sure the phrase originated from a place of love and good intention, but after years of abuse and whimsical iterations in wall art, I believe it has been reduced to a semi-PC way of telling someone that shit happens. And that their situation is in fact so shitty, that you honestly can’t think of anything else to say.

To be sure, I’m not knocking anyone who believes everything happens for a reason. Who am I to judge someone or something when I can’t see the bigger picture or what lies ahead? All I’m saying is that it’s become a blanket consolatory statement that’s used too often for too many kinds of situations, both trivial and life-changing. I know this because I have been both the deliverer and receiver of this message many, many times.

And yet, to further contradict myself, I must say that there is some truth to the general idea of the phrase. No, I’m not sold on the fact that every single thing happens for a reason, because there are far too many horrendous, devastating and inexplicable things that happen in this world; insinuating that there’s a specific reason behind every catastrophe and tragedy is both insensitive and impractical. But when you look at the phrase from a different perspective—from more of a doors-closing-windows-opening angle—it starts to look more like the whole “silver linings” idea. And that I can get behind.

I started to realize this a few years ago when I was mercilessly rejected from every single job I applied for. Looking back, I now see that emailing a Chicago ad agency a PowerPoint file for my “creative portfolio” was a bit of a stretch, but it felt appropriate at the time. For what it’s worth, I even included a disclaimer that read something like:

“No, I don’t have the tools or Adobe products I need right now, but give me a job or a Mac Lab and I’ll do these print ads again…but better.”

But other than that particular instance, I couldn’t understand why each and every company would reject me. I mean, wasn’t I a catch? My pet-sitting clients seemed to think so. As did my mom. What better references could you ask for?

All-time low: Posing at a Battlestar Galactica exhibit. And the answer to your question is yes, I am still available for spaceship modeling. Message me for details.

Attending a Battlestar Galactica exhibit in Seattle was perhaps one of my nerdier moments in life. Here I am, modeling a bonafide Colonial Viper.

I fell into a pretty dark hole for a while, one that consisted of Battlestar Galactica, a brief stint in the power-washing business, and many nights spent coercing my first love, Buster, to name me his favorite family member. At my lowest point, I began stuffing cat nip in my pillow to trick him into sleeping with me. I started house sitting more frequently and—in between useless job applications—poured myself into becoming one of Greater Louisville’s most prestigious pet-sitters. For a time, I considered taking it up professionally; I have an unusual connection with animals, and I am incredibly comfortable using other people’s expensive kitchen appliances and entertainment systems. Sure, it wouldn’t be the most lucrative career, but in the off seasons, I could pick up a side gig as a dog-walker. College tuition well-spent, indeed.

Buster and his catnip pillow.

Buster and his catnip pillow (in my former bedroom/parents’ home office).

But as you might have guessed, tending to other people’s critters only fulfilled me for so long, and so I decided it was time to do something different. I decided to start documenting my post-grad progress (or lack thereof) so that rising college graduates would be better prepared for what was to come — a commencement speech ripe with ridiculous proverbs, promises and plugs for alumni donations, followed by a humiliating beating from the job market and a bed in your parents’ office. I wrote about moving back in with my mom and dad (and their bearded dragon, cat, rat, bird and meal worm colony), because I wanted people to stop calling my generation lazy and unmotivated. I wrote about all my crazy (often gruesome) adventures in pet-sitting, my forehead vein and my somewhat unsettling obsession with cats. I wrote about everything, and I came to realize that I loved it. And that I wanted to make a career out of it.

So what I’m trying to say is that being rejected from all those jobs was really, really painful. And scary, to be sure. But it also opened a lot of doors that I didn’t even know existed. It helped me rediscover my love of writing, and it led me to a lot of really amazing people and self-discoveries. I grew closer to my family, I fell in love, I stumbled into an awesome job and I got to be with Buster in his twilight years of life.

So no, I still don’t believe that every single thing happens for a reason. Instead, I think that—at least in my case—a shitty situation created new paths and new possibilities that I hadn’t otherwise considered. And that’s something I’ll try to remember in 2015.

Accidental squirrel hunting

 (Disclaimer: There’s a pretty gross picture in this blog post — which may or may not surprise you based on the title. Nevertheless, please proceed with caution, especially my fellow vegetarians.)

2012 has been a wild ride in terms of my interactions with animals. I’ve spit up a spider, assaulted a snake, walked a cat on a leash (finally!Taking Milo on a walkand been subject to Buster’s midnight howl-and-hump routine more times than I care to admit. Thus, it is only fitting that a few weeks ago, I truly topped off the year when I accidentally ran over a squirrel with the lawnmower.

It was late November…

I dread Sundays. If there were ever a day for me to inject myself with buckwheat, it would be Sunday, “The Lawn’s Day.” These are the days when my dad has “big plans” for me. The last time he had “big plans” for me, I ended up insulating the garage. Three months later he told me the materials we’d used were carcinogenic. I’d hardly call that quality bonding time.

Sure enough, when I pulled in the driveway that fateful Sunday morning, the garage door began to rise as if I’d triggered some sort of “Dependent Daughter” tracking device, one that monitors my whereabouts and notifies the local authorities when I’m carrying my mom’s debit card within 100 yards of a gas station. My dad then emerged from the garage, all but vibrating with chipperness in his signature head-to-toe denim outfit.

“You ready to mow today, Jo?”

“Meh,” I grunted, shielding my eyes from the blaze of his acid wash jeans.

“Well let’s go! I’ve got you all set up here!” Clearly. He was literally bouncing around the garage on his heels. I hadn’t seen him this excited since the last power outage. His frantic behavior and spastic movements reminded of a manic Carrie Mathison and I was tempted to see how he’d react to the words “green pen.”

Being the dutiful tenant that I am, I agreed to cut the grass in exchange for another day’s cable and shelter. Homeland was on that night, so I was in no position to risk eviction. Ten minutes into mowing, I approached a tree and heard a loud “POP!” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fly out from underneath the machine. I shrugged it off as another dulled blade (one less reason for my dad to ask me to mow again), but that’s when I saw it: a squirrel thigh directly in front of the mower. A piece of tail to my right.

I screamed and shut off the ignition. Maybe it was a stick — a furry stick with paw-like growths. Maybe it was a cat toy, one that Buster had scoffed at and spitefully attempted to bury in the lawn (he doesn’t react well to inedible gifts). Feeling confident that it was all a misunderstanding, I peered over the front of the lawnmower and saw the following image:Thighs in the grass

Well, there was no denying it — I had definitely mowed over a squirrel. Its lone paw flapped in the breeze, a small reminder of the squirrel that was. I frantically searched my body for bits of squirrel debris that might have landed on exposed skin. I had a developing spray tan in the works, and I wasn’t interested in adding a fur coat to such a premature faux-glow. The thought of a botched, unintentionally tufted spray tan was just too much to handle and so I began to cry — for my tan, for the squirrel and for my soul. Sobbing, I wondered how Buster did this everyday… and then it hit me: I had just committed my first official cat act — the irreversible act that would propel me into a life of eternal Cat Ladydom. I felt like a spry young PNM again on the cusp of sorority initiation: I had no idea what I was in for, but by God, I knew it would be creepy.

There was an unfamiliar closeness to Buster brewing in my heart, as if the sacrificial squirrel had unlocked a new level of our relationship and forged a brethren of hunters. Gone were my afternoons of Real Housewives marathons and cheese quesadillas. My weekends would now consist of prowling around the backyard with Buster, stalking the slowest of squirrels and settling down for a nap within 3 feet of them (Buster’s signature hunting technique — we’re still not sure how he catches anything). We’d hunt for hours until we caught something, or until Buster’s balding forehead could take no more sun.

This is how Buster hunts. Believe it or not, he catches quite a few critters. We call it the Opossum Effect.

This is how Buster hunts. Believe it or not, he catches quite a few critters. We call it the Opossum Effect.

My dad, alarmed at the sound of my non-laboring, jerked me back to reality by yelling out the window, “What’s wrong?”

“I ran over a squirrel leg!” I yelled.

“Squirrels don’t have eggs!”

“No. I ran over a squirrel and its leg.”

“Oh,” he said.

Silence. After confessing aloud to what I’d done, the sadness and panic began to return. I had just killed a squirrel. Regardless of whatever carnivorous kinship I had suddenly formed with Buster, this had to be against my vegetarian beliefs. I began to panic and tried to focus on long, deep breaths before things got asthmatic. After a few steady breathing exercises, I realized that I was inhaling whatever molecules of squirrel still lingered in the atmosphere. Surely such fumes were toxic. If my soul wasn’t blackening by the minute, I felt positive that my lungs were.

I ran inside to escape the tainted air and to call for help. My mom would most likely call a funeral home, and I could still hear my dad cackling upstairs, so I decided the best, most reasonable option would be to call my sister.

“Hey what’s up?”

“I ran over a squirrel with the lawnmower.”

She screamed. Not the consoling reaction I was hoping for. After a minute, she said:

“There’s no way it was still alive, Jo. Remember when we used to try to catch squirrels with our lunch bags? They were so fast! There’s no way you could have hit one.”

“You’re right, I guess…”

I hung up, unsatisfied with her reasoning. No, we hadn’t ever been successful in our squirrel wrangling, but what if this one had been deaf? What if he had been sleeping? Dreaming of telephone wires and bird seed, only to wake up 5 yards from his lower limbs? I searched high and low for a tailless 3-legged squirrel, fully prepared to take him and his thigh to the nearest animal hospital.

In the end, I found nothing but bits of tail and fur, barely enough to knit Buster a modest tunic. The fact that I could find no trace of the remaining squirrel made me feel a little bit better — perhaps he had already been dead, after all. Perhaps Buster had simply forgotten to clean up after his mid-morning snack. This soothed me.

Present day…

It’s been a few weeks and I’m almost back to normal. My conscience feels lighter and I’ve yet to show any signs of toxic squirrel inhalation. I’ve also been excused from all lawn-mowing, which has been nice. I was nearly to a place of peace until my dad discovered what had actually killed the squirrel. This happened a few days ago:

“Jo! I figured it out!”

“Figured what out?”

“What killed the squirrel. It was lead poisoning! Those damn squirrels have been chewing through the roof!”

I know that he meant well by this — he was trying to reassure me that I did not in fact kill the squirrel. But somehow the thought of inhaling a toxic, lead-laden squirrel did not do much to quell my concerns.

Dog-sitting in the Amazon

Last weekend, I witnessed another gruesome attack. Fortunately, I was not the victim this time, but it was still incredibly traumatizing:

On the tail end of a highly successful dog-sitting season, I accepted one final job to start saving for the upcoming opening of Tin Roof Louisville. It was a brief dog-sitting stint — just a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night– but I felt it would give me plenty of pocket change for the indefinite number of cheese quesadillas and Bud Heavy pitchers that would soon plague my bank account.

I arrived at the house around 6:00 last Friday evening ready to romp with the pups. As I put the key in the back door, I heard a rustling in the bushes behind me. I turned around to see a large frog jump out at me from underneath a nearby rock. At first I was startled, but the frog had assumed a fairly non-aggressive stance and so I gave him a slight nod of hello. We made eye contact with each other for a few more seconds, as I thought to myself, “this is awesome.” Surprisingly enough, we’ve never had frogs as pets, so I was eager to spend some quality, one-on-one time with this foreign critter.

Anxious to catch him before he hopped away, I ran in the house, grabbed the dogs and sprinted back outside like an 8-year-old boy scout embarking on a creek walk.

I lead the dogs around the perimeter of the frog as not to disturb him. Once I was certain we were alone, I bent down to offer him a finger of salutation.

I screamed. Sometime between my then and my arrival, a snake had decided my frog would make a much better snack than friend. The snake had the frog’s entire leg in its mouth and was dragging him towards a hole.

For a few seconds, I stood in shock. I’d never seen anything like this before. In fact, I’d never even seen a wild snake before. I didn’t think we had snakes in Louisville. Sure, I’d heard of Garden snakes, but where was the nearby garden? My deductive reasoning lead me to believe that this snake was bad news, probably an escapee or fugitive of some sort, so I scooped up a handful of rocks and began throwing them at the snake’s head.

“STOP IT! STOP IT!!”

It took me less than 10 seconds to launch into a full-on “PROTECT THIS HOUSE” battle with the snake (an instinct of mine that’s served me well in my lengthy dog-sitting career). I threw the rocks as hard as I could, but because I am like an 8-year-old boy scout in more ways than one, my impossibly soft-hitting rocks did not cause the snake much damage.

“Drop him! I said DROP HIM!” I leaped onto a nearby picnic table to initiate an aerial attack. From my lofty perch, I roared and threw any and all nearby objects as hard as my body would allow. I’m almost certain that any neighbors within earshot have reported back to the homeowners that I’d been abusing their dogs.

The snake was completely unbothered by my attempted attack and continued to swallow the frog inch by inch. At that point, I decided I’d better bring in some back-up. I called my mom — the science teacher — who at the time, I figured was as close to a snake handling expert as I’d ever find.

“Mom! I’m here and there’s a SNAKE eating a FROG. I don’t know what to do. Oh my god this is awful. I’ve been throwing rocks at the snake but it won’t let go!”

My mom hates these types of phone calls from me — she gets them more often than you’d think. About once or twice per month, she’ll answer the phone and I’ll immediately launch into a shrieking and crying episode, the subject of which is completely indiscernible. 9 times out of 10, she’ll assume I’ve been in a car accident, but it’s usually something more along the lines of accidentally taking the wrong highway or thinking about germs in a paper-cut.

“JOANNA! Go back inside. I mean it. Stop it. There’s nothing you can do. He’s gone, Jo. The frog is gone.”

“No he’s not! He’s not gone. He’s still alive, he’s looking at me!”

The snake — with the frog’s leg still in his mouth — was pulling the frog backwards into his cave of doom. The frog was clinging to rocks and branches, but he couldn’t grab hold of anything substantial. The whole time, the frog was staring me right in the eyes.

I then realized that I was literally the last thing this frog would ever see. One more glance at me, and he was off to the promise land. My sweaty, roaring face and bulging forehead vein would be the last thing to ever to grace his eyes. I did not feel comfortable with this responsibility, nor with the thought of leaving him with such an unflattering image of me at my worst angle. I hopped down from the picnic table and took a moment to review my appearance. For the frog’s sake, it wasn’t looking good. In a rush to leave the house, I’d thrown on my rattiest pair yoga pants (which, at least were black) and a dirty, homemade tie-dye t-shirt. I put the “rat” in Gym Rat, even though I hadn’t set foot within 5 miles of a gym.

I tried to calm myself down and adopted a more solemn, gentle expression. Out of respect, I brushed the cat hair off my yoga pants and flattened out my wrinkled tee. I rubbed my cheeks to even out my blotchy complexion, but it was pointless — in my unsuccessful attempt at spear-throwing, I’d already sweat off 2 of my 4 layers of bronzer.

“Mom, this is awful.”

“Joanna, I’m serious, stop looking at it. This is what snakes do. They need to eat too, you know? The frog is gone. It’s over. Stop looking at it.”

We argued for a few more minutes after I told her that this is not what snakes do because we only have vegetarian Garden snakes in the East End.

Frustrated with my logic and nervous at the all-to-possible idea of a self-sacrificing rescue stunt, my mom said, “It’s over. It’ll be quick. Go. Back. Inside.”

Resigned, I bid adieu to my poor frog. To my mom’s point, it looked like this was going to be anything but quick, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue. I thought about his wife, his kids, and I hoped they weren’t nearby to witness any of this. I said a little prayer for him and walked back inside.

I then called the homeowner to tell her that I’d arrived, and to briefly touch on the fact that she had a homicidal reptile living in her backyard.

“Hey, I’m here.”

“You’re where?”

“At the house. With the dogs.”

Silence.

“You weren’t supposed to come until tomorrow. You start Saturday, not Friday. We’re still here. I just left to run a few errands.”

“Christ. Well just so you know, there’s a snake eating a frog in your backyard.”

And it is with this story that I announce my semi-retirement from pet-sitting. While I do plan to take on the occasional job here and there, I’ve decided to put an end to traumatizing events such as this and spend more time with Buster in his twilight years of life.

Old cat ladies and new clients

Gretel

By now, most of you have probably realized than I am a bit obsessed with animals. For reasons most people fail to understand, I am particularly fascinated with cats — more specifically, overweight cats. (Enter: Gretel) Because of this, I get asked nearly everyday if I am a “cat person.” Perhaps it’s because I find a way to incorporate Buster into every conversation. I can’t help it, though — he’s just such a huge part of my life. I am like that girl who name-drops her boyfriend in every sentence, except this is even less acceptable because I am name-dropping my cat.

You might recall this perm.

But regardless of my feelings towards cats, I can’t help but take offense to being referred to as a “cat person.” And that’s because I know what people see when they call me a “cat person”. They see me crouching on a beige, shag carpet somewhere, dressed in a high-collar floral nightgown with dozens of heavyset cats sprawled at my feet. My shoulders and hands are tanned from tending to my garden of Catnip, but my calves bear the scars of kittens yet to be de-clawed. Perhaps I have a perm, perhaps not — but my house definitely reeks of cigarettes and Friskies, a deadly combo for an asthmatic such as myself.

I say all of this because “cat person” is a small step away from “cat lady,” the likes of which I am steadily approaching. Some might think that this is a recent development, but the truth is that I began my journey towards Cat-ladydom at a young age. Buster was the obvious catalyst for my infatuation, but my rightful path was irreversibly forged the moment I brought in the Cats soundtrack for an elementary school show-and-tell.

And with that in mind, I’d like to share a few photos of my newest client, Milo:

With Milo, it was love at first sight. He was big and beautiful, with a full, orange coat that Buster (victim of male-patterned baldness) would kill for. At first, I was afraid that Milo’s girth was an illusion from his excessively long locks. But as I picked him up, I felt my biceps strain under the weight of his substantial frame. He was a prime example of my ideal body type for animals: small head, delicate ankles and portly midsection. If there were a pageant for plus-sized creatures such as he, he would surely have taken the crown. I looked around for a brush to groom his whiskers, but then I saw it: a cat leash and harness sitting on the kitchen counter. I do believe a small tear fell from my eye at that moment.

I managed to pull myself together in time to document the experience for your viewing pleasure:

A brief rest from our walk.

A tender moment.

My last day with Milo was a sad one, but I take solace in the hope that our paths will one day cross again.