commentary and current events

Why You Should Keep Your Cat Indoors

Rarely have I seen a seemingly innocuous comment on Twitter blow up like “Cats should be indoor pets only.”

As it turns out, there’s a whole world of people out there who think that keeping a cat indoors 24/7 is some kind of crime against feline nature (not to mention their furniture). And I don’t mean people who own farms, granaries, or other venues in which cats are present primarily as working animals. I mean ordinary suburbanites who cherish their feline companion as part of their own family.

Suffice it to say, the risks to an outdoor or indoor-outdoor cat are many, and the benefits to the cat don’t really outweigh those risks. Nor do they outweigh the risk the cat poses to local birds – and many bird populations are struggling already.

But don’t take my word for it.

Currently, I have three cats who were once all strays. Here’s what they have to say about why they much prefer living inside a human house.

Image: Grayscale image of a shorthaired tabby cat with blog post title and URL.

Melody

Image: an extremely flully brown tabby cat with large yellow-green eyes gazes longingly over the edge of a sofa covered in an afghan.

Melody was born on the streets of Jackson, Michigan. Along with her mother and siblings, she was transported to the local Humane Society, where I met her while working as a volunteer. It took me two weeks to get her to come out from behind a cat condo and give me an exploratory sniff, at which point I decided she needed to come home with me.

Melody enjoys napping, playing fetch with a hair tie, and using her Dickensian orphan vibe to get food and treats, which she especially loves. She says, “The house is full of food, and I mean FULL of it. They have an entire cabinet stocked with JUST canned cat food! I don’t have to find, stalk, catch or kill anything. All I have to do is make this face and boom, Fancy Feast.”

Pippa

Image: A lynx-point Siamese cat rests on a red throw pillow.

We met Pippa in October 2018 when she climbed my husband. Someone had dumped her at my in-laws’ farm, but her lack of a winter coat and snuggly manners made it abundantly clear that she had spent the first six months of her life as a house pet. We suspect she was purchased from an unlicensed breeder by someone who had no idea that Siamese are among the most assertive, outgoing, and demanding cat breeds out there.

As a true princess of Siam, Pippa demands only the best in care and comfort. As a full-time indoor cat, she gets it.

Pippa says, “Humans live THE MOST plush lives, and I am an expert on Being Plush. Everything they own is either covered in padding or is a hard flat surface ideal for knocking small objects off. And get this – CLIMATE CONTROL. No freezing in winter or baking in summer! It’s all a little short on cat hair, but I don’t mind contributing mine.”

Image: A lynx-point Siamese cat lounges on a brown rug in front of a fireplace with wood stove.

“And get this,” Pippa adds. “In the winter, when it gets cold and awful outside? They put a fire inside a box. For me. It heats my personal cat sauna, which is just there, under the bricks, behind where I’m lounging in this photo. There’s nothing this nice outdoors!”

Image: A sleepy lynx-point Siamese gets tummy rubs.

In addition to enjoying the plush surfaces and cozy winter wood stove heat, Pippa has also found that year-round indoor living is a great way to get the attention she is due as a Cat.

“When it comes to being Supreme Feline Empress, I have one rule: NDPM (Never Don’t Pet Me),” says Pippa. “When I lived outdoors, nobody followed the rule! No one! You had ONE JOB, humans! Anyway, that’s why I found a mark and charmed him by being too cute to resist. Also, he had a soft warm winter coat on and it was October (see: humans live plush lives).”

Melody Again

Image: A fluffy brown tabby gives her best Dickensian orphan stare.

When Pippa first climbed my spouse, she was a hot mess of fleas, ear mites, three types of worms, and a wood tick that had lodged between her shoulderblades where she couldn’t reach and had already sucked enough of her blood to make it twice its normal size.

Melody, when she first arrived at the Humane Society, was in similarly rough shape. But since she’s become an all-indoor cat, Melody says, “I haven’t had a single flea, tick, ear mite, or worm of any description since I got here. I haven’t caught feline leukemia, FIV, distemper, rabies or even a cold. And they BRUSH ME. OH MY BAST, I LOVE THAT BRUSH.”

More Pippa

Image: A lynx-point Siamese, wearing a black harness and blue leash, checks out the autumn leaves on a grass lawn.

That’s not to say the cats don’t ever get to see the great outdoors. We just take them out in controlled conditions, where we know they’re safe from cars, neighborhood dogs, marauding cat-haters, coyotes, and so forth.

Melody is still too petrified by the harness to enjoy sojourns outdoors, and Gracie (see below) is too old to really enjoy them anymore – she just looks at me like I have personally betrayed her by putting her outside. Pippa, however, loves a good adventure in the backyard and will put herself into her harness in order to get one.

Here’s Pippa, singing her favorite autumn song:

YOUNG CAT
You can eat a dead leaf
I said YOUNG CAT
You can eat it with ease
I said YOUNG CAT
And then go back inside, where you
BARF! IT! ON! THE! CARPET!
(MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!)

It’s fun to eat and then
BARF UP THE LEAVES
It’s fun to eat and then
BARF UP THE LE-EAVES

You can eat a whole leaf!
You can even eat two!
You can BARF! THEM! BOTH! IN! MOM’S SHOE!

Gracie

Image: A fluffy white cat sleeps curled in a ball, with one front paw covering her nose.

At 14 years old, Gracie is the oldest of our three. My neighbor found her wandering the streets in the summer of 2008. Gracie was born deaf, which made the streets an especially dangerous place for her. We suspect she was abandoned after someone adopted an adorable Turkish Angora kitten from an unlicensed breeder, only to discover that Angoras are almost as demanding as Siamese – or, with her utterly un-showable facial features, she was dumped by a kitten mill.

In addition to being deaf, Gracie has immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, which we were fortunate enough to catch before it killed her. For the cost of one highly undignified pilling session a day, Gracie has gained an additional five years of life so far.

When asked to comment on the benefits of living indoors, Gracie replied, “Buzz off. I’m trying to sleep in this comfortable safe space where I know no predators can take advantage of my advanced age, autoimmune disorder, or deafness by sneaking up while I’m vulnerable.

I would have been dead years ago if I lived outdoors. Instead, I’m queen of a warm, clean, comfortable castle, with servants whose opposable thumbs are here to serve my every whim.

If living outdoors is so great, let’s see you do it.”


You can send cat treats and toys to their Highnesses by clicking here. Put “for cats” in the comments so I’ll know the gift is for them. Thank you!

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satire, fiction and humor

Free to Loving Home: This Terrible Raccoon

Friends, I’m not made of stone. I know when I have reached my limits. And I have reached my limits with this raccoon:

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LOOK AT HOW RIDICULOUS THIS RACCOON IS. LOOK AT IT.

I didn’t even want this raccoon. This raccoon climbed my husband while we were splitting wood last October, and he begged me to keep it. Sure, his words said “it’s up to you” but his eyes said “please?!?!”

Anyway, this raccoon is genuinely terrible. For instance:

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“Don’t eat the plant,” I said to the raccoon.

“Eat the plant and then go to sleep,” the raccoon heard.

This raccoon’s primary skill is destroying household objects. If there were a Destroying Household Objects Olympics, this raccoon would win every gold medal. Those gold medals would be awarded before the opening ceremonies even began. “This raccoon is the only destroyer of household objects humanity will ever need,” the International Destroying Household Objects Olympic Committee would say. “Just give this raccoon all the medals so it can destroy them on the ride home.”

Which is great, because this raccoon will NEVER win an Olympic medal in napping:

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Look at this hot mess? Is this some kind of joke?

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You have to be punking me here, raccoon. Do you not even understand how to sleep?!

This raccoon’s butt is also made of velcro and sadness. For some reason, this raccoon has to stick its sad velcro butt to my side at all times:

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Which would be fine, except that, like most raccoons, it eats trash. Its consumption of trash is directly proportional to the amount and quality of raccoon food in its food bowl. Full bowl of premium raccoon food = trash hoover.

Also, it farts. And raccoon farts are the WORST.

All of which is to say that if you have a large home that needs to be totally destroyed, if you have a dog or small child that needs to be permanently traumatized, or if there just aren’t enough atomic critter farts in your life, THIS IS THE RACCOON FOR YOU.

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Next time, we are getting a cat.


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Uncategorized

Using Brodart Book Covers; Or, How to Protect Your Investment in 6 Easy Steps

Brodart (or, for Canadians, Brodart) is not the only maker of those handy dust jacket covers you see on library books, but they’re the classic. And their “How to Apply Brodart Center-Slit Book Jacket Covers” instructions come in both English and French, so that’s cool.

Book covers are a relatively cheap way to protect the dust jackets on your best-beloved, favorite, and/or collectible books from damage. They’re also kind of fun to put on, if by “fun” you mean “requiring way too much attention to detail and not something the cat can help you with at all.” Therefore, allow me to present How to Use Dust Jacket Covers (In Just 72 Easy Steps):

Step One: remove the complimentary cat from your box of book covers. Note: Brodart does not actually supply a complimentary cat. Cat may have been enlarged to show texture. DO NOT EAT.

Step One: According to Brodart’s instructions, Step One is to “place book jacket cover – film side down, paper side up – on a flat surface.”

So far, so good.

Step Two: “Remove dust jacket from book and insert it – printed side down – between center-slit reinforcing paper and film. If the cover is an exact fit, proceed to step 5.”

…Maybe I should not have used an off-white dust jacket, yes? This is the jacket for Kay Ryan’s The Best of It, by the way. Shown here inserted under the bottom half of the paper, but not the top.

Step Two Point Five: Brodart doesn’t mention this one, probably because its instructions are written for the individual center-slit jackets, not the ones that come on the roll (which is what I’m using here, obvs). But trust me on this one, for it’s important: Mark the spot where the dust jacket ends with a pencil, then tug the dust jacket out of the way while you cut along the pencil line.

My pencil line is where the pencil is. I swear.

The alternative is to leave the dust jacket in place while you cut, which, if you’re a klutz like me, is a great way to chop right through the edge of a dust jacket. Please do not ask which beautiful book I mangled in figuring this out.

The dust jacket cover, cut off the roll on the handy pencil line I mentioned earlier. Notice how I had the sense to pull the dust jacket out to the left slightly so I wouldn’t cut through it, too.

Step 3:  “If the cover is not an exact fit, position edge of dust jacket where film and paper are joined together.”

The one in my photos isn’t.  It doesn’t much matter whether you line up the top or the bottom edge.  I didn’t photograph this step because, if you’ve done it right, the dust jacket is completely encased in the dust jacket protector and you can’t see it anyway.

A quick perusal of my new crop of library books indicates that the library staff, instead of positioning one edge of the dust jacket at the edge of the cover, positioned it more or less in the middle and folded both long ends over.  It probably doesn’t matter which you use as far as book protection is concerned, but the library’s covers do look much less amateur than mine.  (The library used adhesive, though, which THOU SHALT NOT DO if the value of the book matters at all to you.  If not, then Adhere What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the law, and so on.)

Step Four: “Fold opposite edge of cover along the edge of the dust jacket and crease.”

My creased dust jacket cover, with the dust jacket for “The Best of It” hanging out inside. These things are a bit difficult to crease – it would probably be easier with two sets of hands, but all I have is a cat, and we know how helpful SHE is. Here I’m using the scissors to hold the crease down long enough for me to photograph it.

Step Five: “Wrap the cover and the dust jacket around the book.”

Step Five Point Three: Look around. Realize the book is nowhere in sight. Freak out.

Step Five Point Six: Locate the book under the instruction sheet for using the dust jacket covers. Breathe sigh of relief. Suspect the cat is secretly laughing at you.

Step Six: Do not use adhesive. Unless you are a librarian. Then you might want to use adhesive.  Librarians: curiously sticky since 1939.

Step Six: Success!

Ta Da!

Next time: another reason not to write your name in a book; the only adhesive you should ever allow to touch a collectible book and the only situation in which you should use it; and Bill Moyers Is Awesome, But He Really Needs To Stop Signing Books On The Flyleaf.

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