Our cat Scout lies listlessly at the top of my bookcase on a hot summer day

Portland was gripped with a record-breaking heat wave a couple of weeks ago. On Saturday I sweated it out in my office on the main floor. I figured the cats would stay in the coolest parts of the house, but they would often want to be near me and hang out in my office instead.

This picture of Scout is from that day, she was up on my bookcase and looking pretty pathetic. This wasn’t even her at her worst, I decided not to take the picture when her mouth was hanging open as she looked like she had passed on.

For the next few days, I took pity on the little ones and moved my laptop and LCD into my wife’s office in the basement, where it stays much cooler. The cats can’t quite understand why I don’t just control the weather like the old days, and my protests that I was never omnipotent and that the old house just had air conditioning fall on deaf ears.

Still, I have to admire their devotion to me that they’d suffer just to be near me.

Animals and Earthquakes

There was a small earthquake in Washington during the wee hours of the morning on Thursday that we felt here in Portland. I was lying in bed, nearly asleep, with Scout curled up on my chest. I sensed the earthquake coming and then a moment later the room shook for a few seconds and then was quiet again.

After the room had been shaking for a moment or two, Scout jumped off my chest and hid under the bed. Go ahead and save yourself little one, don’t worry about me, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Given how startled Scout was, I thought I’d better check on Templeton. I had left him a few minutes earlier when he was zonked out next to me in my office chair. When I got down to my office, he was still zonked out in the chair. Templeton’s not one to let a simple thing like the earth shaking interfere with a good cat nap.

Categorized as Pets

Background Check

Our cat Scout sits in a catnip patch

One of the things I don’t like about our backyard is that it isn’t a very photogenic place to photograph the cats. We have a wire fence around the yard which is functional yet looks terrible as a background in pictures.

We’ve made some small changes to the yard, mostly just temporary changes until we’re ready to make some major improvements. This shot of Scout comes as close to a nice background as I’ve yet found, with the catnip growing beside her, the purple flowers of the clematis in front of her, and the pink blossoms of the purple coneflower behind her.

She’s such a beautiful little creature, perhaps no one can look away from her golden eyes to check on the background anyway.

Cure for Insomnia

Our cat Templeton sleeps happily in the grass

I’ve been a night owl most of my life and have constant trouble adapting to the sleep schedule of an early-bird-gets-the-worm world. I’m insanely jealous of Templeton’s ability not only to almost sleep at will, but how he seems in perfect peace when doing it. I’m thinking of wallpapering my office with this picture, to help me on those nights when I need the master’s help in drifting off to dreamland.


Our cats Templeton and Scout sleeping on our guest bed

Templeton has been almost his normal self the past few days after we switched him to a different type of kidney-friendly food, so I’m guardedly optimistic that he’s finally getting back to normal, 3 months after swallowing the sewing needle before Christmas. I’m not ready to declare victory quite yet, but I’m breathing a little easier.

This picture is from 2002 when we were living in Keizer. Scout loves to curl up with Templeton but he usually prefers to sleep on his own. If she’d catch him when he was tired enough, he’d decide it was better to let her snuggle than to have to get up and move somewhere else.


Our cat Templeton chews on a catnip bag

Templeton’s had his ups and down since getting his stomach operated on to remove the sewing needle he swallowed. After recuperating at home, he had to go back to the vet for a weekend to get antibiotics and fluids to battle a fever. Then he came home and every morning for the past couple of weeks has had the pleasure of me shooting a pill down his throat (and let me tell you, for a sick old man he sure could put up a fight).

A few days ago he really started coming around, back to about 70% of his normal self. He was moving around, wanting to play, meeting me at the door when I came home. He had another check up at the vet on Saturday and they will have the results on Tuesday. Today he was pretty quiet again and spent part of the day sitting in his cat carrier. I’m not sure if that’s a bad sign or if its irrelevant. Normally when we put him in there he goes to the vet, so I hope he’s not trying to tell us something. Usually he’s a bit more vocal when something’s on his mind. On the other hand, we usually don’t leave the carrier out like it is now, so perhaps he’s just trying out a new napping location.

The Christmas tree finally came down today, over a month after Christmas has come and gone. It’s so nice coming home and walking down the street and seeing the beautiful lights through the window, it’s a shame it can’t stay up year round. And Scout loves sleeping under (and in) it so much she’d love it if it was up year round too. In February we could decorate it for President’s Day, in March for St. Patrick’s Day, in April for Easter, in May for Memorial Day …

We’re also getting many of the rooms in the house painted, so the cats will get to spend the week closed off into the lower part of the house. Fortunately it seems Scout can’t open the door that leads into the kitchen, although I’m not sure we’ve seen her at her most desperate.

The picture above is Templeton with a catnip bag back in 2001 when were still living in Keizer.

Scout Hates Pelicans

A brown pelican flies over the Pacific Ocean at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

I was editing some pictures of brown pelicans that I took on the Oregon coast last fall when Scout jumped onto my desk. Nothing unusual there, but then she took a great deal of interest in what was on my computer screen, which was showing an adult pelican soaring through the air. Before I realized what was going on, she took a swipe at the bird.

Bad Scout! Bad Scout!

My old CRT had a big scratch in it thanks to my little kitten and I didn’t want the same with my LCD. Fortunately she kept her claws retracted and no damage was done. She was eyeing the pelicans later in the day but made no further attempts to attack the digital birds.

Remind me never to take Scout to the coast.

Templeton goes to the vet tomorrow, he’s been sleeping all the time and not eating and drinking as much as he used to. I wasn’t too concerned when we first brought him home but he should have bounced back by now. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain and is as sweet and loving as usual, but he’s lost weight and just sleeps constantly.

A Return to Normalcy

Our cat Templeton rests on my Powerbook

I’ve always loved that President Warren Harding made up the phrase “A Return to Normalcy” as his campaign slogan and it stuck, so now people seemingly talk about returning to normalcy after every disaster. At least something good came out of Harding’s administration.

Things are starting to return to normal, both cats went to the vet this morning and had good reports. Templeton has mended pretty well from his stomach surgery and the only real issue is the possibility of early stages of kidney disease. One of the little tidbits that came out of his emergency surgery is that we learned he only has one functioning kidney, as one of them never properly formed.

I’ll give you one of mine if you need it little one.

The picture above probably seems like it was setup so that it would look like Templeton was working on my Powerbook, but it wasn’t posed. He was still recuperating at that point, isolated to the guest bedroom, so I had spent the evening with him on the bed while I sorted through some pictures I had taken. I went downstairs to get something and when I came back up, Templeton had moved to where I was sitting and plopped himself down in front of the keyboard. He likes to take my seat when I get up for reasons I don’t quite understand, but it can get a little comical in my office when he steals my seat the moment I get up.

Templeton is zonked out in one of my office chairs as I write this, with Scout sleeping on the floor below him. Just like the old days.

Cat or Kitten?

Our cat Templeton recuperates in our guest bedroom after surgery to remove the sewing needle he swallowed

It’s the night of December 22nd. We’re preparing to fly to Texas in the wee hours of the morning to visit family in Texas over the Christmas holidays.

My wife comes into my office and tells me not to freak out but she can’t find her sewing needle. Doesn’t seem too troubling to me but when we get downstairs I understand her concern: the needle was attached to some black thread, and Templeton might have swallowed it.

Now Templeton’s a thread eater, no question, but he’s never swallowed a needle. He’s thirteen years old after all, a cat and not a kitten. No chance he swallowed it.


Wrong. We looked everywhere for the needle and couldn’t find it, so we took him to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital (great folks) and X-rays confirmed his stomach contents: lots of food and one sewing needle.

He had surgery that night to remove the needle, and fortunately a friend was able to keep him in her house while we were gone and keep a close eye on him. He’s back home now, isolated to the guest bedroom to keep him from running and jumping, with a clear plastic collar around his neck to keep him from pulling out his stitches.

We give him supervised time without the collar so he can bathe himself (except for the stomach), and it’s a lot easier for him to eat and use the litter box. He still smells a little different, enough that Scout hasn’t really realized who he is, although now that he can bathe himself a little she’s coming a lot closer. She only gets to be around him when we’re around, otherwise he’ll convince her to pull out his stitches for him.

He’s scheduled to get the stitches out on the 6th of January, so he only has to hold out for a few more days with his unwanted fashion accessory.

Let this be a lesson for my feline readers out there: eating thread is bad, eating needles is really, really bad.