Here’s To The Next 15

Our cats Scout and Templeton in the picture window of the dining room of our house in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon on August 12, 2007. Original: _MG_3623.cr2

Happy Birthday to Templeton! He turns 15 today.

I tried to get a nice picture of him but he wouldn’t pose for me, so I settled for a picture of both him and Scout sitting in our smaller picture window. I’ll try for a better picture later. He’s been hanging out in my office a lot lately, this weekend we’ve spent a lot of time cuddled up and purring. Well one of us was purring, the other was wishing he could.


Our gray tuxedo cat Templeton sitting in the backyard

I’ve been spending money like a drunken sailor the past few days. The biggest purchases were a normal zoom for my camera (to replace the one that got smashed) and a laptop to replace my beloved but aging Powerbook.

The worst part has been deciding what to buy as my decisions changed on an almost daily (if not hourly) basis. I finally settled on Canon’s 17-55mm EF-S lens to replace the smashed 24-85mm lens and Apple’s 15″ MacBook Pro to replace my 15″ Powerbook. I went down last weekend to get the MacBook Pro but the store was out and didn’t get their shipment from Apple during the week. In the meantime I changed my mind and decided to get the regular MacBook instead of the Pro. If you’re reading this post faster than normal, it’s because it’s being written on my zoomy new white laptop instead of the old slower silver one.

And the lens? I changed my mind at the last minute on that one too and ordered Canon’s 24-105 L lens. That should be here on Tuesday (along with a circular polarizer, an 8 GB CF card, a remote release, an extension tube set, a card reader, a 2GB stick of memory for the MacBook, and a partridge in a pear tree).

Blame the drunken sailor.

And in case you’re wondering, the picture has nothing to do with this post, it’s just a picture of Templeton from last year that I finally got around to editing. He’s zonked out beside me at the moment but I’m sure he’d approve.

Birthday Girl

A close-up of our cat Scout on her birthday in 2007

Happy Birthday to Miss Scout, who turns six years old today. I took this picture of the birthday girl this afternoon in our dining room.

I’ve Created A Monster! A Monster!

Our cat Scout tries a cat bed for the first time

Make that two monsters.

Templeton has been sleeping quite a bit in the warm bed he finally discovered yesterday (in fact, he’s zonked out in it right now). He was sleeping in it earlier today when Scout came up and discovered him sleeping in the bed she has avoided like the plague. Curious as to what he was doing, she jumped up beside him and he made a run for it. She decided to mimic her hero and curled up in the bed for a bit.

She didn’t stay long, but long enough for a few pictures.

A Warm Bed

Our cat Templeton sleeps in a heated cat bed with only the top of his body visible above the rim of the bed

We’ve had a bit of a cold snap in Portland lately. Templeton often seeks out warm places to sleep even during normal winter temperatures, so before Christmas my wife bought him a little bed that has an electric warmer built into the bottom. It warms up when the cat lies down, which seemed like the perfect thing for a sleepy cat. Only problem was, Templeton wouldn’t go in it. Scout seems to think it of the devil and won’t have anything to do with it whereas Templeton just didn’t seem that interested. I promised my wife that I could get him to use it in a few weeks. She washed the cover just in case it had a smell they didn’t like.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present you with exhibit A: Templeton zonked out in his new bed.

He’s all curled up now beside me and snoring a little bit so hopefully he will continue to enjoy his new bed. On the plus side, if he sleeps here instead of my chairs, maybe it will avoid little incidents like I had today where I came home from a visit to Ridgefield and promptly sat down in a hairball he hacked up while I was gone.

Good times!

Templeton’s Personal Trainer

A dragonfly perches on a leaf in our backyard in Portland, Oregon in August 2006

Our oldest cat Templeton likes to chase dragonflies around the yard. He never comes even remotely close to catching them but he never gives up hope, at least it gets him lots of exercise. There was one time when a mating pair of dragonflies almost flew right into him, focused more on themselves than the world around them, but I saw what was happening and was able to restrain him.

Trials and Feats of Daring

Our cats Scout and Templeton sniff noses while in our backyard

Throughout history, many societies have made their young people endure trials and feats of daring to prove their readiness to be welcomed into society as adults. These feats could range from the fairly benign, such as swimming across a raging river full of hungry crocodiles with a hunk of meat strapped to your back, to the so-dangerous-it’s-almost-suicidal, such as giving Scout a bath.

Anthropologists have long debated where one such feat fits into this scale of bravery: getting Templeton to take his medicine. The debate knows no end chiefly because it all depends on who is giving the medicine.

If it’s a stranger to Templeton who’s giving the pills, we’re on the nearly-suicidal end of the scale, much like trying to hold Scout while small children are around.

If I’m giving Templeton his pills, however, we fall into the fairly benign category. Much like trimming Scout’s nails, there may be a lot of noise and movement but there’s no real danger.

The little one won’t strike out at me in anger, and the feat of daring becomes more a feat of patience and resilience with a dash of cleverness thrown in. You collect him in your arms and he knows what’s coming. He gives you a look that says “I love you but I’m not taking that pill!” I look back into his beautiful green eyes and answer “I love you and you WILL take this pill” and then it’s on.

Templeton’s defenses come in two main thrusts. His first defense is to keep the pill out of his mouth in the first place, which involves a lot of head turning, a jaw clamped down with all his might, lots of squirming, and flailing legs that try to knock the pill away.

We have a little device that shoots the pill down his throat which has helped immensely. However, this is where his second method of defense kicks in. After you’ve shot the pill a hundred times and missed, every so often you’ll use the force (thanks Obi-wan!) and the pill will find its target. However, Templeton immediately starts to work it back up, and it’s a stunning sight to see how quickly he can spit pills back up. If only there was a way to harness this power for the good of humanity.

Templeton added a new wrinkle to his defenses this last time. He had picked up an infection and needed a pill in the morning for over a week. Once I got the pill down his throat, he wouldn’t try and work it up. He’d just sit there and wait to be released. He’d meow a bit in protest but otherwise was calm and I figured my will had finally overcome his. Feeling victorious, I set him free and he bolted away. It slowly dawned on me that during his meows of protest he had kept his mouth closed the entire time.

He hadn’t swallowed the pill at all! He was going to run off and spit it out when I wasn’t looking! These pills start foaming fairly soon after they come into contact with saliva, however, so he couldn’t get them up very easily and it looked like he was foaming at the mouth.

So if you want to know how I spent each morning that week, you can envision a mighty struggle trying to get him to swallow the pill, then me chasing him around the house while a foamy white spittle is hanging down from his mouth. I’d eventually capture him and get all the foam back inside his mouth (kids, don’t try this at home) and then try and get him to eat since the medicine was supposed to be taken with food.

Templeton would protest of course and not eat anything, even though he was hungry. I know my little one won’t hold a grudge against me for long, though, so I’d just go upstairs and then come back down and he’d usually eat for me right away.

That cat is a little too clever for his own good.

A Mystery Solved

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

One unusual development this year is that Scout hasn’t wanted to be outside much during the supervised time the cats get in the backyard when I get home from work. She’s never loved the outdoors as much as Templeton, but she used to like to spend at least an hour or so outside. These days she’ll only spend a few minutes if she’ll even come out at all.

But then I noticed that she did want to come out once the sun set, and then she’d usually stay out until it got dark and I made both cats come inside. Tonight I suddenly realized what’s going on.

Scout’s a werekitten.

I’m on to you little one.


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