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Saturday, December 03, 2005

I know it's been a while since my last post. I've not been writing since most of my time has been spent t at work teaching, or at home writing a textbook on animation design and storyboard which will be published in 2007 by Focal Press. The rest of my not-so-copious free time has been spent with Gizmo, a small black and white cat whom I adopted on Guy Fawkes' Day, 2005.
I'd never owned a cat before but since my building does not allow dogs, a cat became necessary. It is nice to have someone greet you when you come home, and I figured that 23 years is a long time to carry a torch for a (very late) pet. Peaches was the family dog who died in 1982. I'd not had a fuzzy friend since.
Now, when you are in the market for a cat, people are as eager to fix you up with one as they once were to fix you up for a date. Except that it is far easier to find a good cat.
Emails came in from all over. Someone died and left fifteen cats orphaned. I was interested in one little girl but she went elsewhere.
There is an excellent Humane society farm here called Lollipop, but it was way out in the country and I have no car. A neighbor promised to take me there. We planned to go during the Thanksgiving break.
Then came an email at work, referred by one of the Student Services people, stating that an 'active, small, female cat' aged four, who had been spayed and declawed, was available.
Whatever one may think of the morality of declawing it is absolutely necessary if one has a houseful of Victorian antique furniture, and so I insited that prospective cat friends have this feature.
I auditioned Gizmo on the weekend of the 5th and she got the part. She is charming, well trained, very fuzzy and afectionate and generally a very good kitty. Why did the other people give her away? Well, they wanted a dog and Gizmo didn't. Their loss.
I don't know a lot about cats. Whoever said they were more independent than dogs was nuts. Gizmo is incredibly affectionate and she needs a lot of attention. She makes the late dog Peaches look like a Stoic by comparison. Then again, Peaches had four people to spoil her rotten.
Fortunately Gizmo adjusted very well to the new house and new owner; there was no problem getting her to use her (same) litterbox. After some trials in which either she or I hated the brands, I found a clumping brand of litter that did not give me allergies which she sort of liked which was biodegradable. Cleaning the box is sort of like panning for gold with less salubrious results, but the 'clumps' (which look distressingly like breaded veal cutlets) go right in the toilet and that's the end of that. There's no smell and little mess, which could have been a problem in a small bathroom.
Gizzy sleeps in my bed so there was no need for a cat bed. She's nice, fuzzy and purrs a lot.
I had trouble understanding cat language. As far as I am concerned all cats speak the same language that Grundoon the baby groundhog spoke in the POGO comic strip.
"Gizmo, want a kitty treat?"
It took a while to understand that the short, sharp. "murpp" sounds that she made were approving remarks. A dog making those noises is distinctly pissed off. Cat and dog really do speak different languages.
I am greeted each day with a a loud, long MEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWW when I come home from work. I interpret this as "Where the hell have YOU been?"
Early on it became necessary to inform Gizmo that we do not play Mouse at three o'clock in the morning. Not even if she has to.
Gizmo would first put her paw on my face at three a.m. Then she bit my nose.
When I objected to this she would set up an almighty howl outside the bedroom door. This was assuaged by the liberal dispersal of toilet paper rolls (empty) in the hallway. Kitty loves to clutch them to her bosom and wallop them with her hind feet to kill them and the sounds of 'scrabble scrabble scrabble' hopefully do not wake up Downstairs Neighbor in the dead of night.
Gizzy likes to 'knead'. This means she massages my right shoulder as often as she gets a chance to. She doesn't care if I have a sweater on or not. It's moderately painful without sweaters but if she could be trained to do this move on my back, I could hire her out as a Swedish masseuse. She's pretty strong for such a little thing. (she weighs about eight pounds and thankfully is not overweight.)
Gizzy has accomodated me on the choice of cat litter. But. She. Will. Not. Eat. Anything. But. One. Brand.Of. Cat. Food. Period.
I have tried more wholesome brands and she won't eat it even if she has no other choice. I have written to Paul Newman asking if he could market his cat food with Pizza Pie flavouring. Gizzy likes cheese and adores pizza. Since she is an adopted cat once owned by a guy I guess she grew up eating Guy Food. I haven't tried to give her any beer.
I don't eat pizza much but during a recent visit from a guest the revalation came. I had no time to cook that night so we ordered a 'white pizza'. Gizzy made noise til we gave her the box, and then she fished out a small piece of cheese which she seeemd to enjoy.
Actually most cats like cheese. I have written to Paul Newman asking him to please market his more wholesome cat food in Pizza flavour, and maybe Gizzy would eat it. Right now, she won't. The cat simply is not PC. She likes her kitty junk food and since she seems to be perfectly healthy, that is what she will continue to eat.
Cat toys are like women's fashions. They are cheaply made, overpriced for what you get, and are easily disposed of. Poor Gizzy cried when her mouse toys disintegrated after five minutes of play. I should point out that Gizzy does not play in a ladylike fashion, batting the toys delicately as cats are shown doing in the ads. Gizzy sinks her teeth into the thing and hauls backward as hard as she can, like a dog, playing tug of war with the 'fishing lines' that I use to cast the mouses around the furniture. Most of the mice don't survive a day or so of this, and some of the toys were actually dangerously made.
After the third destroyed mouse I went to the junk store, got a piece of fur from an old mink coat for a buck, wrapped it around a notebook ring that had been firmly attached to the fishing line FIRST, and tied the remaining tail in a knot. The resulting 'minky' is a great success and she can eat the fur with little hardship. Heaven knows what some of the other toys were made of. Her favorite toy was quickly destroyed and it's not possible to replace it. The remains of its fur are tied to a chenille pull in the bathtub (where Miss Kitty takes her catnip). She was heartbroken to have these toys taken away and has not shown as much enthusiasm for anything else. I have my suspicions as to the composition of the fur since she likes to try and eat the coyote fur trim on my best parka.
Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Heather are very active in urging a ban on the use of dog and cat fur for these toys, and I am wholly in agreement, even if the cat seems to like eating dog.

Anyway, Gizmo is a very, very nice cat. I feel better now that she's here.

I'll post a picture. She's also going to be on my holiday card this year, naturally!