Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Paul B. Israel (pauli) Wed 25 Oct 06 18:21
My cats, who are no longer with me, were very fond of all sorts of vegetables, they particularly liked stir fry. But the favorite was what we took to calling kittenaloupe - you humans might know it best as cantaloupe.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Wed 25 Oct 06 19:02
We kept a list of things that my cat Bagheera would cry for--yowling piteously until he got to have a taste. Besides the obvious (meats, fish, cheese) and pretty obvious (milk, eggs) he adored corn, asparagus, broccoli, and brussels sprouts (would steal them off your plate or your fork or chomp on to the other end when you took a bite); and occasionally asked for sweet peppers, carrots, green beans, various greens, squash, especially summer squashes; once or twice he asked for apricots; he demanded a chance to have the last bite and lick the bowl of virtually all meat, vegetable, or bean soups, stews, stir fries or curries, spicy or hot or not; he liked sourdough starter and bread dough, breads, crackers, cookies, tortilla chips; and his true passion was carob chips, enough so that I used them for training treats, and hid his pills between a couple of them squished together; but I don't ever recall him begging for cantaloupe. Must not have read the kitty omnivore checklist.
Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Wed 25 Oct 06 21:53
Gina, when you were writing your books, how much were you tempted to use your own menagerie as examples? I mean, we all think our own pets are the most perfect flower of pet-dom.
Gina Spadafori (giori) Thu 26 Oct 06 07:33
Not too much, really. The books focus on the things people don't know, things they misunderstand or would just find interesting about cats and dogs. Dr. Becker and I started with lists and lists of questions, including many that came from readers of our syndicated column either directly or indirectly in that their e-mails suggested a lack of basic understanding of one thing or another. For example: People who think dogs who scoot on their behinds have worms. (Probably not so.) And, of course, things people never thought about but that have gee-whiz factor, like, "Do some neutered dogs take Viagra?" (Yes, it's prescribed for pulmonary conditions.)
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 27 Oct 06 16:28
Why do so many cats like to eat vegetables? Not just a few blades of grass, or veggies smothered in cheese or butter or meat sauces, but plain, steamed, or raw veggies?
Gina Spadafori (giori) Sat 28 Oct 06 08:23
Because it's natural and healthy for them to do so. Greens provide fiber, water and both help to keep things moving. Cats generally don't get near enough fiber and fluids. Most cats, in fact, are chronically dehydrated. I prefer to see people try to offset that by not feeding dry food solely -- wet food helps with hydration, and if you add canned pumpkin to the wet food regularly, that'll help with fiber (and hairballs).
Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Sat 28 Oct 06 10:26
So Halloween is coming, and with it...pet costumes! In fact, I just saw a dachshund in one of those "hot dog" costumes with the squiggle of mustard down the back. They're awfully cute. Really. But what is UP with the dressing-up-your-pets?
Gina Spadafori (giori) Sat 28 Oct 06 19:37
In the lifetime of most of us, pets -- especially dogs -- have moved from livestock/backyard pets to indoor pets to family to children. That's a pretty big change of status. And the pet industry predicts as more baby-boomers become empty nesters and retirees, the trend will intensify. (This is different from the past, when many viewed having pets as something you did when you had children at home, and when the dog died after the last kid went to college, that was that.) In light of the changes in the social status of pets, it's no surprise that people want to dress them up for Halloween. Plus, it's harmless fun. I generally don't do it, basically because I'm too busy and/or too lazy. But I did once win a costume contest with my "reverse Dalmatian" -- putting round white stickers on my black retriever. We'll be back at dog shows tomorrow, and I do have a white collar with a red bow tie for my young male retriever ... but that's it. But then ... my dogs are my "children." I don't pretend otherwise.
David DeMaris (demaris) Sun 29 Oct 06 00:04
One of my dogs, a neutered male now 13, has a few baffling (to me) behaviors regarding food. One is that he'll often do some little feng shui dance with his food bowl, spinning it around a bit or adjusting his own angle until it's just right before taking a bite. The other, which I can only remember in the last few years vs. forever on the bowl spinning, is that on occasion he'll be heard barking in the kitchen. Upon investigation, he's staring at his water bowl and letting loose the occasional barrage. I thought maybe insect having a swim, but nothing *I* can see. Clues?
Fawn Fitter (fsquared) Sun 29 Oct 06 23:15
Gina, if you don't post a photo of your reverse Dalmatian, I will cry. I mean it.
Jeffrey M. Field (topsy-turvy) Mon 30 Oct 06 02:35
I am both a dog person and a cat person. (Dogs most of my life and cats the past five years.) Have you ever heard of a cat who thinks he's a piece of furniture? Caveman (http://consilience.typepad.com/our_stories/2006/10/little_people_i.html) loves to be vacuumed when I clean house every Saturday. His head, his flanks, even his tail. And now, a question for you. I bought Nintendogs - Dalmatian and Friends, this week. I wanted to see whether I would become "attached", so to speak. Well, let me say that I AM attached to my little puppy, Sark (as well as amazed at what good programming can do). My question - do you think a child could learn to take responsibility for a real dog by taking responsibility for a simulated one?
Gina Spadafori (giori) Mon 30 Oct 06 08:11
I absolutely do not. Let me recast this in another way: Do you think a video game on human relationships would prepare you for a real one? One of the best sayings on kids' pets I've ever heard is that parents should pick pets THEY like, because the parents (statistically speaking, MOM) will end up caring for them. Kids lose interest. It's normal. Parents set up horrible situations with their expectations of teaching "responsibility" through pet care. Typically, pet care becomes a tug-of-war and the pet suffers. This piece by Welpern Jon Katz is one of my favorite all-time bits of writing on a pet care topic. Ernie's story is one that's repeated in countless thousands of suburban homes: <http://www.slate.com/id/2103801> Neglected children's pets is one of those subjects that make my head hurt. For every ignored golden retriever like Ernie, there are countless millions of parakeets, hamsters, hermit crabs and more dying for lack of proper care because the kids are "responsible" for them. /rant
Gina Spadafori (giori) Mon 30 Oct 06 08:14
Oh, and the thing about moving the dish around? There's just no telling. Animals have quirks just like people do!
Gina Spadafori (giori) Mon 30 Oct 06 10:09
My reverse Dalamatian ... I WISH I had a picture of him. I lost that dog in summer of 2005 to cancer, age 11. I love all my pets, but some are more special than others. That dog was the best book-signing dog ever. He could "read" a person and tailor his response: Still and gentle for little children, a little more boisterous for young men, etc. When we did book-signings, I put a red backpack on him so he could carry his water dish, pens, a dog toy, etc. Since he was a handsome black retriever, people always assumed he was a service dog. One time, we were scheduled for an event at Moscone Center. I couldn't find the event, and stopped to ask a man in a Moscone Center uniform. He started gesticulating widely, talking slowly and loudly. I quickly realized he thought I was deaf, and Ben was my hearing dog! Being such a good social dog took so much out of Ben. After a few hours of it, he would walk back to the car with his head hanging down with exhaustion. I finally had to "retire" him from public events at age nine because it was too much for him. Gosh, I miss that dog. And I wish I had a picture of him as a reverse Dalmatian to share. Here's a nice pic of him, sans dots: <http://www.flickr.com/photos/giori/22866871/>
prunella (cmbegle) Mon 30 Oct 06 12:56
Aw, sweet Ben. It seems to me like there's a growing chasm between dog people and not-dog people, and it seems harder to have a dog. Land use issues, landlord issues, insurance issues. Has it always been like this, or am I, as a newbie dog owner, just noticing this? Do you think it's getting better or worse for dogs and their people? What do you think it's going to be like for dog people in the future?
Gina Spadafori (giori) Mon 30 Oct 06 13:45
Interesting question. I think it's going to become very difficult indeed for people with breeds of checkered reputations -- pit bulls, Rotties, etc., and their mixes -- since I believe breed bans will continue to spread. (For the record: I'm in favor of very very tough laws against aggresive dogs and against practices that encourage aggression (primarilly chaining) but not against laws that ban breeds. I feel they're pointless, since the bad actors among us will just switch breeds.) It'll become harder for anyone with a large dog to get homeowners insurance. (When I bought my house three years ago, I was questioned extensively about my dogs, something that the agent I've had for almost 30 years has never done with previous houses.) You'll be more likely to be sued and lose homeowners insurance if your dog does hurt someone. It has always, always been difficult to rent with dogs, especially big dogs. That's why I bought my first home, in 1987. I was tired of "no dog" policies. But overall, it has become a much a much friendlier world for dogs and dog-lovers over the 25 years I've been writing about them. More off-leash dog areas, more hotels/motels taking dogs, more outdoor dog-friendly dining spots and heaven knows more cool dog gear. I think there is a backlash brewing, though. I get more hate-mail from pet-haters than I ever used to, and it's nasty, nasty stuff. But considering that seven of 10 homes has a pet and only three of 10 homes has a child, I'm not too worried about the future overall. The numbers are on the side of pet-lovers. I look at amenities for dog-lovers as the logical extension of recreation policy and use of my tax dollars. I support soccer fields, tennis courts and bike trails. But I expect MY recreational needs to be addressed as well, and those involve taking my dogs for long walks and swims, in legal off-leash recreational areas.
looking at you with his eyebrows tweedling (booter) Mon 30 Oct 06 16:08
I have two cats. One is a Birman or Ragdoll named Beanie. The other is a DSH named Zero. I keep them indoors, but have allowed them out under supervision in case they are accidentally let out for any reason. (They have pried screens off and escaped in their own.) Beanie is permanently grounded, because he now knows that if he runs up and over the fence, down the block and into a small space, I cannot find him. Zero, however, still gets "playtime". He is allowed out because it takes him a long time to get bored with the yard and try to leave. When he leaves, I walk into the neighbor's yard, bringing him in, kicking and screaming. That's not the issue. The issue is this. I used to have a brick patio and a concrete paver. He used to roll on the concrete paver when he got out. That was generally the First Order of Business. Now, I no longer have the patio and paver. I have a large rectangle of sand that I think of as "the beach". Zero will dart out the door and hurl himself into the sand and roll on it for five to ten minutes. He'll take a break, but he always comes back to the sand. My sister observed this and said, "He's rolling in it like a veal cutlet in breadcrumbs." I now call this ritual "Cutlet Time". I have seen other cats roll on concrete, but not to the degree that Zero does. So, to paraphrase Seinfeld..."What's with that?"
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Mon 30 Oct 06 16:48
Emily does that too.....as soon as she gets out onto the little concrete balcony, she looks around for about 10-15 seconds, then stops, drops, & rolls. After a couple of minutes, she'll get bored, and go sit by the edge to watch birds & squirrels. But if I bring her inside, then back out again a few minutes later, she'll start over with the rolling. 100° summer day, 40 degrees in the fall, still stop/drop/roll. It's so predictable that I went a little overboard.... http://www.flickr.com/photos/debunix/sets/72157594216344279/ What is up with that?
Gina Spadafori (giori) Mon 30 Oct 06 17:15
Dunno, but I sure have observed it a lot in a lot of cats. Probably just feels good, scratching some itchy spots. Horses love to do it, too: <http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockandracehorses/102391671/in/set-219309/>
Craig S. Thom (craigthom) Mon 30 Oct 06 21:35
<gail>, way back you mentioned a noise your cat makes when watching birds. Mine does that, too. Her jaw opens and closes and she makes a weird little noise. The only time she does this is when watching birds. She's got three other distinctive noises (five if you count a hiss): the regular "Hey, look at me" meow, the "I am really not enjoying this" growl, and a little coo she makes when she's asleep and I touch her.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Mon 30 Oct 06 22:36
That's another odd cat thing I wonder about--the "prey in sight" warble. Both of my cats have done that. It seems quite contrary to good practice as a stealthy stalker to advertise your excitement with the warble. Is that something our domestic cats retain from kittenhood? Do they only do it if we're around--being social? if the prey is unattainable--a cry of frustration?
Gina Spadafori (giori) Tue 31 Oct 06 06:25
Almost all cats do this prey chatter, especially when the prey is out of reach. It's an involuntary response.
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 1 Nov 06 13:21
Speaking of prey chatter, that's a terrible segue for me to thank Gina, Christine, and Fawn for a great conversation. Our Inkwell spotlight is now turning to a new conversation, but this topic will still be around for as long as Gina cares to keep chattering.
Gina Spadafori (giori) Wed 1 Nov 06 15:16
Thanks for dropping in!
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 1 Nov 06 15:32
What a lot of fun this has been!
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