FOR THE LOVE OF CATS
Naomi & Karina Paape
Dear fellow felines:
Well, here we are in the midst of summer, and you know what that means: flip flops and bikinis for your staff (remember, cats have staff, dogs have owners), plus lots of noise and water fights around the pool. And let’s not forget that unappetizing scent of sun tan lotion. How is a fragile feline to cope? How are we to get our daily 18 hours of sleep amidst such mischief and mayhem?
I say let’s enjoy the entertainment and join the folks poolside. You know what they say: “If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em.” I encourage you to drink out of their water glasses (try not to confuse gin and tonics with water — they look identical), while they’re cooking hotdogs and cheeseburgers for the grandkids. And while they’re eating, be sure to aggressively hunt geckoes. The sight of you strutting around the lanai with the head of a gecko sticking out of one side of your mouth and the tail out the other can be a real appetite killer. That means more scraps for you and me! If you really want to get their attention, you can show off the length and strength of your toe nails by climbing the lanai screens to the tippy-top of the cage. Not only does this afford a bird’s-eye-view of the goings on down below, but if there’s a nice breeze, you can direct your shedding top coats to land on the pool’s water surface and to blend with the picnic condiments.
If, for some reason, your staff should resent this intrusive oversight, said staff may try to get the upper hand. This will lead them to conclude that you are in desperate need of a mani-pedi, a visit to the groomer, and consultations with a behavioralist and a nutritionist. To minimize screen climbing, they will threaten to trim your nails. To eliminate the obsessive staking out and stalking of geckoes, the behavioralist will be retained to assess your state of mind in hopes of identifying any kittenhood trauma you may have experienced and, no doubt, recommend pheromone therapy. The nutritionalist will demand that you eliminate geckoes, hot dogs and potato chips from your diet. Sometimes this kind soul will suggest that your staff add tuna juice or salt-free chicken broth to your wet food, as well as a moisture-rich tablespoon of plain yogurt or maybe even an extra handful of treats. The reward depends on the amount of trauma you can muster up.
A few of your staff may even send you to the groomer to take off the shedding layer of your fur. The worst case scenario is that they will ask that you be given a “lion cut.” Talk about a dignity-robbing hairstyle, this is it. You will be so embarrassed that no one will ever see you again (until your fur grows back in). You will end up hiding in the sofa all day, or behind the Christmas decorations in the hall closest, only coming out under the cover of darkness when the snoring begins. Be forewarned, however, the pickins’ will be slim, and you will never enjoy another treat as your siblings will have beaten you to the punch on all counts.
Being the most esteemed tortie that I am, however, I am going to share some grooming and behavior modification tips with your staff. For me personally, it is the nail trimming that terrifies me the most. Before I crossed the threshold of For the Love of Cats all those years ago, some careless human cut my nails so short that the quick of my nails was severed, thus triggering lots of bleeding not to mention the howling pain. I vainly tried screaming, growling, slashing, biting and escaping, never to be found again. That’s when I ran away from home and began my career as a dumpster diver.
Fortunately for me, however, shelter founders Jan and Jim Rich have developed a humane and painless mani-pedi technique, based on their years of experimentation on our shelter kittens and rescues. And, I must admit, it is nowhere near as traumatizing as just plopping me on the kitchen counter and asking me to put out one paw at a time so they can use people toe-clippers to trim my curling under nails. Needless to say, the end result is hardly worth their effort, not to mention the blood I spray on their crisp, white shirts. Did you know that when you adopt one of our darlings we include complimentary nail clipping if needed?
When I put together our shelter handbook the other day, I included the Rich’s safe (for your staff) and least traumatizing (for us felines) method. Please bear with me, it’s not nearly so bad as it sounds:
• Only use the small nail clippers designed for cats (they look like a pair of scissors with curved ends), never people nail trimmers.
• Don’t even think about using one of those battery powered, toenail sanding devices — the most ridiculous invention I’ve ever heard of, right?
• Then, scruff kitty by the back of the neck (this releases those calming pheromones); put one hand under kitty’s rear end (this is not as personal as it sounds); wrap kitty in a towel and extract one paw at a times so you can clip the curved nail tip off.
• Don’t even think about using one of those “cat sack” grooming bags.
• Never clip our nails when we are in play mode.
• Most importantly, lavish us with a generous serving of those nice, soft treats for being such good kitties.
I don’t have much news on the kitten front this issue. All I can say is that we still have plenty in stock! Did you know that the American Humane Association estimates that some 12.5 million kittens are born each year? But, only 26 percent find homes. The good news for us is that all of our kittens find purrfect furever homes! Oops! I almost forgot: watch our kitten-cam at www.fortheloveofcatsfl.com. If you’re timing is right, you’ll get a glimpse of me training the youngsters!
Love, nips, bites, nips, and purrs! Naomi
Namoi is a 5 1/2-year-old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website, www.floridacatrescue.com