Naomi & Karina Paape
Dear Fellow Felines
We are on the threshold of yet another Fourth of July celebration, the most frightening day of my life thanks to the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air and my own raw fear. As I write this, my nights are haunted by nightmares of “Caddyshack” level proportions. Like those poor, unsuspecting gophers, blown out of their subterranean, golf course housing, I head for shelter under a bed, abandoning my stake-out of the fridge.
As if this weren’t enough to traumatize an unsuspecting feline, we have to deal with the attendant partying by our staffs (remember, dogs have owners; cats have staff). There are the backyard barbecues with their tipsy strangers who spend hours swilling down liquids that make them act really goofy and silly. Your staff will lock you in a dark room so you can’t steal the choicest of their picnic delicacies.
I admit I don’t mind a raw or seared hotdog now and again, but I’m not a fan of cole slaw, chips, salsa, ketchup or mustard. I must say, though, honey mustard is tempting. Between you, me and the litter box, my strategy of stealth (hiding in a basket of beach towels) is to watch and wait before taking my shot. When that window of opportunity presents itself, I slither to the food table and lick the mayonnaise off the potato and macaroni salads. To show my appreciation to the chef, I add a top-secret condiment: a pinch of my tortie fur. I think it adds texture and enhances the overall flavor, don’t you? Another oneof my favorite party foods is cheese. But I have to warn you, many picnic foods are very rich fatty, and can lead to a serious case of feline pancreatitis, which can lead to an unpleasant trip to the vet. So diner beware.
Not all staffs will spend July 4th at home. This brings me to the worst case scenario whereby our staffs will load up the car, SUV or truck for a nice, blistering picnic at the beach, dragging coolers, ice and 10 bags of groceries behind them. We can only watch as they pull out of the driveway with enough supplies to support a mandatory hurricane evacuation, leaving the family’s precious felines in their roiling wake.
But don’t take it personally. They simply lack an understanding of how to protect us. So this is what you must tell them, in feline language of course (meowing, purring, hissing, spitting, growling and kissing):
1.) Create a sanctuary in a dark bathroom, laundry room or closet. Include fresh water, gourmet canned cat food, some of those soft treaties, and please leave a T.V. or radio on to mask the explosions, or play a DVD that features fish, birds, cats and other critters to keep us amused and distracted. Every now and then, your staff should spend a few minutes visiting you, bearing yet more treaties, thereby reassuring you that you haven’t been abandoned. Being the patriotic gal that I am, I plan to spend July 4th under the bed. This makes shelter founders, Jan and Jim Rich, feel really sorry for me. As penance, they pamper me for days thereafter, putting outglorious buffets of my favorite foods.
2.) If your precious kitty “Muffin” is already a shy boy or girl, you may want to consult your vet about using a mild tranquilizer or anti-anxiety medication. There are also drug-free products out there to enhance the soothing process. Feliway and Bach’s Rescue Remedy are the most popular.
There is also a “calming collar for cats,” which uses pheromone technology. Said collar, made by Sentry, is supposed to help with feline fears of fireworks and strangers. I haven’t tried it yet, but a member of my staff is planning to strap one around the neck of her very neurotic Egyptian Mau. I’m sure being outfitted with said collar is not as traumatizing as having your well-meaning staff wrestle you into one of those “thunder shirts.” The last time someone succeeded in putting one of these straight jackets on me, I rolled over and played dead. Boy, were they ever remorseful.
3.) And finally, as much as you hate it, you should wear collars and identification tags. Even better is being microchipped. The best and most foolproof method, however, is being outfitted with a collar-mounted GPS device that has a range of seven miles. Using a special app, the GPS can send text and email alerts notifying your staff that you have escaped and are on the move. An interactive map with directions enables your staff to find you. Although I think this is a bit over the top, not to mention an invasion of my privacy, I guess there are benefits. Think of it as a LoJack for lost felines. After all, July 5is the busiest day of the year for shelters due to the influx of cats who flew the coop the day before.
Your staff must also be educated about the many dangers of this day: those colorful, plastic glow sticks; lighter fluid and matches; citronella insect control products; alcohol; and yet to be discharged fireworks.
On the shelter front, my staff and I continue to be besieged by kittens. We just took in a darling litter of four who were found at a home construction site on the island. With an average of 25 cats and kittens at the shelter these days, my tortie paws are overloaded with training exercises and drills to prepare these newbies for their future and forever homes. If you or your staff want in on the action, check out my kitten cam. It is entertaining and addictive, and showcases the antics of these budding little acrobats.
Given all the hours of overtime I’ve been putting in, I take periodic R & R retreats into Jim and Jan’s house. In fact, I have now trained Jim to take afternoon naps during which I stretch myself out on his chest, lick his face and sing stanzas of purrs. It’s my way of buttering him up so that when he wakes up he will have an overwhelming urge to lavish me with treats — and it’s working!
Love, nips, purrs and a safe July 4th. 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