Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cats and Dogs

SM's comment that sent readers to a page of costumed dogspictures got me thinking about the relationship between cats and people and dogs and people. You know, the bit about "who's boss".

Scoop and Au are very traditional in their outlook: they rule and we serve. Their dignity is palpable, even when things go disastrously wrong. Last week, for example, Tom went to sit in his chair, not realising Scoop was in residence. Luckily only feelings were hurt. Scoop spent the next few days scolding Tom for sitting on him, and when he had received his thousand apologies, old fuzzy agreed to forget about the incident.

I just can't help but think that a dog in similar circumstances would assume being sat on was some sort of punishment that required lots of loud panting, whining, paw offering and other doggy signs of apology...

Dogs are irresistibly sweet, but it can be hard to respect them.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Catnap Fest

Scoop fast asleep in front of the window
If you had a choice, would you be a cat? It's a tough life is you're a street kitty, but if you have a home or at least access to free meals twice a day, life isn't so hard. This is especially true in Malaysia where there are no frosty winters to deal with.

Today is hot, sticky, muggy, and the sky is grey with either pollution or rain cloud - it's hard to tell. As Scoop and Au are wearing fur coats, the weather is suffocating. Both cats had a long lie this morning, a late breakfast and are now fast asleep.

The outside cats have flaked out too. The black girls are lying in a heap under some bushes; their kittens are lethargically chewing each others ears and tails while lying down in the shade.

I'm sitting in the office, trying to work up enthusiasm to get two pieces done before the deadline. Would I want to be a cat? I'm thinking it may not be a bad thing.

PS The picture is Scoop fast asleep in front of the window.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hooray For Science

flea
It's official: Scoop and Au had picked up some fleas. What's amazing is that they were flealess on Friday, and had a bath with anti flea shampoo on Saturday. They must have picked them up on Sunday night or Monday. Me, I blame the cat with the dirty face. Or possibly the black girls at the back.

Good news is that it took less than 5 minutes to rid our fuzzies of those pesky fleas. I rushed over to Siva, our local vet, and picked up a bottle of Frontline. This stuff is amazing. You just spray your cat under the pawpits, rub it in, and the liquid penetrates the skin and repels fleas and other pests for 5 weeks.

We used to import supplies of Frontline from Australia ourselves as it wasn't sold in Malaysia. And when we ran out of it a few months ago, I started with the old fashioned controls of flea soap and daily grooming to look for trouble. If I had only popped into the vet to check, I would have known that this mircle spray is now being sold here!

Anyway, my fuzzies are perfectly clean again - but they're not talking to me. After the bath and the spraying, Scoop looks at me as though I'm a devil and Au gives me a theatrical hiss. I've told them it was for their own good, but they're not buying it.

PS the picture from Wikimedia Commons is an engraving of a flea from Robert Hooke's 1665 Micrographia, funded by the Royal Society. Wikipedia says cat fleas are "Probably the most abundant and widespread flea in the world".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Is It Moving?

I was stroking Mr Brown last night when I noticed his tummy was full of black specks. Paranoid, I hauled him up under the reading lamp, and stroked anxiously through his fur. Surely it couldn't be fleas? My clean Scoop? And just 2 days after a bath?

Nothing moved in his coat, so I conceded it's possible he's just been rolling through the earth at the bottom of the garden again.

But to be sure I checked Au as well. He was furious at being turned over and being prodded in the paw pits, but realising I'm bigger than him he let me have a look. Again, lots of black specks but no movement.

It's probably nothing but I'm taking no chances. I've just bought some heavy-duty flea shampoo and they're both in for another bath.

This is turning out to be one hell of a week!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bath Time!

Scoop having a bath
The haze continues to choke us all in Subang Jaya but Scoop and Au aren't feeling the heat - they were given their semi-annual bath this morning.

It was an affecting scene. When put in the sink and soaped up, Au howled as though his heart was breaking. When it was his turn, Scoop did his best impersonation of Early Christian Martyr cat being tortured by Nero's troops.

Now the bathing ritual is over, both cats are sitting in the sun, rearranging their coats. They are also muttering quietly to each other, and shooting me filthy looks.

No doubt about it, I'm going to suffer for the indignities they've suffered. And as cats like to take their time putting together the perfect revenge, it's bound to be a dilly.

I'm on tenterhooks...

PS: the picture is Scoop doing his utmost to keep his tummy out of the sink. Old fuzzy is wriggly, but he doesn't stick out claws.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hazy Days

The cat with the dirty face is nowhere to be seen, and the kittens have been moved on to a new home down the road so the place is very quiet. Scoop and Au have heaved a sigh of relief at the sudden peace, and are lolling about on the sofa.

The heat and air pollution have been particulalry punishing these last few days. There is an oily smell in the air, and the smog is so thick that we can't even see the building complex down the road clearly.

The Malaysian government won't share API figures with the public, but this smog is almost as bad as it was last year when a national emergency was declared. Thanks to the Internet, we can get hot spot and haze information from the National Environment Agency in Singapore. It looks like we're in for a nasty few weeks - again.

This poisonous fog is making us all (cats and people) cough. Also, both kitties have rather grubby coats and not enough energy for a good wash. We try not to bathe the cats as its not good for their fur (and it's also a stressful experience) but I'm seriously thinking of giving them a bath on Saturday morning.

It may invigorate them for an hour or so, but it won't be a popular move!

PS Another installment of Katz Tales will be published in the Malaysian national daily The Star in the Weekend section on Saturday. Check it out, send in a picture of your cat and win a basket of cat treats!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Absent or On The Run?

commando kitty
The cat with the dirty face has been absent for three days. I'm worried he's wandered on to the main road and had an accident. Many of our neighbours drive like maniacs along our narrow lanes, only to slow down when they are close enough to home to run over their own offspring. Some don't even slow down when they see a cat!

Alternatively, it's possible our dirty faced fluff has skipped town for a day or two as the stray black girls at the back have produced a litter of very loud kittens. They're squeaking their little heads off, and keeping their mum and aunts on the run 24/7. Fingers crossed he's OK - and that the kittens settle down soon!

PS the cat on the right is one of the back lane kitties practicing his commando tactics.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Cat with the Dirty Face

We have had an intruder the last few weeks: it's an orange and white cat with a dirty face - and dirty ears, tail and paws too.

This orange kitty is a creature of stealth. He has broken into the house to steal cat biscuits from the kitchen. I've got him red-pawed on several occasions and suspect he's been in and out without being caught much more often.

Scoop is seriously alarmed at the invasion. Au is fuming. I don't like a strange cat wandering in, but his dirty coat suggests he's starving. So when he turned up at the back door a few days ago with our group of stray black girls we feed I was quite pleased.

As it turns out the dirty faced kitty has excellent manners. He waits to be invited to join the girls in their morning and afternoon biscuits and he says MEOW before eating. Yesterday he came right up to me to ask for a cuddle before breakfast.

I don't mind rubbing his chin for a moment but he's still far from clean. I wonder how he would feel about a bath?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Getting Better

Scoop on his favourite box
Scoop is feeling better. He's suffering from a fungal infection that caused two sore areas over his temples but his new sporanox medicine is really knocking back the bugs. In just two weeks the sore bits have shrunk from 50 Sen coin sized areas to one Sen coin size patches. We hope he'll be his handsome self again in a week or so from now.

In the meantime our recovering kitty has taken up position on his favourite box in front of the window in our bedroom. He spends most of his mornings there, lying in comfort on his towel, keeping an eye on the birds that flutter about outside.

Life is good!

For some questions and answers about cat skin care, check out VetInfo Cat Skin Care. PS This is heavyduty medicine for cats, so if your vet prescribes sporanox, remember to ask about supplements that protect your kitty's liver.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Double Trouble

Kitties Collapso after a hard day's mischief

Au is downstairs, trying to force open the door of the cupboard where I keep board games and interesting things like tablemats. He must have been a burglar in his last life; he still has a very clever paw when it comes to doors. Unfortunately he's also a bit clumsy. Last time he went in that cupboard the heavy-pawed little fuzz broke my saltshaker.

Scoop was snoozing on top of my pirate's chest in front of the bedroom window but Au’s frustrated yikyikyik as the door hinges stick woke Scoop up. Old fuzzy is healing fast and his sense of mischief is blossoming. Now he's on his way to see how he can contribute to the project.

Both Scoop and Au have been incredibly busy the last few days. When I came back from the wet-market this morning they had brought back a frog and were watching as it hopped around the living room floor.

While I put the frog back outside, the cats took the opportunity to go through the marketing. They had carefully opened all the bags, just to see what was in there that might be interesting for cats. Scoop was admiring the chicken livers I bought for him, and Au was busy rolling onions over the kitchen floor.

Sitting in my office upstairs, I can hear them talking to each other as they cooperate to wedge open the cupboard door. Normally I would go and tell them to go play outside instead of creating havoc, but today I don’t care if they break every dish in the house. They're healthy, and they're happy. After weeks of illness and worry, it’s great to have everything back to normal.

PS Another instalment of Katz Tales will be published in the Malaysian national daily The Star in the Weekend section tomorrow. Check it out, send in a picture of your cat and win a basket of cat treats!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cultural Barriers

Walking past two tom cats squaring up for a fight last week, a friend asked, "Is that what you mean when you say cats talk a lot?"

She wasn't kidding either; she really can't tell the difference between cats saying, "Hey! Long time no see my friend!" and "Come over here and say that, you miserable rag tag of fur, and I'll claw you to pieces!"

Many of the people I know are the same; they are startled at a friendly MREOWF from Scoop or a tentative ikikik from Au.

As most of these people are city-bred, I thought it was just lack of experience but a neighbour and fellow cat fan put it differently, "It's because you're in Subang Jaya and Scoop and Au are from Kuching and Malacca," she said.

So that's what it is: cultural barriers!

PS If you don;t have a clue about Malaysia, click on the map! Kuching is in Sarawak, Malacca is called Melaka on this map, and Subang Jaya is a suburb of Kuala Lumpur.

Map of Malaysia

The map is courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin and according to their Library Web Material Usage Statement is in the public domain.