Tag Archive: cats

I Can Haz Front Page!

Although I’m not a fan of the Cheeseburger cats and in fact think they are everything that’s wrong with the Internet, I do like the cute photographs. So, like a teenager with a porno mag, I will furtively sneek a peek from time to time.

I have even, I’m ashamed to say, submitted my own captions. With correct spelling and grammar, of course.

And one made it to the front page! Yay me!

 funny pictures - Only a few more days and I'll have all the fresh chicken I can eat!


What Was That?

Saturday was Laundry Day in the Ghostie household. As a cost saving measure, I follow Mother Dearest’s lead and hang my freshly washed clothing on the lines strung on the back deck.

My attempt to be artsy. You can see how the backyard tends to slope a bit.

As I was hanging a load out, I heard a noise in the trees leading down to the creek that runs behind the house. I saw two animals run by. My first thought was “Huh. That’s a weird-looking dog. Almost looks like a fox.” Nope, it was neither.

It was a pair of these;

Hey there. Mind if I eat your face?

For those who don’t watch a lot of Animal Planet, that’s a coyote.Not the nicest of neighbors to have. Being that we are in the middle of a bad drought, feed is scarce – which makes prey scarce and predators bolder.

The first one I saw had something dark in it’s mouth, probably a squirrel or other rodent. Another followed about ten or fifteen feet behind the first one in a rather furtive manner. Probably looking to steal a meal.

I am very glad my cats are strictly indoor cats.

I was driving to work one morning, thinking about things as is my habit, when I realized I hadn’t written about my litter boxes.

I may have mentioned that I think of odd things while driving.

I am unusually proud of my litter boxes, because I made them myself. Granted, it wasn’t that hard, but still – I made them.

Back when I just had Simon, I had a standard box you can find at any Sprawlmart or pet store – it resembled a large dishpan. I got one of the “deluxe” models with a cover, to cut down on the smell. (This was back when I was living in my camper.) Then the kittens came along and it was very clear, after cleaning out the box three times a day, that I was going to have to do something else.

But what?

I already had the largest litter box available (they just didn’t make litter boxes any bigger) and the lack of space meant I couldn’t just buy another one. I was stumped until I realized that while they didn’t make litter boxes bigger, they did make larger plastic containers.

No, I'm not going to post pictures of my litter boxes. Sicko.

I ventured out to Sprawlmart’s storage section and found the perfect solution – a thirty gallon storage tote. Five (very careful) minutes with a sharp knife and there was a seven inch square hole in one end about eight inches from the bottom. Why seven inches? Because that’s how wide the handles are. I filled it with litter, it took most of a twenty-eight pound bucket, and then popped the lid on, congratulating myself on a job well done.

And now the cost breakdown

  • A regular far-too-small-for-anything-other-than-a-single-kitten  litter box, around ten dollars or so.
  • A fancy “extra-large” covered model, like the one I had, can go for twenty-five or so.
  • The even fancier self-cleaning models cost over a hundred, but that’s really overkill in my opinion.
  • The thirty gallon tote, which can accommodate two cats at the same time, cost me less than nine dollars.

This is quite a savings, in more ways than one.

When I cut the hole in the end, I measured the depth of the old box and added an inch or so, making the tote slightly deeper than a standard litter box. It’s not much and the cats have no trouble getting in and out, but that inch or so spread out over the entire box really increased the volume of litter I’m able to use. Most litter boxes are no more than about six or seven inches deep and you never fill it to the top, that’s just a recipe for getting litter everywhere.

Even the “extra-large” boxes are barely big enough for one cat; Simon had a hard time turning around in his, the small amount of litter in the bottom made it lightweight and prone to rocking back and forth when “in use,” and the top popped off constantly.  The larger footprint and heavier weight of the tote makes it much more stable. This is especially nice, since all three of my furry darlings like to dig during their private time. Sometimes I think they just go in and dig for fun.

Keeping all of this in mind, when it became clear that Simon was going to have to be put in a permanent time-out the protect Nikki, I didn’t buy a regular litter box; I bought a tote. I didn’t need one quite as big as the thirty gallon job, so I got a slightly smaller eighteen gallon one, which is perfect for one cat. It cost me a little over five dollars. I do have one standard litter box, I bought it to use when Simon hurt his shoulder and I had to keep him caged for a month, the tote was too big to fit in the cage. It was very messy, with litter getting everywhere, and I was glad to put it away when Simon’s shoulder healed.

If you’re thinking about getting a cat or currently have a cat or cats and you are fed up with too-small litter boxes, go get yourself a tote. Since they are fairly air-tight, it’s a good idea to leave the lid off from time to time to help the ammonia evaporate. I leave the lids off of mine about once a week and give the litter a good stir every time I clean it out to help things along.

Bonus tip!

While there is very little litter kicked out of the totes since the sides are so high, there will be some as the cats go in and out. Putting a mat down in front of the opening solves this problem nicely.You can buy an expensive one for at least ten dollars, if not more…

Aww... it's kinda cute.

Or you can be smart and get a rubber doormat.

I find the kind with the little pegs works the best.

The doormats I use both came from Family Dollar and cost three bucks a piece. They do both say “WELCOME” instead of being cute little paw shapes, but it’s not like the cats care about that sort of thing. The cats walk over the mat and the little rubber feet knock the litter off their feet, even Fearless’ fuzzy clodhoppers.

Her fuzzy, fuzzy feet.

They reduce the amount of litter getting tracked through the house down to almost nothing and I don’t have to comb litter out of Fearless’ foot-fur every night. (Yes, I’ve done that. It’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.)

Busy Busy Busy

Been busy traveling to Charlotte and going to IKEA and various thrift stores so I haven’t written anything today and I don’t have anything left in my queue. Instead, enjoy this picture of Fearless sitting on my duffel bag.

Take me with you!


Be back tomorrow with tons of photos from my trip!

My Little Sister

In the last of my series covering the cats in my life, we have Nikki.

Mua-ha-ha. Mine is an evil laugh.

She is an American Shorthair ginger tabby female, something of a rarity since most ginger tabbies are male. I like to call her Mooch or Princess Pumpkinbutt, because she likes to eat my cats’ food and when she hunches down in the classic “loaf of bread” position, she looks a bit like a pumpkin.

Technically Nikki is not my cat, she belongs to my parents (specifically my mother) and not me, but she does live in the same house that I do.

About a year after I moved out, GhostDad heard about a cat named Butterbean on a radio spot highlighting local shelter rescues. The parents went down, met her, and adopted my little sister.

Mother Dearest needed a lapdesk.

As an older cat she was perfect; no kittenish antics to worry about, she was very independent and could be left alone while they were at work without having to worry about her.

Then I moved in and brought the terrible trio with me.

She did not have much of a problem with Firefly and Fearless, they were content to let her be the top cat in the house, but Simon was another matter. Every time they got near each other there was growling and hissing, both of them wanted to be top cat and there can be only one. He cornered her one day and literally scared the poop out of her, after that Simon was put in lock down. He never leaves my rooms for fear that he will try to harm Nikki, who has gone back to being top cat in most of the house. She comes down to my rooms most mornings after I’ve shut away Simon and mooches some food from the cats’ bowls. When we first segregated them, Simon kept trying to get out. Now he knows better.

Hail Princess Pumpkinbutt!

Uh ... No. I don't play.

She has a bad back and isn’t as spry as she used to be, she is starting to have trouble seeing things but still seems to get around pretty good. She is just a crotchety old lady who doesn’t like me very much unless I have food with me.

Her favorite thing to do is to stare at my dad. She will sit on the floor two or three yards in front of his favorite chair and just stare at him for hours. It’s as if she believes can will him to give her a treat is she just stares hard enough.

Nicki's nap

I don't care if it's Christmas, it's time for my nap! Keep it down!

Nikki Kitty

She also perfectly matches to the kitchen floor.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve decided to spotlight each of my cats in a post today we have Fearless. (I thought about doing a post on both “kittens”, but they are so different it would be better to cover them separately.)



Fearless got her name because the very first night I had her home, she climbed the side of the hamster cage, got herself locked in the bathroom, and somehow ended up behind the oven, all within the space of a half-hour. She wanted to explore everything and every time I extracted her from one place she would hurry off to find another to get stuck in. I told her that she was just plain fearless and it seemed to stick.

She is, as close as I can figure, a Norwegian Forest Cat mix – she has all of the characteristics of the breed including an absurdly long fluffy tail.  Her coat is very thick; the hair is over three inches long in places, (I know, I’ve measured it.) and has a double undercoat. She is a big, broad lump of fur.


With built-in "snowshoes" - long tufts of fur that grow between her toes to protect the pads.

But she wasn’t always like that. When I first got her, she was malnourished and suffering from parasites and  double eye infections. She was about four or five months old and was no bigger than a two- or three-month-old cat. At her very first vet visit she weighed just over two pounds, now she is ten times that.

Picture81609 341


She is now extremely healthy and the biggest cuddle bug you have ever seen. She will try to sit between me and whatever I’m doing in an attempt to get me to pay attention to her.

Fearless  has also perfected her own special method of conflict resolution; whenever she is startled or surprised, she flops over and rolls onto her back.


Conflict resolved! Now it's naptime.

That beautiful long fur does have its drawbacks; Fearless hasn’t earned the nickname “Swiffer” for nothing. (She is also called Fluffybottom, Fluff-Butt, and Fuzzybuns)  I have to comb it to keep it from getting matted and to get out whatever debris she has managed to pick up.  There is also, to put it delicately, a problem with “absorption and adhesion” which requires regular butt-baths which you know she just loves. Which is odd – she will play with a dripping faucet until she is soaking wet, but try to wash one small part of her and she turns hydrophobic.

Picture030710 161

If it's her idea, it's fun. (She's about a year old here, much less fluffy than now)


How dare you bathe me! Now I gotta take a bath!

And then there’s cardboard. She loves the stuff. I don’t think there’s a box in the house that hasn’t been chewed on. She doesn’t eat the paper, she rips chunks out and then spits them on the floor. There is one of those disposable scratchers in the living room and she has managed to chew  a hole through it.


This is MY box!

She just keeps getting bigger and bigger, I’ve read that Norwegian Forest Cats can keep growing for up to five years and she seems proving that correct.


The standard serving size for a full-grown Norwegian Forest Cat.

She’s not as fat as she looks, there is a bit of pudge but most of it is fur. Lots and lots of fur. Everywhere. Every time I vacuum I could make another cat.


I like cats.

I like looking at cute and/or funny pictures of cats, and cute and/or funny pictures in general.

I loathe with a white-hot, deep-seated hatred that burns like the heart of a collapsing star  the comments on the I Can Has Cheezburger site.

funny pictures - dis...  dis juss rong.

Yes, yes it is.

Sweet zombie Jesus, these are grown people (mostly women but I will say “people” to be politically correct) who I assume have not suffered some sort of traumatic brain injury. They can obviously use a computer, so they must have some minimum level of education. It’s not as if they are simply smashing their fists into a keyboard while shrieking like scalded gibbons; most of the comments can be deciphered given enough time and patience. (And booze.) They have deliberately decided to write like not-very-bright children. Here is a sample taken from the comments of the photo above.


May 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm


pjperry says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Conconeulations, Joy! :D

Joy says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Ah, fank yew, piperry, butt (!) wat 4?

Joy says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Ooooh, pjperry, Ai r sorre!!! Ai mizspelted yur naem!! Ai nawt seez 2 gud, soe ai nawt spelz gud… iz bad kitteh. Swatz selfz.

pjperry says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Teh conconeulations is 4 b ing teh furst, or wat we call nawt second commenter. :roll: silleh, I no. Jussta cheezland custom. Don’t werree, nawt spelling gud is a positive fing in lolspeak. :D

Joy says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm

*hugs pjperry, rubs cheak*

pjperry says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm


Why? Internet peer pressure?  For some sense of belonging? Who started this trend? (Go ahead, you can tell me. I promise I won’t hunt them down and beat them to death with a dictionary.)

The phenomenon of mob mentality (not in the “ make him an offer he can’t refuse” sense of the word) is well known; people will do things in large groups that they would never do as individuals. I’m mystified as to how this can happen over the Internet, where the mob in question is not in actual physical contact. For the most part, when you are on the Internet you are alone, just you and the computer. Have their brains decided that these other people, identified only by words and a tiny graphic, are part of their mob and therefore should be followed? They are complete strangers, chances are they live in a different state (or possibly a different country) than you. Why do you care what they think?

Gah. I just will never understand people.

The Castle

When I moved in to my parents’ house, I had no furniture. I had lived for several years in a travel trailer where everything was built-in. Since Mother Dearest has collected furniture for years she already had a bed and a futon and chairs and tables, that sort of thing, and I had … a small fridge and several sets of the wire cubes that you connect with little plastic connectors.

These guys are awesome for small spaces; you can put them together and take them apart as needed without a big hassle and they take up almost no room when broken down.

I had a cat climbing tower as well, a little one that was about four feet tall and worked fine in a small space when the kittens were little, but as they got bigger it became clear that it was not going to work.

There were some structural integrity issues.

So I decided to build a new one. It would have to modular, made from reasonably priced materials, accommodate around forty-five pounds of assorted cats, and be something I could do with my limited woodworking skills. It would also have to fit in a wide but shallow space in front of a window and beside a closet door.

To the Habitat Store!


This served as the base for the castle. It's a kitchen cabinet and cost fifteen dollars.

For those who are wondering how that thing could possibly be a kitchen cabinet, you should know that it’s upside down. It was originally mounted over a sink and the tall part on the right would be on the left of the sink. It had the primary requirement of being narrow, the castle had to fit against a wall and still allow a closet door to open.

We snagged a few loose drawers as well, one for two dollars and one for three, and headed home to modify my new purchases.

Thank goodness for Mother Dearest and her power tools.


Mother Dearest has forbidden me from posting any more pictures of her on Facebook. But we're not on Facebook, are we?

There was much figuring done and then the sawing of holes and scrap lumber was found to make legs that would raise the whole thing to window height.


Fast forward to the final fitting to make sure all the holes are in the right place and everything fits. Mother Dearest is being gracious as always.


Backside view with all the pieces in place. Mother Dearest got fed up with me taking her picture; she flipped me the bird and retreated to the front steps.

The whole thing was brought inside to be painted; bright turquoise on the outside and deep teal that looks almost black with yellow stars on the inside. I originally painted the inside yellow, ironed on butcher paper stars, painted around them, and took the paper stars off. it looked horrible so I had to go back and paint over the yellow areas with the dark teal. Instead I cut even more stars out of yellow paper and decoupaged them to the inside.

Trying to paint something this big in a house full of cats who live to find new and interesting places to sleep proved to be quite a challenge. At least I knew they would actually use it.
I covered the ramp leading from the bottom to what became the middle tier with burlap so it could be used as a scratching board as well. I made the decision to leave the legs unpainted and rubbed them with catnip oil. The rear ones have become Simon’s favorite scratching posts.

100_2851.jpg  I had lots of “help”.


They were absolutely thrilled when it was moved to its final place.

The final pieces, the two drawers and a little landing on the left by the portal leading from the bottom to the middle, were added about a week later.


They were thrilled all over again. It was like it was a new castle.


Thank you for spending so much time and energy making a nice high place for us. Now go away.

Simple Simon

Having been inspired by Lyle (Hi Lyle! :waves: ) I have decided to write about my cats, of which I have many.

First up is Simon, or Simon Jester if you want to use his full name (and nobody does).


Hi there.

Simon is about six years old and I’ve had him for about four of those years. He is a Russian Blue mix, with very thick, dense fur that gets everywhere. Simon came to me via my sister, who got him and his brother Oreo from an ad on Craigslist. Simon, originally named Felix, was always a bit timid but seemed to like me well enough when I visited my sister and her menagerie.


Although it looks a bit like him, this is Simon's brother Oreo. No, I don't know why they named a grey cat Oreo.

Then one day Simon jumped up on top of the washing machine and tipped a bottle of fabric softener onto himself. He swallowed quite a bit of it and for a while we thought he might not make it, but he somehow pulled through.

He changed a bit, though. He became very skittish and easily frightened, especially by strangers and men. He has loosened up a bit since then but there was a point when just a man’s voice would send him scurrying for cover. He also developed what I call his “happy noise”; when he gets excited and starts purring, he makes this odd sort of chirping sound that sounds a bit like a squeaky toy or a small bird.

Click here to hear Simon’s happy noise.

He will also make this happy noise when he gives me his special wake-up call, which involves him licking me on the eye or in the ear while I’m rudely ignoring him to do something as unnecessary as sleeping. It’s a guaranteed eye-opener.

After I had been living by myself for about a year, I started thinking about getting a cat. My sister offered me Simon. He spent a few days hiding from me but seemed to enjoy my much quieter home.

When I acquired the kittens Firefly and Fearless, he spent almost a week under my bed, hissing at them when they came anywhere near him. And of course they wanted very badly to be his friend and kept trying to play with him.

Picture030710 012

He eventually figured out that they weren't scary monsters.

Then I moved back in with my parents and he met my Mom’s cat Nikki. Simon has decided that Nikki is the Antichrist and needs to be destroyed.

You know, in the right light she is quite menacing.

Since this isn’t an option, I have had to isolate him from her.  The rooms I live in, through a quirk of design, are the hottest in the house. No air circulates through them; I have fans in the hall that help but they are still terribly stuffy in summer. Keeping he locked up in a stifling hot room with what little air movement there was blocked by a solid door seemed too cruel.

Off to the Habitat Store!

I bought a pair of doors close to the size of the originals and Mom trimmed them to fit. We cut out a large opening in each door and stapled hardware cloth over it. They are not the most beautiful things in the world, but they work. They are also scratched all to hell because Firefly and Fearless, who have negotiated a truce with Nikki, are allowed in and out as they like (They scratch until some dumb human (me) opens the door.)


Some cats adjusted better to the kludgeriffic doors than others.

Simon seems to have adjusted well to this limited isolation with just me and the other two cats for company; he spends most of his day in my bedroom, sleeping under the bed.


He has gotten a bit more adventurous in his old age.

Today I will share with you the secret to beautiful, soft, lush hair.

If you’re a cat, that is.

It’s fish oil.

These little guys.

My Russian Blue, Simon, has had dry flaky skin for years. I call it “butt dandruff” because it’s worse around his back and tail. After pondering the problem of trying to find a moisturizer for someone covered in a coat of thick fur, I remembered seeing fish oil capsules in the vitamin aisle. I bought a bottle and started giving him one a week. I couldn’t get him to swallow the pills, so I just poked a hole in them with a pin and squirted it over the dry area. He groomed himself and consumed the oil, his skin stopped flaking so much and his coat became thicker and softer.

And then the kittens came into our happy home.

The kittens, Firefly and Fearless, were very undernourished when I acquired them; when I took them to the vet for the first time it was discovered that tiny Firefly had a heart murmur caused by blood loss from the extensive flea infestation she had. They were both filthy and covered with fleas, it took me forever to get them cleaned up.

baby pictures!

But it was worth it.

The first time I gave Simon his fish oil after I got the kittens, two things became abundantly clear; kittens that have been half-starved like to eat, and fish oil smells a lot like kitten food.

Those little kittens followed him around like his ass was made of candy. Every time he thought he was safe and could start grooming himself, one of the kittens would take a swipe at him. They followed him all over the place trying to get the oil off of him. Clearly I was going to have to try something else.

A couple of times I punctured the capsule (that sounds like a euphemism) and squirted the oil in his mouth. He hated it, I hated it, I got fish oil all over me and he bit me twice. Scratch that off the list.

While washing fish oil out of my t-shirt, it occurred to me again that it smelled a lot like wet cat food. I had been giving the cats a tablespoon of wet cat food in the morning and the next day I mixed Simon’s oil into his food. He ate some of it but the other two seemed to like his better. They ended up eating his food while he ate theirs.

Okay, I’m not going to be outsmarted by a cat. I can take care of this.

The next dosing day, I put fish oil in all of their food. They scarfed it down like it was caviar.

These days they all get their oil once a week, they seem to enjoy it and I have noticed that their coats are very soft and smooth. It’s like the oil conditions it.

I use Puritan’s Pride Omega-3 Salmon Oil 500mg capsules; Puritan’s Pride runs near-constant “Buy 1 Get 2 Free” sales and if you sign up for their newsletter you can get free shipping codes from time to time. Just don’t use an email that you care about because they will fill your box with ads and you’ll get a catalog in the mail every few months.

The fish oil trick would probably work on dogs as well, I don’t have one so I can’t say for sure. The dosage or frequency would have to be increased if the dog was larger than a cat.