The end of summer is nigh: Keep your cat-loving kids entertained

Saturday is August 1. AUGUST 1. How did this happen, and where do I lodge a complaint? I remember summers of babysitting when i was young, and keeping the youngsters entertained got to be a challenge, even those in those days, we played outside a lot. Here are some suggestions that may help parents, grandparent, babysitters and other caregivers avoid hearing the chronic whine, “But, I’m BORED!”

  • Judy Schachner is the author of the contemporary and entertaining Skippyjon Jones series, about a small cat with a big imagination. With more than 10 Skippyjon books available, there are plenty of adventures to keep children in grades kindergarten through 3rd Grade entertained.
Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones

  • Many adults will recognize author Amy Tan from her literary fiction, but children can also enjoy her work in the tale of The Chinese Siamese Cat. The book is out of print, but can be found at libraries or purchased in audio formats (of course, you can always find copies for sale, but they are not exactly bargains). PBS Kids also produced a  Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat animated series, which is available on DVD for those rainy days stuck inside.
  • There are also several books for more advanced readers, such as the fantasy Warriors series, Tailchaser’s Song, and Catalyst and Catacombs.
  • On those days when the children just can’t get outside, there are many family-friendly movies that feature cats. The Adventures of Milo and OtisCats and DogsThat Darn Cat, Alice in Wonderland, and Homeward Bound are all available for purchase, streaming, or download. If you have an especially sensitive child in the mix and you aren’t familiar with the movie, do a little homework or view the movie ahead of time to make sure that nobody will get emotionally overwhelmed (we all have stories of that one book, movie, song, or cartoon that traumatized us!).
  • Encourage children to express themselves by drawing, painting, taking photos of, singing songs about, and writing about cats. For aspiring young writers, his is an opportunity to teach them how to research and the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Other artists can learn what paints, colors, and methods they like the most.
  • Older students may wish to volunteer (sometimes for community service credits) with a humane society or cat rescue. Most of these organizations have strict rules for the safety of both animals and volunteers, beginning with age requirements (usually, people must be at least 16 – if not 18 – to volunteer). Volunteers must be mature, responsible, and willing to do a number of tasks; in addition to giving cats and kittens attention, volunteers may also be responsible for cleaning cages and litter boxes. It may not be glamorous, but it is certainly necessary!

IMG_6680

  • More and more these days, we see children asking for donations for shelters and cat welfare organizations instead of gifts. If your child doesn’t have a summer birthday, but would like to do something like this, they may enjoy something traditional and entrepreneurial such as a lemonade stand, or they can have an un-birthday party!
  • Children who enjoy arts and crafts need go no further than the local craft store for supplies they can use to decorate t-shirts, embellish picture frames, or maybe participate in a pottery class where they can make cat-themed bowls and other items.
  • When hosting a group of children, put a feline spin on traditional games. Pin the Tail on the Donkey becomes Pin the Tail on the Kitty, Musical Chairs becomes musical Cat Beds, and Red Rover becomes White Whiskers. you can also create an age-appropriate game of cat trivia, or pick up a kitty-shaped pinata at a party supply store.

Summer is nearing it’s end, so encourage those young cat lovers now so they will become cat-loving adults!

Woo hoo! R-CATS is an Amazon Smile charity

The R-CATS Program is now a registered charity with Amazon Smile! I’ve volunteered for them for several years, and they do a lot of good Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Return (TNVR) work in the Rome, NY area.

Stack of books recently purchased from Amazon Smile.

I don’t need to justify my Amazon.com habit, but if I ever do, I’ll say that I’m doing it for the cats!

If you’re not familiar with it, Amazon Smile is a product of Amazon.com that donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the not-for-profit organization of the your choice (as long as they’re registered with Smile). The Smile website carries, for all intents and purposes, all of the products as the parent website, with the same prices and user experience. Not all items are eligible for a Smile donation, but those that are have the notation, “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages in the box on the right (you have to be signed in to see if the item is eligible). There are nearly a million charitable organizations participating, and it’s easy to sign up to support R-CATS; there is even a bookmark you can install on your toolbar, depending on your browser.

R-CATS is listed under its full name, which is Rome Cat Assistance Tlc Society Inc.

If you have a favorite not-for-profit organization (even if it isn’t R-CATS, I suppose), you can see if they participate. If they don’t, get them on board!

Photo of an orange tiger kitten with his face in the camera.

The power of Tigger compels you. Seriously, kitties like him will benefit.

Protect your cat from heat stroke

It’s hot. And gross. And uncomfortable. It’s also dangerous, especially for the elderly, ill, very young, and pets. Here’s some information about heat stroke and your cat…

Like dogs, cats don’t sweat and release excess heat through their paw pads or by panting (generally, cats have to be either really stressed or overheated to pant).  Short-nosed cats such as Persians are more vulnerable to heat stroke, but it can happen to any cat.

Heat stress is first indicated by the cat trying to find a cool spot, panting, grooming excessively and drooling. This is when you want to move the cat to a cool, quiet place and provide cool (not ice-cold) drinking water.

If the heat illness progresses, the cat will show signs of heat exhaustion, which include rapid pulse and breathing, very red tongue and mouth, dry gums, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea and stumbling. If you find a cat showing signs of heat exhaustion, move her to a quiet cool place, offer her water and cool her down using a cool, damp towel; use extreme caution if this cat is not familiar to you – you may want to call animal control, in case the cat isn’t suffering from heat stroke, but from something contagious. Make an urgent call to your veterinarian for guidance on how to proceed; they may want you to come right in, so have a carrier ready. If a cat has not been found by this stage of illness, she may succumb to heat stroke and have seizures or fall into a coma (another good reason to keep your cat inside during a heat wave – you’ll be able to keep an eye on her).

If you happen to find a cat suffering from heat stroke, gently run cool (not cold) water over her, wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and place it between her legs, covering her belly. The cat must be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Trust me because I’ve seen this before – this is not something you want to handle on your own unless you’re a veterinary/animal care professional.

The veterinarian will be able to evaluate the cat and provide supportive care, including intravenous fluids to help stabilize her temperature and hopefully prevent permanent damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and/or brain.

Heat stroke, and other health problems caused by hot weather, can easily be avoided by providing cool, shady shelter for your cat, keeping fresh water on hand at all times, restricting exercise in extreme heat and never leaving your cat unattended in a vehicle (even with the windows cracked).

Temperature guides for cats:

  • 100-103 – slightly elevated
  • 103-104 – elevated and requires veterinary attention
  • 105 and over – life-threatening and in definite need of veterinary attention
Tuxedo cat in a bathtub with water.

Have a cat that likes water? That’ll make keeping her cool much easier.

Shut it down, and shut it down fast 2.0: Updated

Any of you – man or woman, gay, straight or other – who have done the online dating thing: have you found that most people think that you’re dumb and/or naive, or is it wishful thinking on their part?

After last night’s Shutdown 1.0, a message came in from the dating site. I could see that it was someone new, but I didn’t feel like dealing with any of that, so I settled in blissfully with my book. I recognized the guy, as he was on before I was (so at least for several weeks) and I’m in such a small area that I tend to see the same profiles pop up.

I left the message for this morning, and when I read it, it was clear that he had read my profile and was articulate: two ticks in the “Pro” column. Not my style appearance-wise (one tick in “Con”), but we did seem to have a lot in common (a third for “Pro”). He also noted in his profile that he’d been matched with women with several common interests, but they never got back to him. I didn’t want to be that asshole, so I wrote back.

Over lunch, I decided to do a little sleuthing. I had his first name and his city, so off to Facebook I went. And didn’t I find his profile picture with his girlfriend, and find several of those hokey inspirational graphics that would make Jack Handey proud. Some had been posted within the past few weeks, during the time he was definitely cruising the dating site. I have thoughts about this.

I cannot wait until he writes back so that I can share them.

Graphic of a woman leaning on a man, saying,

I’m not the dumb one in this situation, sir.

Update 7/28/2015: I may have been wrong. MAY. Although it would be odd to have two men with the same first name, in the same field living in the same tiny city, it could happen. I fucking hate being wrong, so I have screen shots in case I’m not!

Shut it down, and shut it down fast

I’m back in the dubious world of online dating. I gave it a rest for a few months, and then decided to give it another go. I was emailing back and forth with a really nice guy – who is half a continent away. I knew it was a no-go, but it was a good warm up.

For those of you not familiar with the general online dating scheme, it’s generally that you get certain matches based on how much you have in common (assuming that everyone has answered honestly). You look at those matches if you want, and decide if you want to indicate further interest.

One day last week, I got an email from a man whose profile I’d viewed. I wasn’t interested, so I just moved along. The thing that really got my guard up about his profile was the level of try-hard. Sure, you want to put your best face forward, but go too far and you’re going to be perceived as desperate at best and – shall we say – “off” at worst. If we’re doing a scale, 1 would be “Fuck you, because I don’t give a fuck,” 5* would be “I am a sane, rational human being that you may like,” and 10 would be, “NOTICE ME, PLEASE.” This profile was an 11, ergo the moving along. I didn’t think much of it, or him, afterward.

Within 24 hours, he sends me this long email going on and on about himself and about me (telling me that he could see deeper than my profile). I sent back what was basically, “Oh, thanks,” because I didn’t want to be rude; it must be a woman thing because I can’t think of one man who would reply rather than just hit the “Not Interested” button. I didn’t want to be a complete asshole because he’d put some effort into his email. This was a mistake.

He ran with it, and ran hard. Another long email followed. Comments on several of my photos followed. When I didn’t respond, another long email, completely oblivious to my disinterest followed. It became clear that I’d gotten myself into this, and I’d have to get myself out. I’ve found that boring the shit out of them usually works; they get bored and stop communicating, so I don’t have to sever the communication and risk being verbally abused. Everybody wins!

Gene Wilder as Condescending Willy Wonka: "Oh, so you're bored...Please tell us all about it on Facebook. It's so riveting.

My goal is to make him think exactly this.

So, following that third email, I answered again. I was so dull and blase that I wanted to clone myself just so I could roll my eyes and walk away from me. Didn’t work. He emailed again, and included that he was going to settle his mother’s business as she was entering a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s. That, I felt bad about and can certainly relate. So, I wrote back, wished him luck and – in order to make myself less palatable in another way – threw in a couple of sentences about how my mother’s illness brought out the worst in some people and caused a rift in the family. Bitching about family is a tried-and-true way to get some points deducted…at least it has been. I also answered his question about my job since it was an actual direct question.

Instead of being put off, he decided that I needed some mansplaining.

Graphic from Lost in Space, with the robot saying, "Danger Will Robinson."

Goddamn right.

Infraction 1: Your job seems busy, I guess. Well, if that’s what you like I suppose.

Excuse me? Yes my job is busy, and yes I do like it. Keep your side eye to yourself, chipmunk.

Infraction 2: I’m an only child, but this is how you should feel and this is how you should act regarding the family issue. This isn’t advice, though.

EXCUSE ME?! You don’t know me, you don’t know my history, and despite reading the two sentences that I wrote you, you have no idea about the severity of the situation. And you’re not giving me advice? Do you know what that leaves? It leaves you dictating how I should think and act. I know where that leads.

Closed fist with tape around each finger, spelling the word OBEY.

Here. It leads here.

Fuck. That. Shit. I did what I should have done initially and shut him the hell down. I wrote him and said that we will not be communicating any more, and it’s because he doesn’t know me, yet finds it acceptable to tell me how to be; I really only wanted to cuss him out. I also blocked him from contacting me again, because he would have certainly tried to make me see the error of my ways, and I am not playing that game.

My lesson is learned. No more polite and no more benefits of the doubt. I go with my first instinct from now on because she’s never wronged me before. It’s bad enough that I’m a Cassandra; I’m not going to Cassandra myself. Learn from my fail, and if you have a bad gut feeling about someone, roll with it.

* A 5 is as magical and rare as a rainbow-shitting unicorn.

Posts from the past

Not the past from this blog. Oh, no, no. Posts from on online “news” site that actively courts writers for specific subjects. (I wrote about cats: shocking, I know.)

The pay was next to nothing, but I was just starting out as a writer, blogs were in their infancy, and I figured that the exposure was worth something, right? So, I played nice and wrote up events for local shelters, featured adoptable cats, and was able to get the occasional informative piece in there. Over the years, the site tweaked their requirements: one day they stressed local, the next day they stressed newsworthy, and yet another day they’d stress original. Regardless of their requirements, all I saw from most other writers was uninspired dreck. DRECK, I tell you. The last straw came a few weeks ago.

In what is – in my view – a clear attempt to avoid paying its writers the measly fraction of a penny per article view, they had a team of douchenozzles go through everything everyone had ever written for the site and judge whether it fit the latest iteration of their requirements. The review douches unpublished everything they didn’t deem worthy, and the page views the articles had amassed were deducted from the current total of views. Those. Fuckers.

Tonight, I went through everything I wrote, copied everything that I wanted to replicate, and saved it. I’m going to rework them so they’re less newsy and more bloggy, and are just different enough to avoid a c&d. I anticipate the day I get an email threat that I’m going to lose my ability to publish for them with bated breath so I can respond with a simple and eloquent “suck it.”

The point of this meandering post is that you’re going to be seeing a lot about cats in the coming weeks. A lot. Please play along and enjoy your role in my sticking it to The Man.

Black and white cat on couch.

Hello. You’re going to be seeing an awful lot of me and my kind. I’d apologize, but I’m a cat and we’re not sorry for anything.