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Cats in high places

Posted: - Modified: | cat

Some cats love high places. With a little planning, it’s easy to give kitty a great view. Here are Luke and Leia hanging out on top of the new cabinets we installed in the kitchen:

Cabinet cats

We’ve left enough space for them to stand up and walk around on those cabinets. How did they get up there? Easy. They jump on the chest freezer, then up and across a series of shelves, then down to the pantry, and then up to the cabinet. I’ll see about posting a video sometime. It’s a system similar to this one.

There are a lot of pet-related furniture hacks. We haven’t done anything nearly as serious – mostly just ready-made parts arranged to let the cats climb up and over our heads. Oh, except for the cat perch that we made using lumber, sisal rope, and leftover carpet.

Even without any special arrangements, cats will often find some way to amuse themselves. One of our cats loves hanging out on top of our laundry sorter, which is a covered set of three compartments with a canopy like that of a four-poster bed. I don’t know why it has a canopy. Maybe the designer has a cat who also likes high places.

Speaking of cat hacks, this video from Japan Probe (via Cute Overload) makes me think about breaking out the LEGO Mindstorms kit we have. 

legocat jpnprobe by peakfloods

Our cats are sweet and amusing, and they make us laugh much more often than they mess up. =)

Mr. Fluffers: Stray or not stray?

Posted: - Modified: | analysis, cat, decision, life

I have a soft spot for cats. Our cats are all indoor cats, never allowed out except on a leash. There are a number of neighborhood cats who turn up on our deck for food or company. Some of them are definitely housecats let loose to run outdoors. Others, we’re less sure about. Housecat or stray? It can be hard to tell. We feed them some food, set out water, pet them if they’re amenable. Sometimes they even get dishes of warm milk.

Of the cats who visit us, we think one cat is either stray or somewhat neglected. Mr. Fluffers (as J- has named him) is a collarless gray tuxedo medium-hair domestic cat and a regular visitor. Medium-hair cats need a lot of brushing to keep their coats unmatted, and Mr. Fluffers obviously hadn’t been brushed in a while. W- combed away many of the mats in his fur, and even trimmed the most stubborn ones. But if Mr. Fluffers is a stray or neglected cat, it would be good to have that situation sorted out.

We’ve been thinking of taking Mr. Fluffers to the vet or to Animal services to have him scanned for a microchip, but we need to think through the decision tree first.

  • If Mr. Fluffers has a microchip
    • If the registered owners are reachable
      • Hooray! Cat reunion, or at least clarity on the situation
    • If the registered owners are not reachale
      • See decision tree for no-microchip case.
  • If Mr. Fluffers does not have a microchip
    • Take him to Animal Services as a lost pet?
      • Owners who lost him may not claim him there, considering impounding fee
    • Check for spay/neuter and then release him back into the neighbourhood?

For Mr. Fluffers and other potentially stray cats, I’m tempted to try the first step of attaching a safety collar with a tag that says: Not a stray cat? Please call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX… =)

2011-04-10 Sun 11:18

Three cat life

Posted: - Modified: | cat, kaizen, life

We have three cats, which works out just right. Three laps, three cats, and two of them can play with each other if the third one’s hissy. So when it came time for their annual checkups, I figured I’d see what I could negotiate.

The vet had an appointment slot open for a checkup, so I scheduled one. While I was on the phone with the receptionist, I asked if I could bring two cats. “Yes, you can,” the receptionist said. So I asked if I could bring three. All right by them. Okay! No multi-pet discount, though. (I had to check. ;) )

We rounded up the cats, put them into their carriers, and put the carriers into the car. Leia and Neko were quiet, but Luke was doing his scared-cat meow. He’s usually the most easy-going of the three, but I guess he’s not used to travelling. At the vet, we shuffled the cats into the lobby and settled in for the wait.

The vet saw us after about fifteen minutes. We decided to put Luke up first, as he was the most likely to behave. It was a straightforward examination for him – a cat in beautiful health, although with some tartar building up on his teeth. Luke didn’t give the vet any trouble when it came to the vaccine shots.

Leia went next. She got all huffy when the vet was prodding her, but didn’t make a big issue of the vaccine.

Neko turned out to have gained two pounds in the year that she’s been in Canada (when this is about 28% of your previous weight, that’s something!). She’s a little more than half Luke’s size and will probably never get to that weight, but she’s been filling out nicely – going from a square to a trapezoid, we joke. Neko’s been snoring and making strange noises while breathing in, but the vet didn’t find anything obviously wrong with her, so he said it might just be a respiratory virus she picked up that’s not life-threatening. Okay.

Now time for Neko’s shots. The vet called in an assistant with thick work gloves that went past his wrists. “Just to make sure,” he said. We laughed knowingly, as we went through similar precautions whenever grooming Neko’s claws: leather gloves and long sleeves for W-, although I could generally get away with handling Neko with bare hands.

On the way home, with the three cats lined up on the back seat, I turned to W- and asked, “Do you feel like a soccer dad yet?”

Total time going to the vet and back: 2 hours. Definitely worth bringing the cats together.

Pirate kitties

| cat, sketches

imageOne of the best things about drawing is that you can draw things that don’t exist. Somehow your world splits into all these different possibilities. Even if you can’t quite capture what you hold in your mind, it’s there. Your rough sketches remind you.

And so: pirate kitties.

Drawing things you can’t see turns out to be surprisingly fun.

Cats: 0, toilet paper monster: 1; also, ArtRage and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro

Posted: - Modified: | cat, drawing, family, life, sketches


One time when I came home, W- showed me the picture he took of a toilet paper trail going to the laundry basket. The cats refused to testify, but this is what I think happened.

W- says the other drawing I made of Neko(cat)’s favourite positions for sleeping might be too personal, it being set in our room and all. I said Cat versus Human does it. He said my blog isn’t Cat versus Human. Which is true, because Cat versus Human is awesome and even has a book coming out, but not inarguable. I didn’t break out the persuasive techniques we learned about in “Thank You for Arguing,” though. Instead, I’ll tease you with the captions:

  • The Pillow Hog
  • The Balancing Sphinx
  • The Chaperone
  • The Heat-seeker

People who know Neko (our oldest cat) or who have cats of their own can probably figure out the rest.

I’m playing around with Artrage Studio Pro to see if I like it. I think I get more value from it than from a new laptop battery. Putting my computer into hibernation mode before moving between the kitchen and the living room adds maybe a minute; not a big cost. Being able to draw with 16 million colours and infinite erasures – now that’s something real. It makes drawing a whole lot more fun. I might give the Autodesk SketchBook Pro trial another spin, too. It might be better for pencils and clean illustrations.

Drawing is a great way to remember, particularly for things I’ve forgotten to take photographs of or for which I’ve lost the files. My stack of blank index cards is dwindling fast, and sketches pile up on my bedside table. This is fun. =)

Quick comparison with SketchBook Pro:


Smoothing is more controllable in Artrage, and I should check out the flood fills in that program too. I do like the pen gestures in Sketchbook Pro, though, and I’m sure they’ll be a lot more convenient with experience. I’m going to practise drawing in both some more. Who knows? I may even get both, if it turns out that they exercise my brain in different ways. =)

Drawing with my tablet

| cat, sketches


Drawing with my new tablet PC is lots of fun. Instead of being stuck in the basement or near a table large enough to hold a laptop and a regular tablet, I can draw pretty much anywhere – like the couch where Neko loves to nap.

There are plenty of drawing programs for tablets. Some mimic traditional drawing media: pencils, charcoal, even oil paint. Some let you use all sorts of effects. Others take a different approach to drawing, with lines and shapes that you can draw and edit. I like the latter more, because I can tweak my drawings until they look more like what I had in mind.

My favourite drawing program is Inkscape. Using it in full tablet mode isn’t as convenient as working on the Cintiq because I don’t have all the buttons I’m used to, but I’ve been working on my configuration to make it easier to draw. I use mouse gestures to switch between different tools so that I don’t have to click on the toolbox, and I’ve mapped one of the buttons on the tablet frame to “Delete”.

Growing up, I hadn’t really thought of myself as artistic. We’d fallen into the habit of labelling ourselves, I guess. My eldest sister and I were academically and technologically inclined. My middle sister was the one who was good at photography and drama and all that stuff. In high school, the split became even bigger as I compared myself with classmates who created beautiful landscapes and still-life drawings in art and drafting. Gadgets and presentations lured me back into drawing. I got a Nintendo DS to play games and draw on it, discovering along the way that drawing was a lot of fun. I sketched a presentation on it, and the overwhelming response to that told me I’d stumbled across something more fun than illustrating my presentations with impersonal stock photographs. I’m beginning to think of myself as someone who can draw–perhaps not amazingly well, but enough to make me and other people smile.

I have a feeling this will definitely be worth the money I set aside for it. =)

My cats have been teaching me how to draw

Posted: - Modified: | cat, sketches

My cats have been teaching me how to draw.

I want to learn how to draw well. I want to be able to mix imagination and reality like on Urban Sketchers. It looks like it will be fun, and it might even be useful. =)