Friday Faves – Stryker Loves Treats

Stryker has a slight food obsession.

Stryker has a slight food obsession.

Stryker has always had a compulsive relationship with food. He tried to eat a plate of lasagna when he was a kitten. He literally launched himself across the room at my plate. He also spent a summer stealing dog food and gained almost 7 pounds.

He’s still a big boy, but he’s pretty active, and he’s back on a healthier food regime. He outgrew his kitten asthma, and he doesn’t launch himself into plates. He has a strange affection for tomato/basil Wheat Thins, but that’s his primary vice now, and fortunately, we don’t have those around too often.

Since Stryker loves food, I was worried about the pet food recalls and treats made in China, so scoured the stores until I found something that sounded safe. We’re trying Waggers My Little Lion treats. That tuna and chicken are the prime ingredients makes this kitty mom happy, and it’s made in the U.S. by a Canadian company. I chose tuna flavor because I thought Snowbird might try them, but she still refuses to touch anything except dry kibble and canned tuna.

On the other hand, Stryker loves them! Here he is smiling and licking his lips after snack time.

Disclaimer: I purchased these treats myself for my pets. I received no payment or compensation for the endorsement of this product. I merely wanted to share information about a product that makes my pets happy.

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Christabelle the vegetarian cat can’t wait for summer gardens

Oh, pineapple, you look so good!

Oh, pineapple, you look so good!

Christabelle, my Manx cat, has always had a slight obsession with greenery. When she got big enough to jump up on countertops, she immediately made a beeline for the plant I had been tending for years. She tried chewing all of its leaves off, so I put it on top of the refrigerator; somehow she managed to climb up there after it.

My little vegetarian has made it impossible to keep live plants inside. She destroyed a plant I wanted for my apartment several years ago. I had to take it to my grandfather for intensive resuscitation, and when she would go to visit my mom when I would go out of town for extended periods, all plants had to be put away – far, far away – out of sight and out of smell because Christabelle can find the most ingenious ways to get to her little green “veggies” if she has the slightest inkling that there might be something edible in the room.

I am extremely happy that our house has a fireplace mantel and several tall pieces of furniture that she can’t climb, jump upon, or hop from one piece of furniture to higher ones until she reaches her plant. On more than one occasion, she tried to eat the roses that Chris sent me while we were dating, and I had to blockade my flowers with tall stacks of books. For some reason building fortress walls around a vase of roses takes some of the enjoyment out of getting flowers from a thoughtful man. At least here I can keep flowers from my husband safe and unnibbled on the mantel or on a high and out of reach shelf without having to build elaborate barricades of books to keep her away.

By all rights, Christabelle is one of the most prissy indoor cats ever, but ever since she discovered I attempt to grow flowers outdoors, she has decided that she needs to go outside whenever I go near the back door. She pretends that it’s not the plants she’s after by rolling around on the concrete for a few moments before marching over to the nearest green plant for a nibble, and when the urge strikes her, she lets us know when it’s time for her excursion by running to the door ahead of us and parading up and down the porch.

To appease her whims, I take her out on the back porch where it is quiet, and the herb garden grows right up against the porch edge. She always makes a beeline for the herbs. She seems to enjoy sniffing lemon basil, but to satisfy her green plant craving, she goes for shoots of grass that spring up along the porch edges.

Strangely enough, she doesn’t want to play in the grass or take walks in her favorite patches of green stuff. Christabelle is too prissy for that. She wouldn’t lower herself to eating anything she walks on, so she rarely leaves the porch or walkways unless she has to do so to reach a better patch of grass. Prissy thing that she is, she generally simply cranes her neck to see what she can nibble from the solidity of a clean concrete stoop.

Christabelle doesn’t stop herself at ornamental plants; she’s also a fan of vegetables. Fresh corn in the husk and spinach seem to be her favorites, but even pineapple is fair game, as long as it has its green top in place.

A few years ago, we received a box of garden fresh vegetables from a neighbor, and before we even had a chance to clean them and start up the grill, Christabelle set about picking her favorite snacks. Fortunately, it’s difficult to do much harm to an ear of corn still wrapped in its husk or an unpeeled pineapple, but the vegetarian cat needed to show us that she expected her own fair share.

She doesn’t seem to care much for broccoli. Once when I was trying to break her from eating my houseplants, I offered her several small pieces of broccoli, and she wouldn’t touch them. Like many kids, she actually hid them under the table.

Spinach, however, is one of her favorites. She will beg beside the table at dinnertime until I give her a piece of spinach from my salad. Being that she’s picky, a whole leaf won’t do; she wants it cut into bite-size pieces and placed in front of her like a proper princess. If I set a place for her at the dining room table with the rest of the humans, I think she would be perfectly content as long as I kept the greens coming.

Like most cats, she enjoys an occasional bite of chicken or tuna, but of all her options, she seems to prefer vegetables the most. I thought it might be an anomaly, and maybe all of my cats had a predilection for strange food, but none of the others are the least inclined toward leafy greens. My big, orange and white boy cat is much more like Garfield, and like his cartoon cousin, he has been known to wind up in a plate of lasagna – of course, he was a baby kitten with food issues, and he didn’t know better. (He is much better behaved now.) Spike is indifferent to most things unless they’re offered to her, and Snowbird turns her nose up at everything except canned tuna. Christabelle, therefore, is the only one who actually gets excited over fresh vegetables.

I like a good salad, and I certainly can’t wait for garden season to hit its peak, but I don’t think I’ll ever get quite as much joy out of the first harvest or a bouquet of roses as my very own vegetarian cat.

A tribute to a mouser, er, “snaker”: Missing Miss Purr, the dog-like cat

Purr brightenedMiss Purr thought she was a dog. Even though she grew up around cats and dogs, she seemed to identify more with the other species. She let herself in and out the doggy door, just like the other dogs, and she preferred licking people’s hands to cuddling and purring. Purr spent her days in a dog grooming shop, supervising from her perch on anyone’s shoulder. When she got bored, she would check her humans’ hair for “cooties.”

She learned how to open the screen door, and she would come and go at her leisure, but she made it a point to be present whenever anyone was eating cheese – cheese twists, cheeseburgers, pizza, it didn’t matter; she just wanted cheese. Unfortunately, she was the one and only lactose-intolerant cat I’ve ever met, and even the tiniest taste of cheese or dairy upset her stomach. She begged for it incessantly.

When she was little, she slept in a laundry hamper in my bedroom, but as she got older, she began spending more and more time outside. Eventually, she only came in at night to sleep. I wanted to take her with me when I moved to Mississippi, but I knew she would hate apartment dwelling. Christabelle, my Manx kitten, was much more in touch with her domestic side, and she rarely ventured past the threshold. Purr howled and pounded on the doors whenever she was locked in the house.

Purr was content at my mom’s house with the dogs, going and coming, and then she discovered mousing. As she grew up, she got in touch with that one aspect of her feline personality, and she loved to show off her kills. Sometimes, however, she didn’t quite kill her prey. My mom came home on more than one occasion to a stunned bird sitting in her kitchen or a startled mouse running through the living room. The worst were the snakes. I don’t know how she got them in the doggy door, but mom found two and I discovered a third one behind a cabinet.

One day, I was cleaning, and I saw something peek out from behind the cabinet. It looked like a mouse tail, so I finished my vacuuming and called Chris to come get rid of the mouse at Mom’s house. He pulled the cabinet away from the wall, and we were greeted by an ugly surprise: the three-foot long snake began lashing at us as we moved its hiding place. Chris got a hoe, a bag, and reinforcements to help him remove the snake. I picked a vantage point a safe distance away and let the men handle the wrangling of the serpent. It was less than cooperative, and it didn’t leave in one piece, but that was Purr’s last chance. Either she could go home with me immediately, or she would meet with an “unfortunate accident.”

We took her home, and she did everything in her power to prove to us that she hated being confined indoors, but we didn’t have a doggy door and had no intention of installing one. Where Mom has a fenced yard with a deck that sits 10 feet off the ground, our porch is level with the ground and very inviting to all manner of opossums, raccoons, and squirrels.

For the first time ever, Purr found that she was an exclusively outside cat. Most of the time, she loved her freedom, but from time to time, she would pound on the door or window to see if I had changed my mind yet about installing her doggy door. She played in the yard and rambled far into the woods, but I never saw her go near the street, and she usually came when I called her. Almost weekly, she would bring me a present: a mole one week, a bird the next, and sometimes even a snake.

After awhile, a little black tomcat appointed himself Purr’s new best friend. She had had cat friends before, and her best buddy in the dog grooming shop was a huge orange marmalade cat named Sundance, but Howler was her first wild friend. It took over a year of constant feeding and reassurance before Howler let me pet him, but late last fall, he finally decided he enjoyed attention just as much as Purr.

Howler would leave for weeks at a time, and suddenly he would show up again as if he had never been gone. Purr usually stuck around closely, but during a January snowstorm, she disappeared for three weeks. Following the May floods, Howler came home muddy and thin as a rail after a lengthy absence. I never knew where they went, but they always knew their way home.

During another night of storms, I checked on them both. Purr was curled up in a chair and Howler was finishing the last of the cat food I had put out for them earlier in the day. The storm cleared Sunday morning, and neither was around. When I started to leave home just before noon, I found Purr. She had been hit by a car across the road from my house. It was the first time I ever saw her anywhere near the road. I got her taken care of and buried in my family’s own little pet cemetery, and when I returned home that evening, I found Howler a mere 30 feet away, also struck by a car. It was too dark and stormy to do anything for him right them, and when I got up Monday morning, there was no sign of him.

I’ve never had good luck with indoor-outdoor or exclusively outside cats, but I thought these two were different. I thought Purr, at least, had sense enough not to go near the road. For several years when I was growing up, every Halloween, one of our barn/carport cats got ran over. They were too wild and plentiful to lock in the house, but I have dreaded Halloween ever since. Now, my two furry friends met the same fate on the same day, and I can’t imagine how that “coincidentally” happens.

I know cats tend to run out in front of cars, but it doesn’t hurt to slow down when driving through residential areas – even ones out in the country. They aren’t just animals, to some of us they’re friends and companions. So drive carefully, and be aware – you never know when a cat, dog, or kid might cross the street without looking.