TBR List Declutter, Issue 41

Tangent: The Best Defense

My cat, Owen, turned eighteen this past February. He’s starting to look like a bit bony and a little scruffy, he sleeps even more than he used to, and sometimes I’m sure either his eyesight or his reasoning power aren’t what they once were. But he also plays enthusiastically with the laser pointer and wakes us up by racing up and down the hallway at 2:30am, sounding a lot like a tiny horse on our wood floors. He’s elderly, but he’s spry, and even veterinarians are surprised when I tell them Owen’s age.

At his age, Owen has had a lot of adventures. He’s lived in four different states and ten different houses, he’s traveled cross-country by car thrice, and he’s been both a sidekick and an only cat. San Diego, with its ample sunshine and mild temperatures must have seemed to him an ideal setting for a quiet retirement.

Until he met Fluff Face.

Fluff Face is a big Maine Coon that, from our perspective, belongs to one of our neighbors. From Fluff Face’s perspective, however, it’s the neighborhood that belongs to him.

For the first month we lived in this house, we saw Fluff Face lounging on driveways, skulking around bushes, strutting atop fences. My children tried a few times to befriend him, even giving him the name “Fluff Face,” but he preferred to keep to himself.

During the same time, Owen got into the habit of walking around our new house, yowling mournfully. It was an awful, deep-throated sound, different than the noises we’d heard from him before. He would yowl late at night or in the early morning, wandering through each room. He would also yowl while eating his canned food in the late afternoon. Most times I could call to him, “Owen, you’re okay, buddy!” and he would respond with a plaintive meow and then go lie down to sleep. We couldn’t figure it out. Was he in pain? Did he miss the old house? Had he just lost his marbles?

Then the other evening we heard a awful caterwauling coming from outside. I found Owen with his tail puffed out, staring through the glass patio doors into the darkness and making a kind of coughing sound. I turned on the patio light, and right on the other side of the glass sat Fluff Face, growling and hissing at Owen.

Owen’s wandering and strange behavior suddenly made a lot more sense. He was trying to defend his territory against this external threat. Thank goodness he’s long-neutered and did so by yowling rather than by spraying. Knock on wood, of course.

After that, we’ve let our formerly indoor-only cat out on supervised visits into our fenced backyard. We make sure neither Fluff Face nor rattlesnakes are out there beforehand, but then we let Owen mosey out so he can sniff every inch of the perimeter, sit on the cement edge of the flower bed staring regally into the middle distance, and then fall asleep in the sunshine.

It must be a good defense. Since Owen started going outside Fluff Face hasn’t been back. My spouse and I have also been squirting Fluff Face with vinegar water every time we see him in the yard, but I’m sure it’s Owen’s diligent defending that’s keeping our yard safe from Fluff Face.

Visual Interest:


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Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.


Titles 531-550:

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Dewey’s April 2017 Readathon Wrap-Up

Here I am, another readathon in the books. So to speak.

I ended up reading from 8am Saturday until about noon on Sunday, with a 7-hour break to sleep and do some yoga. After I’d stayed up an hour past my bedtime, I considered going the distance, but my cat was too exhausted to continue.

Readathon Cat April 2017

During the official readathon period, I completed one novel, the audiobook of Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl. During my unofficial morning session, I finished Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother.

There’s a closing survey, but I don’t feel like completing it this time around. I still love the readathon, though, and definitely plan to participate in the next one, coming up on October 21, 2017.

An Open Letter to My Cats

Dreaming of throwing up on the brand-new toy room rug.

Dear Maurice and Owen,

I trust this letter finds you well. I know that the recent move has been a bit of an adjustment, but you seem to be growing accustomed to your new surroundings. I’ve noticed that you, in fact, quite enjoy watching the neighborhood wildlife from the screened porch. I’m happy that’s worked out so well for you. I enjoy that room, too.

You might have noticed that our new home has a lot less carpeting than our former residences. As a matter of fact, we only have four rugs here, the toy room rug, the rug that runs along the hallway and down the stairs, and two small kitchen rugs. Aside from that, it’s all hardwood, tile, and linoleum/laminate/other synthetic-type floor materials.

Which leads me to wonder: why, with all of these hard floors, must you always throw up on the rugs?

I understand that your method of cleaning yourselves causes an accumulation of fur in your digestive tract, which leads to the yarking up of hairballs. I accept this, and as a cat owner I expect to clean up yark. But with as little floor surface as we have covered, it really takes some effort to vomit on a rug. I just don’t understand why, when you’re feeling a little queasy, you would go out of your way to find a rug on which to disgorge.

I was thinking that, maybe next time you feel the need to eruct, you might consider spewing on a non-carpeted surface? It would be easier clean-up for me and less travel time for you. Plus you get the added benefit of watching us contort ourselves when we’re still bleary-eyed from sleep and we don’t notice the yuck on the floor until we’ve stepped barefoot in it and find ourselves sliding across the floor. Doesn’t that level of entertainment make it worth it to yark on a non-carpeted surface?

So please just consider this little change. The humans who share your home would be so grateful if you would.

If, in your pondering, you start to think that perhaps you could stop vomiting on the rugs only if you stopped using the litter boxes, please disregard this request. There are worse things to find on the rugs than vomit.