Cat-less in Virginia

sorelaxed     2012catmay     2012catapril

happykatkindle2     janashes3

Although my parents always had a dog, I chose to celebrate my independence many years ago by getting my first cat. Taphne. I’d always liked the name Daphne, and this little lady, who liked to wake me up by standing on my chest and licking me on the nose, was a tabby. So “tabby” plus “Daphne” equals “Taphne.” Hmm. No wonder the spell checker is going crazy!

I don’t recall what happened to Taphne other than an unwanted pregnancy when someone kept her for me once, but my first wife and I had a number of cats (only one or two at a time, though, and frequently with one of a long line of dogs). I made sure to end up with Erica, a tuxedo cat, when my wife and I parted ways.

When Kathleen and I got married, she brought Dirk with her. He and Erica got along reasonably well, although she wasn’t thrilled at having to share the house with a stupid boy cat after being top dog–uh, top cat–for a year. She was a bit of a snob, anyhow, and Dirk was friendlier than he was intelligent.

After Erica died, we got Ashes from one of the local humane societies. We didn’t name him–his “foster mother” had done that–but the name fit. When he was young, he had some tiny splotches of gray on the top of his head, but they disappeared as he got older.

He fit into the household reasonably well with Dirk, but Dirk died eventually, too.

The years passed. We still had Ashes, but Kathleen and I both wanted a dog. My ex- and I had had a miniature dachshund years earlier, and that’s what I expressed a strong preference for while we were researching possibilities. Remembering what Cindy (she was actually AKC-registered as Cinnamon Lady XIX) had been like, I also requested that we name the new puppy Happy even before we met her. I knew the name would fit, and I was right.

I am occasionally.

We weren’t concerned about how Happy and Ashes would get along, but we weren’t prepared for their strange relationship. Happy is typically very friendly, and she couldn’t understand Ashes’ standoffishness. Periodically, however, Happy would lie down on her back and allow Ashes to bite her. Usually on a pinch of lose skin.

We shrugged. Ashes wasn’t actually hurting Happy in spite of an occasional yelp.

But what became a frustrating problem was the fact that–whenever we would attempt to give Ashes some loving attention–Happy would come along at top speed to join in the fun. And inadvertently chase Ashes off. More than once we would pet Ashes when he was lying on top of the rocking chair when Happy came charging along, wiggling with excitement. Even two relatively small animals could knock that rocking chair over with that much momentum.

There were other issues. Like Ashes wanting to eat breakfast at least thirty or forty minutes before we got up. And that was on week days! Use a self feeder? Ha! Not with Ashes already being overweight. So overweight that when he used my stomach as a springboard–with claws he wouldn’t allow us to cut–he left scratches on me and puncture marks in my clothes. Not good.

I’d been wanting to find him another home  for quite a while, but only within the past week has Kathleen agreed. Practically as soon as we posted Ashes’ availability on Facebook, we heard back from a friend who was vacationing in Canada at that time, but who’d planned to get a cat when she got home. And it didn’t matter that ours was eight years old.

Ashes is in a good home now, and Happy is happy being top dog. Much to our amazement, she doesn’t show any signs of realizing that her old playmate is no longer around. And we can sleep until the alarm goes off!

We feel good about our decision.

What about you? Have you ever needed to get rid of a pet? How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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Best regards,

The Loudest Cat in Town


If you’re a cat lover, you probably looked at that picture and thought, “How sweet.” If you’re not one, you probably won’t read the rest of this post. And that’s okay. Ever since getting a dog to replace one of our two cats, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that cats are not as ideal as I’d previously thought.

Ashes, shown above in a recent pose, came from a feral background. Rescued and put up for adoption, this white oriental cat–he looked a bit like a Siamese cat then–had gray specks on his neck when he was young. Hence “Ashes.” As he’s grown older, those specks have disappeared.

But who’s going to rename a cat just because the name doesn’t fit anymore? At least the dog’s name–Happy–still fits. But we’re forever trying to refer to her (Happy) as him and to him (Ashes) as her.

But that has nothing to do with the “Loudest Cat in Town.”

I’m not sure when it started–probably soon after getting Happy, though–but Ashes started begging to be fed. I say “begging,” but “yowling” is a more accurate description. And he started yowling for breakfast anywhere from 4:00  a.m. on.

To appreciate our problem, you need to understand several things. We get up at 6:30 on weekdays, 7:30 on Sundays, and whenever on Saturdays. I have my wife’s permission to wake her by 9:00 since I’m always starving by then and she’s the breakfast cook on weekends.

The other thing you need to understand is the fact that Ashes is quite a hunk. Literally. Yes, his fur is thick, but he’s pretty weighty, and we’re determined not to let him get any bigger. Especially since he likes to use our stomachs as springboards getting from one place to another.

So here we were facing (or trying unsuccessfully to ignore) the yowling of a cat before we were ready to get up and to give him less food than he had been accustomed to. Not a great combination.

We finally changed his suppertime from 4:15 p.m. to 8:00. That helped some, since that meant he ought not to be nearly as hungry in the early morning. But it didn’t help enough. So we started giving him his breakfast food along with his supper meal. Two scoops of food rather than just one. That worked wonders.


But he still expected food at 6:30 when we gave Happy her breakfast, and he also wanted food at 4:15 when we fed Happy her evening meal. This fellow wanted it all!

When I say, “He wanted,” I mean he started meowing more loudly than any other cat I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure he doesn’t do it louder than Happy barks, and that’s really saying something.

We finally started giving him a small handful–I’m guilty of giving him more than Kathleen does–each time we feed Happy, and he seems to be satisfied with having two itsy-bitsy meals a day plus the one that’s double-sized.

And that’s the way things are now. Ashes jumps up on the bed and starts meowing closer to 6:30, but still earlier than anyone wants to get up and deal with it.

On weekends, whoever gets tiredest of listening to him gets up, feeds both animals, and then puts Happy out. Even with waiting for Happy to come back in, that doesn’t normally take more than ten minutes or so, and sometimes the person who gets up to feed the animals is able to get back to sleep.

In the evenings when Kathleen is crocheting and I’m reading or writing and soft music is playing in the background, we can count on Ashes to start his evening yowl anywhere from 6:55 on. Fortunately he does stop for a while, but not until he’s worn out our ears and our patience.

Why can’t this beautiful animal have a soft meow like a normal cat?

Oh, well. Things are as they are, and Kathleen assures me that having Ashes’ vocal cords removed would constitute animal cruelty. I’m not so sure.

What about you? Do you have any animal tales (tails?) you’d like to share in a comment?


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

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Best regards,


How Much Solitude Is Enough?

AshesRogerChair   HappyNetbook   HappyRogerLegs   HappyAshesChair2

My wife, Kathleen, flew to Memphis today to visit her aged parents. We decided it would be simpler for me to stay home with the animals, Ashes the white cat and Happy the miniature dachshund. She won’t be rooming by herself at her parents’ place, though. Her older daughter arranged a few days of vacation time to join her mother and grandparents.

The good news is I enjoy solitude. Those of you who’ve been following this blog may recall the post I wrote about enjoying peace and quiet–something Kathleen and I both like.

But solitude is different. It’s the state of being alone.

Okay, so Happy is sitting in my lap at the moment with her chin across my arm. And Ashes has spent most of the day on top of the rocking chair cushion–right behind my head. So I guess I can’t really claim to be alone.

I can’t say that the animals do a whole lot of talking. Not to me, anyhow. Happy barks at Ashes when she wants (and can’t get) his attention. And Ashes meows ferociously when he wants to be fed. Both animals seem to have the afternoon routine down pat.

But their internal food clock is always off by thirty to forty minutes. To try to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the morning, I hold off feeding them until 4:15.  By that time, Happy goes to the door and scratches as if she needs to go outside. As soon as I get up, she heads to her food bowl.

Let’s go back to the original question. How much solitude is enough? And does the company of my two animals preclude my having solitude?

I’ll admit one thing. I’d be a lot lonelier without them. But I still miss Kathleen.

It’s not that I can’t take care of myself. I’ll start fixing sloppy joes for supper in a few minutes, and tomorrow is my normal laundry day. I was a bachelor for a few years before marrying my first wife and didn’t suffer too many ill effects from it.

But a guy does get used to the company, I admit. And the animals don’t cut it. Their company just isn’t the same as Kathleen’s.

I may not have reached the “too much solitude” state yet, but I’ll get there long before Kathleen gets home next week.

Some people can’t stand being by themselves. Are you one of those, or do you enjoy being by yourself? How about leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.


If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

I have another blog–“As I Come Singing”–where I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Click here to visit the blog. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,