Monday, February 4, 2008

Psychotic Animals

Why is it that when pets enter my household they somehow develop a personality disorder? I’m sure I have absolutely nothing to do with this phenomenon. *ahem* It cannot possibly have anything to do with me. *ahem* Well, whatever the cause is, I haven’t figured it out yet. But it seems to be a pattern.

I have two cats. Of course they both have names. The oldest, who will be 12 years old next month, is named Alex. The youngest, who just turned 11 in December, is named Jordan. Here is a pic of them taken a little over 10 years ago, when they were both just kittens:

Even though we gave them names, neither of them know their names. From day one, Alex has been called Yellow Kitty, and Jordan has been referred to as Little One. I don’t really know how this came about. But I suppose identity crisis could be part of their problem.

Yellow Kitty is, kind of, yellowish in color I guess. I would say more on the very light tan side, but she does have a beautiful coat, and gets compliments from everyone who sees her. She is a pure bred Scottish Fold. If you’ve never heard of this type of cat before, they are named such because their ears are normally folded forward and then downward on their head, and because the first known Scottish Fold was spotted on a farm in Scotland in 1961. This type of cat was awarded championship status by the CFA in 1978, and has been cross bred with several American and British breeds. Scottish Folds come in two types: the folded ear and the straight ear. The also have widely spaced eyes and short noses. All Scottish Folds are born with straight ears, and then at about three to four weeks of age, their ears either fold or they don’t. In my cat’s case, hers did not fold. She was the only one of the litter who did not, and the only one, as my husband said, that didn’t look like it had run head-first, full-speed into a brick wall. Only cats with folded ears and direct Scottish lineage are allowed in the show ring. (Cats with straight ears are designated as breeders or pets.) This little tidbit amuses me, since the folded ears are produced by an incomplete dominant gene and are the result of a spontaneous mutation. Here is a good picture of a typical Fold:

Little One, unfortunately, does not have the bloodlines and prestigious history that Yellow Kitty has. She is just a tabby. She did come from an interesting mixed litter, however. Her mother was a black cat with green eyes. There were four kittens in the litter, three tabbies that were dark charcoal grey with white stripes and green eyes, and one white siamese with blue eyes. I really don’t get that mix at all. As Little One has gotten older, her color has darkened up quite a bit so that she is nearly all black along her tail and back, and onto her head. She still has the stripes on her sides, but she has somehow developed orange-colored fur mixed in around her face and on her stomach. So, it’s difficult to say what her mix is. She got her name because when I brought her home she was itty bitty. And I do mean tiny. When I saw her I wasn’t sure she was old enough to leave her mother. (The picture above was taken several months after I brought her home.) To give you and idea of her size, when I first brought her home she used to sleep with her whole body draped over my neck. From the tip of her nose to her hind legs she only wrapped about half way around my neck. So you see how little she was. Not so anymore. One of her personality disorders seems to be an eating disorder. Of course, we’re not talking about anorexia or bulimia here. Try the opposite. She’s a pig! Any time the bowl of food empties, and you go to refill it, she acts as if she’s been deprived of food for weeks. She runs full speed from wherever she’s been hiding/lounging, crying at the top of her lungs, and hovers around your legs until you’ve finished filling the bowl. And then she’ll stand there and chow down as if she were getting her very last meal.

Little One isn’t the only one with an eating disorder. Yellow Kitty seems to have one too. Hers is a little more on the strange side. See, she refuses to eat the food straight out of the bowl. In order to eat it, she must first scoop it out of the bowl with her paw and down onto the floor. Only then will she eat it. She does this one piece of food at a time. So you can imagine it takes her quite a while to eat. And no crumbs for her. No siree. Whole pieces only. The crumbs she just leaves on the floor for either Little One or us to clean up after her. She also won’t eat treats out of your hand, (if she eats them at all). You have to put them on the floor in front of her and then draw her attention to them somehow, or else she won’t eat them. She also has a similar situation that goes on with drinking her water. She takes probably a full minute, sometimes more, to properly position her body at the exact necessary angle to enable her to drink from the farthest corner of the bowl away from her without having to lower her head too far or having to turn it either direction in the slightest. Well, she’s old, you might say. Yeah, she’s old. But she has had no problem so far with mobility. Plus, she’s done this for as long as we’ve had her. The problem with this is that normally in her efforts to perfectly position herself, she has a tendency to spill the water. I am forever and a year walking through puddles of water from the cat dish in my sock feet.

In addition, both cats like to drink out of the faucet in the bathroom sink. Our current house has a pedestal sink, and we leave the water just barely dripping for them. However, due to her age or her laziness, I can’t decide which, Little One insists on using the toilet as a landing spot to jump up. After all, the toilet is only a mere foot and a half jump as opposed to that monster three foot jump from the floor to the sink. She’ll jump up on the toilet and then turn and jump into the sink. This causes a couple of issues. First, she has been known to not look before she leaps. This is unfortunate when we’ve had guests that don’t know or have forgotten the “toilet lid down” rule. Additionally, whenever the toilet lid cover is in the laundry, instead of attempting to make the jump onto the bare toilet lid, she stands at the door to the bathroom and cries for hours. You must understand how annoying this is, because this cat does not meow. She either squeaks in a conversational sort of way (sometimes as she’s preparing to jump, which I interpret to mean “I think I can, I think I can….”) or she makes sounds that resemble strangulated screams. These are usually done at the very loudest that she can muster. Now, why, you ask, will she not jump onto the toilet lid without the cover on it? Though I’ve never witnessed the occurrence, I suspect that she attempted it once, and, unable to gain any traction whatsoever, slid across the lid and head first into the wall next to the toilet. Ouch. Reminds me of Hammy in Over the Hedge once they’ve made it into Gladys’s kitchen.

As for Yellow Kitty, her disorder when it comes to the sink is that she doesn’t drink directly out of the faucet. Instead, she settles herself comfortably in the sink and does one of two things. She either sticks her paw in the water and then licks the water off of her paw, or she settles with her tail, back or some other body part under the running water, and proceeds to “clean” the water out of her fur.

As if all of this isn’t enough, both cats are kleptos. The good news is that they have their preferences and don’t usually stray. Little One steals pens or pencils and cross stitch floss, and Yellow Kitty rubber bands. They may vary their tastes a little: Little One sometimes will steal highlighters, crayons or anything that resembles a writing tool, and yarn; Yellow Kitty will also take twisty ties and scrunchies. (In fact, her favorite toy is a scrunchie I found on the floor in a classroom at the U about 10 or so years ago. I brought it home, washed it thoroughly and then wore it. She promptly jumped up on the couch behind me and took the thing right out of my hair with her mouth. From then on it was hers.) Recently Yellow Kitty has also developed a penchant for wooden beads and teeny tiny pieces of princess ensembles, some of which are about the size across of a grain of rice. I’m sure when we finally move we will be finding these items strewn everywhere under furniture and in closets where they have been batted until they couldn’t be retrieved. And, speaking of which, the only time Yellow Kitty ever makes any noise is when she’s playing with one of these items. The rest of the time she makes the movement with her mouth as if she’s meowing, but no sound comes out. (I just recently discovered that this may be a trait of her breed, so maybe she’s not really psychotic – at least on that account.)

Oh, of course, let’s not forget that Yellow Kitty has to stand on her hind legs and rub her front paws (in a movement that looks like she’s clawing, though she has no front claws) on any new box, bag, suitcase, grocery bag, etc. that comes into the house; and that Little One attempts to eat plastic grocery and shopping bags on a regular basis. Recently Yellow Kitty has taken to following us around the house any time there’s a sign of movement (such as 2:30 this morning when I was up with Sweetpea) and rubbing her body around our legs, or jumping in our laps THE SECOND we sit down. I know this sounds like normal cat behavior, but it is ALL the time. We can’t move a muscle without her being right there. And Little One will appear out of nowhere anytime she hears the clink of a spoon in a bowl because she thinks she will be getting tastes of ice cream. I swear, personality disorders.

And now the trend continues. For Easter last year, Sweetpea got a goldfish named Goldie. Unfortunately Goldie has made the trip to goldfish heaven. But when Goldie passed, we replaced him with a blue Beta fish. If I had known that the fish had a death wish, I would’ve looked for a Goldie replica and been done with it. When we first brought him home, Mr. Fish seemed normal enough. But it wasn’t too long before I noticed him lying on the bottom of the tank in a corner. I was first worried that I was going to have to tell Sweetpea that another fish had gone to heaven. I was then BENT because he is a Crown Tail Beta and cost me twice as much as a normal Beta, and three times as much as a goldfish would have. As it turned out, he was not dead. I still don’t know what was wrong with him, but I get the impression he was depressed. Silly, huh? I get that impression because he wouldn’t even come to the surface to eat, and the surface is generally where they hang out. In fact, he would just lie on the bottom and wait for the food to float down to him, and then only eat food within his reach instead of swimming to catch it. Not too long after that, he started hanging out at the surface again, which I took to be a good sign. However, he has taken an abnormal floating position that makes him look like he’s dead. He’s not floating upside down, but laying on his side on the surface and not moving at all. To get him to move you have to actually move the whole tank. Truly, I don’t know if he’s just lazy, or if he’s lying there thinking, “I wish I was dead. Somebody just kill me. I’d rather be dead than eat freeze-dried flakes of stuff that isn’t even found in nature. Just kill me now.” So far there have been no suicide attempts, even though we’ve had the lid off of the tank to clean it several times. But I’m just waiting for him to do something stupid, like throw himself into the filter when no one’s watching.

1 comment:

Wayfaringman said...

No, its definitely not you. It must be the cats. They are very intelligent creatures and historically have demonstrated the ability to train other creatures with lower intelligence levels (sometimes without the other creatures even being aware that they were being trained).

Keep an eye on SweetPea. If you find yourself doing inexplicable things just to please her, you may need to have her tested to see if she has inadvertently been contaminated with feline DNA.

Sometimes us grandparents dispair for our offspring (and their offspring).

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22 v6. King James Version

Train up a Janci in the way she should go: and when she is old(er), she will not depart from it. Proverbs 22 v6. King Cat Version
snicker, snicker

PS I would NEVER let a stupid cat rule my household. I just ... oh, just a minute! Psychic Moons (the cat) is hungry and I have to go open up a can of tuna fish for him. Gotta Go Now!!