Book Review: Dear Sparkle – Advice from One Cat to Another by Sparkle, the Designer Cat

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There are lots of books on the market that give advice on how to care for cats, provide information on cat behavior, and address other aspects of living with a cat. Dear Sparkle:  Advice from One Cat to Another, authored by Sparkle The Designer Cat and edited by Janiss Garza, is unique in this genre.  It combines solid advice with humor, and gives us an insider’s look into what and how cats think.  Sparkle  is a seven-year-old pedigreed Somali who speaks out on anything from how to address trouble with family members (both human and feline) to hairballs to culinary delights and disappointments.  A significant portion of the book is devoted to addressing questions about human foibles.  Writes Sparkle:  “Humans are complicated beings, and very hard to train.”

Sparkle, the internet’s premier cat-to-cat advice columnist, brings her feline point of view to help her fellow cats figure out human behavior and deal with the day-to-day frustrations that living with humans can bring for a cat.

Some samples of the kinds of questions Sparkle answers are:

My human used to give me treats at dinnertime, but the vet put me on a diet and now I’m starving!  How do I get these treats back?

A tom cat invaded my backyard and now my roommate hates my guts!  What happened, and what do I do about it?

My human brought home a snotty new kitten – how do I show him who’s boss?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, often laugh out loud funny book filled with practical information presented in a unique style.

And if you can’t get enough of Sparkle’s advice from the book, you can visit her on her website at http://www.sparklecat.com.

Sparkle is a kind-hearted and generous cat and wants to help kitties who are less fortunate than she is.  For the rest of the year, she will donate $1 for every book sold through her website to Tabby’s Place, a cat sanctuary in Ringoes, NJ.  For more information about Sparkle’s mission to help Tabby’s Place, click here.

Amber’s Mewsings: Amber Gets a Check Up

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You may remember that I’ve managed to keep the dreaded check up at bay for quite some time, but – even a powerful creator cat like me can only do so much when she has a caring mom who wants to be sure I’m healthy and stay healthy.  So Wednesday, Fern, our vet, came to the house, and this time, I knew it wasn’t just for a visit with Mom.  I knew immediately what was up when Fern didn’t even come upstairs, but headed straight for Mom’s Reiki room.  That’s where they do my check ups.  Go figure – I guess Mom thinks the energy there is good so it’ll make it less stressful for me.  Yeah, nice try.  So Fern heads downstairs, and Mom grabs me and carries me downstairs – never a good sign.  I made my displeasure known, but did she let me go?  Of course not.  She kept telling me “it’s okay, sweetie.”  Sure it is – do YOU think it’s okay when someone comes at you uninvited and pokes and prods you, and then sticks sharp needles into you and steals your blood???

Anyway.  Mom puts me on the Reiki table, and Fern pretends she’s petting me.  I know petting from what she was doing!  She squeezed and poked at all my organs.  Then she took this weird metal disk and put it against my heart.  The disk had rubber tubes attached that went into Fern’s ears.  Humans are so weird.  And then she had the audacity to look into my mouth!  Apparently she didn’t like what she saw there, because she said I have to have what they call a dental – an innocent little word for me being put in my carrier, having to ride in Mom’s car to the cat hospital, and being poked, prodded and stuck with needles while I’m there.  Granted, then I get to take a nice long nap, but when I wake up, my mouth feels icky and I feel out of sorts and groggy and just really weird.  It always takes the rest of the day for me to feel normal again.  But I know Mom stays with me through the whole thing and she holds me while I wake up, and she takes me home as soon as she can.  Mom has explained to me before how important it is that we keep my teeth and gums healthy, and I understand it – but I don’t have to like it!

But back to the check up – even after checking out my teeth, Fern still wasn’t done, sigh.  I knew the worst part was yet to come.  Mom kept hugging me and telling me it was okay.  I growled and grumbled – I know Mom meant well, but I’m not an idiot!  So then Mom put me into this seriously uncomfortable position and held on to my front leg, hard, and Fern came at me with a needle.  I tried to be good, but it really hurt, and I let loose with a loud scream.  I didn’t want to, because I know it upsets Mom when I cry, but yowza!  After what seemed like an eternity, while I was watching my precious blood trickle into two small tubes, Fern said the magic words.  “We’re done!”.  Mom held on to me for a little bit longer – I know it was to make sure that my leg wouldn’t continue to bleed where they stuck the needle in me, but I was so ready to just get out of that room and away from them!  I know why it’s important that they get my blood, Mom wrote an article about it a while back, but I sure wish it didn’t hurt so much.  And of course the results were all perfect, just like I am.  I could have told them that they would be without having to endure all that poking and prodding and being stuck with needles.  Humans!

In Mom’s defense, once Fern left, I got lots of treats, and I know she felt really bad that she had to put me through this.  And I do understand that it’s important to make sure that I’m healthy.

Anyway – that’s all I have to say for now.  That dental thing is supposed to happen in two weeks.   You can be sure I’ll have a thing or two to say about that!

Bentley Wins Best In Show

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Guest post by Sharon Eisen, DVM

I’m not supposed to like showing cats.  I’m supposed to tend to the needy, the homeless, and the ailing and sick cats of the world.  That’s what my conscience tells me.  But my ego tells me otherwise.  I want to have the most beautiful cat of them all.  My pride wants everyone to ooh and ahh over my cat; the cat that I brought into the world by carefully selecting sire and dam, putting them together to make a most beautiful kitten and then, cat.  I apologize to all the unwanted cats in the world and I swear, I love them too.

So, when Bentley, my most beloved British Shorthair cat won a best in show at the Westchester cat show, I found myself crying and feeling an almost embarrassed joy.  The judge held Bentley way up in the air so everyone could see him.  She turned him sideways, stretched him out and described the attributes that made this lilac colored cat the best cat of the show.  I stood in the crowd with all the others, admiring his beauty, proud and swelling inside, knowing he was mine.  And then, he looked at me with his Cheshire grin and what I saw in his eyes was, “Look mom, we did it!”

Bentley kittenThat was in 1999.  Bentley went on to become a supreme grand champion cat, the highest level of achievement in the cat fancy.  He was an international winning cat, appeared in print ads, TV commercials and even had a gig on animal planet.  He loved every second of his life.  He was the only cat I ever knew that posed for the camera.  He delighted being in the limelight and loved attention he received.

When I reflect back on the day that Bentley won Best In Show, I feel what I felt at that moment all over again. Sometimes it makes me cry from both sadness and joy.  That day is a gift, a treasure that I will always have.  Bentley taught me that’s it is okay to enjoy the guilty pleasures of life.

Bentley died at the age of seven, succumbing to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease I didn’t know he had until he went in to congestive heart failure at the age of two.  He lived five and a half more good years.  And that was his other life lesson to me.  Live in the moment; make memories and love with abandon.

I miss you.

Your greatest admirer,

Sharon Eisen D.V.M.

Dr. Sharon Eisen has been a practicing veterinarian since 1984. In 1991 she realized her dream of opening a feline-only practice in Brookfield, Connecticut. The Complete Cat Clinic was the very first cats-only hospital in the state. While owning and operating the clinic, Dr. Eisen has also been breeding cats for the past 15 years.  Some of her cats have appeared on television and have been top-ranking show cats with many ribbons to their credit; and others have simply been beautiful and treasured companions.  In addition to devoting her career to the care and wellbeing of cats, Dr. Eisen has an abiding interest in the human/animal connection. She has conducted programs in elementary schools to teach students about pet care.  She has led pet bereavement groups and she has brought cats and dogs into nursing homes to serve as pet therapists.

Cat Tales bookFor many years, Dr. Eisen has wanted to share the wonderful and compelling storiesof the cats she’s encountered. The time has finally come.  Her book Cat Tales – True Love Stories will take you on a journey of the heart and mind.

Dr. Eisen lives in Danbury, Connecticut with her husband and four cats: Paco, Hershey, and Rosie and Pawlie Newman.

For more information about the book, please visit: http://www.cattalesbook.com

Winter Health Tips for Your Pets

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Do you enjoy winter and love to play in the snow, or would you rather curl up in front of a warm fireplace with your favorite feline?  Regardless of your preferences for this cold season, being aware of the challenges this time of year can bring for your pets can help keep them safe all winter long.

1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

2.  During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm – dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him in tip-top shape.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Poison Control Center for more information.

Amber’s Mewsings: Thanksgiving Reflections

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got their fill of turkey!  I got a special yummy Thanksgiving meal yesterday, and for once, Mom didn’t spend most of the day on the computer, so it was a really good day.  I’m so thankful for my mom –  she’s the best.

I also know that this holiday weekend is difficult for her this year.  It was this time last year that my sister Buckley passed away.  The actual anniversary is tomorrow, but I know Mom has been thinking about this time last year for the past few days, remembering Buckley’s last days with us in physical form, and I know that it makes her a little bit sad.  Humans make such a big deal out of this death thing.  I miss my sister’s physical presence, but I still talk to her all the time.  She never left us, and she comes and visits all the time.  She and I have a lot to talk about.  We talk about what it’s like for her to be in the non-physical realm, about how happy we are that Mom’s book about Buckley is so well-received, and about how we can help Mom.  Mostly, what we want Mom, and all other humans, to know is that nobody ever really dies.  We just change form.  The connection that we had while we were together in physical form continues beyond this lifetime.  The love never dies.  It’s just that when humans are so sad about not having a loved one with them in physical form, they tend to disconnect from that part of themselves that allows them to feel their connection with something greater than themselves.  Humans have different terms for that – some call it Source, some call it Spirit, some call it God.  Cats don’t really think about what the right word for it is.  We *are* it.  And it’s through that close connection that we are able to communicate with those who’ve passed over into the non-physical dimension.  We cats know, and have always known, that the bond that exists between us and our humans is unbreakable.

And that’s why I’m the wise one – because I know stuff like this.  It just takes humans a little bit longer to get it.  My mom is pretty evolved as far as humans go (and that’s a high compliment, coming from me!), but even she gets caught up in the sadness of missing Buckley.  Sometimes, Buckley and I feel like we need to hit her over the head with evidence of Buckley’s presence, and we have fun messsing with her head because she doesn’t always get it right away.  But she’s coming around.

So Mom and I are spending this weekend remembering Buckley.  The photo above was taken during one of our morning play sessions.  I do miss those.  But we still play together – it’s just different now.

To all the humans who are missing a feline  or other furry companion this holiday season:  find quiet time, be still, and listen with your heart.  Your departed friend is never far from you.

Thanksgiving ABC’s 2009

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Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, but it is also a time for reflection on the many things we have in our lives that we are grateful for.  Gratitude is a wonderful way to raise your vibration and shift your energy.  The vibration of gratitude is a powerful force.  It can shift your mood and your thoughts from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance.

I’ve come up with a whole alphabet of things I’m grateful for this year:

A – Amber, for her loving, wise and gentle presence in my life, for being the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and for reminding me to slow down and appreciate each moment.
B – Buckley, for opening my heart and changing my life in ways I never could have imagined, and for inspiring me to write her story so that her lessons can be shared with the world.
C – Cats – I can’t imagine a world without these wonderful creatures.
D – Dogs – my friends’ dogs, my Reiki clients – dogs are so much fun to be with.
E – Eating out – one of the great pleasures of life, especially when shared with good friends.
F – Friends – I am richly blessed in that area.  Since I no longer have any family left, my friends are my family.
G – Google – what did we ever do without it?
H – Health.  The fact that mine is excellent.
I –  Inner peace – when you have it, life makes sense.
J – Joy – it’s what we all strive for.  There is joy in life’s small moments, as well as in the big ones.  I’ve had both this past year – in spades.
K – Kindness – being kind to others, whether human or animal, is what matters most.
L – Law of Attraction.  It makes everything so simple.
M – Music.  Everything from classical to hard rock.
N – Novels – the best way I know of to escape reality for a little while at a time.
O – Openness – being open to new experiences allows life to grow and expand beyond self-imposed limits.
P – Passion – especially the fact that I finally discovered mine.
Q – Quiet time.  It’s essential for my personal balance and well-being, and I make sure to carve out time for it each and every day.
R – Reading.  I usually have at least two or three books going at the same time.
S – Social Media – I’ve made so many wonderful new friends, and reconnected with old ones.  What an amazing world we live in where keeping in touch is made so easy.
T – Tea on a cold day.  Current favorites:  Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice and Mandarin Orange Green Tea.
U – Unlimited possibilities – the fact that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
V–  The color violet – this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me!
W – Walking.  It’s the one exercise I’ve stuck with consistently for decades.  I love the combination of exercise and contemplation.
X –  No matter how hard I try, I can’t think of anything starting with X!
Y – You!  My readers, my friends – thank you for all you bring into my life.
Z –  Z-Rock (the tv show) and the real life band ZO2 whose lives the show is based on.

Writing this blog post and coming up with this list turned out to not only be fun, but a very powerful example of how focusing on gratitude can shift your vibration.  I encourage you to consider making a gratitude list for yourself this Thanksgiving.  What does your Thanksgiving alphabet look like?

Amber and I would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Pets

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ASPCA experts offer these tips for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Sage Advice

Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delicious, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs-they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse-an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure a happy and healthy Thanksgiving for all family members, human and furry!

Book Review: Animal Magnetism by Rita Mae Brown

animalmagnetismAnimal Magnetism is the first memoir by Rita Mae Brown since Rita Will – Memoir of a Literary Rabble-RouserIn sometimes funny, always heartwarming stories, Brown introduces us to the animals that have touched her life:  Franklin, a parrot with a wicked sense of humor; Suzie Q, the horse who taught her the meaning of hard work; Baby Jesus, a tough tiger cat from New York City with an attitude to match; and of course, Sneaky Pie, who needs no introduction to the legions of fans of the Sneaky Pie Brown murder mystery series.  Brown shares stories of these animals, and the lessons they taught her.  She makes no secret of the fact that she prefers the company of animals to people.  As Brown explains, “There’s no such thing as a dumb dog, but God knows there are continents filled with dumb humans.”  By observing the animals on her farm and in her life, Brown has gained insights into herself and other human beings that she shares in her inimitable prose.

As someone who just published a book about the lessons one little cat taught me, this book resonated with me on many levels, but at times, I felt a bit lost in the author’s lengthy descriptions of fox hunting.  However, even though this is not a topic that is close to my heart, I was captivated by the passion with which Brown describes it, and I gained a better understanding of the practice in the process.  You know you’re reading a book by a great writer when they can make you keep reading about a topic you didn’t think you really cared about!

I loved these words from the book, that perfectly summarize what the book is all about: “I hope you are lifted by the love of a cat, dog, horse, even a parrot… More, I hope you recognize it and return it. … We are all in this life together.  We need one another.”

A wonderful book for all animal lovers, as well as fans of Brown’s Sneaky Pie Brown and Sister Jane novels.

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels–Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death–as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Tips to Control the Holiday Food Madness

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While these kitties are dreaming of their turkey dinner, I thought this would be a good time for some helpful advice for us humans as we enter the holiday food season.  Today’s guest post gives lots of helpful  hints on how to get through the season without letting go of all of the good eating and exercise habits we’ve cultivated throughout the year.

And coming Monday on The Conscious Cat:  how to keep your pets safe from holiday foods that may not be good for them!

Guest Post by Woody McMahon

No Need to Struggle

If you are struggling with food or your weight, the next few weeks can be a bit overwhelming. This is the season for food overload with all the football games, Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas and New Years all lined up in a row. Just makes your mouth water doesn’t it? This is a challenging time for even for the most health conscious individuals. So what does a reasonable minded person to do when faced with such a seemingly daunting challenge? An old saying comes to mind, “When the going gets rough, the tough get going.”  Here are some suggestions on how to be “tough.”

Stay Active

This is a social time of year. Sometimes you are forced to be more social than you might like. Instead of stopping what has helped you feel so good all year, integrate. If for example you have company coming to town, invite them when you go to the health club, Pilates or Yoga class. They may never have been bold enough to try it on their own or have been admiring you thinking “I wish I could develop a healthy habit like that.” What a great opportunity to do something good for yourself and set a good example while sharing some healthy time with a loved one.

Avoid Overeating

Why do you want to ruin a year’s worth of good work just to overeat right now? Overeating is a unhealthy habit; a habit that is learned and can be unlearned.  The typical party is full of distracted eating (eating while talking) and over grazing leaving you with no idea of how much you really ate. Instead of grazing all night, take a plate and put a reasonable amount of food on it. Go and sit down and enjoy your food. This is a much better way to enjoy the party and not hate yourself in the morning for being a glutton.

Adopt a Positive Attitude

Take the time to be thankful for what you have and your accomplishments. Determine what’s really important in your life and how you plan on making next year better than this one. What does this have to do with food? Well, if you are struggling with food, now is the time to tell yourself next year is going to be the year you end the struggle. Take the time to look behind your overeating. Figure out why food is all consuming and has such a hold on you. How are you going to break the bonds that are keeping you from enjoying life more? Understanding the “why” can help solve the problem and allow you to get on with enjoying life more.

Keep Stress Low

Work diligently to keep your stress low during this time of year. Reducing stress keeps overeating to a minimum. Also you don’t have to accept every single invitation to a party. You know people always invite more guests than they expect. So don’t feel bad if you can’t say “yes” to all the invitations you get. If you can’t accept an invitation from someone you really enjoy, then suggest a lunch or tea after the New Year. You’ll spend much better quality time with your friend and it will help you manage your holiday stress. Try these simple holiday strategies and start your New Year off right.

Exercise is one of three important lifestyle habits essential for good health. If you have special needs then a health and fitness expert with special training is essential as well. Contact Woody McMahon to discuss how Fresh Start can help make the most of your exercise time by building a stronger body the right way.  With his unique program, you’ll improve balance, strength, flexibility, energy and stamina while feeling and looking your best. Contact Woody McMahon at 703-464-5171 to schedule your no cost Fresh Start consultation, or email Woody@SequoiaHealth.com.

Amber’s Mewsings: Keeping Mom Organized

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I know all of my fans have probably been wondering what happened to me – it’s been so long since I wrote something here.  I’ve been busy keeping Mom organized – things have been crazy around here!  Mom’s book about my sister Buckley (and me!  I’m in the book, too!) has been really well received and is generating quite a bit of buzz around the internet.  I’m so happy for her – I love it when Mom is happy, it makes me feel happy, too.

What I don’t like quite so much is that Mom is busier now, and there seems to be a little less time for reading, cuddling and watching tv.  She always makes sure that we have time together, and I really look forward to bedtime now and snuggle next to her all night long.  It seems to be the one time when I have her undivided attention!  But I understand why she’s busy, and that it makes her happy to be this busy.  And I try to do my part.  I sleep on the perch next to her desk most of the day because I know that my presence inspires her writing (see photo above – that’s me, being Mom’s Mewse).  I help with packing up books to mail to people – I’m really good at playing with the tissue paper she wraps them in (Mom says I mess up the tissue, but what does she know!).  I also remind her when it’s time to take a break and to give me a treat or to feed me.  It’s important that humans take kitty breaks every now and then.

I know underneath all this excitement, Mom is also a little bit sad, because it’s almost a year ago now that Buckley transitioned, and it brings back a lot of memories for her.  For me, too, I do miss my sister.   I’m just better at understanding that she never really left us, she just changed forms.  I still have long conversations with her and I know that she’s hanging out here with us all the time.  I only wish Mom would feel her more often.  She’s getting better at it, and I try to help her.

That’s all for today.  It’s time for another nap.  Being Mom’s Mewse can be very tiring.

Training Cats

Guest Post by Elaine Viets

There are people who can train cats to do tricks, to walk with a leash, to use Elaine Vietsthe toilet and flush afterward. Dominique, the Key West cat man, has a whole show using his specially trained “flying house cats.” He gets them to walk on tightropes and jump through hoops.

After hearing about these feline successes, Don and I tried to train our cats. Three cats back, we adopted a young semi-Siamese named Sylvie. We’d heard that Siamese cats liked to walk with a leash and were easy to train. We bought a Chihuahua leash for her. Sylvie flopped down on the sidewalk like a passive resistor and went limp. We wound up dragging the protesting cat half a block, which caused talk in the neighborhood.

“Be patient,” the text books advised us potential cat trainers. We kept trying to use the  leash. Finally clever Sylvie learned to escape its leather confines like a hairy Houdini.

The cats quickly succeeded in training us. They started yowling every morning, and we learned to leap out of bed at seven a.m. and feed them.

It took six cats before Don succeeded in training one. Now my husband regrets his success.

We adopted Harry, a brown-and-black striped tiger, from our local vet. Some idiot had shot Harry’s family. Harry escaped with his life, but he was left with a fear of large, white males, which proved he was a sensible animal. Whenever a big, white guy loomed at our condo door, Harry hid under the couch. If it was a bill collector, I joined Harry.

It took Harry nearly six months and lots of coaxing before he would let Don pet him. After a year, Harry permitted Don to scratch his ears.

Another six months later, we had a breakthrough. At least, we thought so at the time. Harry let Don scratch the base of his tail. Don was thrilled. So was Harry.

The cat would follow Don around and jump up on chairs so Don could scratch his tail. Don thought this was hilarious.

He’d slap a chair seat and say, “Present butt!” Harry would jump up for his tail scratch. He would fold back his ears and look blissfully happy.

Harry started following Don everywhere. If Don took a nap or stretched out on the couch, Harry was there, demanding a scratch. He was polite about it, in a catlike way. He’d give Don a formal forehead bump, which is cat for “hello” or maybe, “wake up, stupid.” We weren’t sure on our cat translations.  Then Harry would turn around and present his rear end for a scratch. The cat looked like a brown-and-black watermelon. A very happy watermelon. Don obliged and scratched him.

Harry has become a scratchaholic. If Don lights anywhere for a moment or two, there’s Harry, demanding a butt scratch.

It’s ceased to be funny. Don can’t read a book or fall asleep until Harry gets his butt scratch. Now the cat has started waking up Don in the middle of the night.

“This is kind of kinky,” Don said, as he scratched the cat’s rear end at three in the morning.

“Couldn’t you train the cat to turn on the coffee maker, or dial 911 in case of an emergency?” I asked. “You did pretty good with all those dogs.”

Don has trained the neighborhood pooches to line up at their fences when he passes by on a walk. He says, “Present ear,” and the dogs get their ears scratched. It’s a much more wholesome pastime.

“Why couldn’t you have trained Harry to get his ears scratched?” I asked.

“That’s for dogs,” Don said.

I guess I should be grateful he doesn’t scratch Clydesdales.

The Fashion Hound MurdersElaine Viets writes two mystery series, The Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series, set in her hometown of St. Louis, and the Florida-based Dead-End Job series. She has won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards for her writing.  In Elaine’s lastest release, The Fashion Hound Murders,  Mystery shopper Josie Marcus investigates a chain of doggie boutiques and discovers those fashionable pets come at a killer price.

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