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Caturday 139

Posted on December 16th, 2019

Dave!Yeah, yeah, I know. It's Monday. But I wanted to get my Hallmark post up as soon as possible, which was Caturday... then it was Bullet Sunday... which leaves us Caturday on Monday. Everybody will just have to deal, I guess.

As I've mentioned a few times, there is a stray cat in my neighborhood whom I named "Fake Jake" after my brother was housesitting and let him in thinking that he was my Jake who had gotten outside somehow. He is a very sweet cat... but also an overly-enthusiastic cat with very sharp claws, so you kind of have to watch out when you're petting him.

Fake Jake belonged to a family down the street. When they moved, they took him with them... but he obviously didn't care for his new digs because he would keep running back to us. For a while there I was trapping him and calling them to come get him. But eventually they stopped coming so I stopped calling. Myself and my neighbor have been feeding him and watching out for him, so I guess it's all good.

I would have brought him inside long ago except... he is very much an outdoor cat. And he is highly aggressive towards other cats. Many a time I have caught him lunging at Jake and Jenny when they are out chilling in the catio...

And so... he gets to remain an outdoor cat.

Though that's tough for me to stomach when it's raining or cold out. Especially when it's cold out, and I see him trying to hunker down and conserve body heat...

Fake Jake sitting on my front entry rig as seen from behind my front door.

Fake Jake sitting in front of my garage looking cold.

When I got back from my Antarctica trip, I couldn't take it any more. I purchased an "igloo" cat shelter. To make sure it was warm enough, I built a berm out of pipe insulation to help keep heat in. I tried to make a door flap, but he felt trapped and wouldn't stay inside...

A rounded berm built up from pipe insulation sitting on the floor of a cat shelter.

Fake Jake took to it right away...

Fake Jake the Cat crawling into his domed cat shelter.

I installed a camera on the roof so I can check to make sure he's doing okay...

Fake Jake as seen from the roof camera, all snuggled up in his cat shelter with his paws over his nose.

As winter dragged on, the weather was getting unbearably bitter cold. I worried that he would not be able to stay warm enough, so I found an electric "warming pad" to help him out. It doesn't actually get "warm to the touch"... it's designed to rise in temperature when something is set on top of it. Basically to keep the animal from freezing. He really liked that. Now he was in the shelter throughout the day when he got cold instead of only at night.

Eventually I bought a second shelter and warming pad for the back-side of the condos (where he is fed) so he could choose where he wanted to sleep. For a while he was swapping between them. Then one day he stopped using the back shelter. Knowing that the cold weather is harder on cats as they get older, I thought that maybe a heating element in the ceiling would help to keep him warm on both sides. So I cut a removable panel, installed a ceramic element, then fixed a grate over it so Fake Jake wouldn't get burned. In freezing temperatures, it stayed at a cozy 62° which seemed perfect...

A bulb assembly sticking out of a hole in the roof of Fake Jake's shelter.

The shelters are under the eaves of the roof, so they are kept free of snow... but I wanted to cover up the electronics just the same. But before I did, I thought I would test it to make sure Fake Jake was okay with it. Turns out he was not. He would jump in, enjoy the warmth for a bit, then hop out and leave. He would not sleep there. So at 10:00 at night I finally went out and restored his old shelter. Then, as I was bringing in his newest shelter, I notice that it reeked of cat pee! So that's why he stopped using the back shelter! Some other cat came along and peed in it! Can't say that I blamed him.

I tried scrubbing everything with soap and water, but that did nothing. So now I'm trying different urine-enzyme-killing cleaners to see if I can get the smell out that way.

In the meanwhile, I was being kept up at nights worrying that the warming pad might die and Fake Jake would end up freezing because now he had only one place to go. I couldn't afford to buy the parts for a third shelter, so instead I bought a WiFi temperature sensor on sale on Cyber Monday. I sliced the berm underneath and set the sensor inside of it so it's in contact with the warming pad. I also put it on the side of the shelter where Fake Jake prefers to sleep. I then set an alert that would be sent to my iPhone if the temperature ever drops below 38°, which is way too cold for a shorthair cat to be sleeping in.

What I've found (thanks to the temperature data that the unit collects) is a bit surprising.

No matter how cold it gets... even down to 24° so far... the temperature when in contact with the warming pad hovers around 60°. If Fake Jake is sleeping where the temperature sensor is, it records temperatures over 70°!!! In fact, you can literally see when Fake Jake is in the shelter or out of the shelter just by looking at the temperature!

This morning around 1am, Fake Jake hopped into the shelter for a nap when the outdoor temperature was 27°. The sensor was reading 61° from being on top of the pad... but increased to 72° when Fake Jake was there! Then apparently he left at 2am because the temperature started falling...

Temperature readout data in the form of a graph showing a temperature rise when Fake Jake was in the shelter.

Now, seriously, how amazing is that?

Not only do I not have to worry about the warming pad failing because the sensor will alert my phone when it gets too cold... I have also been way too concerned about how cold Fake Jake gets in severe weather. Because, wow, 72°?!? That's what I have my thermostat set to inside my house! Sure, I am still a little upset that the part of his body not on the pad is getting cold... but when I look at the timelapse footage of him sleeping, it looks like he's just flipping over every 10-20 minutes. So he's seriously doing just fine!

Which is a relief, of course, but I still want to see if I can get the cat pee smell out of the second shelter with the heating element. That would be cat paradise for Fake Jake, and he'd go back to having two places to stay warm and dry throughout the winter.

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Caturday 138: Birthday Edition

Posted on December 6th, 2019

Dave!Yeah, yeah... I know it's Friday. But I have to run with Caturday a day early because it's Jake and Jenny's 4th birthday today!

I was away working for their first three birthdays so this is kinda a big deal for me. This morning I fed them their breakfast, had them completely ignore the new toys I bought for them, then watched as they ran out to the catio because they heard something interesting outside.

So... not quite the exciting birthday I had planned. But... cats. What can you do?

Tonight they will get stinky mashed up sardines in fish gravy for dinner, their favorite treat. It's also a rare treat because I gag while prepping it every time. It's SO gross. But if I don't mash it up then Jenny will just lick the chunks and Jake will pull the chunks outside of the bowl to eat them (getting fish sauce on my floor).

=sigh=

The things I do for love.

It seems like only yesterday I brought them home. But it wasn't yesterday it was February 16th, 2016...

Jenny & Jake

It was a tough time for me. I had just moved into my new home because my mom's apartment was no longer safe for her. The dementia was getting worse by the day and I was completely lost trying to cope with it all. Originally I was going bring Spanky the Cat with us (the stray cat I had been caring for at mom's place) but he had run off just a couple weeks before moving day. And so... I waited for cats to become available at the local shelter so my mom would have some company while I was off working. She loved hanging out with Spanky so it seemed the perfect solution.

Alas, Jake and Jenny were feral rescues and not very sociable at all. They spent the first week hiding under the couch, only coming out to eat and use the litter box when the coast was clear. Eventually I was able to coax them out with a cat charmer, but I wasn't allowed to get too close or touch them...

KITTENS!

   

KITTENS!

It was incredibly frustrating having cats I couldn't touch. But mom was entertained by their running around, so that was all that mattered. Then one day I'm working on the couch while we're eating dinner and look over to see this...

Mom and Jake

Jake and Jenny were interested in her dinner, and she was talking to them and petting them like it was no big deal. It would be days before they allowed me to touch them.

And so... achievement unlocked.

KITTENS!

I felt a lot better about leaving my mom alone now that she had cats, and they would be a calming influence amongst the chaos right up until mom had to leave.

And after I was forced to move mom to a facility, having to feed Jake and Jenny their breakfast was sometimes the only reason I had to get out of bed in the morning. Cats, as it turns out, are excellent therapy...

Jake and Jenny Kittens!

And amazing companions. They're there for me to make even the worst days better...

Jake & Jenny Petting

Jake!

Jenny!

So happy birthday to Jake Ryan Reynolds Simmer and Jenny Elizabeth Hurley Simmer! You've literally saved my life, and bringing you home has easily been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Every day with you is my best day.

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Curious Jenny is Curious

Posted on December 4th, 2019

Dave!I have been working a crazy amount of hours and it's thrown my sleep schedule off.

Last night I worked until a little after 1:30am, woke up at 6:00am to answer emails and feed the cats at 7:00am. Then decided to take a nap. I figured if I could just get an hour or two I'd be rested enough to take on the rest of my day.

It was a good plan.

But one which was doomed to fail.

At 7:28am my phone starts sounding alerts from a web security camera. I figured I could ignore it since the wired cameras weren't setting off any alarms, but the alerts kept coming. So finally I took a look...

Security camera shot of my ceiling with Jenny the cat entering the frame.

Security camera shot of my ceiling with Jenny the cat looking into the camera.

Last night I set up my new Nest Outdoor Cam, but it was too dark and cold outside to install it. So I just set it down in the box and forgot about it.

Apparently that was a mistake. Curious Jenny decided to be all curious, so no sleep for me. She kept coming back to take another look at the camera and was setting off an alert every time. Which meant I ended up installing my new camera this morning instead of taking that nap.

My guess is I will be falling asleep at my desk sometime today.

But, hey... at least I don't have to install a security camera when I get home!

   

Soles of a Traveler

Posted on December 2nd, 2019

Dave!My boots and half of my Black Friday shopping spree bounty showed up today.

I have to say I'm more than a little sad to let my old boots go. I've literally been around the world in them (and the bottom of the world as well), so I am thinking of taking them to the local shoe shop to see if something can be done (they've been around these parts for 99 years!). With exception of the badly-worn soles they're in perfect shape and still look great. My new boots are nice too, I just think it's a genuine waste to toss out something if they can be repaired...

A photo of my new boots that look rugged in their forest green and balck... plus my old shoes which look nice except for the soles which are literally falling off the boot!

I gave up on wearing tennis shoes decades ago, much preferring a light hiking boot. They're more comfortable, easy to slip in and out of when you tie the laces low, and can be quickly laced up for those times you need good protection for your feet. For a traveler who can end up anywhere and everywhere they're everything I need. The last pair of non-dress-shoe shoes that I bought 25-30 years ago sit in my closet barely used.

As I mentioned, I had a few bucks left over from everything I was saving to buy, so I got a copy of the LEGO Jurassic World video game. I was surprised to see that when you order something LEGO, Amazon will put it in a cool LEGO Star Wars box...

An Amazon box with LEGO Darth Vader using The Force to lift LEGO bricks over a LEGO Stormtrooper!

An Amazon box with LEGO Darth Vader has imprisoned the LEGO Stormtrooper in a jail cell made of the LEGO bricks!

So clever!

In sadder news, the world received notice that BUB had passed.

She was such a sweet cat who faced a difficult life with an optimism that inspired a lot of people... and raised a lot of money and awareness for homeless pets. It was so very hard to follow along with her latest health crisis knowing that she was probably nearing her end... but, as always, she was doing her best to be happy and live her best life...

BUB the cat with her Dude... both when he got her in June of 2011 as a kitten, and before he lost her on December 1, 2019... she has a large growth on the side of her face that musy be painful, but she still looks happy!

I cannot fathom my life without Jake and Jenny, so my heart goes out to Mike Bridavsky and the loss he is suffering. I find it amazing how he was so dedicated to such a special cat, and grateful for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he worked tirelessly to raise in support of animals.

Rest in peace, BUB, you will be missed by a great many people.

   

Caturday 137

Posted on November 30th, 2019

Dave!Since I worked on Thanksgiving, I decided to sleep in. Probably not the smartest move this time of year, but I figure I deserve to rise late from time to time.

My day started with some entertainment.

Because this morning Jake decided to investigate the ice left from my glass of Coke Zero...

Jake sticking his face inside a glass with ice.

Jake trying to fish an icecube out with his paw.

Jake trying to fish an icecube out with his other paw.

Eventually I took pity on him and pulled a piece out for him. At which point he immediately lost interest of course.

And speaking of Coke Zero... I had a small amount left in the can that I hadn't poured over ice yet. After Jake had his grimy mits on my ice, I decided to drink it from the can as I walked out of my bedroom. When I tilted my head back to get the last drop, I freaked for a second when I saw bugs on my ceiling.

Except they weren't bugs they were staples...

Remember when Jake and Jenny brought in a bird that had wandered into the catio and I had to build a tunnel from the bathroom to the window so it could get out?

My Bird Tunnel!

Apparently I never removed the staples after I tore down the plastic. Great. One more thing to add to my list.

Jake is generally a good brother to Jenny. They chase each other, sure, yet it's all in good fun and he doesn't pick on her or abuse her in any way. But he does like to antagonize her from time to time. Usually by pawing at her from on high...

Jake reaching out to touch Jenny.

At which point I say "Jake... don't do it..."

Jake looking at me after I've called his name.

That look of "Who me?" is pretty typical. But it worked. He withdrew his paw and didn't bother her again. I'd say something like "I've trained my cats!" but I think we all know that would be a load of bullshit.

And... time to finish adding a heater to Fake Jake's shelter so I can get our local stray through another winter.

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Caturday 136

Posted on November 24th, 2019

Dave!As the days grow colder, Jake and Jenny's singular focus seems to be warmth. I mean, my house is far from cold, but cats can't seem to get enough heat, I guess.

As I've mentioned, their favorite place in the house is on the electric blanket. Which wouldn't be a problem if they would share it. But, for reasons that escape me, this is a rare sight...

Jake and Jenny laying on my electric blanket.

If one of them is on the bed, the other one usually leaves my bedroom. But... once... maybe twice a month... they are willing to share for a while for whatever reason.

Though Jenny still seems to appreciate it most...

Jenny rolled up into a ball on an electric blanket while I'm scratching her bum.

Jake seems happy to steal warmth from me most days...

Jake laying on my lap asleep.

Jake laying on my legs and looking around the room.

What's weird is how Jake and Jenny have no problems at all sharing a bed when I'm not in it. Since heat rises and upstairs is warmer than downstairs, they spend their days in the guest room. Used to be they would run downstairs to greet me when I come home from work. But lately? Nope. Jake will look up to acknowledge that he's heard me arrive... then go back to sleep. Jenny doesn't even do that much...

Jake and Jenny curled up on a bed. Jake is looking up because he's heard the door open.

In other news... Chewy sent Jake and Jenny a handwritten birthday card...

A birthday card from Chewy which says Whether you bark, shirp, meow, or squeak, here's to having a hoot on your birthday. It's hand-signed Hi Jake and Jenny, May your special day be as pawsome as you! XOXO The Chewy Family.

I guess this is how their phone operators spend their time when they're not on the phone? Interesting that they sent a combo card. Apparently their system lists pet birthdays by household so they know when they can send one card for multiple pets.

Still... that's nice, right?

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Caturday 135

Posted on November 16th, 2019

Dave!This morning I was awakened at 4am because somebody was walking through my back yard and I got a security alert on my phone. Just some guy walking by for some reason. Did't look in my windows or anything, so I have no idea... maybe drunk and lost? So I worked for a couple hours, then decided to take a nap. THEN I was awakened by a “person in my house” alert. Which ended up being Jenny sticking her ass in one of the security cameras and just sitting there. =sigh= My houseguests arrive later today, at which time I can turn off my interior cameras and will hopefully be able to sleep in for once tomorrow. That will be nice. Assuming people aren’t walking through my yard again.

Jenny sitting in front of the secutiry camera, blocking the view entirely.

Jenny sitting in front of the secutiry camera looking adorable.
Does this wide angle lens make my butt look big?

As I mentioned a couple Caturdays ago, the stupid clock-changes are a disaster for my cats. They don't understand it. The don't want it. And they most definitely aren't happy about it. I always try to minimize the impact by easing them into it by "falling back" in 15 minute increments, but all it seems to do is draw out their frustration.

Part of the problem is the automated feeder I have. Not only is it a pain to program, but it loses time constantly. So not only am I having to make adjustments for the time change, I'm also having to keep on top of it being the wrong time. All that does is draw out my frustration. I have seriously toyed with the idea of just keeping them on Daylight Saving Time all year long (much like what Washington State wants to do). This would involve my having to get up at 6am instead of 7am each morning for four months so I can feed them the spoonful of wet food they get with their dry food. Something I would gladly do... but it becomes a problem when I have guests over.

The solution seems to be getting a web-enabled feeder. That way I could make tiny 5-minute adjustments from the comfort of my couch and make sure that the clocks on the feeders are keeping proper time without me having to do a thing. I'm a bit shy about doing this, however, given the horrendous experience I had when I previously bought web-enabled feeders (the company shut down the server so the feeders were bricked and I was out $400). Nevertheless... this being the easiest solution, I've been putting aside $20 a month until I could afford one that can be split two ways... or get two feeders that can synchronize their clocks. Alas, at $400 for the two that I want, my $20 a month wasn't going to go very far.

But then...

...I was looking up the cost to get new filters for the cat fountain and saw that there was a new PETKIT SMARTFEED MINI Smart Feeder for $99 on sale for $89 each! The reviews were good, so I decided to take my savings and buy a pair of them...

The PetKit Mini, which is a slender white cylibder with a feeding tray at the bottom and a dispenser spout above the tray.

They are absolutely perfect (once getting the WiFi set up which, thanks to their app, appears harder than it actually is). There is one problem, however... I don't like the fact that my cats are eating out of plastic (this can cause feline acne and other problems), so I thought I'd see if I can construct a holder for my metal dishes when I have a chance. Looks like it'll be fairly straightforward. Though the plastic tray that comes with is really clever because it has magnets to hold it into place... so maybe I can come up with a liner of some kind.

So now I have feeders which can be easily reprogrammed from an app on my phone, making adjusting to time changes far, far more easier than what I used to have to go through. Jake and Jenny were scared of them at first... there's a hissing noise when the seal opens... but now they come running when they hear it activating, just like their old feeder...

Jake and Jenny running to the PetKit feeders at my feeding station.

Now all I have to do is cross my fingers that PETKIT doesn't go out of business and close down their servers any time soon.

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Caturday 134

Posted on November 9th, 2019

Dave!I try to make my trips as short as possible so that Jake and Jenny aren't left alone for extended periods of time. Thanks to the automation tech I bought for feeding and litter box cleaning, they actually could be left alone longer, but I get the feeling they would rather me be here.

This feeling comes from the toy gauntlet that they build for me whenever I get back from being away...

A bunch of toys strewn through the entrance to my bedroom.

Jake still does most of the work... hauling Moose the Mule all the way upstairs... after trotting him on the dining room table. Which is great, because I was dying to disinfect it, and this is just the excuse I need...

Two images... the first with security camera footage of Jake walking on the dining room table with a big toy mule in his mouth... then climbing up stairs.

After breakfast Jake decided to hang out in bed while I watched emails...

Jake snuggled up next to me on my bed... I have my arm around him and am giving him chin scratches.

But it was Jenny who wouldn't leave my side. She missed out on two days of scratches, and she was determined to make up for lost time. Unlike Jake who just kind of sits there and is happy to get scratched wherever you want to scratch him, she moves around so you scratch her exactly where she wants to be scratched...

Jenny flopped on her back and getting tummy scratches while looking adorable.

Jenny staring at me while getting tummy rubs.

Jenny looking at me while getting butt scratches while sunlight streaks across her.

Jenny flopped on her back and rolling around on the bed.

Jenny reaching towards me while I rub her belly.

My poor cats are so deprived.

Happy Caturday!

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Caturday 133

Posted on November 2nd, 2019

Dave!I have made no secret of my apoplectic rage over the fact that we still mess with the clocks twice a year. It is a stupid, stupid, STUPID and outdated practice that only serves to screw up our lives. Washington State is working to get rid of the barbaric practice. Our House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to go on permanent Daylight Saving Time. And now, once our Senate gets off their asses, I'm guessing they will approve it as well... BECAUSE NOBODY F#@&ING WANTS IT! Oregon and California are in accordance and will switch if we switch. Even British Columbia has stated that they would be interested in coordinating with us so the entire West Coast is on the same time because THEY DON'T F#@&ING WANT IT EITHER!

And because state's rights are a joke, passing the House and Senate doesn't men it's a done deal. Because then, once it passes there, we have to get PERMISSION from Congress to actually do it. Which, given the fact that Congress doesn't do jack shit unless it benefits their lazy, corrupt asses, means it could be years before anything happens.

Adding to my loathing of switching clocks? The way it affects my cats.

Their behavior changes when their schdule is altered. Even when I try my best to get them gradually adjusted to it by shifting the clock in only 15 minutes increments, they just aren't having it.

Jake is affected the worst when you delay his feeding. For the past week he's been asserting his dominance towards Jenny and, just like last year, it will likely last another week or so. He'll just randomly decide to climb on top and bite her neck...

Jake on top of Jenny biting the fur on her neck.

Oddly enough, Jenny doesn't seem to mind. She'll just keep looking around like "whatever" about it. Until she does mind, then she'll start hissing at him and smacking him until he gets off of her...

Jake on top of a hissing Jenny biting the fur on her neck.

When this happened last year, I'd go up and pull Jake off of her. That was a mistake. Eventually I realized this made it traumatic for both of them, and it was better to just let Jenny take care of it, which she can do just fine...

Jake on top of Jenny on top of the cat tree biting the fur on her neck.

Jake on top of Jenny and she's hissing now.

Jake on top of Jenny as she twists around and starts to escape.

They still get along fine... but during the switch from Daylight Saving Time, we get an occasional show of dominance.

Fortunately it's quail season, which can take their minds off of the clocks changing and put it where it belongs... stalking birds from the catio...

Jake and Jenny looking out the door flap to the catio.

A big fat quail outside the catio.

Jenny stalking a quail out in the catio.

Jake has joined Jenny out in the catio to stalk the quail.

Jake and Jenny out in the catio looking very serious about stalking the quail.

And now I have to get back to work. And hope that Jake can remain calm while I'm gone.

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Ghosts of Halloween Past

Posted on October 31st, 2019

Dave!Boo?

I headed home from work in daylight hours so I could put out Dead Jake and Dead Jenny, convert my HUE lighting to spooky purple and green, dump my candies in a bowl, then leafblower all the leafs in the front of my home so they won't blow in my house every time I open the door...

Skeleton Cats with Jake and Jenny signs around their necks.

A wreath on my door filled with fake apples, real pinecones, and other Fall-apropriate stuff... with a pirate skeleton in the middle.

An eerie purple glow from my porch light illuminates the front of my home.

Rather than running to the front door and back to my living room all night long, I just stay in the kitchen and deep-clean everything while trick-or-treaters are coming. Which is a far, far better way of spending my evening than two years ago when I was doing a clean-out for my colonoscopy on Halloween. What a massive mistake THAT was. Trying to spend the entire night on a toilet while running to the door to pass out candy? Total nightmare.

And speaking of nightmares, Halloween is truly the scariest night of the year... for my poor cats. I have tried everything to get them used to people, but they just aren't having it. So having dozens of people ringing the doorbell and screaming "TRICK-OR-TREAT!" all night long is not their idea of a good time. Usually I feed them at 5:00 so they can hide before trick-or-treaters arrive, but this year kids were showing up before 5:00. Well, whatever. Maybe they are afraid of the dark or afraid of other kids and this is how they have to enjoy Halloween. But it sure would have been nice to be able to make a sandwich for dinner before people start arriving expecting a candy hand-out.

Alas, Trick-or-Treating is not the same as it was when I was young. Back then hundreds of kids would canvas the entire city and make a massive candy haul. And now? I get around 50 kids maximum. I guess it's too big an effort for too little reward? Maybe it's time better spent playing video games. And kids today have it easy thanks to global warming. Back in my day it snowed for a couple of my Halloweens!

I shouldn't complain though. More candy for me!

Plus... I've got a really clean kitchen now.

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