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Caturday 144

Posted on January 25th, 2020

Dave!I've had to pull a chip bag off of Jake's head more than a couple times. Usually they are the "Big Grab" size, and once that goes on his head it don't want to come off! I have to chase him around the house until I can pull it off. Poor Jake.

The larger bags are easier for him to get out of. Unless I cut them down when they are near empty. Then he can get his head stuck in there while digging for crumbs, no problem. Earlier this week he got his head stuck but I was able to pull it off right away. I thought he had learned his lesson, but here he is at it again...

Jake sticking his head in a potato chip bag.

Until... he stopped short of sticking his head all the way in and started digging with his paw to pull the chips out of the bag...

Jake fishing for chips with his paw in a potato chip bag.

He knocked it on the floor, spilling crumbs. I was going to go toss it in the garbage, but he was learning something and so I put it back...

Jake fishing for chips with his paw in a potato chip bag.

Sure enough, he fishes a chip out of the bag so it falls on the floor and he can eat it...

Jake fishing for chips with his paw in a potato chip bag.

Jake fishing for chips with his paw in a potato chip bag.

And speaking of Jake...

He's not content to sleep next to me at night any more... he wants to sleep ON TOP OF ME now. This shot is him on my back. It was tough to take because my arm is twisting back with my iPhone...

Jake laying on top of me as I try to sleep.

It's easier when he lays on my chest...

Jake laying on top of me as I try to sleep.

Jenny is still being Jenny. She's incredibly smart. She's deviously clever. She's wonderfully . And she's also inexplicably weird at times. I've seen her jump down seven feet without even batting an eye. But earlier this week she hopped up 30 inches into one of my jean cubbies and somehow felt stuck. She cried until I got out of bed and helped her out...

Jenny sitting in a small cubical shelf crying.

Jenny sitting in a small cubical shelf crying.

She's a cat alright.

Until next week's adventure...

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Caturday 143

Posted on January 18th, 2020

Dave!Earlier this week before going to work I was in the kitchen packing a lunch when I saw the lights in the dining room turn on. This was strange because that set of lights isn't programmed to turn on until 30 minutes before sunset. I was about to tell Alexa to turn them back off when they went off on their own.

What is going on here?

I head into the dining room and... there it is... Jenny is turning the lights on and off.

Jenny sitting on a shelf by the light switch.

Jenny turning on the lights in the dining room.

This was not an accident. She's done it twice since then. I don't know if it's fun for her... or she likes the beep that the smart switch makes... or it's her way of getting attention... or what. At first I was just going to de-program the switch. But then I though "why?" Let her have her fun. If it becomes a problem, I'll just deal with it then.

Also this week I set up a security camera in my bedroom to see if Jake is actually sleeping at my feet all night long. It just seemed impossible given all my tossing and turning. But, yep, he sure does. Not only that, but I am not tossing and turning nearly as much as I usually do. I wonder if my cat buddy is responsible? Seems likely. Previous times I've recorded myself to see how I'm sleeping I'm like a maniac.

Speaking of sleeping with cats...

Jenny will fall asleep next to me... so long as I am petting her the entire time. The minute I stop one of two things will happen: 1) Cry until I start petting her again if she hasn't had enough, or 2) Leave if she has. What's weird is that if I am asleep, she will leave. Neither of my cats will wake me up. Last night I was so sick that I couldn't sleep. I went to bed at 10:00pm and watched television and pet Jenny until 2:00am at which time I couldn't take it any more and went downstairs for sleeping pills. Jenny was gone when I got back.

I took a photo of her every 20 minutes. She doesn't move a lot...

Four images of Janny sleeping

Four images of Janny sleeping

Four images of Janny sleeping

I'm willing to bet that had I kept petting her, she would have slept there until the breakfast alarm rang!

Before I sign off this fine Caturday, I ran across this photo last night and it absolutely slayed me. It's adorable times a hundred...

It's also genius. I'd credit the guy for his fantastic photo if I knew who he was. Obviously he's quite the cat lover, as his awesome wardrobe attests.

Until next week... same cat-time, same cat-blog.

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Caturday 142

Posted on January 11th, 2020

Dave!I will never understand my cats.

Never.

After I returned from my travels a week ago, my cats were all over me. They wouldn't leave my side any time I was home. Jake and Jenny could not get enough of me and I was adored.

Until today.

But before I get to that, let's take a look at eight photos of them not being able to get enough of me...

Jake and Jenny laying in bed with me.

Jake on my bed peeking out from behind a blanket.

Jake curled up on my bed.

Jenny rubbing up next to me.

Jenny getting scratches from me.

Jenny getting more scratches from me.

Jake laying next to me curled up and looking up at me.

Jenny getting butt scratches in bed.

   
Tonight I was at the office working. I lost all track of time, so I didn't get home before Jake and Jenny's dinner alarm sounded. When I walked in the door seven minutes late, they were both sitting there waiting for me.

They were livid.

L-I-V-I-D-!

They ate their dinner and then, instead of coming into the living room to hang with me, they ran upstairs!

A couple hours later Jake finally came downstairs. After a while he hopped up on the couch next to me. Mostly so he could show me his ass...

Jake on the couch next to my legs with his ass pointing in my direction.

After making sure his butthole had been clearly presented, he lay down at my feet and threw his head down on my leg so he could look as forlorned as possible... his dinner was seven minutes late, and he was still devastated by the memory of it all. Devastated.

Jake curled up next to my legs with his head laying on my leg looking sad.

He went to sleep soon after.

Jake curled up asleep next to my legs.

I started talking to him so he would come lay on my lap and keep me company while I watched TV. He looked up at me... grunted... THEN TURNED AROUND AND WENT BACK TO SLEEP...

Jake curled up next to my legs sleeping but turned around so he's facing away from me.

Jenny is still upstairs not speaking to me.

So... gone for seven DAYS, cats can't get enough of me.

Seven MINUTES late for dinner and they are so mad they want nothing to do with me.

I will never understand my cats.

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Caturday 141

Posted on January 4th, 2020

Dave!I've heard a number of scary stories about people who have had to leave their cats only to come back and find their shoes pooped in... their clothes shredded... their furniture chewed up. Basically, the cats get their revenge for being abandoned. For whatever reason, I am blessed with two cats who are not vindictive like this at all. When I come back, they are incredibly happy to see me and then hang around me constantly. Whatever room I'm in, they're in regardless of time of day.

Jake sitting on the bed while I work while Jenny is on the window shelf.

Jake curled up next to me while my arm is around him.

Jenny on the nightstand rubbing up against my arm while I pet her.

Jake sitting on the end of the couch staring at me to make sure I am not going anywhere.

   
But they will leave me if there's something exciting outside. Like Fake Jake stopping by for a visit...

Fake Jake outside the catio staring up at something.

They will abandon me instantly for that...

Fake Jake outside the catio staring up at Jake and Jenny staring down at him.

And now it's time for the second-most dreaded time of year... making an appointment for Jake and Jenny's annual checkup at the vet. Because the most dreaded day of the year... their annual checkup at the vet in February.

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Caturday 140

Posted on December 21st, 2019

Dave!Jakey-Bear is a big kitty. Which has always been a mystery to me. My cats have never been over-fed. They don't get nearly the amount of food recommended on the package (cat food companies want to sell more cat food, so that's not surprising). Early on I would catch him eating Jenny's food when she would walk away, but I solved this by serving smaller portions throughout the day so that Jenny wouldn't fill up and walk away before her portion was eaten. So why?

Skeptical Jake looking skeptical.
Did you just call me fat?!?

Jenny is the opposite. She begs me for food whenever I get near the kitchen. And every time I have to gently tell her "Noooo... you just had your food." It's like she's hungry all the time! But she's far from starving. She's at a healthy weight. Which I guess makes her a normal cat.


Are any of these crumbs edible?

Jake is now permanently attached to me at night. I've woken up and found him on top of me... I've woken up and found him on my head... I've woken up and found him glued to my ass...

Jake laying on top of me asleep.

Jake snuggled up against my ass asleep.

I move a lot while sleeping. Jake doesn't seem bothered. Jenny is bothered, but still likes belly rubs...

Lastly... funny story. I keep catching Jake grooming his claws the same way Jenny does. He starts out fairly gentle with the pedicure but then really starts ripping into them..

Happiest of Caturdays to you!

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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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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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