‘Pets’ Category

  1. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 7/1/15

    July 1, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    We miss you, Brodie-Kitty.

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  2. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 1/14/15

    January 14, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Lorelei, sharing her most precious possessions with the napping Brodie.

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  3. Crazy Baby Wednesday: 9/3/14

    September 3, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Introducing Sarge – a.k.a. “Meatball” – the most laid-back cat in the world. No one else (including me) manages to stay this relaxed around Nicholas.

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  4. Brodie: The Cat With the Patience of Job

    January 23, 2012 by Jennifer Carsen

    Right before Christmas, we lost our beloved fluffy cat, Tasha, to intestinal cancer. Eric and I miss her immensely; Lorelei is still too young, I think, to have really registered her absence.

    Relations between Tasha and Brodie were never what you’d call good – they had established an uneasy sort of détente at best – but Brodie may actually be the one who misses her most of all, as she is now the one experiencing the full, undiluted brunt of Lorelei’s toddler exuberance.

    I don’t know where Fluffy has been hiding herself these days, you can almost see her thinking to herself, but that chick is much smarter than I gave her credit for.

    Lorelei will assure us that she knows to be slow and quiet around the kitty, and then charge at Brodie like the screaming 19-month-old banshee she is. She is fascinated by Brodie’s silky ears, and tugs on them a little harder than she should. She swings open the litter box flap like a saloon door and gleefully points out the “poo-poos.” She also keeps trying to present Brodie with an unopened webcam I got a few years ago for work (maybe so that Brodie can record an SOS message of some kind and post it on YouTube?).

    We thought some goodwill might develop if Lorelei became the bearer of the nightly cat treats, but she tends to fling them at Brodie in such a way that they rain down on her in a terrifying hail.

    Despite all this, Brodie has been unfailingly patient and gentle with Lorelei. She sometimes removes herself from the situation (unfortunately, she can no longer retreat to her favorite escape closet due to a baby gate we’ve set up so that Lorelei doesn’t careen down the stairs), but we’ve never once see her lash out.

    We have, however, noticed a new ritual forming recently: Brodie watches Lorelei’s bedtime with keen interest every night from behind the baby gate. Lorelei thinks Brodie is saying night-night. Eric and I know better.

    As soon as they put that kid in the cage, I know I can let my guard down for a few hours. Thank God.


  5. Here, Mousie Mousie Mousie…

    May 26, 2011 by Jennifer Carsen

    In the past 7 days, our cats have killed a total of 10 mice in the house. (We think – there may be a few still unaccounted for, which could explain the odd smell emanating from the pantry.)

    Surprisingly, it’s been Tasha – a spoiled, declawed purebred – who’s been responsible for most of the carnage. Brodie, despite her origins as a scrappy stray rescued from the gritty streets of urban California, hasn’t really been pulling her weight; the kill ratio stands at about 8 to 2.

    Last Thursday, Tasha woke us up at 4:30 am with repeated closed-mouthed meowing. This is never a good sign.

    Eric turned on the light and briefly caught a glimpse of something wriggling in her jaws before she took off around the corner. The last time she caught a mouse, she seemed (rightly) concerned that Eric would take it from her, so she evaded pursuit just long enough to bat it under the far reaches of a big chair in the living room – undoubtedly planning to return for it later, after the heat was off.

    This time, she disappeared somewhere upstairs with it. Eric abandoned chase and returned to bed. When we officially started the day a few hours later, we saw bloodied mouse remains smeared all over a pile of old newspapers – it looked like the aftermath of a new, gristly sort of clambake – and Tasha contentedly snoozing in the dining room.

    Since then, we’ve had a new mouse adventure every single day. For 3 days running, we awoke to discover a dead mouse lying atop the bowl of cat food (one was actually spooning a similarly-sized toy mouse in a macabre sort of way). The next day, we found one trying to play dead in a gap between the floorboards. And the following day, Eric found just the back end of one – he tried to reassure me that the front half must have been consumed by Tasha as a snack, but I’m watching where I step these days.

    I have no idea how many mice actually remain in the house (it’s not something I like thinking about), but the frenzied pace seems to have slowed down. Yesterday we had just one half-hearted attempt; Tasha cornered a mouse in the kitchen and I was able to release him outside before she could do any damage. Eric tells me that we should in fact score it as a catch to keep Tasha’s Ripken-like streak alive.


  6. Reality Bites – and Pees (cont’d)

    August 10, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    Knock on wood, it appears that Tasha is now a couch soiler in recovery.

    Lorelei and I took her to the vet a little while back. A lab mix in the waiting area totally set her off – Tasha, that is, not Lorelei – and by the time we got to the exam room she was puffed up like a blowfish and growling in a menacing fashion.

    It should be noted that Tasha isn’t what you’d call a good patient under the best of circumstances. When she was just a few weeks old, back in Chicago, she got startled and chomped the cheek of a vet assistant. The vet assured us that that sort of thing happens all the time, but we never saw that particular assistant again. I think about her sometimes and wonder what she’s doing now – my guess is something far removed from teeth and claws.

    Our current vet wisely decided against removing her from the box, pointing out that he’d have to sedate her to conduct any kind of thorough exam (he still bears the scars, both physical and emotional, of past encounters with Tasha). He did weigh her – 18 lbs. including her carrier – which was somewhat alarming given that Lorelei weighs barely half that.

    He recommended that we set up an additional food station and an additional litter box – “They actually say you should have one more litter box than you have cats, but three probably strikes you as a little excessive, which I can understand.” He also gave us a kind of Glade plug-in sort of thing full of feel-good feline pheremones, as well as a huge can of industrial-strength aerosol spray guaranteed to remove all evidence of past peeing. He also advised covering the couch with aluminum foil, which cats apparently dislike the feel of.

    The vet said that if these measures didn’t solve the problem, he could prescribe Tasha some kitty Prozac. We’re not philosophically opposed to putting her on meds – I don’t think Freudian talk therapy would do her much good anyway – but the stress of having to pin her down and force a pill down her throat once a day would probably require Eric and me to be on anti-anxiety meds as well.

    The aluminum foil was a total bust – we found her curled up on it, purring, and it did nothing for our decor (our electrician asked if we were trying to summon the mother ship), but the other measures seem to have done the trick.

    Maybe it’s whatever’s wafting out of that plug-in thing, but Tasha is now one mellow kitty. She’s even joined me, Lorelei, and Eric on our bed a few times. She’s totally impervious to Lorelei’s screams – I don’t think she’ll ever pull a Lassie and rush to summon us if, say, Lorelei falls in a well someday – but we’ll take what we can get.


  7. Reality Bites – and Pees

    July 14, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    Last night, I went downtown for a friend’s book reading (you can check out her book, a harrowing real-life rescue story, here).

    Before it started, I had some time to kill and found myself leafing through a coffee table book filled with artsy, multicultural photographs of newborn babies. It wasn’t an Anne Geddes, but it was of that ilk. Anne, incidentally, has always seemed a little off to me; I certainly wouldn’t hire her to babysit. I’d be concerned that we’d come home and find Lorelei in the lettuce crisper, artistically decked out with cabbage leaves and radish roses.

    Anyway, in addition to photos, the book featured quotes about babies and parenthood. One in particular – a sentiment that would have struck me as unbearably maudlin less than two months ago – hit home for me:

    To have a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.

    I returned home from the bookstore to my husband and child, enveloped in a haze of maternal bliss. Life was good.

    This morning, we awoke to a house awash in cat pee.  Tasha had hit the couch (spreading the wealth to three separate cushions), a pile of old newspapers, and a bag filled with loaner baby toys from a friend of ours – who, it later occurred to us, has two cats of her own. Maybe the threat of two phantom cats, in addition to the undeniable fact of the new baby, pushed Tasha over the edge.

    I have no idea how that much liquid issued forth from a single cat; I suspect that she popped out for a Big Gulp in the middle of the night. I also have no idea how to effectively remove the foul stench of displaced cat from our couch cushions; few things in life are as tenacious, or unpleasant, as the smell of cat urine. Bioterrorists, take note.


  8. The Cats and the Cradle

    July 1, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    People have asked us how Tasha and Brodie are coping with the new baby. They’re about as displeased as we had anticipated, but they’re not behaving quite the way we expected.

    We figured that Brodie would be emotionally wounded. She’s actually more scared of the squalling pink thing in the crib and keeps a tentative eye on it, though she has started sleeping on our bed again when the squalling subsides.

    And Tasha has been more passive-aggressive, superficially acting as if everything is fine but taking protest dumps on the bathmat. This we did not see coming. The last one was so perfectly centered (for maximum visual impact, one presumes) that she must have borrowed a ruler from my office.


  9. I Now Know How My Parents Felt…

    March 3, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    When my brother was born.

    I was an insanely contented only child for five years, at which point they asked me how I’d feel about having a little brother or sister. “No thanks,” I said, promptly returning to my pile of Barbies and stuffed bears. When I was told that it was in fact a done deal, I burst into tears and wailed, “Wasn’t I enough?” I did eventually come around (though it took a few years), and I can now say that a) I am thrilled to have Dan as my brother and b) I would have turned into a complete monster had he never been born.

    My cat, Tasha, lacks this level of self-awareness. Eric’s cat, Brodie, was at the vet’s for a few days this past week, and Tasha slipped into a haze of bliss the likes of which I’ve never seen before. She purred, she preened, she strutted around the house chirping happily and rubbing her head against everything she encountered. She was clearly thinking something along the lines of Thank God you two finally had the sense to get rid of that annoying little alley cat.

    Then Brodie returned, still sickly and in need of both TLC and intensive hand-feeding. (Brodie loses her appetite during times of stress. This is never a problem for Tasha, who would unhesitatingly scrabble over the ravaged bodies of both me and Eric for anyone holding a scrap of roast chicken – including the person who’d just ended our lives. What’s a little brutal carnage between friends, especially when one of those friends has chicken?) Plus, the stinky, calorically dense food we’re trying to entice Brodie to eat is precisely the type of food that Tasha, who tips the scales at nearly 15 lbs., is routinely denied. She’s attuned to the sound of a metal pop top being ripped off a can of Fancy Feast at 300 yards.

    So now Tasha has turned into a hissing, snarling brat. Not only is Brodie getting all of the good food, she’s getting the bulk of the attention as well. We’ve been trying to even things out, but a grumpy Tasha is not a pretty sight. And she has very sharp teeth.


  10. Lush, Thy Name Is Tasha

    February 16, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    This morning I woke up to discover Tasha happily slurping up the remnants of Eric’s chocolate martini from last night – we’d made the mistake of leaving the near-empty glass out on the counter.

    There isn’t much that that cat won’t eat (which is probably why she’s tipping the scales at 14.75 lbs, according to the most recent figures from the vet’s office), but this is the first I’ve known her to have a taste for booze.

    I hope the baby’s arrival doesn’t push her over the edge into lapping up saucer after saucer of White Russians. At least we don’t have to worry about taking away her car keys.