Archive for the ‘cat’ Category

The mighty hunter stalks his prey

Shortly after dawn, he spies his prey, and moves into position. 

He creeps ever closer, one stealthy pace at a time.

His prey moves to the floor, and he leaps down, then closes in, scoring the last few drops of milk.  Success!


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DIY cat hammock

I was randomly surfing cat-related things on the internet one day, and ran across cat hammocks. They are basically squares of fabric, hung by straps from their four corners, in a cage or under a chair to make a sort of hanging pouch. Well, the amorphous-slumping aspect of a hammock seemed like a perfect match for sleeping feline anatomy. But our cat doesn’t have a cage, our chairs have too many rungs, and our cat sometimes likes to spread out while sleeping.

We do, however, have a coffee table that I suspected would be absolutely perfect to support a cat hammock. There are some bolts on the underside that I figured I could attach a hammock to. (How did I already know there were exposed bolts? Because my son went through a phase around age 4 of crawling under the coffee table and unscrewing them. I never did learn why this was so appealing.)

So I found a spare piece of denim and some rope, and bought a 1″ diameter dowel. I cut the dowel into 2 pieces, each the length of the outside width of the coffee table legs. I cut the denim several inches longer than the coffee table, and about the same width as the coffee table. I sewed a narrow hem on each long edge of the denim. Then I folded over about 4-5 inches at each short end of the denim and sewed across to make a tube at each end that I could slide a dowel through.


Then I used rope to tie the dowels to the coffee table, using bowline knots around the dowels. I was able to use one continuous piece of rope for each end, threading it through the hidden bolts under the table. If your coffee table had less exposed hardware, you could use lag eye bolts screwed into the inside of the frame. By having the dowels on the outside rather than the inside of the legs, it keeps the hammock from swaying side-to-side as the cat climbs in.



And then we put a commercial cat mat on top, for extra warm snuggly niceness.


Ta-da: cat hammock!


It works well with all sorts of cat positions.




Please note: as built, this was plenty strong enough for a single 11-pound cat. If you have multiple cats each weighing 25+ pounds, the way our neighbors do, you might need something a little stronger than mid-weight denim.

Although as built, it is strong enough to sleep two, even if one is human, as long as the human keeps her body on the floor.


Since our cat not only has a walnut-sized brain, but is also elderly, we had this hammock set up in the living room for a few months before he finally figured out he was meant to curl up and sleep in it. But once he figured it out, he’s been absolutely loving it. He spends at least 75% of his sleeping time in it. When he’s gotten so over-tired that he can’t settle down, we just prod him into his hammock, and he usually curls up and relaxes. And he loves being able to snooze with us around him in the living room, but in a safe space where he won’t get stepped on and doesn’t have lights shining in his eyes.

Over time, the denim has stretched a little. So I’ve shortened the ropes a bit, and took a 1/2″ tuck the entire width of the hammock to compensate. In general, he’s only got about 1/2″ clearance from the ground at his lowest point, but that’s enough to give him all the slumpy flexibility he wants. The ropes are easily slid off the dowels and the entire contraption vacuumed, when the fur levels get overwhelming.

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Act 1

E called her mom to find out how a medical appointment went. The cat started yowling, so I decided to take him outside and give E some peace and quiet for her discussion. I called the cat over to the back door and opened it. Three things happened simultaneously:

1) I realized that a garter snake had gotten under the storm door and was curled up in between the storm door and back door.

2) The snake realized it now had an opportunity to slither into the house.

3) The cat realized he now had an opportunity to catch a snake without even going outside.

Fortunately, my reflexes were the fastest of the three of us, and I got the back door closed again with the snake still outside and the cat still inside. Unfortunately for E’s phone call, there was some screaming involved at this point.

Act 2

I wanted to make sure the snake was not still waiting to slither inside, so the cat and I headed out the front door, and I hurried around to the back. I confirmed that the snake was gone from the doorway, then backtracked to the side yard just as the cat caught a shrew. The cat was quite proud of this feat, as usually it takes a lot of patient waiting to catch a rodent, and he nabbed this one in under 2 minutes. Unfortunately, “quite proud” also meant that he wanted to bring it inside the house, and when I refused that option, he wanted to trot around the yard with it for a while before crouching down to eat it. I finally had to resort to picking the cat up by his back haunches, letting him hang head-down, then jiggling him up and down gently until he dropped the rodent.

Act 3

I turned the cat upright and carried him up to the house. Just as I shoved him in the back door, I saw a tick crawling on his chest. That’s got to be a record: two minutes outside to get both a shrew and a tick. So I grabbed a paper towel and then the cat and I darted back outside. I scooped up the rodent, flung it in the woods, dropped the towel in the compost bin, then tried to catch the cat. At this point, he didn’t know why I wanted to catch him. He just knew I was a killjoy who’d deprived him of both a snake and a shrew. So I had to chase him around the rose garden for a while (his go-to spot to elude me, since he’s  willing to step on flowers but I’m not), before I could nab him and pluck off the tick. 

At that point, we could finally get on with my original plan, which involved him quietly sitting outside and staring at a rustling bush, while I sat on the back stoop watching him and reading my book. 


The End

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Combine the following elements:

1) Night-time

2) Cat with cabin fever 

3) Glowing jogger’s armband worn as collar

4) Reflective aluminum canoe 

5) Feline curiosity 

No, the cat isn’t channeling his inner werewolf and howling at the moon. I think that weird circle is the flash reflecting off something, possibly my thumbnail. 


More realistic, but not quite as fun. 

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Cat vs. cucumber

If you’re the sort of person who likes surfing the internet for cat videos, you’ve probably already seen videos like these, in which people place cucumbers behind unsuspecting cats, then cats turn around and see the cucumbers and leap into the air in shock, while (figuratively) shrieking, “OMG, a terrifying green thing has crept up on me and is about to attack!”

Despite the video evidence, this seemed rather implausible to me. So I did what any good scientist would do: grabbed my camera and a cucumber from the fridge, and waited for the cat to start eating. Here’s the result:

Figuratively speaking, he’s saying “Oh, there’s a new thing on the floor. I wonder if I can eat it? Nope, doesn’t smell like food. Oh well.”

Maybe we have so many random objects lying around on the floor that he’s used to the concept.

Or maybe it’s because he’s cool as a cucumber.

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One of the hard parts about the end of daylight savings time is the fact it’s dark out when I get home from work. Now, I’m not talking about the mental impact, since everyone is familiar with that, but the feline logistical impact. Since the cat is only allowed outside under supervision, and I don’t want to lose him in the dark, there are about 4-5 months each year where I come home each evening to a cat who is very vocal about how pissed off he is that he’s not getting outside.

So at dusk the other day, I grabbed an old head lamp of M’s and put it around the cat’s middle and out we went. Having a light on him sort of helped, but it was just one small spot of light that kept sliding around to point toward the ground, and the button batteries were nearly dead anyway. But it worked well enough to prompt me to look online for a better alternative.

I wound up buying this LED armband designed for joggers. I liked that it was rechargeable, had a stretchy elastic section, and dimensions would work equally well that it could be adjusted for cat’s middle or neck.

And it has turned out to work great at letting me keep track of the cat as I follow him around in the dark!





Somehow, it’s highly entertaining to watch the glowing green blob move around the yard.

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Cat’s stomach was really unhappy. E’s commute was tediously long on both ends. Don’t think that I could have fallen asleep in either of their positions, but it seems to work for them. 



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