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First pet

This is me at 3, with my first kitty, Butterscotch. My sister says the cat was hers, but as you can see Butterscotch and I loved each other. However, this kitty's life came to an abrupt end when my dad backed over him on the way to work one morning. He drove off unaware, until my mother called him at the office, sobbing, “Butterscotch is all over the driveway!”

I don't believe we talked to Dad for a week after that.

Do you remember your first pet?

Mental Floss: 36 facts about cats

If there’s thing we know about the internet, it’s that the internet loves cats. But how much do you, Mr. and Mrs. Internet, really know about cats? However much you think you know about the internet’s favorite pet, we’ll bet you didn’t know all of the 36 facts about cats in this video.

This is John Green of the blog Mental Floss. Green’s whole job is to find the most obscure, interesting, or just plain weird facts about — everything. But we don’t need to know about everything. We only need to know about cats.

For instance did you know:

Pet cats outnumber pet dogs in the United States 88 to 74 —million, that is.

The brain of a cat shares 90 percent of its characteristics in common with the human brain. That’s more than dog brains.

 A typical house cat can run faster than any human being who ever lived — over 30 miles pert hour, in short bursts.

More here. You're welcome :-)


Thin Thor

Last week was Thor's annual physical. I'm pleased to announce my once tubby tabby is down from 18 pounds to 14 pounds. The vet said he is very muscular and healthy. Of course, part of that weight loss probably occurred in the car as he completely emptied his bladder and bowels.

Thor is not a fan of car travel.

Do your pets travel well?

Thor is column-ready

My intern, Thor, has expressed an interest in writing since he was a kitten. I think I'll let him take over my column, soon.

Is your pet helpful in any way?


Would you drink water from a bowl?

Latte drinks water.

Facebook friend Young Kwak's cat, Latte, wouldn't dream of slurping water from a bowl like an animal!  She prefers her water in a glass— and yes she has her own glass.

Also, yesterday I got a video from a HucksOnline blurker showing her cat playing fetch. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Does your pet have any quirky tendencies?

Pope Francis: raise kids not cats and dogs

Milo keeps watch.

Pope Francis had a message for married couples on Monday: four-legged friends don’t offer the same opportunities for love and godliness as raising a child.

The Pope addressed a group of 15 couples that have been married between 25 and 60 years during daily Mass on Monday, held in the chapel of the Santa Maria residence in the Vatican. The Pope stressed the importance of three qualities in a successful Christian marriage — faithfulness, perseverance and fruitfulness — during his remarks, according to Vatican Radio.

But the Pope also counseled childless couples to be fruitful and multiply, and not spend time raising pets when they could be raising children. Full story. TIME

But it's okay to have kids AND cats, right? What do you think of the Pope's remarks?

Dog people, cat people really are different

Thor sleeps.

(Newser) – “Dog people” and “cat people” may both fall into the animal lover category, but they're not exactly cut from the same cloth, a new study finds. Carroll University researcher Denise Guastello and her team surveyed 600 college students and found cat lovers to be more open-minded, sensitive, and non-conformist than the dog-fancying majority, which, besides being more outgoing, was more inclined to follow rules. Perhaps the most contentious finding of those presented on Saturday: Cat lovers emerged as more intelligent, LiveScience reports, without elaboration. Full story.

Of course, this comes as no surprise to me. How about you?

Photo: five cougars near Newman Lake home

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Ken Vanden Heuvel got a big surprise when he checked out the photos on the trail cam that's pointed down the driveway of his Newman Lake-area home.

Check it out closely:  1, 2, 3, 4 — 5 cougars in one shot.

Time to keep the dog in the house!

  • Even more impressive is the photo I published in 2010 with the story about about the Wenatchee hunter who captured a pride of EIGHT mountain lions in ONE trail cam photo.  See the story and photo here.

Wildlife refuge cameras catch cats in the act of poaching

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Florida research project on endangered species in the hammocks of North Key Largo uncovered an unwanted cast of video stars: Cats perched atop man-made woodrat nests.

“The cats are doing the things that cats do when they hunt,” Jeremy Dixon, manager of the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge says in a story by KeysInfoNet.

“It's not the fault of the cats,” Dixon said. “It's the fault of owners who allow their cats to trespass into the refuge, or people who dump cats on North Key Largo.”

My stand on the issue of domestic cats that are let loose to kill birds and other critters:

Loose-running domestic cats kill for fun. These cats are not wildlife. They should be licensed and required to abide by seasons and quotas just as human hunters.


Today’s holiday rerun about a cat

We pre-paid all the fees and the kitten got adopted by a nice woman who sent us pictures. She told us she had named the cat Noelle.

She became an indoor cat, but she and the two other felines at that home had access to a big screened-in back porch area. 


If you had to pick Coen brothers or cats

Which would you choose?

If you do not want to have to make that choice, do not listen to this half-hour interview. I would not call it riveting radio, but the moviemakers do reveal that they are utterly oblivious to the charms of felines. Amazingly so. The host mentions that she has a recurring nightmare about her own cat running away and one of the brothers suggests she, the host, would be better off. 


Of course, it could be that you are able to separate the art from the artist and do not require than you like everything about the artist's personality. 

Bald eagle ends mystery of South Hill missing cat

PREDATORS — Notice to the owner of the black cat missing on the South Hill:  We may have solved the mystery.. 

Says Facebook friend Dan Barth, who posted this photo: 

If you are missing your black cat… this friendly neighborhood bald eagle has relocated it…. 

Loose-running cats kill millions of song-birds each year.  

Perhaps this is the big bird's symbolic way of trying to even the score.

Today’s cat story

“My mother bought a bargain cat food from the now defunct Low Cost grocery store,” wrote Mike Storms. “When she opened up a can of it, wow, did it stink! Mom said it may smell bad to us but the cat would like it. When we put it in a dish and set it outside for the cat, the cat took one sniff of the food and buried it.”

Smart cats

Let's pick up where today's print column left off.

“My cat, Ed, was smart enough and fast enough to figure out how to catch a hummingbird last summer,” wrote Karen Mobley. “Unfortunately, it got stuck and I had to do the Heimlich to get the beak out before he choked to death.”

Let that be a lesson to you, Ed. Stop killing birds.

“Several years ago, I had a cat with an injured leg,” wrote Cathy McCoy. “We babied and fussed over that cat for several days until, one day, we noticed that she was limping on the wrong leg. Of course, if she had been truly smart she would have been limping on the leg that had been injured.”

Maybe she thought switching legs would earn her even better treatment.

“Every morning I get up and do some exercises which include bending over and touching the floor,” wrote Ken Otteman. “Mittens the cat comes from wherever she is in the house and stretches and rolls over each time I touch the floor. If I do not rub her back she gives me a look and a mew. When I get down on the floor to do roll-ups and push-ups she is right there waiting for her back, chin and ear rub. How many people have an exercise coach cat?”

Usually their role as personal trainers involves demonstrating how to take power naps.

“Lilly knocks on doors when she wants in,” wrote Becky Rainer.

And she knocks on her humans when she wants out.

“I think my cat should be considered the smartest cat ever just for the fact that she lived for 23 years,” wrote Marilyn Frei. “I finally had to put Kev down earlier this year after she had a spinal stroke. She spent the first 11 years of her life on a farm where she had to outsmart coyotes, cattle, tractors and trucks. After moving to Spokane she had to learn how to be a city (mostly indoor) cat. Kev had a unique instinct to be a comforter and companion for me following several surgeries and during any illness or injury. At these times she would stay by my side all day and all night, sleeping on my bed or snuggling with me on the couch or in a chair. Other times she was aloof and kept to herself. I miss her.”

That's not the first time I have heard that some felines seem to know when they are needed.

“Our cat Lisette is 13 years old,” wrote Michelle Batten. “Every evening while we are watching TV she wakes up and comes into the room and jumps up on the arm of the sofa beside my husband. She puts both paws on his shoulder and then strokes his face with her right paw until he gets up and gives her some wet food. She has been doing this for several years. She is good.”

Sounds like she has her routine down pat.

“Our cat Maow is smart because he is curious, knows when it's time to eat, and when to rest up for his next adventure,” said Steve Powers.

Sounds like a pretty good schedule.

“Hairy, one of two resident cats, is smart enough,” wrote Ellen Sherriffs. “He's smart enough to have a position with excellent benefits and a better retirement package than my own. All he has to do is smell like a cat to deter the garden mice from moving in. The balance of his day is spent sleeping on his face.”

Another good schedule.

“My 17-year-old kitty could retrieve the ball and meow with the ball in her mouth,” wrote Gale O'Connor. “She also could walk with us down to the lake and back up with us, which was about one mile. Many sweet memories of her.”

Back in the early 1980s, Mae Greenwood once walked door-to-door at night, soliciting donations for a charity. Her husband had to stay home with an infant. So Mae took her dog on a leash.

“At the second or third home I noticed that my cat, Smokey, was walking along with us. Many neighbors commented on my protectors and were amazed that Smokey sat and waited on their porch and then walked off with the dog and me to the next house. He was a very smart and devoted cat.”

Marilyn Courrier's cat, Shadow, once went inside the neighbor's house, which also has a pet door. The guy who lived there noticed Shadow in his kitchen. “Our neighbor says the cat looked at him, looked at the closed cat door, looked at him and bounded to the cat door, nudged the door up with his nose and leaped through the flap to freedom.”

So do cats form the thought, “I'm bustin' outta here”?

Perhaps with a bit of keyboarding help, a cat named Grady sent an email to The Slice noting that he was smart enough to adopt John and Ruth Williams after a previous owner dumped him beside a dirt road. “Today I live the Life Riley,” said Grady.

If only all pets were so lucky..

Announcing their presence

Unlike Deputy Barney Fife, I cannot claim to understand bird-speak.

But I have a hunch about what some of them are saying at this time of year.

“Don't rake your leaves.”

I'm guessing this because I noticed something the other night. Cats lose their stealth when moving through a yard covered with dry leaves.

And if I have noticed that, I would imagine the birds have, too.

Normally silent felines create crunching and rustling that all but blares “Here comes trouble!”

At least that's how I imagine a bird would view it.

Devil cat

You can blame DFO for this one. He apparently thinks kitty cats are the spawn of Satan. So, when I was out shopping and found this, I had to buy it for Thor. Who knew the devil wears a bow tie?

What? Like you don't buy Halloween costumes for your pet?


What’s your cat like when high on catnip?

My dental hygienist enjoys telling me about her cats.

I encourage this. In fact, I've written about her pets a time or two. Once it was about her older cat's ability to outsmart the automatic feeder. That contraption, intended for use when the human is away from home for a few days, is supposed to dispense just one serving of cat food every 12 hours. But Howie the cat figured out how to reach in and trigger additional releases of food. He pretty much viewed the whole thing as a self-serve setup.

Well, yesterday, the hygienist told me about how her felines react to the catnip she has been growing.

That's when she made me laugh.

She said, “Howie's sort of a mean drunk.”

Swimming cats saved

Mark Schneider photo

In this August 5, 2013 photo released by Mark Schneider, a cat named Jasper sits on top of a sinking tuna boat off of the Oregon coast about 80 miles from Newport, Ore. Mark and Cynthia Schneider and their two cats, Jasper and Topaz, survived after the boat sank following an engine explosion. Both cats eventually swam through the ocean to safety on the rescue boat.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — When the engine of their tuna boat exploded last week, owners Mark and Cynthia Schneider had no choice but to jump into the ocean and leave behind their two cats on the doomed vessel.

After being rescued by a nearby boat, they were stunned when they looked out at their sinking boat and saw one of the cats — a tabby named Jasper — on the bow. The other cat, a calico named Topaz, was in the ocean and eventually swam through the debris to safety on the rescue boat.

Jasper remained stranded at sea on the bow. As the boat sank deeper into the ocean, he was forced to jump in and swim toward his owners about 100 yards away. The cat made it to safety unharmed.

“They’ve got pretty good survival instincts,” Mark Schneider said. More here.

How well can your pet/s swim?

Bad cat news: 70 sick cats euthanized

SpokAnimal employees faced a heartbreaking decision when a deadly virus was discovered in several of the cats at the shelter: euthanize every cat or risk spreading the infection.

They opted to put down 70 cats.

“It was not a good night,” said Laura Thulean, SpokAnimal’s chief operating officer.

On July 30, shelter operators discovered that two litters of kittens brought to the shelter were infected with feline distemper, a viral infection that attacks the lining of the cat’s gastrointestinal tract. Cats with the virus experience bloody diarrhea and severe dehydration, and it is often fatal.

The kittens were strays, apparently found in a West Central garage, Thulean said. They didn’t start exhibiting symptoms until a few days after they’d been dropped off at SpokAnimal.

By then, it was too late. Other animals were already showing symptoms, and several random diagnostic tests showed many of the cats had the virus. Kaitlin Gillespie, SR

Have you ever adopted a pet from a shelter?

When the first-line editor is a feline

You have been right all these years. That scene early in “The Godfather” definitely wasn't Marlon Brando's first encounter with a cat.


You need a cat, don’t you?

The kitty doors are bursting at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, so the shelter is offering free cats to good homes today and Satuday. One hundred and three cats have come in since June 1 and they need someone to feed them, pet them and snuggle with them. I highly recommend warm, purring lap kitties as a sleep aid.

The adoption fees are waived and every cat gets free microchipping, spaying/neutering and vaccinations. All you have to do is pay for a $15 license and you can take a cat home. Shelter hours are from noon to 5:30 p.m. both days. The shelter is located at 2521 N. Flora Road. Go forth and adopt!

Cutline Contest — 5.29.13

Time 2 vote …

Tourists stop to view one of the hundred or so resident cats resting on a wall in the small town of Houtong, Taiwan. Cat lovers arrive by the dozens to fondle and photograph the felines of Houtong, one of Taiwan's former coal mining communities. Local residents welcome the unexpected rise in tourism due to the large feline population by building feeding points, lounging pedestals and have gone as far as constructing an elevated bridge for cats and visitors to roam across the passing railroad tracks. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Tuesday Winner — Arpie and Photoguy (photoshopped photo)/with 5 likes apiece: “The soldiers really enjoy the new Russian Calvary water ballet, but the horse doesn't like it much.” You can see the photo & 9 cutline entries here.

Have felines perfected this technology?


How else would you explain your neighbor's cat being able to get in your house without you noticing?

Photo: Police cat

A bold cat made his presence known to a Spokane Police officer’s patrol car this evening after a SWAT standoff came to an end.

He sniffed around the scene near Princeton Avenue and Monroe Street looking for news and ducked under the patrol car for a few moments.

And then the cat jumped on the car's hood - probably expecting a ride-along - and sniffed the roof's antenna before running off.

Milo visits the vet

Poor Milo is at the vet as I type getting his teeth cleaned. To say he doesn't travel well is an understatement. He's shredded cardboard carriers and puked and peed in plastic ones.

This morning we forgo the carrier and he sat perched on my shoulder like a terrified parrot the entire way.(See photo above). But he didn't scratch, scream or have any accidents, so I'd say our no-carrier choice was a success.

Does your pet travel well?

Feline endorses Chinese dissident

Of course, this isn't much of a shocker as that appears to be one of artist Ai Weiwei's own cats.


This date in Slice history (1998)

Tough cats: After we asked what local house cat could go 15 rounds with a coyote, we heard from Sheri Hatley in Thornton, Wash. “We have a cat named Mama (not the nurturing kind) who likes to chase our dog, Curly, a cocker/shepherd mix,” she wrote.

Mama hisses and swats at Curly during the pursuit.

“She also won't let any of the other cats eat until she is finished,” added Hatley. “She's downright mean.”

Colville's Phyllis Hyatt told about a battled-scarred cat named Big Al. He won't back down from anything.

And Valleyford's Ann Bowers reported  that her cat, Chip, has gone toe-to-toe with coyotes and lived to tell about it.

Bobcat finds backyard squirrels appetizing

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Newcastle, Wash., man got a rare daylight view of a bobcat and her kitten in action this week — through his kitchen window.

J.D. Hammerly was able to snap photos of the bobcat squirrel hunting spree in his backyard.

Newcastle is in Western Washington bettween Issaquah and Mercer Island.