Archive for the 'Animals' Category

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
Lessons Learned on Phone Typing with Ferrets

While visiting a friend’s house yesterday, I attempted to learn the new technology of Ferret Phone Typing (FPT). ¬†I had been informed that my friend’s ferrets had been used to demonstrate this technology in the past and thought I, as a new user of FPT, might be able to make use of these already skilled ferrets and my own Windows Phone 7.

In the course of this hands-on learning experience, I discovered some key tips I’d like to pass along to anyone else who may seek to try FPT.

  1. FPT requires that you  determine whether you are left-ferreted or right-ferreted ahead of time. Use of the incorrect ferret orientation can lead to both an unacceptable number of errors and even dropping of the phone device while trying to utilize the ferret.
  2. FPT should be attempted by gently scruffing the ferret in use and touch its nose gently to the phone in use. Note that the phone may need to be cleaned frequently and excessive use of the same ferret may result in phone damage due to gnawing.
  3. FPT has a limited session time so it’s best to compose only short messages that can be easily completed during that session time. If longer messages are desired, multiple FPT sessions may be required.
  4. FPT is not suitable for children as the ferret cannot be adequately controlled by a child to have achieve the precision necessary for FPT.
  5. FPT is best accomplished using ferrets that are not already in “war mode.” Typically, ferrets that are just waking up or trying to sleep make the best FPT devices.
  6. FPT should only be attempted with ferrets that have recently visited the litterbox as the ferret in use may become annoyed at process and make that annoyance known in a rather unpleasant manner.
(Note: No ferrets were harmed in the development of Ferret Phone Typing but I almost passed out when I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breath. The ferrets were not as amused, though.)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Cats as Office Assistants

Up until today my cats have been locked out of my home office. There was too much chaos and too many things for them to get into. So, thwarted by not having opposable thumbs, they resorted to sitting outside the door, pawing at it and yodeling as only a donkey attempting an operatic aria or an annoyed cat can. I admit it, I did laugh at their expense. But today I felt sorry for them, especially my sickly skinny cat that’s probably not going to be around a whole lot longer. It’s cold and he’s skinny and loves to lay on me but can’t when I’m working in the office and he’s not allowed in.

So I caved.

First Harley (the skinny guy) came in and very nervously sniffed all through the room and rubbed his chin on anything and everything he could claim for himself. It was HIS, dammit. After several trips in and out the now mysteriously open door, he discovered the reading chair’s ottoman and the fluffy warm blanket I’d laid on it for him. He was happy to nest there for a while.

Then, just as he got comfortable, we had a brief visit from Nettle. Nettle is one of the Scaredy Cat Club — she’s semi-feral and not at all willing to come within 20 feet of a human. I heard a cat come in and turned to look around the side of the desk. When she saw there was a HUMAN in this mysterious room, she bolted. No pictures of her, sorry.

Another twenty minutes or so later, Merlin showed up. Merlin is our oldest cat and would gladly knock off all other cats so he had all the pets and humans for himself alone. He and Harley are arch enemies most of the time though lately they’ve devolved to a more “willful obliviousness” state. He pestered me for pets for a while and then discovered the ottoman and blanket when Harley went out of the room for a bit.

They danced around any need to acknowledge each others’ presence for quite a while, even ending up on the ottoman and blanket together, until the unthinkable happened. Meeps, our dominant girl kitty, discovered the office was open. In she saunters! Again some requisite exploration, then she hopped up on the ottoman and pestered the boys to groom her by meowing and kneading them until they got disgusted and ceded the rights to the ottoman and blanket to her. She is Queen! Note the laser eyes, too.

I needed more tea after this and the whole group trouped down the stairs after me as if I were the pied piper. When i got back up to the office, they started getting into things and got booted out for a while.

Such help.

Sunday, April 18th, 2010
S(tarvation) Condition!


On the weekends, I try to sleep in a little or at least laze about in the bedroom before coming down to face the many chores that Must Be Done. This is great for me but my cats are not at all pleased with this plan. I have seven (yes, seven) indoor only cats–the perils of cat rescue–but four of them are the demanding ones. These cats meet me at my bedroom door every morning to let me know they are starving and in dire need of sustenance.

They also try to conveniently forget that they have an entire HUGE bowl of dry cat food at all times. That’s not real food, after all–or so they claim.

Now the indoor cats are banned from the bedroom due to some bad behavior and they are Not Amused by this. Even though it’s been almost a year since they were banished. I’m not sure they will ever accept it as the new “normal”. When the start to hear Mr. Maura and I stirring in the bedroom in the morning, they take up their stations right outside the bedroom door and commence meowing to try to hurry us along. I’m not sure about anyone else’s cats but mine are decidedly un-musical. A cowbell would be more pleasant, actually.

But today we didn’t emerge within a short time of there being talking and noise in the bedroom and the cats commenced their pestering with even more vigor. As best we can tell, they have set up an S-Con system.

S-Con 5: Cats are hungry but assume the humans will quickly perform their feeding duties. Meowing at the door at moderate volume is sufficient.

S-Con 4: Cats are even hungrier but the humans have already taken longer than a typical lag time. More incentive is needed. Meowing shall increase in volume and cats must thump shoulders and hips on the bedroom door to encourage you to move faster.

S-Con 3: Cats now feel actual hunger pangs. Humans are unresponsive or have begun meowing back or laughing. Mocking is not a satisfactory response to cat misery. Meowing shall become yodeling and scratching at the door shall commence.

S-Con 2: Cats now despair of actually getting two servings of squishy food during this day. Humans are definitely mocking or have become unresponsive again. Meowing is no longer sufficient and cats shall begin yowling and stage gladitorial combat outside the bedroom door to illicit appropriate level of urgency from the humans.

S-Con 1: Cats give up on food and commence retribution. Hairball barfing may commence with effort made to place mess in traffic path and if any shoes are left accessible and unguarded, they shall be peed in.

Cats – who knew? LOL.

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Today’s Coyote Picture

I had the zoom lens on the camera today.

It’s a BIG picture. Click on the thumbnail to see the big picture.

Thursday, February 19th, 2009
Mr. Coyote is Visiting – Again

Yesterday I noticed all my indoor cats were staring out the sliding glass door into the backyard, totally engrossed on something out there. I thought maybe one of my neighbor’s danged dogs had gotten out again (they aren’t very good about keeping them home and they are BIG dogs that terrorize my seven year old son). When I went to look out the door, I did see what had kept them so amazed….

There was a full grown coyote lazing about and sunning himself in the grass, maybe twenty feet away from my back door. He was completely unbothered by the audience. I watched him for a moment then went to get my camera but when he saw me at the door, he ran for the woods.

Today he was in the yard again, though further away, and this time I got a few pictures of him. Bear in mind these were taken at a decent distance, through a dirty sliding glass door and then cropped. Still, you can tell it’s Coyote and NOT a dog.

I can’t help wondering, when he stopped twice to turn and look straight at me, just what he was trying to tell me. Usually an appearance of Coyote is a sign of change and of lots of creativity. Here’s hoping and I hope it’s change for the good.

(NOTE: my cats are indoor ONLY cats but we do caretake a feral cat colony. Unfortunately there’s not much I can do about that but they are all pretty smart and coyote savvy and have a lot of hiding places Mr. Coyote can’t fit into.)