cats

Love Your Children

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I was at the lake the other day, just sitting on a chair, reading and relaxing while some people were out paddling our canoes. It was quite nice and peaceful until one particular family stopped by. From the moment they got out of their truck, the mother was yelling at her kids. They were early school age, perhaps 5 and 8.
“Don’t you DARE go in the water! I won’t help you dry!”
“You get along with your sister or you won’t like what happens next!”
“Stay over there! Don’t come over here!”
“You two stop FIGHTING! That is the LAST time you fight on this trip!”
“I can’t BELIEVE you two!”
… et cetera. Her tone of voice was very harsh and she actually drove one of the kids to tears — loud crying from an 8-year-old — and they had to leave the park.

I felt so bad for those kids. I mean, I had no place to interfere, but part of me wished I had some cool toys that I could lure them over with and then just show them some lovingkindness, because they sure weren’t getting any at home.

I know, I’m not a parent. Some of you might tune me out because of that. But I strongly feel that if that mother had been capable of showing just 10 minutes of concentrated love to her kids, and then some softness throughout the day, those kids would be so much happier. As it is, they are on track to be depressed by 10 years of age and very troublesome teenagers. Those kids had no idea they are loved; in fact, they might not be. Her tone of voice and choice of words indicate they aren’t. Perhaps she regrets having them. It sounds like she hates them. Perhaps they really are little hellions. LOVE would reverse that in no time!!

So please – don’t have kids unless you REALLY want them. Just don’t. Get fixed. Use birth control religiously. Be ultra-careful. And if you think you want kids, consider these points:

– If you think babies are cute, get a kitten! They are really cute and much easier to love and care for in 2 or 3 years when they mellow out as cats instead of becoming demanding toddlers. They’ll snuggle and purr and love you, fulfilling many of the same needs as babies. A kitten from the SPCA would be the best!

- If you want a kid to toss a ball to or take to the fair (to do things with, so you aren’t alone), get a dog! They are great companions! And if you treat them right, they’ll be very loyal and obedient. If you want a little obedient slave, get a DOG, not a kid! Or join Big Brothers or Big Sisters, or borrow a niece or nephew and give your sis or bro the afternoon off! If that’s your primary reason, you don’t need one of you own.

- If a lot of your friends have kids and say you should too, ask yourself 3 things: 1- If they took up skydiving without a chute, would I do that too? 2- Are they REALLY happy? 3- How hard is it to make new friends? They shouldn’t be pressuring you!

- If you want to reproduce to make a mini-me, just remember that they are only mini for a short time, and before long you MUST let them be their own person. They may grow up to be biker-dudes or jobless vagrants, or worse, unscrupulous lawyers! You can’t choose their destiny one bit, and you might as well figure that out before conception.

- If you want children but are terrified of pregnancy and childbirth, why not adopt? There are so many kids needing loving homes.

- If you want children — and lots of them — because your religion says so, I simply say this: Do you ever feel manipulated? Is there a chance your religion wants you to churn out little catholics or mennonites or muslims or… just to keep their numbers up? For statistics, or for preservation of a their beliefs? By far, most people get their religion from their upbringing. Something to consider.

[funny YouTube video about procreation]

So I hope that somehow, that angry mother can learn to relax, love and accept herself and then pass it on to her kids. I don’t entirely blame her — for whatever reason, that is just where she’s at. She’s on her own path, and her children, sooner or later, will come to peace with how she’s treated them. I think Geneen Roth said “over the course of our lives, we get what our parents never gave us.” So, if you have little ones, even if they’re not so little any more, please take 10 minutes to connect with them, do something they enjoy doing, and show them you love them, every day.

Touch Me!

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A dear friend of mine got her dog from a shelter once. I don’t know the whole story, but I gather he was taken there because he wasn’t wanted, and this might have been because he was deaf. It wasn’t a big problem actually, and the dog adapted really well since hearing isn’t a dog’s major sense. When she wanted its attention at home, my friend would stomp her feet and the dog would turn to her, and she’d do simple sign language with it. When she took him for walks, she would take a few wieners along in a baggie. She’d go to the edge of town, where there was a huge field, and let him off the leash. When it was time to go back home, or if she wanted his attention for any reason, she’d just take a wiener out of the baggie and waggle it — the dog would come running! Wieners have such a strong smell, he smelled them instantly, even from a distance. It worked better than yelling works for people with normal dogs, and it did so because a dog’s primary sense is smell.

In contrast, a cat’s primary sense is hearing.Eddie If you want to get a cat’s attention — although you may never get its obedience! — make an unusual sound. Words don’t work very well, as cats don’t have a verbal center in their brains, but a scratching or swooshing noise is quite effective. Any sound that also tickles their innate curiosity is a good one! Their eyesight is also keen, and that’s why laser pointers and other erratic light sources will capture their attention.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39167773@N00/2928695789/You can tell quite well what sense is dominant for an animal just by looking at its anatomy. Cats have large ears and eyes, while dogs and bears have big noses and small eyes. HawksKite have big eyes and owls have big ear sockets (although they aren’t immediately visible) but not much sense of smell. Vultures have good noses, as you might expect for a scavenger.

This makes me wonder about people — what is our primary sense? We don’t have very big noses — our noses don’t dominate our faces like dogs or bears. Our ears are not bad, but not particularly large either; these big brains of ours are great at interpreting tone of voice, but nothing very subtle that requires supersonic hearing. A few of us, musicians and sound techs, have better developed ears, but that’s more to do with the brain, I think. Our eyes are fairly big, but we don’t have very good night vision, and tend to lose our vision with age, so I don’t think it’s that. If I take clues from our anatomy, I think it’s touch. We are the only land animal with such a large percentage of our bodies covered with skin (I’m not massagegoing to talk about whales). Doesn’t it make sense that our dominant sense is touch — we greet by touching, we get an immediate impression about people by their handshake, and we loooooooove massages (not to mention, ahem, you know). We also communicate a lot by body language, which is facilitated by our (mostly) hairless bodies, decent eyesight, and expressive faces. But it’s touch all the way, with taste perhaps coming in second!

So touch me, baby, it’s my primary sense!

A Few Laughs

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I know I don’t usually do this, but I don’t usually surf on You Tube. Yesterday, I was a little bored and went in search of some funny videos. I lost all track of time, but I came across some very cute, funny videos. Thought I might as well share them here! First, a couple of funny cat ones:

Simon’s Cat – “Cat-Man-Do” and any other “Simon’s Cat” animation. :)

The Mean Kitty Song

A couple funny commercials (there are so many out there, but these were my favourites):caution-lost time

Kid-having-a-tantrum commercial (french with subtitles)

Magic fridge commercial

…and a couple to poke fun at men with fast cars (thanks Loretta)!

Red Ferarri

Yellow Corvette

See, I told you commercials have a plot and a hidden (or not so hidden) message! These ones are funny, but most are designed to create a want or a feeling of lacking something. It’s subtle, and you may be so used to it, you don’t even notice. Anyways, enjoy these ones, and have a giggle!

*CAUTION* You can easily get sucked into YouTube for hours and not even know it!

Population Cycles

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licking-his-chopsI recently saw a show about cats — a National Geographic program — which talked about their special adaptations for hunting and how they became domesticated. They actually chose to be domesticated by humans. They were attracted to where people live, catching mice in our barns and houses, eating dropped food (or getting handouts!), using our shelter, and overall, they realized that living with people is advantageous to them. The other cool thing is that they can also quickly go feral and live totally on their own again in the wild. So although they are domesticated, they can reverse the process at any time! This explains my usually mild-mannered kitty suddenly going berserk when he gets overstimulated, for example. But he’s nothing like the cat I had that went feral.

His name was Arnie, named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, and we used to let him go outside, and then had to track him down at night to get him back in. One night, he wouldn’t come back in and was nowhere to be found. For several days we looked all around the neighbourhood, but no sign of Arnie. Eventually, we stopped looking, but an ad in the paper about a month later described our cat found about 20 blocks away — sure enough, it was Arnie. But he wasn’t the same. He was totally wild, quite scruffy looking, had signs that he’d been in some fights, and really did not want to be indoors. He spoke through his body language, as cats always do, and scratched my husband on the eyelid. After that, we let him out and sort of stopped looking for him to come in at night, and he was gone for good.

But coming back to the idea of cats eating mice and other vermin… In the middle ages, vermin (love that word!), and therefore cats, thrived in cities, but also around that time, people started getting really superstitious. They started accusing each other of being witches, and many cats were killed too, believed to be the minions of darkness. You have to admit, they can be kind of spooky — silently appearing out of nowhere, slinking around, eyes glowing in the dark… In any case, superstitions got the best of them, and they killed off almost all the cats who would have killed the rats who carried the fleas who carried the Bubonic Plague. An estimated 75 million people died in that plague — 30-60% of the population of Europe at the time, and the plague spanned from China to Northern Africa and throughout Europe. It turns out cats are partially immune to the Bubonic Plague! Isn’t it ironic that cats could have saved humans if we hadn’t been so irrational and superstitious. (Hmm… I wonder if we have any superstitions or false beliefs now that are affecting our future…)

I’m currently reading a great used bookstore find, Nahanni, by Dick Turner. It’s about his adventures in the Northwest Territories and Yukon in the 30’s – 50’s. The explorers of the time truly lived off the land; they literally walked a hundred miles a year in the wilderness maintaining trap lines, hunting, and doing whatever they had to do to survive. Turner observed the land and the animals, and he noticed certain cycles — the typical predator-prey cycle where, as the moose population grew, so did the number of wolves. Then, as the wolves decimated the moose population, they starve or have to move to other areas. Predator and prey… it’s a natural cycle, and although we don’t seem to like it, that’s the way the natural world is. We especially don’t like being prey! Come to think of it, we aren’t fond of starving either! We want to be the top predator, but never starve. Anyways, Dick Turner noticed another cycle: periodically, the rabbit population would climb, until 3-4 years after peaking, a disease would come and rapidly wipe almost all of them out. Then, they would gradually start reproducing again, and even though they had many predators, they reproduced so fast, they would eventually reach that peak-disease-decline part of their cycle again. The cycle repeats about every 7-11 years.

So… could this ever happen to us? We aren’t exactly rabbits, but really, man has no major natural predators. Sure, grizzlies and wolves killed and ate some of the pioneers, and still get a few people a year, but it would seem that man’s main population control is in diseases. Unless you consider self-predation — war still kills far too many of us with far too few working on preventing it… in this way, we are our own predators. But it seems possible that diseases might be our population-control cycle, if we get too crowded. We are getting better and better at curing and preventing some of them, yet we still die of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and more self-inflicted diseases. And we’re working on eliminating other things that kill us — accidental deaths and crime in the developed world, and hunger and various diseases in the developing world (malaria and AIDS come to mind). We are working so hard to maintain and extend our lives, and reproduce, on a planet that must eventually have a limit to the amount of life it can support. Unless we get a lot smarter about how we grow food, purify water, and consume natural resources, it’s possible that another Black Plague might come to reduce our population.

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A few minutes ago, as I was writing about death, my heart started pounding a little. It’s uncomfortable, yet it shouldn’t be. Death is a part of life. A flower, so beautiful and fragile, must die to produce the fruit it is meant to produce. Perhaps we are the same, but we are so attached to this life, and the superficial things in it, that we can’t see any good in death. And we get sidetracked, when we could be living fully in the moment… and so we miss the most beautiful parts of life and death. Perhaps we would do well to be like a flower, happily enduring the heat, the cold, the rain, the wind, and always turning to face the light. To just be. To stop stressing about the future, including diseases, and just be.

frozen-pansy