2

Critter Capers: Horatio Takes on the Internet

Hello Humans. Nice to talk with you again. I’ve been watching Mom on her computer and decided that I need to set the record straight on some of what she was looking at on “social media”.  I’m going to start with pictures. I don’t want to get into some of things I’ve seen on Facebook and YouTube. Let’s just say that some people have no common sense filters when it comes to their animals.

Before I start, I must say that I really don’t understand why it is called social media. When hedgehogs are social, there is more than one of us present and we communicate face to face. As far as I can tell, humans are social one at a time and do it over a long period of time. And they don’t actually know who they are talking to.

Anyway, here we go. (Pictures are from Imgur.)

Seriously?! You’re probably looking at this and saying, “awwwww,” aren’t you? Do you know how humiliating it is to be objectified as food?  Ladies, would you want to be called “cupcake”?

Of course, there are worse things that can happen:

Is that not the cheapest suit you have ever seen? What makes humans think they can put their hedgehog in something they would never be caught dead in? (It’s a joke: that hedgehog is supposed to be dressed up like Dracula.)

Remember when you were little and your Mom took pictures of you in the bathtub? Then she threatened to show them to your girlfriends/boyfriends? How would you like this?

Now the entire world knows you still like bubble baths. Totally humiliating. And it perpetuates that fallacy that we all love water. As far as I’m concerned, water is for drinking.

I won’t even discuss this one. The human probably had it in his/her mouth before they took the picture. Ewwwwww.

I thought I’d include one picture I like. This is me with a new favorite food.

Horatio_cookie

Yep. It’s a chocolate cookie. Mom says it’s genetic since everyone else likes chocolate. I just can’t eat too much. I discovered I like peanut butter too. Human food is OK, but it’ll never replace wax worms. You really should try them.

I’m going to try to convince Mom not to spend anymore time looking at embarrassing hedgehog pictures. They even have ones with the private parts all exposed. I might have shown one of those but I was too embarrassed.

I would also like to request that all of you not post pictures of your animal friends that you would not post of yourself.

On second thought, maybe I should just take your cameras away.

One final question:

Why do humans think this picture is funny?

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6

Critter Capers: Wintertime Blues

Super Snooper (SS): It’s good to finally be back.

Kommando Kitty (KK): Yeah. Mom’s been sick so much this winter that she keeps putting off typing our article. It is nice having her around to sleep with, though.

SS: Particularly when she turns on that bed warmer thing.

KK: It’s really nice when she turns it on and goes away for a few minutes. We can lay on the warmest spot before she gets in bed.

SS: And she finally understands that it’s impossible to move both of us at the same time. The only bad thing is that they shut the door to downstairs down. So we have to find someone to let us up there.

KK: Dad keeps talking about how much it would cost to heat the upstairs as warm as the downstairs. He makes it sound like it’s warm downstairs.

SS: I know. We have to sleep together to keep from freezing. And we have fur!

                   IMG_20150108_010733762

Horatio Hedgehog (HH): What are you two yowling about now?

KK: How cold it is. Mom won’t even open the drapes sometimes. She says the old windows let cold air in. Why don’t they just buy new windows? Why should we have to suffer?

HH: It doesn’t feel very cold to me.

SS: That’s because your cage is heated!

HH: I come out to explore sometimes.

SS: Dad puts you on a heated blanket before you go anywhere!

HH: Maybe he just likes me better.

(low growls)

HH: Well, you know I am more popular. My introduction was the favorite story last year according to that report Mom got. (https://cat9984.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/horatio-hedgehog-intrepid-explorer )

KK: Yeah, we saw it. You were a couple of spots above the one talking about fake cheese (https://cat9984.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/cheez-whiz-love-it-or-hate-it )

HH: You’re just jealous. There is one problem with Mom being sick. Dad forgot to tell her that I was almost out of treats before she stayed home from work. No wax worms for days!

KK and SS: Awwww. Poor hedgie!

HH: Fine. I’ll just go back to my nice warm bed and sleep.

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SS: Let’s go see if there’s any food left in the kitchen.

KK: OK. Then we can go back to sleep.

8

Critter Capers: Letters to St. Nicholas

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/c8/d6/1f/c8d61ffe41929d93319de1c78ff1bbed.jpg

 

Dear Santa Claws

Mom said that if we were good animals, that you would bring us presents on Christmas. I’m not sure when that is, but I think it’s soon. There’s a big tree in the front room and lots of bags upstairs.

But maybe not. Mom said you live where it’s cold this time of year and you don’t look cold in your picture.

Anyway, I have been a good cat. I don’t scratch on the furniture. Well only the love seat, and you can’t even tell. I give mouse presents and cuddle a lot. Even with the other cat. And I always use the litter box.

Would you please bring me

  1. A warming blanket that doesn’t have all those wires that push into my skin. I know I’m furry, but I can still feel them. I can’t cuddle with my human because he wears one of those all the time.
  2. Some smoked turkey in a bag like Mom brings home. I really like it, but they only share a little.
  3. One of those toys I can hold in my front paws and kick with my back paws. The other cat doesn’t like those, so I don’t have to fight her off.
  4. A How to Catch Mice book for the humans. No matter how many times I show them how to hunt, they still want me to make the kill. They need to learn to fend for themselves.
  5. A silencer for the other cat that I can control. She talks a LOT.
  6. A bag of the kitty kibble they buy for the spiny guy. He gets better quality food than I do.
  7. A new scratching post. The ones downstairs are used up. My human keeps saying the he will resurface it, but that never happens. If you can’t bring that, could you please bring him a video of what happens to cats if they can’t sharpen their nails correctly? Or maybe something from YouTube of a bad cat using his human as a scratching post when the post is unusable?

Thank you very much.

Super Snooper (I have enclosed a picture so you know for sure who I am. The humans NEVER take pictures of anything and it shows.)

Snoops_122014

 

Dear Santa

You sure look like a cool cat. I bet you bring all kinds of good stuff.

I have been a good kitty. I make sure my human (Mom) gets up on time for work. It’s not my fault she gets up really early some days and not so early other days. You know cats like routines. I help make sure she gets enough sleep. Twice I have told the humans when the other cat was locked in another room. Maybe it was three times. The first time they ignored my crying. I help Mom find things on this little computer thingy. And I always use the litter box.

Please bring me

  1. One of those fishing pole toys. I used to have a lot of them. The humans got mad when I chewed the strings. How else was I supposed to play with the toy after I captured it? The male humans don’t leave their fish on the hooks.
  2. A warming blanket that the other cat won’t get her smell all over. And that the humans won’t steal from me when they get cold. Something nice and furry would be good.
  3. Some of that meat the humans had the other day. I think they called it a “pot roast”. (That’s kinda weird since it didn’t come out of a pot.) I usually don’t like human food, but that was really yummy.
  4. A How to Speak Siamese for the humans. They keep saying that I talk a lot, but if they would just listen and respond I wouldn’t have to talk so much.
  5. A heater like the spiny guy has if you can’t get #2. It’s some kind of board they put next to his cage. Then they cover his cage with a blanket. He stays really warm. I think the humans could make a blanket tent for us cats (I would share) and attach the board to one of the sides.
  6. A different job for Mom so she can stay home all day and cuddle with us (I would share). Maybe one of those jobs you do at home or something that works with Dad’s schedule so we always have a human to cuddle with.
  7. A cat door to upstairs where the bedrooms are. When it’s cold, Dad keeps the door up there closed. Something about heating a barn. I don’t get it – we live in a house. Anyway, then we could get up and go to sleep up there when we want (I would share). And Mom couldn’t kick me out when I want breakfast on my normal schedule.

Your Friend

Kommando Kitty

Kommando_122014

 

Dear Mr. Claws

I hope that I am not imposing by asking for a few things for Christmas. I have worked on being a better hedgehog all year. I no longer poop on Mom. I don’t hiss at the humans or curl up into a ball every time I see them. I am trying to get my quills to stay soft enough so they don’t need the gloves. I am very appreciative of the wax worms they give me to eat. I cuddle up and sleep on both of them now.

I am requesting:

  1. One of those plastic balls so I can run around the room by myself without worrying about the furballs. Please make sure it is hedgehog-safe.
  2. Soundproofing for my cage. Dad doesn’t seem to understand that I’m nocturnal. He turns on the TV all the time. And loud (hedgehogs have very sensitive ears).
  3. If you can’t soundproof my cage, would you please send him some earphones?
  4. A larger water dish. I am a clean hog and use it for both bathing and drinking. (The bathing is mainly when I stick my snout too far into the bowl.) They don’t remember to check it every day. My home is nice and warm and the water in the air keeps my skin soft. But then I don’t have it to drink.
  5. A timer for Dad. He used to get me out every night at 10p. Now he only gets me out every other night. It would be OK but then he forgets and I don’t get to have my worm snack for several days.
  6. A barrier so the furballs can’t play right next to my cage. They growl and thump and make all kinds of noise. Not only does it wake me up, it gives me nightmares. I guess it would be daymares.
  7. Some extra worms so I can share with Mom and Dad. That way they would know why I like them so much. Maybe we could snack together every night.

Most Sincerely Yours in Gratitude

Horatio, Lord Nelson

Horatio_122014

6

Cats + Hedgehog + WordPress = Success

You may have guessed that I am not particularly detail-oriented about a lot of things. For example, I looked at the WordPress Stats page for the first couple of weeks I was blogging and haven’t been back. (It’s probably a little less depressing now.)

I am gracious enough to see who has joined the blog and check out their site. I reply to comments and look at the notification of who has “liked” a blog.

I’m guessing that the posts that continue to get “likes” as time goes by are the ones that appear in the little box you get telling you that someone liked your post. Which keeps them in the little box until you write something even more thrilling.

Anyway, after a period of (more or less) being clueless, it has slowly come to my attention that some subjects are significantly more popular than others. (I can sense the collective “duh!” out there.) Based on nothing other than a vague recollection of what I have received in my in-box, I think my topics are cats, hedgehogs, and WordPress/blogging.

So I had a brilliant idea. <groan> The cats and hedgehog should get their own blog. They could write about their adventures and become a WordPress sensation. Then I started thinking. (It’s a bad sign when the thinking comes after the great idea.)

  • Collectively, they sleep between 55 and 60 hours/day. That doesn’t leave much time for adventures.
  • None of them can type.
  • They don’t speak the same language. And none of them speak any type of human.
  • There are several cat-narrated blogs out there. I’m not sure that working with a hedgehog would be enough to differentiate them.
  • None of them are particularly good at working in groups (“diva syndrome”)
  • They don’t seem very interested in schedules, unless it’s for feeding time. Hugely irregular posting is not the route to celebrity.

So I’ve decided to share my blog with them. They will be making occasional appearances as guest-bloggers. I will type and make sure everything is in English.

That said, they need User Profiles. In order of adoption into the family:

Super Snooper – I am a beautiful calico cat. I joined the family in May 2012 when I was 2 years old. They rescued me from a shelter that must have had a million dogs in it. It was awful! My favorite activities are eating, sleeping and cuddling. I also like to eat photographs. I enjoy an occasional mousing expedition. Since it’s gotten colder, I really enjoy sleeping by the fireplace. I tried to climb in it after a cleaning, but the human made me get out. (There wasn’t a fire in there; I don’t know what the problem was.) My favorite toys are a stuffed sheep and a stuffed rat. I also go by the initials SS.

Kommando Kitty – I am part Siamese and part generic snow cat. I have extremely thick, white and gray, ultra-fine fur made for cold weather. I prefer to cuddle in front of the fire or in bed. I also enjoy sleeping and mousing. I joined the family in July 2012 when I was about 4 weeks old. My first humans deserted me. I tried to jump in the window here twice, but fell in the window well both times. Finally they brought me into the house. My new favorite toy is something Mom (the alpha female here) calls a laptop computer. I am making it do things even she doesn’t understand. I go by the initials KK.

Horatio Hedgehog – I am an African Pygmy Hedgehog. I have black and white quills and a furry tummy. I joined the family last Christmas. It is really cold here. Luckily the humans have given me a heater. I don’t really like cats, but these two are OK. Dad (the alpha male) finally figured out that I was tired of only getting kitty kibble to eat (I’m not a cat, you know). So now I get a few wax worms at night. They are extremely yummy. I only have one toy, my wheel. But I really like it and use it every night. I go by the initials HH.

So that’s the team. They wanted a title for their posts, so people won’t confuse them with mine. We have come up with Kritter Kapers. (Nobody gets their name in the title.) I read that the letter “K” is supposed to appeal to readers. I don’t get it – it just looks misspelled to me. You will see the first post sometime next month.

Assuming I can keep Kommando from turning off my email or Internet access.

10

Cat Forum: Living with a Hedgehog

On this edition of Cat Forum our two resident experts, Super Snoops (SS) and Kommando Kitty (KK) will answer questions regarding living with their somewhat unusual housemate, Horatio Hedgehog.

Host: How did you feel when the humans brought a hedgehog into the house?

SS: We didn’t know what it was. It looked like a gift for us that needed to be unwrapped to get rid of all the pointy things.

KK: But it smelled horrible. Not like any mouse I’d ever known.

Host: When did you find out what it really was?

KK: The male human was cuddling it. Can you imagine actually wanting to hold that?

SS: And he held it up to the female, and said it was an early Christmas present. She was all excited and told him how cute it was. No accounting for taste.

KK: We went on the computer and looked it up. It said African Pygmy Hedgehog.

SS: We wondered when it would be going back to the Africa Hedge.

KK: Soon we hoped. It smelled really bad.

Host: Did you try to make friends with it?

SS: I went up and tried to sniff it, but it totally ignored me. I put out a paw and it totally ignored me. I went a little closer. It was way too prickly to get close to.

KK: I looked from the distance. It was all rolled up and made funny noises. And it smelled …

Host: Yes, we understand. Hedgehogs smell bad. Did he sleep with you?

SS: They gave him a cage, so I didn’t have to worry about being attacked in the middle of the night.

KK: True. But it was a really nice cage. His exercise equipment was right there. Along with his food and his water.

SS: And he got really good food. Better kibble than us.

KK: And a heater.

Host: Did you try to make him feel at home?

KK (purring): Did you know they eat hedgehogs in some places?

Host: Moving on. Did he get in the way of cuddle time with your humans?

SS: Not really. Apparently hedgehogs like it warm, and the humans keep our house at cuddle temperature (as they like to call freezing). So he only came out at night.

KK: I don’t know why they bothered. All he did was sit in a ball and sound like he was going to explode. I don’t understand the appeal. You can’t cuddle it, you can’t play with it, and you can’t eat it. It doesn’t even look attractive all balled up.

Host: I imagine things have smoothed out a bit.

SS: Yes, he seems to have calmed down a little….

KK: And he almost ran away from home twice. I even had to rescue him one time. And they gave him a couple of baths. It was hilarious. The only thing funnier than a wet dog is a wet hedgehog. He tried to shake the water from his quills.

Host: Did I hear you correctly Kommando Kitty? You rescued him?

KK: Yeah. The idiot tried to go down some stairs. I stood guard over his lifeless little body until a human noticed. Turns out he wasn’t lifeless, he was sleeping.

Host: So things must be a little better.

SS: I watch from my cat tree. He appears to have bonded with the male human – my male human – rather than the female human – her human (motions at Kommando Kitty). He even ate out of my human’s hand. See if I ever eat out of his hand. (tail flap)

KK: Horatio does ignore my human now. Pretty good trick of hers – buy him worms and let the male human feed him. I still stay close to keep an eye on him, though.

Host: The three of you are living in harmony now?

SS: You could say that.

KK: Yeah. We don’t look up hedgehog recipes on the computer anymore.

Host: Well, I guess that wraps us up for this edition of Cat Forum. Come by the next time for a discussion of Baths: Evil Incarnate?

3

The Further Adventures of Horatio Hedgehog

You may recall Horatio, Lord Nelson Hedgehog, as a rather grumpy, anti-social ball of quills.

Well, it turns out that you reach the heart of a hedgehog the same way you reach the heart of a man: through his stomach.

With men you usually have a wide variety of options when it comes to feeding. Generally you can find something they like in the meat/fish/poultry galaxy. If that fails, chocolate chip cookies are likely a winner.

Not so much with hedgehogs. If you look through the Internet, you will see that hedgehogs like insects, vegetables and certain fruits (particularly grapes). However, you should not feed your hedgehog too many fruit/vegetable treats, because it will keep him from eating his regular food. (Back to men and chocolate chip cookies)

It wasn’t an issue with the first hedgehog, Jean Luc. He refused to eat anything except his cat food. (I wonder who figured out that dry cat food is good for hedgehogs. Probably somebody who couldn’t afford Purina Hedgehog Chow.)

On the other hand, Horatio has been willing to try anything. One time. Finally my husband decided to try him on wax worms. (Of course, who works in a store that sells wax worms and has to buy them?)

Jackpot! Horatio loves wax worms. He perks right up when we get him out of the cage and sits by my husband’s feet to get fed. My husband gives him five every night, pulling each out of the sawdust as Horatio finishes the previous one.

It’s pretty strange. After the fifth one, Horatio walks away. It looks like he can count. I’m sure there’s some trigger, but I can’t tell what it is. Maybe he could win a lot of money on America’s Got Talent. I’ve never seen the show; do you have to be human to get on?

Once he’s done, he takes a walk around the living room then finds somewhere to take a nap. (He’s sounding more and more human male as I think about it.)

Kommando Kitty is not really excited about this new turn of events. She makes sure he’s within her eyesight. It may be that she’s protecting her own food. I know the cats are aware he gets a better brand than they do. (If hedgehogs don’t get the proper type of cat food, their digestive emissions are horrible. Will avoid another reference to human males.)

We have gotten used to this new routine. Probably too comfortable with it. One night I went to get him out of his cage. It was open and the gloves were nowhere to be found. (Yes we still need gloves to get him out. Sleepy hedgehogs are not happy hedgehogs.)

I asked whether someone had already gotten him. Then we realized that no one remembered putting him away the night before.

Oh no! He had escaped. Some sentinel that cat had turned out to be. We do not leave food or anything of that ilk laying around, but if it’s made of paper you’d think it was a member of the family. We live in an old farmhouse, so there are plenty of places to explore too.

He can still be pretty ornery, so we figured if we got too close he’d huff at us. Turned over everything in the front room. No luck. Looked everywhere in the rest of the first floor rooms. Apparently hedgehogs can also vanish into thin air.

When Jean Luc escaped (I accused my husband of losing him), he came out after we turned the lights off and it got to be quiet. I was laying on the sofa waiting for him and all ended well.

Not having bonded that closely with this one, I went to bed. Since I had to get up at 2:30a for work, I figured I could catch him then. No such luck. I left a note for my daughter that he was still missing and to watch out for him.

When I got home, she had left a note. Apparently Kommando Kitty went back into guard mode and found Horatio. He was down on the landing by the bag of charcoal. My daughter got him and put him back in his cage.

None of us can figure out how he would get down the three steps. Apparently he must have fallen down the first one, turned into a ball to protect himself, then bounced down the other two.

He was fine from the adventure. In retrospect, it’s pretty funny. I’m guessing he didn’t see it that way. Do hedgehogs have a sense of humor?

Next up is a bath. If you stop hearing from me, arrest the hedgehog.

0

Lamb Chop to Lamb Chomp

Back in the dark ages when we had to watch TV in large wooden boxes, there was a ventriloquist named Shari Lewis. She had a children’s show featuring hand puppets. Besides Shari, the stars were Hush Puppy, Charlie Horse, and the “star” Lamb Chop.

Lamb Chop was basically a white sock with closed felt eyes and a pink nose. And a lot of attitude. She always had a retort for Shari. I was afraid that Shari might have her revenge in 1996 with Shari’s Passover Surprise. I hoped that Lamb Chop was not the surprise, as in the Seder dinner. Fortunately Shari was just teaching Lamb Chop about Passover.

Shari died a couple of years later and apparently Lamb Chop has fallen on hard times. I found her (and many of her clones) in bins at the store. It seems that Lamb Chop has become a chew toy for dogs. Her name isn’t on the box, but I’d know her anywhere.

To add insult to injury, Lamb Chop and her fellow sheep come in three sizes and multiple colors. I’m thinking that someone is finally getting revenge for being annoyed by Lamb Chop for years during his childhood. Or in an advanced case of sibling rivalry, getting even with a sister for years of torment by destroying a TV idol.

I wouldn’t normally be looking at the dog toys except they did a major renovation of the pet area. They didn’t add any space, but they moved things around so the toys are on the main aisle. And apparently pet toys are a big business.

Our cats have the basic set of 50+ variations on mice and birds that they can carry around. Most of them were accumulated during the lifetimes of the previous cat residents.

I looked for a new scratching post. Apparently cats only scratch on kitty condos these days. If you want something that is strictly for scratching, the material is no longer carpet on a pole. It’s something that looks like cardboard that lies flat on the floor. I’m not sure how to train the cats to scratch down rather than up. (I think it’s some kind of cat spin to call a scratching post a toy. Everyone knows they’re for sharpening the weapons.)

Snoops’ favorite game with my husband involves a hole in the cat tree. He puts all the toys away in the bottom section which is a box with a hole in it. She watches then pulls them all back out again. It’s cheaper than buying more toys. And neater.

It appears that dog toys are less durable. They seem to fall mainly in the categories of chew and fetch.

There is an appallingly large variety of things for a dog to gnaw on. A stuffed version of any animal that you can think of can be thrown to the dog. The one exception is the absence of cat chew toys. I imagine that’s to keep the cat lobby from shutting down the company. Or using the corporate boardroom as a litterbox.

Also gone are the days of throwing Fido a bone from the dinner steak. I couldn’t find any of the rawhide chews we used to sell. However, there is a large variety of rubber/plastic “bones” for the health of the dogs’ teeth. And you can get gluten-free bones to clean the dogs’ teeth and give extra calcium to puppies.

Gluten-free is only the tip of the iceberg in the pet food industry. Dog food proudly announces that it has taken the grains out of the food. Cat food announces that it has added grasses to its products. Cheese, eggs, all types of “people” food can now be part of your furry friend’s dinner. (Of course, you don’t want to share these items from the table. Their version is more pure than ours.)

There are so many organic food choices they have taken over a whole aisle in both the cat and dog sections. I’m not sure I really understand the concept of organic pet food. Do they only use free-range chickens? Only use cows that have fed on pesticide-free grass?

I think we may have gone over the edge with the new dog food I discovered. It needs to be kept in a refrigerator at the store and at home. Some of it looks like kibble. But there is a selection of things that look like tubes of sausage. It seems that you break it up and feed it to the dog. And it costs more than the sausage in the meat department.

In spite of the over-abundance for dogs and cats in the newly refurbished department, there is still one glaring absence. I could not find a single thing for Lord Nelson, the hedgehog. I can’t believe they couldn’t find room for a single exercise ball or wheel. Guess we have to stick with the wax worm treats.

Perhaps if I look hard enough, I can find him a mini Lamb Chop.