Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cats and Cucumbers - the claws are out

 As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind. - Cleveland Amory

Feeling guilty for laughing at the Cats and Cucumbers compilation now enjoying a microburst of viral fame as it ripples across various social media sites? Yes ... and no.

NPR tracked down some experts who had stern words for those who found the routine amusing and even sterner admonishments for those involved in antagonizing their pets in an effort to add another installment.

Here's the vid if you haven't yet seen it.

Yes, I admit to laughing to the point of tears when I first saw the video.
I did suspect this endeavor had been undergoing refinement in composition mode
long before earning a spotlight post on a popular mainstream media site.

No - I don't intend to stalk my cat with a cucumber. Chloe's response would most likely be a quizzical stare while telegraphing her words in my mind - "Oh, please. Really? I though we were beyond this. Seriously, YOU need a hobby." At which point she would offer a plaintive meow and a pointed glance in the direction of her food dish. Unflappable in her cool cat status, "The Chloe" is the epitome of aloof.

I have known other cats who might take the veggie bait and launch skyward without a moment's hesitation -- as several in this feature do. This little episode reminded me just how amazing my cats were in their spontaneous acrobatics. Incredible reflexes, without a doubt.

One day the tables will be turned, in the present life or the next, and the humans perpetuating this circus audition would be wise to note: Somewhere along the Karma chain cats earned their nine lives. While it might not seem so in this experiment, the law of reciprocity is at work and in that vein cats do have the upper hand/paw.

Masters of stealth and patience. Throw in the element of surprise and a strategically placed rodent might trigger a very entertaining human comedy routine... and/or not.    

One thing for certain, there are no dull moments with cats. Anticipating the future turnabout and the eventual dropping of the other shoe .. cucumber.

Links -
About Cleveland Amory 
Cleveland Amory - Black Beauty Ranch: the stories
Even after the experts weigh in, there appears to be scanty info on why cats are (apparently) terrified of cucumbers.

For more serious study:
Cleveland Amory wrote Man Kind? Our Incredible War on Wildlife 
I interviewed Mr. Amory in 1997, about his book Ranch of Dreams. I still have that book.  

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trick or treat ...

Buzzfeed posted 34 pics of Animals in their Halloween garb ...

Sophie is one of the most popular Cat stars on the Internet with a huge fan club: Over 34million followers. This pic also happens to be a stand out. Star power unquestioned!

The Caption: "You cook Lobster how?"

Follow Sophie the Cat on Instagram

The Last Pig - a haunting preview

Be warned, this film might cause a bit of discomfort. It might challenge your belief system. It may also cause controversy. If so, then it has succeeded.

In the film, The Last Pig, we are introduced to and tag along with a farmer who has had a change of heart. Bob Comis says, "I've taken two thousand pigs to the slaughter house. I've become haunted by the ghosts of those pigs."

When Bob, a farmer and a writer, wrote Happy Pigs Make Happy Meat, his story caught the attention of, among others, an award winning filmmaker, Allison Argo. She recognized in this story the  potential to deliver a powerful message.

We are given a vantage point offering insight into the life of someone who cares very much about the well-being of their animals and how difficult it is to rationalize decisions of who lives and dies or to consider animal lives as less valuable or worthy simply because they are deemed feeder meat. This story deserves a wider audience.

Seeing Bob's life up close and personal and following the interactions he has with his pigs, the bonds they develop, we can understand and empathize with him how hard it is to reconcile his position, knowing the manner in which those relationships are destined to end. 

A gutwrencher.

Clearly this farmer struggled for quite some time before ultimately choosing to step away. Watching that process unfold is powerful and, at least for the filmmaker, life changing. Allison became a vegan after working on this film with the pigs and Bob.

Food for thought. Choices. We have them. Farm animals don't.

A quick note. My stepfather was a farmer and we had pigs on our farm. I raised market barrows as 4-H projects and tried to save the runts when the odds were against them. A tiny runt named Flower went to school with us. He was such a fighter. I cried when he didn't make it.

Our pigs had names and personalities. I hung pig posters that celebrated their intelligence and yet ... there could be only one result. I was learning about farming and pigs are farm animals.

The most difficult moment came when I sold my first market barrow. We went to the 4-H fair together. Pigs don't come home. They are sold at the end of the fair auction. I got a check for my pig and a pit in my stomach. And I blocked it. It was part of the lifestyle, a thing we were supposed to accept. One had to have a strong disconnect. I didn't have it that first time.

Thoughtful and thought provoking, this film is now in post production and raising funds on Indiegogo. Find out more there and follow the progress. Release date is not yet set but completion is  expected in early 2016.

More insight and background on Bob, the pig farmer who quit - in his story about Esther the Wonder Pig.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

PetSense - Jessica the Hippo

She is one of the most unusual animal housemates one can imagine but she is exactly that.

It's been a while since I checked in on Jessica the Hippo. I remember she slept on the bed at one point - it broke. Now it would seem she is beyond bed sharing and is content to sleep on the porch. And she is an internet darling.

Here is one of the most recent interviews with Jessica's caretakers. At 13, she's a little princess in her kingdom.

Here are other links for Jessica and family -

Home page



This is the link to the video I first saw a few years ago.

The endearing Jessica in 2007

Part One in a series on Jessica 2010. In depth.  
"All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it."
~ Samuel Butler