My Food Chain Gang – Restored!

Posted in God on June 16th, 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have a wonderful tale to tell – a God story, and I love those.

A few weeks ago now, I met a friend for lunch at McD’s.  Later that evening, as my hubby inquired about my day and asked how my lunch was, I talked about how much I enjoyed hearing my friend’s updates on her beloved cat, Mya.  I even lamented, “I wish I could have a kitten.”  I seem to be an animal person you say (I AM) – so why don’t I just get a kitten?  Well, I’m allergic to cats, otherwise I would probably have a cat (or two or three or…).  I actually had one for 10 years and loved her very much, but I was very allergic to her and that was tough for both of us.  But anyway – back to this Friday night a few weeks ago – I’m wanting a cat.  Saturday morning, the early risers in our family were alerted by an “alarming” sound in our backyard.  They found 2 cats fighting on the fence, and across the yard, 3 baby bunnies crying out in alarm.  Sammie was dispatched to alert me (still in bed, allowed to sleep-in, THANK YOU Hubby!), and in the now-calm backyard I found 3 exhausted baby bunnies resting while my kids were comforting one of the stray cats.  The stray was a friendly fellow; he had black and white fur, green eyes, and a few extra toes.  I couldn’t believe the obliging attitude – pleasure even – that this cat was deriving from the attention my kids were doting upon it.

I couldn’t resist petting this friendly kitty, and when I did, something strange happened.  Well, actually,  it was nothing at all that happened.  No sniffles, no itches, no hives – no allergy symptoms.  How could it be that I wasn’t allergic to this cat?  For the record, Hubby is also allergic to cats but didn’t react to this one either.  So anyway, we let the super friendly tuxedo cat in the house.  He walked right in and looked around, and it really did seem as if he had lived here for years – and he’s been here ever since!  Just fit right in with our entire family, and it’s not an easy feat to forge a seamless transition from outdoor feral cat to indoor family cat, especially when the new family =  5 kids (3 girls ages 12, 8, 5 and 2 boys ages 3 and 8 mos.), a dog, a parrot, a rabbit, and 2 rats.   But saying we’ve had a smooth transition would be an understatement!

What a gift he has been.  A gift from God for our family…  to bring us together as we welcome a new member for however long we’re allowed to take care of him.  A gift for us to cherish together while we play with him.  A gift for me to help ease the mounting stress I’ve felt lately.  Have you seen the medical research on how a purring cat relieves stress?  It exists, trust me!

So to acknowledge this gift for us and to honor our God, “Mittens” became “Moses” – and it is cute when the kids rhyme about “Moses with the extra toe-ses”.  Moses seems very adept at using his paws, and he acts very cat-like around the house, which I love – just why I wanted to have a cat around.  For now, we are enjoying Moses and his company.  He gets along with all of our other pets and is wonderfully tolerant of the kids – he fits in our family like the missing piece of a puzzle; not that any of us realized there was a piece missing before Moses came.  So could it be that “my food chain gang” has been restored?

Both an article I read and a devotional I heard recently happened to be about the same subject: knowing and having the faith and satisfaction that God sees you, even if you feel invisible to the world.  God uses many aspects of His creation to bring people closer to having meaningful relationships with Him and to help us receive His messages, even animals.  My family was getting burnt out from a busy schedule, and it really rejuvenated the kids’ spirits to get to have this cat.  And they aren’t the only ones 😉

“…You are the God who sees me…”  from Genesis 16:13

This is a picture of our oldest daughter holding the cat.  No, my 12-year-old does not normally wear make-up; this was “spa night”  🙂

God is so good!!

Dear (Deer) Friends

Posted in animals on January 29th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

It’s always fun to read about friendship that crosses the boundaries between animal species.  I received some cute pictures of a cat and her deer friend via an email forward.  What’s interesting is that friendships between cats and deer don’t seem to be as uncommon as one would think – I was having trouble getting the picture from the email to the blog, so I did a search for cat and deer pictures, and I came up with pictures of at least 5 different cats being friendly with deer!  But thanks to Hubby for graciously taking the time (even during football playoffs) to help me get the original pictures from my email.  These are cute!

My New Pet

Posted in animals on December 15th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve wanted a new pet for awhile, mostly since my cat passed away almost a year ago now.  What I want most is another cat – I love cats, and it would be the perfect type of pet for our household.  But unfortunately, I’m allergic to cats.  When I had my cat, it was a constant struggle to decide if I should pet her or not.  I always wanted to of course, but then I would itch for hours, my eyes would water, and sometimes I’d get hives.  And, my allergy symptoms were worse during my 4 pregnancies.  I just don’t want to go through that again – so no cat for us.  We have a Jack Russell Terrier mix, so any type of animal she’ll want to chase and bark at is out also – which means no rats, ferrets, small birds, etc.  So that leaves me with reptiles or bugs, I guess.  And the only reptile I’m interested in owning is a tortoise.  Those can be kind of costly and I’m not entirely sure that my Jerk Russell Terrier mix won’t want to hunt it, so I’m going to hold off on the tortoise for a little bit.  Also complicating the situation is that I really don’t have any extra time to spend with a pet, so that limits my options even further.  So lately I’ve been in limbo, trying to decide what to get.  But the other day, a new pet sort of fell into my lap.

It’s a ladybug I found in the house – normally I’d let any bugs go outside that I find in the house, but it’s way too cold out for a ladybug, and I don’t want him to suffer while he froze to death.  So I looked up what ladybugs eat, and I found out that their favorite food is aphids, which are an even smaller group of insects.  Knowing I couldn’t get any of those easily, I put a drop of honey in a little container with the ladybug.  He went over to it and started eating it!  So I put a little drop of water in there too, and he must have smelled that or something, because he left the honey and went over to the water – it was really interesting to watch.  He’s survived in captivity about a week now, and I have to say I’m getting a little attached to him as a pet.  It started out as just a fun little project, and I didn’t expect it to live more than a few days.  But he did, and I’ve named him Francis (like the ladybug from A Bug’s Life), and he is my secret pet – the kids don’t know about him.  If they did, he’d be dead already because my 4-year-old adores bugs and often smothers them with love – literally.  I think today I’ll go out and get Francis some grass for his container, because earlier when I fed him, he REFUSED to go back into his container!  I’m not kidding; he was sticking to my finger and just doing everything possible to not get locked back in there.  Finally, I put him on a Q-tip and cut it to fit in the container and locked him in.  I feel a little badly that I’ve kidnapped this ladybug, but I think I’m his only chance at life.  Outside, he’d freeze, and if I let him go into my house, I don’t think he’d be able to find food and water and he’d either die or go into hibernation until a kid or a dog got him.

So anyway, I guess I have my new pet.  I still don’t expect him to last very long, but for now it’s fun just taking care of an animal, especially since he’s my little secret.  If he’s still around in another week or so, I’ll take his picture and post it.  Say hi to Francis!

That Darn Cat

Posted in Pets on August 27th, 2008 and tagged , , , ,

I love animals…  all animals, even ones I’m afraid of like frogs.  I can honestly say I would not want to see harm come to a frog even though I don’t like them.  I really love cats, even though I’m allergic to them.  When I was growing up, I always wanted a cat, so as soon as I moved out of my parents’ house I got one.  I had her for over 10 years, her name was Mally, and she was a sweetheart.  She passed away last January, and I miss her very much.  While she was alive, I couldn’t pet her as much as I wanted to because of my allergies, and that’s the only reason why I haven’t gotten another cat – I really like them.  Except for my neighbor’s cat.

When we moved in 2 years ago, we saw Phoebe the neighbor’s cat roaming around and we thought it was kind of cool to have a neighborhood cat.  That was before we saw how mischievous she can be.  Phoebe likes to sit on our window sill because she knows it makes the dogs crazy.  She also sits on the kids’ slide in the backyard which is just out of the dogs reach, further aggravating them.  One day, our dog Charity got loose and treed the cat.  I felt a little badly although part of me enjoyed the surprised (and pissed) look on that cat’s face when she was in the tree because she wasn’t expecting the dog to get loose and chase her.  One time, I noticed the front door was open and she was peeking in our house!  Don’t know how she managed that one; maybe one of the kids left the door open or something.  I used to have a bird house and a bird feeder in the tree in our side yard.  I would go out there and sprinkle seed, and we had a nice menagerie of creatures that would visit, giving our parrot some friends to look at out his window.  But then I saw Phoebe out there stalking the squirrels and birds that frequented the tree, and I stopped putting seed out because I no longer wanted to lure animals into her lair.  One day, I saw her playing with a baby bunny.  The bunny was alive, but not moving, so we scooped it up and took it to this lady who rehabs wildlife nearby.  Her place is really neat; she has raccoons, bandicoots, squirrels, rabbits, geese, ducks, and even a few bears!  Anyway, she said the bunny looked to be in bad shape and she didn’t expect it to survive.  Hopefully it defied the odds…

Being an animal lover, I was really sad when Phoebe hurt the baby bunny.  I was even more sad when I saw what she did the other day.  I was outside with my daughter, and Phoebe started to climb the tree in the front of our house.  I thought it was really cute, so I pointed to her and showed my daughter the cat.  But then I saw what she was doing – there were 2 doves sitting silently in the tree, and she was stalking them.  Suddenly one of the doves flew off the branch or at least tried to.  He flapped to the ground; I don’t know if he hit his wing on a branch or if he was hurt before he tried to fly away, but he landed on the ground, and Phoebe chased him.  He got lift a few more times, but he couldn’t fly.  Phoebe was chasing him until they both disappeared around the side of the neighbor’s house.  I grabbed my daughter and followed them, but I didn’t see anything.  When I got back to the front of the house, I saw the other dove in the tree, just sitting there waiting for her mate to come back.  She was there all day, just waiting, and it was the saddest thing because I didn’t think he’d be coming back.  The next day, she was gone, so I don’t know if she just gave up or what.  Maybe he survived the cat attack and they found each other again…  doubtful, but I am hopeful that’s the case because I don’t know what happened.  What I do know is that I don’t like Phoebe the cat.  She’s not even friendly; she never lets my kids pet her.  I’ve considered leaving a note on the neighbor’s door asking them to please corral their cat a little better…  but I don’t want to be one of those people.  For now, I just hold onto the hope the neighbors will move and take Phoebe with them, and when that day comes, I will promptly set up my wildlife area once again.

Food Chain Gang

Posted in Pets on April 4th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I should probably explain where the title of my blog comes from.  It’s actually a title I picked out years ago as I was musing while doing housework one day.  I thought, a story about our household should be called, “The Food Chain Gang”.  At the time, we had a few more pets than we have now, completing the chain.  Back then, we were the happy owners of 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a little marsupial (animal with a pouch, like a kangaroo) called a sugar glider.  The sugar glider and the cat have since crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” which some people call pet heaven.  And, if you’re a regular reader, you’ve read that we’ve added a new dog to our family in the last month.  But the new dog doesn’t exactly complete a food chain, so I just felt the need to explain why my blog is called “My Food Chain Gang” even though we are down to 3 dogs and a parrot.

As an animal lover, I would love to add even more pets to our menagerie, however, it’s just not practical right now.  We have 1 dog with some terrier (terror!) in her, Jack Russell to be exact, and she will “hunt” any kind of small animal we bring into the house.  So, my dreams of owning a rat or 2 or 3 will have to wait at least a few years, hopefully more, since the “Jerk” Russell mix is only called that in jest – she is our baby.  My husband and I adopted her before we were married and before the kids were born.  And before you judge me, do the research – rats actually make very good pets!  Unlike many of their rodent cousins; hamsters, gerbils and the like, rats are actually pretty clean, very smart, and they are even friendly and cuddly!

Since I already mentioned wanting a rat, which many people think is a crazy pet, it should be no surprise when I say with sincerity that if I didn’t have small children, I would have a pet alligator.  Again, a little bit of research will tell you that alligators are almost nothing like (in behavior) their fellow crocodilians.  They are actually quite docile and easier to handle than you would think if you know what you’re doing of course – stress that point.  I know some about handling alligators, though I’ve only held small to medium sized ones, and I have never even owned a reptile, so needless to say, this is not an option for me right now…  but maybe someday!

I would also like a tortoise, but with 4 kids, 3 of which will be under the age of 5, I do enough cleaning up around the house as it is – don’t need a tank to clean!  Plus, we are very lucky to be able to afford some mini-vacations now and then, and any more responsibilities for the pet sitter might put her over the edge 😉 

I have always wanted a goat, and now that we live in the country, I can see how easy it is to get one – you can just open up the paper, call a number and buy a goat.  But I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate what our lawn would look like.  Something tells me our quiet residential neighborhood near the heart of the downtown of the city would not be a good place to house a goat.

I would love another cat someday, but I’m allergic.  And it all but broke my heart when I lost my beloved cat earlier this year…  I felt very guilty that I couldn’t really pet her or spend time with her as much as I (and she) wanted because of my allergies.

And talking about cheap farm animals reminds me of another realization I had after moving to the country – baby chicks and ducks are really cute AND very cheep, err inexpensive!  But again, our Jerk Russell would just try to eat any kind of animal like that.  She STILL likes to hunt the parrot when he flies in the house, even though he’s taken a nip at her more than once with his huge beak!

And I would LOVE my own parrot – I’ve always wanted an African Grey, ever since I was really little and read a wonderful book by the same guy who wrote the movie, “The Water Horse”.  The author is Dick King-Smith, and his book, “Harry’s Mad” is just a wonderful story for kids about a boy and his pet parrot.  But while I’m on the subject of parrots, let me talk for a minute about pets NOT suitable for families.  Parrots sure are beautiful animals, and they’re lots of fun when they talk, laugh, and imitate, but they are also very moody and unpredictable.  Most are not cuddly, and if they are, it’s usually only with one person in the household, and they will resent every other person who gets in their way.  Which is what happened with our parrot – he has bonded to Daddy, that’s his “mate”, and the rest of us cannot touch him, OR ELSE we have to deal with the rath of a beak that is strong enough to snap a broomstick in HALF!  Parrots are VERY loud – and there is no relief from their noise.  Their scream can rattle your eardrum, and is almost always guaranteed to make a small child cry.  And, they scream to have fun!  It’s not just when they are upset or want something, so if you think you’ll be able to quiet a screaming parrot, guess again!  Luckily, ours is about to celebrate his 7th year with us, so through lots of growing pains, we’ve learned how to make it work in our house.  Parrots can also be very dangerous, so just like any other animal, kids need to have constant supervision around parrots.  Overall, as the owner of a parrot, I would HIGHLY recommend another pet choice to anyone with kids in the house.

I wouldn’t recommend a sugar glider as a pet either.  Ours was “used” – we actually f0und her at a garage sale – and that is a testament to how often people think it’d be cool to have one of these only to decide later they’re too much work.  They are intelligent, social animals, so they require lots of attention.  However, they are also nocturnal, so you have to be available at night to take them out of their cage to play.  Light will actually damage their eyes, so taking them out at night in a specially under-lit room is required.  They can be nippy, smelly (they excrete an odor to mark their territory), and can even make loud noises all night that keep you awake.  And they require a special diet of fresh fruits and vegetables also, which can be inconvenient and expensive.

So anyway, now that I’ve recommended all the pets that AREN’T good for families, I would say that the standard dog or cat IS great for families.  Obviously, there is a lot to take into consideration when shopping for one of these, and I won’t go into that this time…  if you really need some good advice about why humane societies are a better choice than pet stores and what to look for while choosing a pet, see my previous post called, “3’s a Crowd?”.

So, now you know where the title “My Food Chain Gang” came from.  Maybe someday, I will add to the chain and have a real zoo to call my own.  But for now, I will stick with the gang we have – everybody knows their place in the chain and gets along great!