Reigning cats and dogs (and birds, and fish and rodents) – Part One.

It all started with Smoky. I’m not really sure where Smoky came from in the first place, and I’m even fuzzier about where he ended up.
I was five years old when Smoky came into my life. He was my first kitten. He was small, all-black and had those little bright kitten-eyes that win you over along with those irresistible squeaky mews from a little pink-tongued maw.
From a very early age, I exhibited a love of animals. At the Sacred Heart Day Nursery where I spent my happy pre-school days, I was known for my commanding performances of “Clarence, the Cross-eyed Lion” from the television show, “Daktari”, which of course involved crawling around on all fours and roaring.
I also loved to visit the animals at the small zoo at High Park in Toronto and feeding the ducks of adjacent Grenadier Pond was the highlight of my days.

That’s me!

The very first movie I was ever taken to see in a theatre was the 1966 flick, “Born Free” about George and Joy Adamson and their pride of lions. I was five years old and it made a huge impression on me. So much so, that I wanted nothing so much as to have my own cat. That was when Smoky came on the scene.
All I can recall about the little black fella was that he loved to scale the drapes and secret himself away in the T.V. set to sleep beside the nice, warm tube. I have no idea how or when Smoky disappeared from my world, but he did! What I rather suspect is that there was some sort of overheating issue inside the old G.E. that nobody told me about.
In any case, we moved from Toronto to the suburbs and it wasn’t long before my whinging got to my dad’s soft heart and another creature came to live with us. This was the start of many a phyla to grace our home at 2394 Pyramid Crescent.
After Smoky, the first cat to come calling was a stray. She was a short-haired gingery tabby and she was hanging around our back porch. This had nothing to do with the fact that I was putting out saucers of milk every night. Honest.
I begged to be allowed to keep the stray, but despite my pleas, my mother held firm against the idea. My dad was a bit more pliable.
It was Good Friday and I was at the bottom of the street visiting with my friend, Frances Murray when the telephone rang. Her older sister, Rachel said it was for me. When I took the receiver, I was surprised to hear my mother’s voice say, “Come home, we’ve got a surprise for you.”
Well, no points for guessing what the surprise was. The stray-cat was in our kitchen lapping up a bowl of milk when I walked in the front door. I called her “Tammy”. I don’t remember why.
Tammy had a short and infamous time at our house. Looking back now, I can see it was because my mom had issues with a non-existent condition she believed Tammy had. The cat merely cleaned itself fastidiously, as felines are wont to do, but the excessive licking of her fur drove my mother to distraction and one day, Tammy was swept up and taken to the nearest shelter to be adopted by a more tolerant and deserving family.
turtle (Not Sam)
A number of critters were introduced to erase the loss of poor Tammy from my memory. There was a fish called, “Goldie” or something equally inspired, and a turtle named “Sam”. Why a turtle would be deemed to have such a name is now beyond me, but that’s what I christened him. Perhaps it was taken from one of my favourite books, “Green Eggs and Ham”.
I can still recall the almost tender feel of Sam’s teency claws pinching my flesh. He had a very inauspicious life of floating about in his plastic dish, clambering up his plastic ramp and sunning himself under his plastic palm. It was sad when he made his big break for freedom and dried out under the sofa. Of course you know what happened to “Goldie”—belly-up and the old flusheroo.
When my best friend Jane K., next-door, got a kitten and named it Elsa (after the lion in my beloved “Born Free”), it wasn’t long before I had my dad driving me to the house where they got her so I could pick out one for myself. So began the “Misty” era.
mack Click pic for Wik source
Misty, was what they call a mackerel-tabby in England. She was blackish grey with prominent striping—a real beauty! She was a lovely puss with a friendly disposition and when she was old enough we got her fixed. Problem is, the “fix” didn’t really take. When the “heat” was on in the Springtime, the local males were still getting a whiff of Misty and coming around to leave their calling cards—a bit of their singular scent along the sides of the house, in the bushes—everywhere!
It wasn’t long before my mother got wind of the situation and started working on my father to do something about it. Before long, Misty was taking that all-too familiar trip down our driveway, and out of my life! I still swear she was sitting in the back window meowing for my help. I cried all night long.
You do get over these things and it really helps when your dad lets you get not one, but two budgerigars in their own fancy cage with perch and seed feeder and some sort of bone-thing to sharpen their beaks. Of course, being from a Catholic family, they had to have saints’ names (that’s the rule, didn’t you know?) and so they were called Peter and Paul(ine).
Budgies are fun. They are noisy and chipper, they sing sweet songs and you can carry them around on your index finger or your shoulder or even on your head. My birds were a beautiful cerulean colour with black and white striped heads and long tails. They had a good life. We treated them well, kept their cage free of their grey poop and fed them all that birds love to eat. Everything was just dandy until … my dad thought they might like to go outside in the backyard for a bit to get some fresh air. He carted their rectangular cage out the door, through the garage and into the backyard and rested it on a chaise longue.
The fresh air went to P & P’s heads because they went mental! Somehow, one of them sprung the latch on the door and the other one beat it open. Off they flew, never to be seen again. Well, at least one of them was never seen again. The other one ended up on a neighbouring street in the house of a girl who lived across from my one of my school-friends.
I was visiting Jane T. and we were playing outside when this girl started talking about how they had found this blue budgie outside and now it was in her room and she was keeping it. It was hopeless to explain; she was never going to give it up and how could I prove it was my Peter, or Pauline?
So, we went back to cats. We’d just come back from a vacation visiting my mom’s family in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and I got the notion to have another cat. There were lots of kittens at a farm near my cousin’s cottage in East Bay and I came back from the trip with a bee in my bonnet. My father, helpless against my pleas/tears gave in and we got a gorgeous silver tabby and called him Fourchu (sounds like For Sha) after a small town in C.B.
Fourchu was a real charmer of a cat. He was cuddly, loving, fun to play with and would let you do anything to him. Sadly, he didn’t live too long because he developed a urinary problem that plagues many male cats and at the time, we (and apparently vets) knew little about how to treat it. It was recommended that we add tomato juice to Fourchu’s food, but I know now, that’s probably what did him in. After a hellish time, he had to be put to sleep.
One of my memories of Fourchu was how he used to sit atop the aquarium that housed our gerbils. My dad outfitted the glass case with a wood-frame, wire-mesh cover and Fourchu would lie on the mesh and make whimpering noises while the inhabitants bounced up and down and bumped his belly with their nubby noses.

Fourchu keeps tabs on the wee ones.

In fact, that may be how Sneezer got his nose infection. He used to rub his nose furiously with his front paws until it bled, scabbed over and then he would start again. He was one of a trio of gerbils. My dad named them, “Caesar, Beezer and Sneezer”, partially after one of his favourite off-colour ditties from his British Army days. I googled it and can’t find any reference, so maybe he made it up. It went something like this: “Julius Caesar lit a beezer, off the coast of France”. I don’t know anything beyond that because whenever he started to tell it, he would end up gasping with laughter and not being able to go on. It was his little private joke.
In any case, Caesar, Beezer and Sneezer were so-monikered and they became playmates for me and my sister, Nancy. We didn’t buy plastic runnels and pods for our pets—no! We made them from scratch with empty tissue boxes and toilet rolls and our sleeves and pant-legs. If you’ve never had a gerbil run up your pant-leg (minds out of the gutter; we’re not talking Pet Shop Boys here!) then you’re missing out! It’s tickly and it makes you giggle and as a kid you actually believe the gerbils are having a whale of a time, but that’s probably just sheer panic that’s making them run like the devil, isn’t it?
Our poor trio came to bad ends. We had switched their abode from the aquarium to a nice wire cage with spinning wheel and Caesar got his foot caught and had to bite it off to free himself. He bled to death on the floor of the cage. We found him on Sunday morning upon returning from mass and running downstairs to check on our pack. I don’t know how many times he went around on his last ride; it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Beezer didn’t fare much better. My sister took him and Sneezer to school so they could be observed by her classmates and some bright spark of a thug-child dropped the brick that was holding down the lid right onto poor old Beez. I’m so glad I didn’t witness that.
Not really sure what happened to Sneezer. He probably just expired from sheer loneliness, or maybe his nasal infection finally killed him.

*Stay tuned for Part Two where the Davison Family gets a lucky dog.
Kat Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape


Very Dumb Pet Owners

Blanche and Red (Blanche is pretty good, most of the time; Red’s the toughest one to work on)

Daisy and Gilbert (Daisy squirms like a marlin on a fishing line and G’s claws are like eagle talons!)

Don’t try this at home! Ever!!!

Awkward Family Photos Link

(They won’t be smiling for long.)

As the owner of 4 cats (complete with claws, that periodically need clipping), I can testify that it is not easy to clip them and it’s even trickier to release them when you’re done. Back claws are not typically clipped and I can’t tell you the number of times one of mine has inadvertently nicked me in the upper thigh or stomach while trying to spring from my grasp. I usually make sure I’m wearing denim and have a coarse bathmat or doubled-up blanket on my legs first.

I would not want to see the follow-up shot to the AFP above (for more than one reason)!


It’s getting hot in here!

Click for source

Heat Wave

Last night it was hot
as heck,
which meant
I got to check
my e-mail
at 3:00 a.m.
to the 2 people
from Africa
who sent me something
so I was not totally

I kept the drapes,
and the windows,
all day,
but that helped
not a jot
upstairs got
so hot
even the cats
refused to sleep
in their customary
on the bed–
flanking my legs
like those scraggly
old mink stoles
cast on the heap
of coats at a soiree.

Ever have those moments
where you awake
from sleep, so deep
to find the slightest thing
gets under your skin
like a snort, or
a clicking of the vent
or a pillow that refuses
to cool off?

Then you reach
that point
–you know the one
where your brain says,
“Ah ha! That’s what’s
been nagging at me.”
and now there’s no way
it’s going to shut off
(the brain)
unless …
unless I move my arse
out of the bed
go down and turn on
the a.c.,
feed the cats (because
you know they’re all going
to be right there)
with their mewling lingo:
“Fill the bowls, fill the bowls”
and I’ll give in–dump
some slop in their dishes,
change the water,
put the spoon in the door
and the book in front
of the cat-hole,
shut off the light,
trudge back upstairs,
put the drops in
my eyes,
bang into the door
of the slightly less
familiar room
across the hall,
feel for a spot
to lay my glasses,
flop onto
the narrow bed
pull down the mask
and wait
for the cat
who always comes
even when it’s
hot as heck.

Good night!

Kathleen Mortensen©2009  Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

OSI: dropped

Click for source



Sometimes it feels as if
I may have been dropped
on my head–as a child.
Those days when I can’t
string two sentences
or I’m having
with myself,
like a little old lady
in her rocker,
furiously knitting
and muttering
to herself.

Also, I find I sing
quite a lot these days–
nothing on the radio
or even my cds,
just tunes
with words I’ve made up
that make no sense
at all.
The cats seem to like them,
at least,
or my imaginary audience
of fruits in the bowl
and crumbs
on the counter–
all listening
with rapt attention.

I know I was
born a month too soon,
but no-one ever said
if I was actually dropped
on my head.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

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Off to the show!

Tonight, my mother and I are going to see a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, “CATS”. It’s rather strange that it has taken us this long to see it since we are all great cat-lovers in this family. We’ve seen “Phantom” and “Les Mis” and a few other shows, but never “CATS”.

The show is of course Webber’s bringing to life the wondrous poems of T.S. Eliot from his collection, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. Amazing it is, to me that the same man who wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (see video in my adjacent sidebar) had such a whimsical side. If you have the chance sometime, read Eliot’s poetry in “Old Possum’s” – it is delightful, full of the most exciting rhymes and a grand old time is had by the reader (and the poet too, I suspect).

Here’s my favourite poem that was adapted for a song in Webber’s “CATS”. I love to sing this one at the top of my lungs (and the four cats chime in, of course).

Now. What to wear?

Mr. Mistoffelees

You ought to know Mr. Mistoffelees!
The Original Conjuring Cat –
(There can be no doubt about that).
Please listen to me and don’t scoff. All his
Inventions are off his own bat.
There’s no such Cat in the metropolis;
He holds all the patent monopolies
For performing surprising illusions
And creating eccentric confusions.
At prestidigitation
And at legerdemain
He’ll defy examination
And deceive you again.
The greatest magicians have something to learn
From Mr. Mistoffelees’ Conjuring Turn.
Away we go!
And we all say: OH!
Well I never!
Was there ever
A Cat so clever
As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees!

He is quiet and small, he is black
From his ears to the tip of his tail;
He can creep through the tiniest crack
He can walk on the narrowest rail.
He can pick any card from a pack,
He is equally cunning with dice;
He is always deceiving you into believing
That he’s only hunting for mice.
He can play any trick with a cork
Or a spoon and a bit of fish-paste;
If you look for a knife or a fork
And you think it is merely misplaced –
You have seen it one moment, and then it is gawn!
But you’ll find it next week lying out on the lawn.
And we all say: OH!
Well I never!
Was there ever
A Cat so clever
As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees!

His manner is vague and aloof,
You would think there was nobody shyer –
But his voice has been heard on the roof
When he was curled up by the fire.
and he’s sometimes been heard by the fire
When he was about on the roof –
(At least we all heard somebody who purred)
Which is incontestable proof
Of his singular magical powers:
And I have known the family to call
Him in from the garden for hours,
While he was asleep in the hall.
And not long ago this phenomenal Cat
Produced seven kittens right out of a hat!
And we all said: OH!
Well I never!
Did you ever
Know a Cat so clever
As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees!

T.S. Elliot

Around the Hyggehus At Christmas

More fun stuff for the Museswings Christmas in Bloggyland Tour. Here are some of the ornaments on my tree and around the Hyggehus. Get one of these viewers for yourself for free. Just click on the video box and create your own.

There’s more Christmas in Bloggyland below!

I’m Giving Thanks (off the cuff)

Red, Gilbert & Daisy (from L to R)


I’m thankful for the life I’ve got
The life You’ve given me
For food and health and water-
Streaming forth with purity.

I’m thankful for the folk I know
And ones I’ve yet to meet
Those gentle souls who pass me by
As I stroll down the street.

I’m thankful for my one true love
My heart he holds with care
And trust I him, with all my thoughts
To him, my soul’s laid bare.

I’m thankful for the mom and dad
Who opened up my eyes
With invaluable lessons
Now, I’m grown, I realize.

I’m thankful for the creature-cats
Who populate our home
They snuggle up and keep us warm
Who needs a dog to come?

I’m thankful for the grace of God
Who put me on this earth
And blesses me continually
With mercies and with mirth.

Kathleen Mortensen©2008

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