Ever wonder why cats do what they do? Every day? Yes, then you’re my people and you may enjoy this podcast with cat behaviorist and cat psychologist Mirian Hasani. Here’s a sneak peek where she tells us about Basil the blind cat who was rescued out of a very dark and dangerous shelter. Basil had been abandoned, blind, dumped on the street. The owner of a no-kill rescue took her to save her from certain euthanasia. A whole year passed and she couldn’t get near Basil for fear of being attacked. Finally, she found Mirian and reached out to her for help. What follows is the story of how this lonely little kitty finally opened up to love.
On Today’s episode of LotusLand Cat TV, Ollie and I share how we destress in these stressful times.
I actually share five ways to destress in the video. Well, four-and-a-half. The last one may not be one you’ve prioritized, but it is very helpful.
- Music: Calming music played quietly throughout the day works wonders for you and for them.
- Hidey-Holes: Create places to hide that are not under the bed or furniture. When they hide under furniture they retreat from the world and from us. They can’t self-soothe, they need our help. Providing tubes or even clean carriers with fresh bedding keeps them integrated and allows you to check on them and stay connected. Also, you want to keep an eye out that they’re not hiding too long as it can indicate illness.
- Routine: A fixed routine is as important for them as it is for you. Limit the free-feeding to a little in the afternoon, if that’s a thing in your household. Set meal times in the morning and evening. It helps you structure your day and it helps them feel more grounded and less anxious.
- Self-Care: Finally, you need to prioritize your own self-care. It’s like on an airplane when they tell you to place the air mask on your own face before your child’s. If you’re not happy, they won’t be happy. Whatever you have to do to feel better, feel good, feel relaxed, make it a priority. It can be 10 minutes of gardening, meditating, journalling–all of the above. Please, right now, don’t forget to take care of you while you’re taking care of everyone else.
- 15-Minute Play Session: This last one is a bonus and it’s not in the video. I’ve found that throwing a 15 minute play session in with your kitty will help them exhaust anxious energy and strengthens your bond.
I’d love to hear how you destress. Anything we can do to help each other right now is a welcomed change from all of the forced isolation and social strife.
Vivian is a 7-year-old, healthy, sweet Lynx Point Siamese who has so much love to give.
In September 2020 she will be surrendered, for a second time, to the Southern California Siamese Rescue. Why you ask? No fault of her own.
Cats, particularly Siamese, are very sensitive and form strong emotional attachments to their owners. They get hurt and confused when abandoned. The flip side of that is that once they’re in a forever home, they are forever grateful. Vivian will follow you from room to room, sleep with you and stay by your side. She needs a human who will be there for her as she’s been let down too many times for someone who deserves so much better.
The first time she was surrendered she was the victim of bullying. She’d been viciously attacked by the dog and the resident cat–for five years. The owners stuck her out on their porch, where she stayed by the screen just to be near them. Now, she’ll be abandoned again because her owner, of just 9 months, is now going into assisted living.
The mission of LotusLand TV is to spread the word about cats in need and right now, Vivian needs help. She’s facing a second abandonment of someone she’s grown very fond of and she won’t know why. Vivian needs a special person who will cherish her and love her for the rest of her life and in return they will receive more love than they imagine. Please help us find her a home before she’s surrendered. It is challenging to find a forever home for a cat who “must be only.” Most people who love cats, already have at least one. Additionally, at 7, people can be ageist–just like they can be about us.
Here is the link to the Southern California Siamese Rescue. Vivian is featured right now!
Everything’s been a little ish lately. My head is a sieve. My sense of direction is like a bat whose lost her homing device. That’s it. No homing device. I was late to the vet. Because I hate the vet. Because Chloe hates the vet. Everyone hates going to the doctor. But not everyone loses hair. And she loses hair she will not grow back. I was late to a job interview…a good one…so there’s no real excuse there.
But I am not becoming. And working in jobs I hate is no longer an excuse. Now I must face the greater obstacle. Me. And there it stops. The wall. I am the wall I cannot see around. I am the world I cannot step beyond.
I moved out to Los Angeles to shake loose my thoughts and tip out my head, that heavy thing filled with muddy waters and tiny rooms. Sunlight, lots of sunlight, I thought, might burn away the dreck weighing down my body. Instead I found the blinding sun didn’t purify, it scorched. I looked for a dark hole and retreated. Outside there was so much dust and sorrow.
I got stuck in many jobs I hated. As I was stuck in my head. See previous post. But I’m free now. And I’ve got to stop sabotaging it. See previous post. That post I wrote could follow me, if I don’t take it down. I should. I want to keep working in the beauty industry. Yesterday’s interview was for a beauty line I like a lot.
But more than anything, I want to develop a writing life. And to do that, I need to write out the immediate stuff. The stuff swirling around in me right now in order to get past it and write better stuff. Every writer goes through mediocre periods. What was it I heard Prince once say? “When you write as much as I do, not all of it’s going to be great.” See, that took balls. It took heart. It took demons to write like he wrote. It also took a vault. He never knew what he might use in the future. So, this blog is my vault. The difference between us; even his mediocre is better than everybody else’s.
I can get better. But only if I write all the time. So, forgive me. I’m going to be mediocre. And angry. There’s a lot of anger in this swirling pool inside my head. So, you may be subject to that as well. I’ve managed to keep it at bay for the last year or so, but I’m opening the flood gates, because good artists are not careful artists.
For those of you who prefer fun, funny, carefree reading. That won’t be this. Even my cat fiction is dark. I’m about to kill off my favorite cat in a cat dungeon at the hands of cat torturers. Maybe. Maybe not. Anyway, that was my first instinct, which usually means there’s a better one out there.
The featured image for this post is obviously Psycho. Hitchcock was great. And prolific. Can anyone tell me of a time when his prolificacy got in the way of his greatness? I thought not. Well, shoot for the stars, get the moon. Or a bird. As Tippi Hedren did.
I’ll stop now.
Welcome back to Fiction Friday. Each Friday I’ll be releasing another short episode introducing each of the characters. Once you’ve met each cast member, the story will unfold…
If you want to catch up, here’s the first episode: Kiss The Kitties Episode I
Tough, orange, and angry William roamed the Los Angeles city streets and ate out of dumpsters. He had his pick of the best. The dumpster behind In n’ Out burger on 3rd offered a five star feast. Humans swarmed In N’ Out, but its dumpster sat behind a tall, heavy, brown fence with spikes, so William was free to roam among the steaming meat patties piled high without the interference of human eyes. The Southern California sun kept the meat hot and fragrant throughout the night as he gorged himself by the glow of the red and yellow neon sign. Roaches didn’t bother him, but other tomcats did. When they came sniffing, he’d scratch their damn eyes out. Those fights were bloody. He lost his own eye in one, but you shoulda the other guy. Anyway, it was worth it. Every night he brought a new date and it was cool if she had some friends. He partied hard and slept all day. He ruled.
But that all changed a few nights ago when a big white windowless van rolled up and stopped right in front of the dumpster. Humans jumped out and caught the girls. William escaped, but only narrowly. Since then white vans patrolled the neighborhoods and dumpsters were traps. Whoever was in charge of this operation was more focused and better adept at catching cats than any human he’d ever seen. William wondered if maybe they were cats, bigger, faster, human cats. A whole battalion of them. He’d heard of that, but everyone thought it was just legend.
He partied hard and slept all day. He ruled.
A week passed. William was starving. He hadn’t eaten much beyond what bugs he caught. One of the girls he used to hang with once told him there were some humans who fed the wanderers and freedom fighters (that’s what they called themselves on account of being free) in an apartment building nearby. He hated humans, hated their food, hated their big hands and their teeth. They looked like aliens with their round eyes and furless arms. What was that about? But his stomach groaned and his ribs jutted out like razors from his flanks. He’d just slink over to that there apartment complex and see what was up. Maybe, if there was some food around, he could grab some when no one was looking. Get in, get out. That was always his motto. He was the king of slink, which is why he hadn’t been caught, or poisoned. Oh yeah, that’s right. His hunger clouded his reason. Humans poisoned cats. He’d seen that horror more than once. He didn’t care for most cats, but it’s terrifying to come across corpses scattered within a 20 foot radius of human dwellings.
He’d have to hunt, a disgusting last resort. Rats carried diseases and tasted like butt. Nevertheless, as I said, he was starving. A horde of rats lived below the city and carried out their complex business pursuits in the subways. There were the Orange, Yellow, Red, and Blue lines that criss crossed the city, not with any kind of efficiency, mind you, but that was a human problem. The Orange line was a good place to start. As night fell, William descended the stained and dusty pavement steps that led down into the raging tunnels. The rush of the trains terrified him. His nerves were on edge. He trembled. But hunger drove him forward. Remember, king of slink. He told himself. You’re invisible. But to who and to what exactly William did not know, and that was the problem. These walls had eyes. And fangs.
Rats carried diseases and tasted like butt.
A homeless human groaned out his sorrows. He hit is paws on a big black box with white teeth. It made such an awful howl he didn’t see the massive black Rottweiler sitting next to the man. The dog jumped up and barked wildly at William, his fangs dripped with starvation’s saliva. William leapt in the opposite direction without looking and flew down a tunnel. It brought him directly on top of a rat’s nest. Pandamonium. Screaming. Rat apocalypse. William scrambled to catch and grab. Rats ran and screeched. The babies. Go for the babies. They’re clean fresh and easy to carry. He snatched up several at lightning speed, some died, some didn’t and as he turned to carry the bloody squirming mess out of the subway, he realized to his horror, he had no idea where to go. Fluorescent lights flickered overhead, but no whiff of fresh air, no scent from the outside came to greet his nostrils. The place smelled of rat feces and human filth.
And now he could hear the swarm. Legions upon legions of rats formed a wall behind him. Idiot. Amateur. His dumpster diving made him soft. He’d forgotten how to hunt. You don’t attack a rat on his territory. You hunt, identify your prey, stalk it and when it’s away from the group, you spring. He was surrounded. The rats hissed. They planned to tear him to shreds. He dropped his booty of dead and near dead babies and looked up, the only way out. Rats cannot jump. They could climb. Could he make it in time? How high was that man hole grate? The rats advanced. He heard a drum beat in the distance, smelled wrath on their hot breath. He took what few feet he had left and sprang into he air just as the rats closed in. He strained toward the grate with every last molecule of his little being. There! Success, but barely. His claws saved him. Razor sharp and long he clung just by their strength. William hoisted his whole body up, but he couldn’t fit through the spaces in the grate. Despite how thin he was, it wasn’t enough. The rats streamed up the sides of the wall.
Just then, a voice. “Ah ha!” A white, hairless human arm yanked up the grate and pulled William by the scruff of the neck. “Got you! I’ve been looking for you for weeks, you little dumpster scum. Yeah, you. You used to eat from the In N’ Out over there on 3rd street. You didn’t think I’d forget you, did I?” The arm belonged to a massive human male with bulging eyes and bald head. His breath smelled like rancid fish (incidentally William hated fish.) “You’ve gotten skinny. Thought you mighta died out here.” He spit a gray splat of mucous on the ground. “Sure glad ya didn’t. I got plans for you, tough guy.” Then he laughed a wicked, joyless laugh and threw William into a cage in the back of his white van and slammed the door.
I’ve started a story called Kiss The Kitties. Each entry will go up on Friday and will be about 1000 words. If readers tell me they want more, I will definitely comply. I just find that 1000 is about as much as anyone, including myself, has time to commit to at any given moment of the day.
These last two weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and sadness. Last week our opera, The Place Where You Started, premiered in Portland on November 12th. The first night of dress rehearsal was November 8th. My husband and I barely stayed focused. We barely slept and by the next morning found the ground beneath us gone. It felt as if we floated into unchartered and terrifying territory holding on only to each other.
Protests vibrated in the streets and strained the already taught space between my family and I, half of whom voted for the other party. I can only imagine what the election results will do to families across this nation as they gather for Thanksgiving. Maybe people should lay off the libations a bit. Spirits already run high. But then, how does one manage that kind of strain for an entire day sober?
Anyway, last week was intense. I’m sick now. I haven’t been able to get myself to the keyboard. Additionally, and sadly, I must drag myself to a day job that frustrates and drains me.
Next week, thankfully, I’ll resume my writing. Thanksgiving Day I’ll be at home, in Southern California, with my husband and my two glorious, magical, majestic cats. We will cook a turkey, the cats will allow us the scraps, and all will be well on that little day. Chloe will hold court on the state of the nation. Fortunately, William won’t be here to argue.
Kiss the Kitties will resume next week. I have lots in store for Chloe, Charlie, and William. You’ll also meet Helen the Siamese, Jack the Mancoon, and Akihla the Abyssinian. There are many adventures ahead. I hope you stay tuned. Thank you for indulging me this break.
Chapter 1–Santa Cruz, CA Present Day
I kiss kitties for a living. I once wanted to write, but found I was much better at kissing kitties. I have a large home and an even larger backyard with trees and kitty tree houses. All cats are neutered and spayed and their vaccines up to date. Over a hundred live here. I know each by name. If a cat is ill, I can sense it right away and herd her to the the vet, my sister, Lisa, who hates cats, which makes her brilliant when it comes to putting them to sleep and cutting them open. Cats hate her too.
That’s where I come in. I have no husband, or wife. Who wants to kiss a woman who kisses cats for a living? It’s pretty gross even when I think about it. Yet, kissing kitties is akin to kissing love itself, but better. Kittens are the easiest. I kiss their pink paws, their fuzzy bellies, their silken heads. I kiss and I kiss and I kiss and it’s never too much for them. I could charge a lot less than I do for them, but I charge more because of higher demand. Its supply side economics. After I’m done with them, you’ll have yourself quite a smashing kitty. Someone who loves you, greets you at the door, follows you from room to room, and will even sleep on your head. Most people don’t like that last bit. It’s a joke between the cats and I. I tell their humans it’s just part of their new kitty’s nature, but we both know better.
The older cats, the ones who’ve been abused, abandoned, ignored, and even never loved, well, they’re my specialty. I don’t charge much for them. They’ll be dumped again, or killed if someone doesn’t like my price. My sister would like nothing better.
That’s how I met William, an irascible orange fellow who’d lost an eye and part of his ear in a barroom brawl. William was mean. My sister was about to kill him, but because she enjoys it when I fail said, “Here, take him. Just try kissing him. He’ll scratch your damn face off. You’ll probably end up killing him sooner than I. I’ve got a backlog. Cancer. Incurable. They’re dropping like flies.” Then she laughed like the villain she was.
I took his cage and looked at him. What to do with William? We squared off. Don’t you dare, he said.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” I said. Kissing kitties meant getting them to want to be kissed. And their psychology wasn’t too hard to pin down. Make them think you don’t want them. But William was used to that. I had to think about this one.
“I think you care more than you say you do.” I said. Lisa stood in the kitchen cutting steak into cubes.
“I think you care less than you say you do.” She said. She lifted a glass of expensive merlot to her lips. Johnson, her new whatever, was coming over. Both of them were meat eaters. Fresh blood dripped down her hand and dribbled down the glass.
“Blech,” I turned my head. “Prove it.”
“William,” she snarled
“What about William?” I spat.
“We love each other.” I paused. “He just doesn’t know it yet.”
“Hah! Ridiculous. Admit it. He’s just not that into you.”
“That’s correct.” She pierced a chunk of bloody flesh with a skewer.
“Has William told you something? Have you been talking to him?”
“He talks to me.”
“Why is he talking to you and not to me?”
“He’s begging me to put him down.”
“What? He’s suicidal and you didn’t tell me?”
“Don’t be dramatic.”
“You’re such a witch!”
“And you’re so boring.”
Tears streamed hot down my cheeks. “Why? Why do you hate me?”
She raised an eyebrow. “I don’t hate you, dear girl. Now go. Johnson is coming and he needs to think I’m a good person. I can’t be good when you’re around. You’re too irritating.”
“Where’s William? What have you done with him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you kill him?”
“Absurd. I don’t do anything for free.”
“You would if it hurt me.”
“True. But no. I actually haven’t seen him since last Tuesday.”
“That’s when I last saw him.”
“So go. Find him.”
“Do you think he’s dead?”
She was right. I would know. I always knew when one of my own died. I don’t know how I knew. I just knew. I ran from the house and let the screen door slam. Dear William, don’t give up on us, you jerk.
Chapter 2 Los Angeles, five years earlier.
“I believe in you.” Chloe said. She was my first cat, a tiny calico with enormous grass green eyes. “I believe you can do anything because you’ve always done everything. You saved my life lots of times.”
“I did, didn’t I?” I was sobbing, again, because of all of the failures.
“I love you, mom. You always figure it out.” She stared at me. Charlie, her brother, an orange domestic, said nothing. Like most guys, he was useless in a crisis.
Chloe had three chronic illnesses. I’d been keeping her alive with love, the right food, and prescription medication. Now that I’d lost my car and my job, we were all about to be homeless. She’s right. We’d been destitute before, but I’d had hope. I’d always had my eye on the next thing. Always had one foot out the door. Always had the resources to get there. Credit. A car. A winning smile. My youth.
But Los Angeles had stolen all of that from me. Rent was too high. School loans were in the triple digits. I quit or was fired from every job I’d had in ten years. At the end I worked, in sales at a for profit screenwriting school, peddling dreams like snake oil. The CEO charged thousands to cash-strapped writers and tacked on interest when they couldn’t pay. One day, because a writer didn’t make her payments, he ran her debit card three times consecutively. She stood at the grocery store checkout line trying to pay for groceries for her three children and found that he’d emptied her account. Los Angeles, land of the great con. I first came out to write movies, perhaps direct. Now, I was a cliché like the millions who preceded me and the millions on their way. Exhaustion plagued me day and night, as it does in poverty. He paid us $30,000 annually.
Writing was out of the question when getting out of bed was the major accomplishment everyday. In addition to shattered dreams, disastrous jobs, I’d left a string of empty, useless relationships behind me. I was incompetent in life, career, and love. But not at kissing kitties. Charlie and Chloe were the only reason I didn’t throw myself in front of a bus. Every earth-shatteringly terrible day when I returned from the seventh circle of hell that was my job, both greeted me with enthusiasm with loving eyes, and their little tails tucked around neat paws.
Yet, today was an exception. Today they weren’t at my door when I came home. The apartment echoed. Not soul stirred in the dark, dusty place.