Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Game of Cat Thrones: Cast your ballot for the 2017 Cat of the Year

It’s time for the Game of Cat Thrones, where you win or you’re not Cat of the Year.  Loyal readers may have noticed that the 2016 Elections didn’t happen.  We had to cancel it because we couldn't guarantee sanctity of the election.  There were allegations of Russian meddling, and everyone got really depressed, and suddenly it's 2017, and Winter is here.
The Game of Cat Thrones
Warning:  You should watch all 7 Seasons, before participating in the voting of the 2017 Cat of the Year.  Winter is here.

Our House has been in upheaval since Alex the stoic leader (Ned Stark) died in 2016. He was never drawn to the leadership role; it was simply his responsibility. So, he performed it nobly and steadfastly until his death.

You know what else happened this year?  We tragically lost one of our chickens, leaving us with only two dragons.  Our reptile children.
We lost one of our beloved chickens north of the wall.  These two will have to do.
We still have our fierce dire wolf, Miles (Ghost), who remains loyal to Winston.  Miles still isn’t eligible for the Game.  Still not a cat.
Winston and his loyal Dire Wolf, Miles
Let’s recap the contestants.
1.     Winston, aka The Bastard (or is he?) Jon Snow. This remarkable son of fire and ice came back from the dead after a horrible eye infection nearly took him from us.  The Lord of Light isn't done with him yet. Was it magic that brought him back? Or was it the visit to the Veterinary Ophthalmology Clinic in Spokane, where he got eyedrops made of his own plasma? Actually, that sounds like Blood Magic and we hope it doesn’t turn out to be a huge mistake like it was for Daenerys Targaryen.  It was a long, slow recovery but he is back from the dead to fulfill his true purpose. He took over the leadership role in the house, modeling himself after Alex who was always like a father (but really more like an uncle) to him.

Accomplishments: Just keeps getting stronger and more confident

Cons: Bossy about going outside and also about having running water in the bath tub. Also demanding about being lifted and settled into his special sleeping position each night (between our heads). Actually, we love that.

Eating habits: Winston eats everything; dry kibble, wet cat food, people food, dog food, old dried dog food that is on the floor that our dog has rejected.  He hardly has any teeth, and just swallows things whole.  He knows nothing, and doesn’t give a fuck. 

2.      Chester, aka Tormund Giantsbane. If you recall his history, Chester came to us as a stray, a kind of Free Folk if you will.  Looks gruffer and more judgmental than he is.  We think.  But seriously, why is he so angry?

His feet are the largest of all the cats, made for winter and life in the North.
Chester is a fair and formidable warrior and has garnered respect and admiration of Winston and fear from Miles.  Since joining House Marler-Schmetterling, he is now Winston’s most trusted lieutentent.  He is loyal and brave.
Once enemies, they are now loyal companions

Pros: Stopped humping the other cats as much. Still looks good in a lion cut. 

A lion cut suits him, perhaps angers him, too.
He has rock solid, but seldom celebrated, litter box habits.  Uses the catio but doesn't demand it like a spoiled brat.

Cons/Food: Very picky about his wet food.  He will grudgingly eat dry kibble, but prefers wet food, adjusted for the right moisture content and freshness. The flavors need to be varied daily.  Seriously, how did he develop such a sensitive palate during his days as a wildling on the streets on Missoula?


3.       Gary, aka Samwell Tarly, joined our family. Gary is large, jovial and inquisitive. A highborn, growing up in a castle in the south (Idaho), he was ultimately banished from his home and forced to find a new family here in the North (Montana), and renounce all of his allegiances and brithrights.  He is loyal and sweet and just didn’t fit his first family’s expectations. We love him dearly, but we just don't understand his character arc yet. 

Pros: Part of his exile stemmed from his lack of litterbox use.  However, since being banished to the North his litterbox use has been exemplary.  He has befriended Winston, and we think he is learning from him.  An unlikely duo, they even share litterboxes.  Gary has had only one accident, and that involved the mountain lion rug.  We can’t really fault him- we know how he and Alex feel about the Lannisters. 
He absolutely loves the catio.  In a house full of men, this gives him an opportunity to see women, the neighbors’ cats like Bonnie (aka, Gilly).  Plus, by oath, he is a watcher on the wall.

A watcher on the wall, by oath.  He said the words
Gary is still adjusting to life in the North, and now he spends a lot of time in the morning next to the heat register.  Despite his large size, he gets cold.  Southerners.
He used to sleep in the living room, then he joined us on the family bed, which we initially thought was delightful, but he is a big and prosperous cat, and takes up a lot of room.  We need a bigger bed.

Accomplishments: Improved litterbox habits!  Our vet proclaimed that he has good teeth- something previously unknown to us about any Persian cat.  It must be the result of growing up in a highborn family with good nutrition. Loves to get his belly scratched, and apparently did not come with a murder button installed on his stomach
He’s very good at developing water dragon beard.

Food: Only eats dry kibble, which is surprising given his privileged upbringing. To look at him, you’d think he ate everything.  He is large.

Cons: He snores to wake the dead.  Also, he stands annoyingly close to Winston.  He just really respects Winston but he is very socially awkward. 

Please vote your choice for the Cat of The Year 2017 and help determine who will sit on the Iron Throne.  Because, the night is dark and full of terrors, and winter has come.

Please vote on the side bar on the right on this blog, and you may have to enable the desktop versions.  These are the rules, because in the Game of Cat Thrones, you win or...

Friday, June 2, 2017


If you like your cats and you like wildlife, do them both a favor and keep your cats inside.  Cats live longer, healthier lives as indoor cats, and wildlife and your neighbor’s vegetable beds benefit from not having your cats roaming the neighborhood.  Study after study demonstrates not only the adverse effect that house cats have on wildlife (from song birds to the endangered Florida panther), but how far your seemingly lazy, well-fed little friend actually travels.  Also, study after study finds how much shorter cats lives are when they are allowed to roam. 

Cats are curious and like to look outside, and watch birds, people, leaves, whatever, and we try to provide them with ways of doing just that.  One minor thing I did was add a window to one of our storm doors, so they can look out when the door is closed.  
Chester is dissatisfied with just a window.
They use the window a lot, but they also would like to spend more time enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the garden.  
The window looks both ways and is effective for not just cats, but chickens and Chihuahuas.
Winston gets supervised time in the garden (the only one of our cats that does), but it is seldom and I know he likes to feel the wind in his hair, so that lead to my recent project- a Catio (“cat” + “patio” = awesome).  
From left to right, Winston, Chester and Gary investigating their new Catio.
I first learned about a Catio a few years ago from an announcement for a Catio Tour in Portland.  I was intrigued.  The fifth annual tour is scheduled for September 9.

This was a fun project and one that I could get all the materials from Home ReSource (using reused and repurposed materials is one of my passions).  This Catio is made from 3 wood frame window screens and these screens are common at Home ReSource.

These window screens sell for about $3 each and they are a common byproduct of people upgrading their windows in Missoula.  They were really common on the vast amount of homes built here between the 1910’s and the 50’s.  It is nice to find a use for a common thing like these (and hollow core doors, but that is another issue).  

The rest of the Catio is constructed from 2x stock reclaimed from homes), plywood from shipping crates, reused lag bolts, screws, and the brackets (above) are re-purposed fence posts.   

I also got laminate flooring, roofing felt, flashing, drip edge, roofing nails, wood screws, and carpet remnants for the Catio furniture (the scratching post), 

In all this project cost about $35.

It is not totally complete, I plan to add a shelf (a second floor) for the cats to lounge, but I wanted to see how that enjoy and use the current space. 

One of the nice things about this project is that it is portable.  Ultimately, we plan to install French doors in place of this window.  When we get around to that project (or “if”), we can move this to another window.  

the Catio installed from our bedroom window
This will allow our cats some time to spend outside but protects them, and protects our wildlife visitors from them. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

A new use for this old blog; a reference

So I haven’t really been keeping up with this blog and frankly I am not sure of its fate. Since I haven’t been updating it regularly like I once did, this blog has turned into more of a static website, and I think that is fine. I think the value of this blog lies in is utility as reference and as a resource to cover topics in depth, but after eight (!) or so years, I find many of the issues with native plants and wildlife gardening keep coming up, so rather than reposting an old article or updating a subject I have written before,  I am thinking about turning these posts into a book (though I have been threatening that for a while). 

When I started this blog in 2009, social media was really (at least to me) in its infancy.  Now, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a more useful tool for updates and news.  As a result, I post garden news and pictures on these platforms, ignoring this blog.  But I do think the in depth articles I have posted are a compliment to a nice Instagram photo.  Having said that, some of the most commonly requested topics are the following:
In general, "why native plants are important" is always a common topic, and the subject of the whole blog!

I still post unique or timely things, like our Cat of the Year or SponCon projects, but day to day social media seems to suit the general needs of this one time blogger!

So, please follow me on Instagram or Facebook!