Bernie – Too Sexy for His Fur

Bernie cover modelBernie 2Bernie 3

This is Bernie, whom many of you have already heard about. He is the latest member of our “pride.” We adopted him through S.T.A.R.T. (Save the Animals Rescue Team) in New Jersey. He was at a pound in Paterson–apparently his owner had died–and brought to PetSmart in Paramus for adoption. He resided there for about two months: everyone loved him but they were concerned about his weight–24 pounds. I guess that made him hard to adopt, and the fact he wasn’t a kitten; he’s five years old. We are keeping him on the lower calorie food he was accustomed to eating, Hill Science Diet “Perfect Weight.” He seems to have lost some weight, mainly from being uncaged and playing with the other cats and going up and down the stairs.  I also think he was depressed, but he isn’t showing any signs of that now. All good!

As you can see he is quite the looker and loves to pose for a photograph. This song is in honor of Bernie. He’s too sexy for his fur, wouldn’t you agree?

Buddha Bernie

Buddha Bernie


Bernie is serene. He was timid when he first came into our home, but now he is the man about the house. No longer confining himself to the upstairs quarters, he comes down in the morning and evening to polish off the remains of the food in the other cats’ bowls and survey the territory. He rubs against our legs and says hello or “meow.” He lays against a pillow on the sofa and falls asleep. He sniffs the other cats’ noses and butts. He and Karl are as thick as thieves.

When he’s anxious–seems to happen mostly with Sylvester (our other large cat)–he shrugs his flanks.

Bernie Might Love Karl

Karl & Bernie

Now, if only he could get Karl to spend more time downstairs. His presence seems to calm him. Karl has always been a very timid, anxious cat.


(google – the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, fromThe Wizard of Oz)

Here’s hoping Bernie can imbue Karl with some courage.

Bernie, the serene, Buddha Cat.

Henri, the Existential Cat

Let me introduce you to Henri, the Existential Cat.

Compare him, if you will. to Sylvester.

Sylveser in cat carrier

Sylvester, in his cat carrier, aka “prison no. 1”

Both suffer, at times, from ennui.

Sylvester does not have a cat door, so his suffering is double that of Henri, as he must wait for his caretaker to walk him on the odious harness. All because his ear was bitten by another cat. “Moron,” says Sylvester, of this cat. “I was protecting our property.”

cat bag 2

Prison / torture chamber no. 2: the cat bag

Sylvester recalls being placed in this straightjacket/torture chamber when the veterinarian injected him with needles, and later, when the caretakers applied medicine to his eye and ear. “Is there no end to the indignities?” he asks.

Something Sylvester has learned: “Go along with the ways of the humans as long as it is bearable. Whenever possible, run out the back door and act contrite when they find you. It is all part of a fruitless, demeaning game.”

Bernie, Ankle Biter

Bernie on the stairs

They put me on a diet
that I don’t like one bit
Mom and Pop want me to slim down
they want me to be fit

Karl lets me eat his food
if they put us together
since they started to feed us separately
I’ve been in quite a lather!

I meow at the top of the stairs
to let Mom know I need food
She ignores my pleas, I rub her legs
how can she be so cruel?

She walks to the human litter box room
why don’t they use ours?
I lunge and nip her ankle
as she goes to take a shower

She turns to look, I run away
She says, “What was that?”
Why, silly, it’s predator vs. prey
A game well-known to cats

Of course, I’d never eat her
She’s much too big for me
but if she thinks I can
I might get more of those treats

Bernie Might Love Karl

Bernie Might Love Karl

Karl (left) & Bernie (right)

Good news! Karl and Bernie are .  . .  playing together. Last night I heard scampering upstairs and thought it might be Karl playing with the new ultra-furry gray mouse toy I gave him. This afternoon I caught Bernie chasing Karl, and not hissing or growling. And a few minutes ago, Karl situated himself on the guest room bed with Bernie. Karl was playing with Bernie’s fish toy, and Bernie didn’t seem to mind it. They seem to be quite relaxed with each other as you can gather from the photograph above.

I will keep you posted on their unfolding friendship.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, including women who mother and care for others but may not have children of their own.


Unrequited Kitty Love

Karl 2

This is Karl, my beloved almost-eight-year-old cat. He has been part of our family since the age of 4 months, when he was a very shy, runty fellow. We adopted him from a lovely Russian lady who was fostering him.

Karl 004

Karl as a kitten

As I mentioned in a prior post, “Karl Loves Bernie,” Karl’s best friend was Magnus, who died at a very young age; he was also mothered by my late cat Panther. Both she and Magnus died in 2011. Since then. he hasn’t had that strong a bond with another cat. Until Bernie. Only that Bernie doesn’t seem to share in this love.

Bernie on bed

We adopted Bernie almost two weeks ago. Apparently, his owner died and he ended up at a pound in Paterson, New Jersey, then was moved to PetSmart by a rescue organization and resided there for almost two months.

Bernie is extremely timid, but Karl took a real shine to him. They even sniffed noses one morning and no hissing or growling transpired. My husband Lorin feeds them in our bedroom upstairs: they are locked in together so the other cats don’t steal their food. We started feeding Karl separately when it was apparent the other cats were bullying him out of his meals.

At around 5:15 this morning, I heard growling (Bernie) and plaintive sounds (Karl) from the guest room, where Bernie has been spending most of his time. Both of them were under the bed, Karl pleading with him to come out. If he were human, it might go like this, “Please, please, I love you. Why don’t you love me back?”

Bernie: “Leave me alone. I’m scared. I don’t trust you. Why did those damn humans bring me here?”

Lorin fed Karl in our room, and Bernie, in the guest room, but Karl barely touched his bowl. Lorin surmises that Karl is trying to win Bernie’s love with food and saves it for him. I don’t doubt it. Karl has lost a little weight over the last few days.

What to do?

Lorin is doing some research on the matter and hopefully things will work themselves out.

In the meantime, please keep your fingers and paws crossed for us!


Karl ♡ Bernie

Bernie has been with us for a week now, and Karl has grown quite fond of him.

Bernie on bed


Karl 2
Karl on stairs


Karl’s best friend Magnus died of a heart attack in 2011–he was only 18 months old–and he has never really bonded with another cat since. Magnus was a fearless feline who helped build his confidence. Karl was the runt of the litter abandoned by his young mother and fostered by a very loving woman until we adopted him in November 2008, the day after Obama became president. Karl is timid and sweet and spends most of his time upstairs under the bed. We started feeding Karl separately in our bedroom when we realized the extent of food-bullying by the other cats. Bernie is the first cat to enter our home who is shyer than he.

Bernie is still holed up in the guest room, although he came out a couple times in search of more food. Last night I spotted him at the top of the stairs and tried to lure him down with kibble. Unfortunately Quincy nibbled the kibble before Bernie made his way down.

Karl visits Bernie frequently throughout the day. I’ve also caught him eating out of his food dish, even though Bernie gets a special weight management food, drinking from his water bowl and using his litter box. We are planning to bring the litter box downstairs later today.

A couple nights ago, Lorin fed Karl and Bernie in our bedroom and later found both of them under our bed. Karl likes to sniff him in the face and talk to him in his “cooing” voice. Bernie swatted him once, but it seemed out of fear, not anger.

We don’t know a lot about Bernie except that he came from a pound in Paterson, New Jersey, had matted hair on his back that had to be shaved off and his owner may have died. We also know he was at PetSmart since March 3 before we took him home. He was very popular, and liked to sit in a chair inside his enclosed area and watch the world go by. He’s a very observant cat. The lady at PetSmart told us that people keep asking about him, but his weight made them reluctant to adopt him.

It will be a while before his settles in with the rest of the boys, but we think it’s worth it. Especially if it means Karl will have a new friend. Every creature–human or non-human–deserves a second chance.

Bernie Comes Home

Lorin & Bernie

Lorin & Bernie

Here’s the first follow up to the Bernie story. As I mentioned in my last post, “About Bernie,” Lorin met Bernie while harness shopping at PetSmart for our cat Sylvester. Bernie was not surrendered by his owners as we previously thought: his owner died and he was brought to a pound in Paterson, NJ before going to PetSmart.  The hair on his back was severely matted, so they shaved him–he doesn’t like being touched there.

Lorin and I went to see Bernie together Saturday afternoon. He is a very gentle boy, timid in fact. He was housed with 10 other cats and kittens–he had his own large cage with a jumbo-sized bed. The lady from S.T.A.R.T. (Save the Animals Rescue Team) said that he loves catnip, the feather stick and his catnip fish. She said we could take him home for a week and see how it goes with the other cats, and bring him back if it doesn’t work out. She gave us his bed and catnip fish, and we purchased some of the Science Diet “Perfect Weight” cat food he has been eating–he is on a diet. He is heavy at 24 pounds, but she said his bloodwork tested negative for diabetes, and he’s had his other vaccinations.

Bernie came home with us Saturday afternoon.

We set up a food and water dish, his bed and a litter box in the guest room to get him acclimated. He spent the first 36 hours or so under the bed.  Samson was the first to check him out: he went under the bed and gave him a sniff and walked back out.

Quincy, the head of the household, was most curious about Bernie. He went under the bed, hissed (but no ears back) and gave a low growl, letting him know who was boss.

Samson & Quincy & friends

Quincy (laying down) and Samson

Karl is also very interested in Bernie, and even nibbled at his food.

Karl in the sunKarl

By Sunday night, Bernie was sitting on top of the bed: progress!


This morning Quincy jumped on the bed with Bernie on it to take a better look at him, then ran away.

Judging by his gentle demeanor, Bernie might make the perfect therapy cat. We shall see.

So that’s where we are at so far.

I will continue to post updates throughout the week.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

About Bernie

Bernie 2 Bernie


This is Bernie. My husband Lorin met him at PetSmart in Paramus, NJ last night when he was harness shopping for our cat Sylvester (below).

Sylvester in kitchen

Bernie is a large, gentle five-year-old who was surrendered by his owners. Lorin thinks he saw his prior owners at the store, and said that Bernie looked very sad. He didn’t know why they were giving him up.

Lorin spoke to the adoption ladies at PetSmart, and they said they were hoping to either find foster parents for him or a forever home. They said they wanted to find someone who would be willing to put him on a diet–he weighs about 40 pounds.

After Lorin told me about Bernie, I had to search for him online.  As he bears the same first name as my favorite presidential candidate, I needed to see him in the fur. No information was available in his profile. It merely said “Bernie’s Story” with nothing beneath the photos.

Lorin and I discussed the possibility of fostering him and putting him on a diet until we could find him a forever home. He suggested we go to PetSmart on Saturday to see him. I said that would be fine.

We already have four cats, so taking on a fifth would be a bit much (even for us), but I would like to help him.

Why would anyone abandon a healthy, sweet five-year-old cat? Perhaps they are broke, their house is in foreclosure or they are leaving town. Nevertheless, it seems cruel. Who am I to judge? I don’t know what his prior owners are going through or what events have befallen them to arrive at this decision. All that matters is that this sweet boy finds a home with someone who will love him.


Cat Bites Bite

Sylvester in kitchen
(Sylvester, as photographed by moi)

Yesterday I took Sylvester for a walk in the backyard so he wouldn’t poop on the floor in front of the litter boxes (he’s done it a few times already). As you may have read in my earlier post “Straight Jacket Cat,” he’s an indoor-outdoor cat, and his eye became infected over a week ago. Last Tuesday when the vet treated him, she said he must’nt be let outside for at least two weeks.

He was inside for almost a week so Lorin and I started treating him to walks on the leash. What could possibly go wrong? He could be outside, do his business and we could monitor his comings and goings all at the same time.

On Tuesday morning, I was the designated walker. We roamed around the backyard for awhile, then I decided (ah, the multi-tasking brain) to attend to the recyclables. Our recycle barrel for glass/cans/plastic was missing when we got home Monday night, so I decided to remove all the boxes out of the paper/box recycle bin and use that bin for the bag of bottles and cans I had brought outside.  I was holding Sylvester’s leash with the other hand, but not really paying attention to him for those brief minutes.

Then I heard gasping, shrieking, choking sounds.  Holy Shit–Sylvester was being strangled by the leash! The choker leash had wrapped repeatedly around an outdoor umbrella stand (left by previous owner that we never removed) sticking up from the cement patio area.

I tried to free him to no avail. He thrashed and flailed, his tongue lolling out. I thought he would die in front of my eyes. I started to panic and screamed for Lorin, who was inside the house, over and over; I banged one hand on the bathroom window which I could barely reach. Before Lorin appeared, Sylvester, in his panic and terror, sunk his teeth into the meaty part of my left thumb.

Holy Jesus, did that hurt! Lorin freed Sylvester by inching the choker leash off the top of the post. Needless to say, we won’t be using the choker leash again.

My hand was bleeding, hurt like bloody hell.  I was crying hysterically–I had almost killed my cat. Lorin flushed the wounds (two punctures) with hydrogen peroxide, and my hand started to swell and turn red. It is still red now, swollen and hot to the touch.

Pretty, eh?

hand 1 hand 2

My good hand

good hand

When I saw my GP yesterday, he said, “We treat cat bites aggressively.” He gave me a tetanus shot and started me on a 10-day course of antibiotics. He said if the redness and swelling goes past the hand to go to the ER.

Did you know that cat bites are more infectious that dog bites and 50% of cat bites result in infection, and sometimes, hospitalization and surgery? I didn’t either until I did the requisite google-search.

What’s the moral of this story? There really isn’t one, although I have learned two things:

(1)  Don’t EVER turn your back on a leashed cat (especially if he weighs 25+ pounds); and
(2) Cat bites bite!

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