Bernie the Hoarder

Bernie on his mat

(photo by me) 

Hoarding. An issue many of us have personal experience with or know of through reality TV shows like Hoarders or Confessions: Animal Hoarders.

Books have been written and films have been made about famous hoarders like Homer and Langley Collyer and Long Island socialites Edith Bouvier Beale (“Little Edie”) and her mother Edith Ewing Bouvier (“Big Edie”) .

collyer-brothers-brownstone-1947

(The Collyer Brothers home, 1947 – http://www.nydailynews.com)

Edith-Little-Edie-Bouvier-Beale

(“Little Edie” – http://www.collegefashion.net)

He might not be rich or famous, but Bernie the Cat may have succumbed to their ranks as well. He is neither a compulsive shopper (so we have not gone bankrupt, thank goodness),  nor does he save reams of old newspapers and other paraphernalia, but does like things.

At first we noticed the shoes. He would lay his head on my sneakers or put his nose inside them, often falling asleep this way.

IMG_0846

Then it was my purse and duffel bag.

Next came the red blanket, which he talks to and drags around the floor in his teeth and kneads with his claws.

FullSizeRender

Once I found his scratch mat, toy alligator and toy bird wrapped inside the blanket as he was dragging it. Alarming!

Last week we found him laying on Lorin’s computer apparatus and extension cords in the basement, seemingly taking possession of them.

He likes to build a fort consisting of my purse, duffel bag and the red blanket. He is not happy when one of his objects is taken away.

Is it time for an intervention?

Hopefully, with love, support and patience, we will get through this as a family, and not have to seek professional help.

Have any of you experienced hoarding with your non-human companions?

 

Stuff on My Cat

Bernie 1Bernie 2. jpgBernie3(photos of Bernie by L.E. Swenson)

I don’t mind if you put stuff on me
if it makes you happy.
Fat Mousie, fuzzy ball,
squeaky bird and bottle cap
are my friends
They can always sit on me

I also don’t mind when
you lay your head on my tummy
like a pillow
It gives me a chance to nip you
with ease

What I don’t like is
the ironing board–
it makes me hiss and run
I also don’t like Roomba–
I don’t know what he
wants from me

shark cat roomba

(google image)

This cat is very brave to ride the Roomba,
but he looks absurd in that shark costume.
How could he allow himself to be so demeaned?
To each his own.

That’s all my news for today.

Oh, one last thing.
I saw this picture, but I’m not sure what it means.
I’m not crazy about the hair. Are you?

Trump_your_cat_3585389b

(google image)

 

 

Bernie and the Blanket

FullSizeRender

Last night while watching TV, Lorin and I heard what sounded like someone snoring. First, I thought it was the sleeping character in the show we were watching (Aquarius, on Netflix), but after the scene with the sleeping person had ended, the sound continued. Was someone sleeping on our porch or outside? What could it be?

I wandered into the dining room and discovered Bernie lying on top of the red hippo blanket (has hippos on it) and purring like a steam engine. The blanket normally sits on the chair in the back right corner of the dining room, but someone had moved it. A few days ago, Bernie started sleeping on the corner chair, which used to be Tisch’s (our deceased kitty) favorite chair.

I put the red blanket back on the chair, much to Bernie’s chagrin, and he quickly dragged it onto the floor again. Then he commenced kneading it and purring loudly.

When I went upstairs to bed, I heard him making strange vocalizations. Perhaps he was talking to the blanket?

This morning I discovered Bernie lying on the floor on top of the blanket. When I approached to him to ask what he was doing, he moved to the head of the dining room table (photo below), as if ashamed or not wanting to take responsibility for his actions.

Bernie and the Blanet

I assured him that he was not in trouble, but it didn’t seem to matter. I put the blanket back on the chair.

I wonder where I’ll find it tonight.

Linus

(google image)

Update as of July 14: Last night Bernie was dragging the blanket around in his teeth and kneaded it while it was still in his jaws. It seems he was humping it as well.

Alone Again (Naturally)

Karl 2

As some of you know, Bernie is the newest member of our “pride.” He’s been part of the family since April 23. For the first four weeks or so, he stayed upstairs and developed what seemed to be a strong bond with Karl (above). Karl lost his best kitty friend five years ago, so Lorin and I were very happy when we saw the closeness unfolding between Karl and Bernie. Karl is very timid and spends most of his time upstairs in the guest bedroom.

Bernie Might Love Karl

Karl and Bernie

After four or five weeks, Bernie started coming downstairs. I think he realized that’s where the food and “action” is. He began playing with Samson and Quincy and sleeping on the sofa or one of the dining room chairs. Now he rarely, if ever, goes upstairs.

This has not been easy for Karl. Over the weekend, Karl tried to woo Bernie back through various vocalizations (some mournful and heartbreaking) and by sitting or lying near him or on his new scratch mat in the dining room. It seems this only frightened Bernie and made him feel cornered.

Karl can be extremely pushy and aggressive during play or when he wants affection.

This morning I was awoken at 4:45 a.m. to the sound of shrieking, growling (Bernie) and  woeful crying (Karl).  I headed downstairs and shuttled Karl upstairs and locked him in the bedroom with me. He was intermittently crying and panting, and when I got him to sit on the bed with me, I saw a tuft of white fur in his claw–Bernie’s. It took at least a half hour for Karl to calm down from what seemed like a panic attack. Lorin brought a dish of food and water upstairs, which he devoured.

Karl seemed much calmer after that.

I feel sad for him: it seems his heart has been broken a second time. I hope Bernie and Karl can settle their “differences” and become buddies again.

Quincy and the Bowl of Balls

Quincy and the Bowl of Balls

Hello. My name is Quincy.

I have a confession to make.

I like balls. To be precise, I like the bowl of balls Mom brought home yesterday. Not sure why she got them, but I like them very much.

In this photograph, you can see I am trying to act nonchalant so she doesn’t suspect I’m going to go after them again. I stood on my hind legs and knocked one out of the bowl onto the floor. I didn’t make a sound, but somehow, she found out. I only had a few minutes to bat it around. Then she put it back in the bowl.

Next time, I knocked out a ball and a stick. She must have gotten this bowl of balls and sticks for us to play with. I think she got them for me because I was so well-behaved for the doctor. I didn’t hiss at her even once. She said now that I’m bigger I can see better out of my one good eye even though I’m mostly blind. She said it was like looking out of dirty glasses.

Samson doesn’t seem interested in the balls. You can see him sitting in the background of this photograph on the small sofa.

Mom keeps cleaning and moving things around which bothers us cats: we don’t like change.  She keeps putting new toys on the table, like these orange mats and cloth things to put on them. The best part is not the things inside, but the giant plastic bags they are contained in. I love to chew and lick them. I don’t know why.

Anyway, Mom is at work now, so I have plenty of time to retrieve more balls and sticks and play with them.

Life is good.

Bernie the Shoe

Bernie the ShoeBernie the Shoe 2

Sneakers, flip flops, harness boots
shiny or dull, worn or new
he  lies across them
his chin on the boot
all is well
with Bernie the Shoe

Tote bags, purses
valises, knapsacks
All fabrics are equal
for Bernie the Bag

Bernie the Frog Bernie the Frog 2

Bernie the Frog
stretches at will
he doesn’t care how he looks
you can’t spoil his chill

Buddha Bernie

Bernie the Red has a heart
that’s as big as his tum
he brings peace to the family
kindness and fun

(photos by L.E. Swenson & E. Herd)

Buddha Bernie

Buddha Bernie

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.

Scarecrow_with_gun

(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.

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!