Wednesday, August 10, 2016



I don’t have any pictures of Blackster, but just imagine a small black tom cat with ragged ears, and that is him.  There isn’t anything remarkable about him--except that he decided I am his best friend.

Even that wouldn’t be such a big deal, except just last winter, he was a feral cat that would visit our barn.  We have a lady that comes out every day just to feed the cats.  Her name is Carol.  By feeding him and talking to him, she got him gentle enough that she could pet him a little bit.

Ellen and I don’t feed the cats--they get plenty of food, and most of them are rather fat.  I always talk to Princess, the cantankerous empress of the barn.  Many times, I would sit with her in the winter time so she could warm her paws.  She can be so unpredictable, that only her old owner who brought her to our barn, Ellen and I are the only ones that spend much time with her.

The feral black cat that they named Blackie would see me with Princess.  Over time, he got closer and closer to me.  I think he decided I was safe because Princess liked me.  Soon, I was able to pet him.  That is when I decided that Blackie was not a name fit for a tom cat.  I started calling him Blackster.  Once I did that, he fell in love with me.

On the evenings that I feed the horses, he finds me when he hears my voice to greet me.  He, himself, has just a tiny meow--the kind that most of the time you only see his mouth move.  He will then follow me from barn to barn as I feed the horses.  Sometimes he will greet me when I come back with Ranger on his walk.  II will pet him most of the time as I walk by.  Our problem?  Princess, the tyrant doesn’t think he should be with me and will try to chase him away.  She wants me to pet her instead of him.

I try to reserve a few minutes just to pet and talk to him--and that only works until Princess finds us.  He just loves when I sit and talk to him.  He has never tried to climb on my lap, though.  The time I have spent with him has helped him feel more comfortable around other people, too,  He is still skittish with them, but he is getting better all the time.  He likes Ellen, too, but not as much as he likes me.  He even likes me more than he likes Carol--who feeds him.

He is really a nice fellow, and if I didn’t have Thunder--a cat who is meant to be an only cat--I would be tempted to take him home.  The cats who live at our barn do have a good life, though, and I get to see him plenty when I am out there.

New Pedestal for Thunder

New Pedestal for Thunder

Ellen saw this great, little piece of cat furniture at Marc’s for $19.99.  She knew I would want it, so she bought it for me for Thunder.  (I reimbursed her, of course.)  He hasn’t had a new piece of furniture for a while.

Of course, he really liked the box.  It only took a couple of minutes to assemble, and he was immediately on it.  Even though the platforms seemed a little small, he fit just fine.  I often forget how much of him is really fur and how little of him is cat.

Since we had found some new turkey feathers when we were walking Ranger, we had other things to do.  Thunder loves fresh feathers to play with.

Then, he saw Maggie walk by his new pedestal. He ran to it, jumped on top of it and swatted her.  I guess he wanted her to know it was his.  He also marked his territory by clawing the post a couple of times.  It belonged to him.

I tried to convince him to hop from one pedestal to another with clicker, but he refused to leave his new spot.  He promptly took a nap.

He now has one more place to perch on to survey his kingdom.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thunder and Maggie

Thunder and Maggie

Thunder the Cat really doesn’t care much for Maggie the Dog, but it seems that they are getting along better now that I am home more often.  Thunder is still pouncing Maggie, but not as often.  The problem boils down to there only being one of me and two of them.  They both want me to pay attention to them.  

Thunder is the aggressor; not Maggie.  She likes to pretend he doesn’t exist and merely tries to interfere by just walking between us and asking for attention.  Thunder pounces her and even chases her.  He doesn’t like the way she smells, and he hates how she barks at any noise, the neighbors and the wildlife in the yard.

In the cooler weather, he hates when she sits on my lap.  She is too large for laps, and she leaves very little room for him.  He will walk over, look at the problem and walk away in disgust.  Finally, he will find a way to squeeze on my lap regardless of her.  That lasts until she hears something to bark at, and then he runs away as fast as he can.

Like I said, Thunder is more accepting of her since retirement.  He will walk up to her and rub his body on her chest or brush his tail on her face.  She doesn't understand and just looks at me in disgust.  I praise her and even click her sometimes to encourage her to allow him to do that to her.

Of course, this may have nothing to do with my retirement and more to do with the very hot summer.  I have no air conditioning, so the two of them are sleeping more because of the heat.  When the weather cools off, dog pouncing may become Thunder’s favorite sport, again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thunder’s New Routine

Thunder’s New Routine

I am on my fourth week of retirement, and Thunder’s routine is changing.  On the mornings that I am at home, he was starting to nap about 8:00--and he would stay napping until 11:00.  He is still napping, though he will start it a little later if I sleep in.  I then go out to work in the yard and take Maggie for her long walk.  When I get back, he wakes up to greet me and is very sociable.  He then goes and sits in the sun in the dining room and wants me to pet him.
He still seems tired, but at least he isn’t deep under the dining room table where I can’t be with him.  By around 11:00, he is much more awake for a few hours--ten he takes an early afternoon nap.  

I thnk he is really happy to have me around, and since I am around more often, he seems less frantic about spending time with me.  He doesn’t start crying if I’m not in the same room as much, and I can eat most of my meals in the kitchen in peace.

On the hot days, and there has been a lot of them, he is much quieter and doesn’t eat as much.  He has been doing a lot of eating overnight.  He has always been like that.  I used to panic--the first few years I had him--that he wasn’t eating enough.  I know better, now.

He does lay in the sun a lot in the morning, but only for short periods in the evening because he gets too warm and has to cool off

If I leave him for more than a few hours, I am still getting the ecstatic greetings that go on and on...