If Cats Spoke English

My cat Olive is sick. One day a few weeks ago, I noticed that her back legs were weak and she was sometimes sliding or walking bow-legged. There were no other signs that she was in pain. I thought that she might have diabetes, since that’s a common disease among older cats.

Well, her bloodwork came back fine, so the next step was to see a neurologist. The neurologist examined her and came to the conclusion that something is probably wrong with her spine; maybe a tumor is pressing on it.

But I’ll never know what is wrong with her, because it costs thousands of dollars to have an MRI done. I feel like a bad mom, but I don’t have that kind of money. What makes this decision a little less distressing are the facts that she is 17 years old and has lived a healthy life up until now. So, for now, I am giving her some medication that will help decrease inflammation.

She is acting normally otherwise, but I do wonder if she is in any pain. Cats are great at masking pain (an evolutionary trait). If only she spoke English, she could respond to my query, “What is your level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced.”

I’ve had Olive for almost her entire life. She’s a complicated girl (read: semi-feral and engages in unprovoked attacks), but she has been the best companion she could be. She’s like the family member who is sometimes a thorn in your side, but you love them anyway.

I’m enjoying every day I have left with her before she crosses the rainbow bridge.

cat sitting on counter at the vet
Olive at a vet appointment



I tried two experiments recently. One was a kitchen experiment. I made soft pretzels. They tasted fine, but left a lot to be desired in the looks department. The recipe is very simple: water, yeast, flour, sugar, salt. A lack of counter space was the crux of the problem: the recipe called for me to roll the dough into a rope 20 inches long.

Well. The maximum length of any chunk of counter space in my kitchen is about 12 inches. So my pretzels were more like lumps of dough. But darn tasty lumps of dough. I used mostly whole wheat flour so I could feel like I was being somewhat healthy as I ate lumps of dough.








My second experiment was a behavioral one. My friend Lisa told me that her cat loved watching bird videos on YouTube. She suggested that I search forĀ  “Cats. Snow. Hole.”

I had a snow day today so, earlier in the afternoon, I found the aforementioned video. I excitedly unplugged my laptop and brought it over to the bed, where Olive was lounging. “This is going to be so fun, Olive,” I said, as I started the video.

She looked at me, completely nonplussed. “Look at the birds!” I motioned. She looked at the screen for 30 seconds and then started grooming.








Maybe she’s just not keen on this particular video, I thought. I fired up another bird video and went to the kitchen for a moment. I came back to this:








She had walked away from the bloody video! Maybe she is too old to care about such simple pleasures as watching bird videos? Ah, well. It was worth a try.





Happy New Year

Olive and I wish everyone a happy new year!








So I kicked off the birthday list by making cream cheese mints. As I mentioned in a previous post, Grandma Peg would mass-produce mints and my family would give out boxes of them at the holidays. I don’t have her recipe but I deduced from sleuth work via Google Images that her mints were most likely cream cheese mints.

I picked a random recipe and got to work today.








No wonder the mints taste good; they consist solely of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and granulated sugar. The only flavoring I had was lemon extract, so I decided to make yellow roses.

I used a hand mixer and tried valiantly to prevent cream cheese and sugar from flying to all corners of my kitchen. I succeeded for the most part.

The mints came out fine…








But, alas, they don’t taste like Grandma’s mints…! I guess I’ll have to try the other option Google gave me: butter mints.

There are some recipes for butter mints that just swap out the cream cheese for butter in the cream cheese mint recipe. But most of the photos of butter mints that I found show mints that the other side of my family would leave out in a dish: they are square and melt in your mouth. I think I’ll try both recipes.

I hope my Boston friends like mints…

Olive: Spring 2013 Study


Having just spent months at home lying in bed with a headache, I shared a bit of quality time with Olive.

She really does sleep 80 percent of the time. About 50 percent of the time, she’s curled up in a ball on my bed.

About 30 percent of the time, she is sleeping on her cardboard cat scratcher (mainly after 7:00 pm).

Sometimes in the evening, she sits on her cat scratcher with her paws crossed.
Sometimes in the evening, she sits on her cat scratcher with her paws crossed and stares at me.












About 15 percent of the time, she sleeps stretched out in strange positions on my bed.











About 4 percent of the time, she sleeps under the covers in the middle of the bed. One percent of the time is spent halfway under the covers, like a human being.












She was good company while I was sick. Thanks, Chicken Little.




State of Love and Trust


I was at the adoption center this morning, and spent time with a couple of cats who got me thinking about the concepts of love and trust. Most cats enjoy being petted and lovingly scratched. But there are some who LOVE being petted and return the affection with such fervor and abandon.

As I was petting two cats who LOVE being petted, I was struck by how trusting they were. We had never laid eyes on each other before, yet they were so happy and thankful that I was showing them some affection. They would have let me pet them for hours.

And that made me think of my cat, Olive. She’s been with me for 12 years and she doesn’t trust me. She isn’t capable for whatever reason. I know she loves me. Every night she sidles up to me and purrs away as I fall asleep. She does let me pet her for a few minutes at a time, which she didn’t allow when she was younger. So there has been improvement. My theory is she was either separated from her parents too early or she was abused. I wish I knew what happened to her. [My brother found her in a grocery store parking lot.]

Olive reminds me that you can love people but not trust them. You can love a parent or a sibling or a significant other, but not trust him or her…because of abuse or lying or cheating. I think both people and animals start out as trusting creatures. Some hold on to that trust because they have no reason not to mistrust. Others have their trust shattered in some way and they are never the same.

All of this contemplation brought to mind the great Pearl Jam song “State of Love and Trust.” Which then reminded me of the movie Singles. Which then reminded me that I am old. How can this movie be 20 years old???