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Infinite Cat Project Archives for January 18-22, 2016.

Mewsings: January 18, 2015 - "Which is more beautiful--feline movement or feline stillness?" - Elizabeth Hamilton

cat asking for password

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Who rang that bell?"

Cat Mewvie: Stray kitty finds the catnip toys.

perpetual cat feeder comic

Today's Kitty Komic

draft-proof cats

Feline Street Art: Library with cat quilt, creator unknown.

dump cat

Dump Cat.
by Bonnie Toomey

Unless I count all things school, my childhood was uncomplicated in terms of things temporal.

Because I had a fairly simple and free life as a kid, riding across town in my parents' Chevy Impala, its trunk stuffed and agape, hinges squeaking all the way to the dump on a Saturday morning and squished in beside my little brother and two sisters on the wide back seat, Dad at the wheel, there was always time to take things in.

Those were the limitless days of childhood. Hours of freedom spent building snow forts, playing checkers and lining the outer edge of the Monopoly board with our play money, watching TV until we had to help shovel the driveway, and waiting for Scholastic book orders to arrive.

And then there were our pets.

Dad was a visionary. He built a coop up against our backyard fence and we spent warm days following the soft roll of the clucks and ducking under Mom's forsythias and shrubs to gather hen's eggs. We had rabbits. We snuck them inside on occasion. We watched as Dad cleaned the turtles' tank by the kitchen sink, and we shared our table scraps with Candy, our Cairn, and then Daisy her Beagle-mix pup. We rescued baby birds and stole entrails of pollywogs scooped from pond soup brought home in buckets until they sprouted legs and hopped away. We even caught fireflies in old jelly jars. But winters were less bountiful.

So, on that particular cold day, when Dad stayed home to tinker on his snowplow because of a coming storm, and Mom piloted the Impala boat with its snappy studded tires, we seized the chance to go along for the ride to the town dump.

I was riding shotgun that day. We rolled cross the mill town; under the covered bridge where the water was chill black, left at the intersection and down Groton Street which ran into Brookline Street. Going to the dump was like going to the far corners of our world. The scape began to spread out between old New Englanders, open-land farms, and trundling with our trash for another mile or two we pulled off the long straight road that ran out of town west toward the New Hampshire line.

First was the smell. Mom turned a sharp and slow downward left to the dump, mountains of apocalyptic and compressed rubble and bony dirt rising ever higher as our car approached the long swung open metal gate. It was the moment of welcome. Bits of trapped paper, like tiny Tibetan prayer flags cemented by earth and rain and air flickered and whispered. They waved us on. The Impala lurched as we entered, hauling our home's waste in the gray wind.

It was thrilling and at the same time frightening whenever we backed cautiously up to the edge of the trashy abyss, and my parents would seem to take a certain pleasure heaving the bags and upending the loose contents of our token dented trash can. Sometimes, we were allowed to heft an item and pitch it.

Stuff would tumble out and down, coming to rest as stray pages of newsprint would lift and drift just above the depressions of useless things; a shoe with its tongue hanging and its sole missing, a torqued bike rim without a tire, a naked doll missing an arm winking at no one, and all the time birds slowly circling above in continuous loops. A valley of stories lay at the bottom of that ravine. Blackened banana peels, broken china, coffee grounds, rotten fruit and tin foil glint like manmade mica.

The dump, that day, distantly encircled by dark pines and under a diesel-writ sky, was another world altogether, one where a child could imagine anything could happen.

It wasn't that the little black and white thing was appealing - it was not - dirty and scrawny, with an open wound on its neck. Maybe it was an outward sign of a close call with a surreptitious rat, but there was a beautiful urgency about it, a toughness that I liked. A will that defied the wordless edict of the dump, and in that moment when she let out a meow sweeter than cream, she turned the throwaway world of the dump on its ear.

As Mom threw the last bag over the edge, we watched it sail like a giant lumpy water balloon. It landed with a satisfying swish, it's side splitting open upon impact, a shard of pale pink plastic poking through not too far from a bald tire and a legless chair.

Though just a single mewl, her call rang out over the dull gusts, over the dump-picking scavengers above, over the voices of kids like me who were watching trash fly. There was a kind of mesmerizing rhythm to all of it. The jumble of debris unfolding and rolling up by the push of the dozer's blade, and then pulled back down into layers laid out under the steal mashing of the segmented treads. How the garbage remains of Pepperell's residents, falling out and tumbling and mixing until it became one big surface of superfluous stuff, was an art -- a needless and undesirable topography transformed.

I turned away from the bluff of junk. That community crag of rubbish, where you could find a fragment of just about anything you could think of; ripped books, frayed blankets, stained cushions, empty-socketed lamps, busted televisions, rusty irons, bent lawn furniture, crushed soup cans and flattened plastic jugs, a radio with its wire guts spilling out.

But there on the roughshod and peeled up ground of the dump's makeshift parking area, was something moving against the ground that trembled slightly under the weight of the heavy dozer.

The uniform dash of four white paws flashed like pom-poms under her black coat. She closed the distance between us quickly, ran right up to me, and as if her aim were timed and practiced to perfection, the small being leapt into my arms and immediately started purring. Her big black eyes blinked up at me as if to ask one big question. There was no going back. Dump cat, or not, that cat was coming home with me.

But she really wasn't a cat, at least not yet. Still, she was just a kitten, the color of a Hostess cupcake. Though dump dusty and sorely crusty, she had claimed me. She had thrown herself, just like we'd thrown the bags to see how they would land, right into my jacket-sleeved arms and my 9-year-old heart.

I learned a lot from that little landfill feline: how to care for something other than myself, and to marvel at that cat's tenacity among all her scrapheap threats. I would nurse her back to health, and she would nurse me into the kind of love that never dies even after we're gone. I would play with her, giggle as she pounced on a pillow of catnip. I would dress her up in bibs and treat her like a baby. I would, little-girl eyes wide, watch her give birth to her own litter of kittens.

Forty-five years later I am still able to feel the heat of her sleek bundle on my lap, conjure up the hypnotizing dance of her tail, and if I try, not all that hard, to prick up my ears, I can always hear the notes of her delicate whines.

And so, since we'd been in that throwaway place on that fateful day, since I'd turned to catch her cotton-ball boots dashing forward, right at the second when a surprise gasp of time leaves a moment to dangle long enough for a child to shriek with delight, Kitty Dump Cat and me.

Mewsings: January 19, 2015 - "I want to create a cat like the real cats I see crossing the streets, not like those you see in houses. They have nothing in common. The cat of the streets has bristling fur. It runs like a fiend, and if it looks at you, you think it is going to jump in your face."
- Pablo Picasso

cat buffet

Gratuitous Kittiness: An eye for cats.

Cat Mewvie: Boing-boing-boing!

the cat who forgets nothing

Today's Kitty Komic

colliergate england

Feline Art: On a wall in Colliergate, England.

Mewsings: January 20, 2015 - "I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat."
  - Edgar Allan Poe

maked cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: Who was that masked cat?

Cat Mewvie: Cat loves the chicks.

zen pet sheltyer comic box

Today's Kitty Komic

Rudi Hurlzmeier, cat with nude

Feline Art: Rudi Hurlzmeier strikes again.

Spock the maine coon

That's one big Maine Coon.

Over the past year, three or four strangers have knocked on Colleen Pizarev's door to warn her that a wild animal is in her house.

These people are usually walking to the park near Pizarev's home in San Jose, Calif., and when they spot her 27-pound Maine Coon named Spock in the window, they mistake the cat for a bobcat or a lynx.

"They're worried that I'm keeping an illegal wild animal," Pizarev said in an interview. "I'm always like, 'No! Look, he has a tail.'"

She added: "In most cases, I've been able to diffuse it."

Pizarev is a lover of the Maine Coon breed, among the largest of the domesticated cat breeds. Several years ago, she adopted a rescue through Maine Coon Adoptions in Oakland. When that cat passed away, she adopted a Maine Coon-Abyssinian mix named Fluff Ball. And four years ago, Spock came to her through a breeder. Spock was originally supposed to be a show cat but wasn't able to follow this path when one of his eyes turned a color unacceptable for competition.
Spock eats up to a pound of fresh meat a day and measures 46 inches long. Pizarev says his growth has taken off in the past year and she thinks that's why people have recently been knocking on her door.

Spock has grown so large that he now takes up half the bed. "He's like having another person in your bed," Pizarev said.

He's also knocking stuff over throughout the house.

" He'll jump on a small table and the table knocks over because of the momentum and weight," Pizarev said. "We have to lock up our table lamps because he knocks them over on the floor. We only bring them out if we're having guests."

All of that said, Spock is a gentle giant. "I love this breed because they're very smart," Pizarev said. "They don't bite or scratch. They're extremely affectionate."

She added: "He's a lap cat and likes to sit on laps." And that's something a wild animal would never do.

Mewsings: January 21, 2015 - "Some animals are secretive; some are shy. A cat is private."
- Leonard Michaels

cat by heater outlet

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Heyyy, nice bald spot."

Cat Mewvie: Too much sugar.

Dr. Evil and his cat

Today's Kitty Komic

stuffed cats and rats

German postcard. Cats and rats.

Mewsings: January 22, 2015 - "Cats don't like change without their consent."
- Roger A. Caras

cat inside pillow

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Be one with the pillow."

Cat Mewvie: Cute kitty but the deer is not impressed.

Wanda and her cats, by Kliban

Today's Kitty Komic

Finnish cat illustration

Feline Art: Finnish cat illustration.

cat shelter

On Building A Winter Cat shelter.

Building a winter shelter for your outdoor cats can be both simple and inexpensive.

Two of the more popular styles are:
Styrofoam bins, such as used to ship perishable food and medical supplies.

Rubbermaid™ plastic storage bins with removable lids. It’s important the brand is Rubbermaid™; otherwise, the plastic walls may crack in cold temperatures.

When constructing a shelter, here are a few basic ideas to keep in mind.

All good shelter designs share two qualities:
Strong insulation – needed to trap body heat, which turns the cats into little radiators. Use straw, not hay or blankets.

Minimal air space – a smaller interior area means that less heat is needed to keep the occupants warm.

Shelter size is very important.

Smaller shelters can be heated by only one or two cats. Larger shelters with only one or two cats inside will remain cold.

Two smaller shelters are better than one large one.

Don’t underestimate the number of cats in your area. You may only see one or two, but there are probably more. Try to provide more shelter space than you can imagine needing.

The placement of shelters is important in keeping cats safe from predators.

If dogs are a threat, place your shelter behind a fence where the dogs can’t get in.
Have the entrance face a wall so only cats can get in and out.

All shelters and feeding stations should be out of sight, no matter how friendly the area may appear.

Don’t place the shelter directly on the cold ground.

Use two 2x4s or other materials to raise it off the ground and place straw underneath. This makes it easier for the cats to warm the inside with their body heat.

Make the door as small as possible.

Cats need an opening of only about five-and-a-half or six inches in diameter, or the width of their whiskers.

A small door discourages larger, bolder animals, such as raccoons, from entering.

A smaller opening keeps in more heat.

If there is a need for an escape door, do not cut holes directly across from each other, as this creates a draft.

Locate the door several inches above the ground level.

Rain won’t splash up through an above-the-ground door.

Snow is less likely to trap the cats by blocking an above-the-ground door.

Creating extra protection:
An awning that covers the opening, made from roll plastic or heavy plastic garbage bags, provides more insulation, helps keep the rain and wind from entering the shelter, and makes the cats feel safer.

Preventing dampness:
Raising the rear of the shelter slightly higher than the front helps to keep rain from pooling inside and snow from piling up on the roof.

A small hole drilled in the side or bottom of the shelter allows rainwater to drain out.

A slanted roof might also discourage predators from sitting on the roof to stalk.

Lightweight shelters definitely need to be secured against the wind.

Put a couple of five- to 10-pound flat barbell weights on the floor of the shelter under the bedding.

Put heavy, flat rocks or pavers/bricks on the lid/top.

Place two shelters with the doorways facing each other and put a large board on top of both shelters – this weighs the shelters down and provides a protected entryway.

Insulating materials inside the shelter will increase the comfort and warmth of the cats.
Only insulating materials which the cats can burrow into should be used.

Blankets, towels, flat newspapers, etc., retain wetness and should not be used. They absorb body heat and will actually make the cat colder.

Straw is a good insulating material to use. Straw is better than hay because it can absorb more moisture and is less prone to mold or rot.

Insulation materials should only be used if the shelter can be periodically checked to see if they have gotten damp or too dirty and need to be replaced.

Additionally, don’t place water bowls inside the shelter because they may get turned over.
One of our favorite designs uses two Rubbermaid™ storage bins with removable lids.

Again, it’s important the brand is Rubbermaid™; otherwise, the plastic walls may crack in frigid temperatures. Also, an earth-tone bin blends in best with the environment, making it aesthetically pleasing to you and your neighbors and more natural in appearance to the cats. You’ll also need an eight-foot by two-foot sheet of one-inch thick hard Styrofoam, a yardstick, box cutter, and straw for insulation.

To assemble:
Cut a doorway six inches by six inches in one of the long sides of the bin towards the corner. Cut the opening so that the bottom of the doorway is several inches above the ground to prevent flooding.

Line the floor of the bin with a piece of Styrofoam, using the yardstick and box cutter to cut the piece. It doesn’t have to be an exact fit, but the closer the better.

In a similar fashion, line each of the four interior walls of the bin with a piece of the Styrofoam. Again, perfect cuts are not necessary. Leave a cap of three inches between the top of these Styrofoam “wall pieces” and the upper lip of the bin.

Cut out a doorway in the Styrofoam interior wall where the doorway has already been cut out in the storage bin.

Measure the length and width of the interior space and place a second, smaller-size bin into the open interior. This bin should fit as snugly as possible against the Styrofoam wall pieces. Cut a doorway into this bin where the doorways have been cut into the Styrofoam and outer bin.

Stuff the bottom of the interior bin with straw or other insulating material (no blankets or towels!) to provide both insulation and a comfortable spot to lie down.

Cut out a Styrofoam “roof” to rest on top of the Styrofoam wall pieces.

Cover the bin with its lid.

This shelter is easy to clean by taking off the lid and the roof. It is lightweight and may need to be weighed down. A flap over the door way is optional.


The Infinite Cat Project
Presented by Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
Illustration, Flash Animation, Web Design

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