I am going to have to leave Callie with Michael for several days and I get to visit my daughter, Lara. We are attending a wedding of my sister’s son in Fallbrook, California. I have six sisters and one brother and all but one sister will be attending from Canada, South Carolina, Maui, Morro Bay, Perris, Riverside and Santa Barbara, California. We are a very close knit family and it will be so much fun seeing everyone. I am an artist and photographer and I named my business- sevensistersproductions many years ago. My web site was designed by Lara while she was still attending high school and she is now finishing up a PhD and is a grownup herself. You may visit my web site at: http://www.sevensistersproduction.com I am not painting as much these days, but I still love to do photography and have recently started this blog on my travels with Callie. I am proud to be one of seven sisters. Our name is featured all over the world. So, tomorrow I leave for Fallbrook, California, and parting from Callie is always a stress for both Callie and me. At least she gets to stay home with my husband and he takes excellent care of her. One of the things that I do to keep Callie happy, is to leave her with a teddy bear. She loves this bear and frequently takes naps with him. This bear use to be my daughters and it certainly has had its fair share of cuddles. So, off I go for a grand adventure, and I will check back in when I return.*
* And I just found out that I haven’t paid for my web site and it has been temporarily disconnected. I will get it up and running ASAP. That is retirement for you!
Now, you may very well ask that question, how DO you teach a cat to ride a bike? The answer to that question, is that you can’t. And to put it more bluntly, how can you teach a cat to go on a bike ride with you? Dogs, you can teach, but cats need to be asked if they are willing to try something new. In the case of Callie, I first introduced her to a backpack and taught her how to enjoy walking around with me in the safety of the house. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with this new activity but she was game to the experience. Callie and I have a wonderful relationship and for the most part she trusts me and accepts that I am the boss. I placed a rolled up towel at the base of the backpack so that she could stand up in the pack and put her front paws on my shoulders. I also have a harness that I clip onto the backpack just in case we have a disagreement on whether she wants to stick around or not. Once she got use to walking around the house, I was able to graduate her to the bike. She took to the bike like a duck to water and from the very beginning, I knew I had her trust and the rest was easy. She loves riding around the De Anza Golf Course and checking out the birds and sometimes, bighorn sheep, coyotes and butterflies. It is especially thrilling to sneak up on the common grackle, which will explode in a flurry of feathers and noisy shrieks when we get too close. Riding over a puddle makes her flinch, but the only thing that truly frightens her are loud noises from trucks. If a truck roars up behind us, she dives down into the backpack like a turtle pulling its head back into the shell. As soon as the truck has passed, she pops her head back up and leans into the wind. It is a wonderful way to take in the sites and Callie likes this almost as much as riding in the car. When she has had enough, she licks my ear, and homeward bound we go.
As I have mentioned before, Callie came to me as a runaway, and it has been a give and take love affair ever since. She is the most engaging cat I have ever known, and her personality trait that stands out the most, is CHARM! She will charm her way into any given situation and disciplining her is a challenge because she’s so sweet. I really did make an effort in the beginning of our relationship, to be the alpha female and to keep her from sleeping in the bed with us. I have never allowed a pet to sleep with me before Callie. I sprayed her with water, I forcefully grabbed her and threw her out of the bedroom, shutting the door, and nothing has worked. She would press her cute little pink nose under the door jam and howl her disapproval, until you reluctantly let her back in. Then she would quietly sneak back up to the foot of the bed, where she felt she belonged, and try not to move. She could only hope I wouldn’t notice, until she would explode again into a loud purr of such bliss that it would make you smile at the innocence of it all. You can’t help but love her because she has learned the art of seduction and charm and it just seems to come natural to her. She charms her way into getting you to be her slave. I am now willingly getting up at night to feed her, and she will sleep right between my husband and me if the latest bed I bought doesn’t suit her, and there is nothing I can do about it, unless I want to feel guilty and mean hearted. She is family and families should sleep together. At night when it is time for her to go to bed, she tries to herd me into the bedroom where I belong. She gets pouty if I stay up past my usual bedtime. When we head off to bed, you can just see the smile on her face and her happiness at going off to bed together. She is so social and vocal, and thinks of herself as a high standing member of the family, that you can’t help but treat her as an equal. Every once in awhile she displays a wild and crazy side, and I have to play a game I call, “rough and tumble” playtime, to work off the pent up energy. It is important that I establish who is stronger and more dominant because torties, or calico cats, are known for being big cats in little bodies; just like Jack Russel Terriers are famous for. So, I rough her up within an inch or her life until she cries out for MERCY! You have to engage them in numerous activities, and keep them occupied and stimulated, and make sure they know that you are the boss, or you will be in big trouble. I have met my match with Callie, and have accepted the fact that she wins most of the small battles, but all I have to do is give in and try not to be so up tight about our relationship. She is just a little cat trying to make a big impression in her life. I haven’t figured out where to draw the line yet, but I am trying to hold onto some kind of dominance. Ya, right…sure I am. Dream on… She is a tiny little cat with a giant personality, and all she wants is to be loved, and of course, to get her way….
When I first adopted Callie, she had this unusual habit of coming up to you and tapping you on the arm to get your attention. She would then sit down and close her eyes and begin a demonic chew that was really quite disturbing. She started this with my daughter Lara, and graduated to me. Attempting to read her particular style of language seemed easy if you understood that she was hungry and asking for food. I have video taped this habit of hers and it is really quite hilarious. Her eyes are tightly closed and she tilts her head back and begins to chew rapidly. She will stop after a moment and then open her eyes and look into your eyes to see if you are smart enough to understand her. If you get up to feed her, she bounces along behind you in a joy oh joy dance. She is a tiny little cat, maybe only 8 pounds, and prefers to eat every 4 hours or so and only consumes 4 or 5 kibble at a time. To get back to the demonic chew brings me back to the story line, which is, “please pass the frozen kibble!” When Callie would open her mouth to chew, her breathe would knock you over. Her previous owners must have given her a steady diet of canned cat food. She had terrible gum disease for such a young cat and I was forced to take her to the vet to have her examined. To my surprise, Callie loved going to see the doctor and enjoyed being the center of attention. The examination did reveal that she had terribly infected gums and she needed to have her teeth professionally cleaned. The vet said that eating only canned food was like having a steady diet of Milky Way or Snicker chocolate bars and he put her on Science Diet, Oral Care Dry Cat Food. After her teeth were cleaned and because I was keeping her on a diet of dry kibble, I started to put the food in the freezer to keep it fresh. Because she is so dainty and feminine about eating and is very picky about it being fresh, she has taken a preference to eating it frozen. To watch her eat these large round chunks of frozen kibble is to watch someone trying to crack open a jawbreaker. It takes serious concentration on her part, and you can hear her biting down loudly from across the room! Callie loves these frozen, rock hard, balls of kibble….She has not tired of this food for over 6 years now, but the down side to this dietary habit is that it cannot get stale, and her preference is to have it frozen solid. So, I am now a slave to feeding her small portions of frozen kibble, every 5 hours or so, and this extends all the way into the night. I know what you’re thinking and I would think it too. What the hell am I doing feeding this damn cat frozen kibble in the middle of the night? I can’t answer that question logically, except to say that it must be a form of unconditional love… She asks so little of me, that getting up to feed her in the middle of the night, on most occasions is fine with me. Thank goodness my husband and I are retired because I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night. Oh, I remember… it was when Callie was staying at The Holiday Pet Hotel and Michael and I were on vacation without her. I miss her when we travel without her and though I may get to sleep through the night, I don’t have her precious, adorable,company throughout the day. That is why I have started this blog on,” Travels With Callie.” We are now saving up our money to buy an RV and will explore all the National Parks with her. I would gladly get up several times a night to feed her in exchange for her company throughout the day. And, the good news is that she doesn’t have to do the demonic chew anymore because I pass the frozen kibble to her every four or five hours or so. Now, that is what I call LOVE!
And here we have Miss Callie doing her demonic chew in order to communicate that she is hungry and wants to be fed!
Before moving to Borrego Springs, California, Callie had free rein of the outside world. I was always vigilant about keeping her in at night but allowed her to explore her surroundings during the daytime. She usually stayed close to home and preferred to have me around so that the local tom cats left her alone. In the desert, it is not safe even in broad daylight, because of all the predators around that would love to have cat on the menu. We have a beautiful silver kit fox that hunts right outside of the backyard and coyotes, rattlesnakes, scorpions and even owls and hawks are abundant here. The coyote population is steady and you can hear them yipping and howling most nights. Michael and I see them during the day when we are on a hike or biking and even though they are shy, they wouldn’t hesitate to snatch Callie if they could. Because Callie loves dogs and when I watch her response to midnight coyote serenades, she has no fear of coyotes. She would probably let a coyote come up to her to touch noses and that is my worst nightmare. So, Callie cannot be left unattended in the backyard, and I have had to teach her to stay and not go over the wall. She is tempted and when we first moved here, she on several occasion, went butterfly chasing out into the desert. She knows that it is wrong now, but because of a cat’s nature, I don’t trust her in the least. So, in order to keep her safe and happy, and to feel some freedom off the leash and harness, most mornings we have a routine of climbing the olive trees. There are three trees in the backyard that she loves to climb. She usually flattens herself on the ground for a minute or two before dashing up the nearest tree and running as high as the branch will allow. She loves climbing trees and she is good at it. She will follow me from tree to tree and does her personal best at getting to the top of the tree before climbing back down and starting all over again. The sun is just starting to rise in the east and the light reflects off the foothills in the desert behind the house. It is a beautiful time of day and Callie and I both look forward to it. I can have a cup of coffee and watch her play in the trees and she can work off some pent up energy. Of course, there are hummingbirds that flit in and out of the foliage and she tries to catch them. It is fun for both of us. When she is finished with playing she is brought back into the house and served a nice breakfast. She has adapted to this routine and seems quite content as long as I find other activities later in the day to entertain her. It has been over a year now living in the desert, and except for the inferno during July and August, Borrego Springs has been a wonderful place to live and retire in… I think that Callie would agree with me. Extending an olive tree branch has kept the peace, and best of all, Callie is safe and sound.
I mentioned in my introduction, that Callie was a runaway and adopted me when she was about 3 years old. Her estimated age is about 9 now as I have had the pleasure of getting to know her for the past 6 years. She spotted my husband Michael, and daughter, Lara and myself, standing by the front door one morning and she decided right then and there, that we were going to take excellent care of her and she was going to stay no matter what. I have to let you know that I had put my Jack Russel Terrier down several months earlier and I was still grieving and in no mood to attend to a cat. If you survive raising a Jack Russel from puppyhood and into adulthood, and you somehow maintain an alpha status, you are smitten for life with these incredibly bright and obnoxious dogs. They take over your life and you will never be the same for having experienced it. Miss Adelaide was about the most incredible dog I have ever had the honor of raising and there wasn’t anything she was afraid of except thunder and lightening. I had always imagined that if I were to get another animal, it would be another terrier and probably another Jack Russel. So, along comes this cat and I did everything to locate her owners short of making one up. We posted notices everywhere and I sincerely hoped someone would answer my call for help in finding her, her home. She was too darn cute to be a stray but I did not want a cat. No one answered my ad and after several weeks, I decided to go ahead and recluctanly keep her. A year later, the previous owners actually stopped by one day to tell me her story. Her name was Dora, and she was incredibly difficult to raise and they were tired of her running out the door whenever a door was opened. When they noticed that she seemed happy and content with me, they decided to say something but they made it clear that they didn’t want her back. Well, Callie has proven me wrong about wanting another dog and I sometimes feel like she is trying to act like a Jack Russel Terrier. One time, two local brazen tom cats made the mistake of walking through our front door, and when I ran out to chase them away, here comes Callie in all her fury, and she doesn’t just chase them out the door, she goes after them, screaming her head off and doesn’t stop until they are a block away. The front yard boundary wasn’t nearly far enough for her. The look on her face when she charged the tom cats was priceless and when she returned to the yard, she had this little swagger and her tail was held high and she practically pranced back into the house. Needless to say, those two cats never bothered her again. Tom cats have frequently developed a crush on her and she will have nothing to do with them. You can see the look in their eyes when she saunteres by with that cute little rear -end of hers and her darling brown and black spot on her back legs leave them weak in the kness. It doesn’t matter, she can’t stand even the sight of a cat from a safe distance and finds their presence deplorable. She loves dogs though and when she is walking on her leash, dogs will come up to her and she grandly sits down and waits for them to approach with caution. Dogs seem a little stunned at seeing a cat on a leash and I always make sure to watch their body language before letting them come too close. Then they touch noses and the dogs inevitably start to do the wiggle and waggle and she silences their over enthusiastic tail wagging with one raise of a paw. They must have good manners and move with grave solemnity to stay in her presence. When the greeting is over the dogs look like they are trying to figure out what the hell just happened and Callie looks like she is holding royal court. Callie has proven me wrong about being a dog person, and now I can’t imagine life without her. She is game for any adventure as long as I appear confident and curious. She is almost a therapy cat for me when it comes to social situations. She has brought a lot of joy to my life and I will be forever grateful that I have a cat that thinks she is a dog!
Due to the fact that I can’t let Callie run loose in the back yard unattended because of coyotes, I have found it necessary to come up with adventures in the afternoon to entertain her. She loves riding with me in a backpack while I bike, hikes with me in a front loading pack when we go on walks, and her favorite adventure of all, are car rides in the afternoon, exploring Anza Borrego State Park and Borrego Springs. She loves riding in the car and looking out the window! If you don’t drive too fast, she can keep her eyes open and take in the sites, smell the creosote and sage and bliss out with the wind gently blowing through her fur. If you drive too fast, it makes her ears tickle and her eyes water, and she will sit back down in my lap. I make sure to hold on to her back leg or the strap when she has her harness on because there are times when she really wants to hang all the way out! It took several attempts to get her use to the car but once she relaxed, there was no going back.
It has been awhile since I last posted a blog, and I thought since I have no plans for travel just yet, I would take a side trip and talk about cats and their preference for any bed other than the one you spent money on. I am sure I am not alone in this predicament. I shop at Petco or Petsmart and I have found a vast array of beautiful beds ranging from inexpensive to spending a fortune. The difficult part comes not from whether you will find an awesome bed, but whether your cat will bother to sleep in it. Callie seems to love any new bed I bring home for a couple of weeks or so, and then she won’t touch it, and leaps away in disdain when I attempt to encourage her. She goes from having a love affair with her new bed, to breaking off the relationship with no possibility of reconciliation. Attempts at getting her back in the bed are met with all four legs spread and claws extended and an absolute aversion to even touching it. After several years of dealing with this problem, I have chanced upon a solution. One trick I have discovered, that I thought I would share, is leaving the bed in a place where it shouldn’t be. There is something about a cat’s nature that drives a cat to do exactly what it isn’t suppose to do, and Callie is no exception. She thrives on the feeling that she just might get into trouble and finding the bed in the least expected place must have sent a thrill up her spine. So, I bought this incredible “Kong” bed, that looks like a little fluffy house, and even has a darling stuffed feather bird dangling in the entranceway. It is plush and beautiful and goes with my decor. Now, what cat wouldn’t love this new bed? It is roomy and cozy and a dream to look at. I love this bed…. After much reflection, I placed it up on top of the TV cabinet in the master bedroom and waited for her to discover it. It didn’t take long! You know how cats are, they are always exploring their territory and some days act like they have never been there before. Coming across something unexpected must be a joyous occasion. When Callie found the new bed, I am sorry to say, I wasn’t around to witness it. What I did find, is Callie blissed out and curled up, sleeping inside her new house bed about three days after purchasing it, and it brought me to my happy dance. This lasted for about a week and I could hardly believe my good fortune. On the second week she started to do her usual rejection routine, when she discovered she could stomp on the roof of the bed and truly make it her own. Several times I have straightened up the roof and each time she would jump back up on the roof and flatten it out. It doesn’t look nearly as comfortable, nor does it look like some nice addition to my home anymore, but she is determined to sleep on the roof. This bed has not lost its appeal and it is going on several months now because I think she knows I want to straighten out the roof, fluff up the blanket, and ask her to sleep inside where she belongs. I swear she knows it is bothering me that the house is all smashed in and she is sleeping on the roof. It looks ugly now, but at least she is still enjoying her bed, so I am controlling the impulse to straighten out the collapsed roof and try not to complain. The secret to keeping Callie happy, is compromise on my part, and letting her have a say in what she likes and doesn’t like, and then letting her think she is getting away with murder.