All 18 entries tagged Smudge

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January 05, 2009

Have cat, will travel, take 2

Follow-up to Have cat, will travel from Steve's blog

This year, like last year, we planned to be away from home visiting various relatives between Christmas and New Year. This year, like last, we didn’t try booking a cattery place early enough to actually get one and so had a furry travelling companion for the week. Again as last year, some of us, including Smudge, went to Liverpool and stayed there for the week, while others carried on up to Scotland for part of the time. 2 hours in the car is more than enough for Smudge – taking him up to Scotland is way too far.

The car journey went about the same as last year. He was a bit whingey for the first 20-30 minutes, but then settled down and slept for the rest of the trip. We bought some spray stuff that’s meant to calm them down for long car journeys, but to be honest I’m not sure it made much difference. Might not bother next time.

Last year we we kept him in the house the whole time. This year we decided that wasn’t going to work and that we needed to let him out. He’s definitely an outdoor cat and would not like being stuck inside for a week. That was a bit scary at first. Not only was I worried that he might get lost and not make it back, but I was also worried about the numerous other, bigger, cats in neighbouring gardens, all of whom are used to my parents garden being a cat-free zone. They might not take to its new temporary resident.

I needn’t have worried about any of it. Smudge is a little timid still and didn’t stay out too long at first, but by the end of the week he would go out for 3 or 4 hours at a time and only come back when hungry or tired. His timidity also meant he didn’t try taking on the bigger cats, and so avoided any nasty confrontations. Indoors, Smudge took a day or two to get used to a house with twice as many people, and twice as much noise, but in the end he settled nicely and seemed as happy as he is at home. He even coped with the attentions of an 18-month-old. Apart from the tail-pulling – didn’t like that bit!

I’m glad we took him. It was actually nice to have him around. And it all worked better than I expected. If we do the same travelling again next year we’ll try and book a cattery place for him, but if we get it wrong again I won’t be too worried. Travelling with a cat is possible…

January 02, 2008

Have cat, will travel

Due to a certain lack of forward planning (and lack of experience – we won’t make the same mistake again:-) we were unable to book Smudge into the cattery over Christmas. We’d have had to book sometime during the summer, apparently.

The plan was to visit both sets of parents between Christmas and New Year, a journey we make regularly, and involving driving the length of the M6, M74 and M8 (i.e. to somewhere near Glasgow) with a stop in Liverpool either on the way up or on the way back. Clearly we now couldn’t all do that. After careful thought, and discussing the various options available we came up with a plan. We’d take the Furry One with us! More specifically, we’d take him to Liverpool and he would stay there with some of us, while the rest went on up North for a while, and collected everybody on the way back.

Now Smudge had never travelled much in the car before, and only ever to the cattery and the vet, so I was a bit unsure about how he’d cope. But, he did amazingly well. The first time he took about half an hour to settle, after which he just fell asleep and didn’t wake until we arrived. On the way back he was much better, settling much sooner. And no cat-sick in sight:-)

We have a wire carrier for him, much like this one. It had one of his usual blankets inside and we draped another blanket over it to encourage him to sleep (it worked). Just in case we had to stop and get him out, we put a harness on him, but without the lead attached. We didn’t need it.

At the other end of the journey, when he was let out into a strange house, he found a quiet corner and hid for a while before coming out to explore, very unsure of himself at first. It was a day or so before he seemed comfortable. Of course, we couldn’t let him out. Supposedly when you move house you are supposed to keep a cat inside for a few weeks to make sure he realises this is his new home and doesn’t try to find his way back to the old one. Presumably this means when only visiting for a week, that means not going out at all. He did sit miaowing at the doors, though, so eventually I took pity on him and took him out on his harness and lead. He had a good root about in the bushes and undergrowth around the house, but he hated the lead. When I wouldn’t let him go where he wanted – mostly because I couldn’t follow – he hissed and growled. So we only did that once!

All-in-all, it worked rather well. We got to travel and he got more freedom than he would have done in the cattery, and everyone survived! I’d definitely do it again if I had to.

July 15, 2007

The wanderer returns…

Follow-up to Smudge goes AWOL from Steve's blog

Every morning since he disappeared, I’ve been opening the back door in the vain hope that he was sitting out there waiting. Of course he never was. Until this morning. We have a garden table and chairs just outside the back door, with a rain cover over them. This morning he was hiding under there, sheltering from the rain. As soon as I started opening the locks on the door he heard me and came out, and ran in as soon as the door was open wide enough.

Apart from being ravenously hungry he seems to be completely unharmed. After demolishing far more food than he’s ever eaten in one sitting before (I eventually stopped feeding him in case he exploded:-) he proceeded to explore the house and get cuddles from all the happy occupants, relieved to see him back in one piece.

I was out at almost midnight last night, tying “Lost Cat” posters to lampposts! I’ll have to go and take them all down again now.

I’ve no idea where he went, obviously, nor what kept him away for so long. Was he lost? Stuck? Having too much fun? Who knows? I’m just glad he’s back. I think he might be grounded for a few days, though…:-)

July 12, 2007

Smudge goes AWOL

Smudge’s usual routine in the morning is to have breakfast at about 7am (or whenever he can pester me out of bed) and then go our for a bit of an explore. Most days he is back by the time we all leave the house for school/work. Sometimes it can be mid-morning or lunchtime at the latest before he shows up.

Yesterday he hadn’t shown up by lunchtime. Nor tea time. Nor bedtime. Nor breakfast this morning. Oh dear…

We don’t actually know where he gets to when he goes wandering, so have no idea where to start looking. I’ve checked all the nearby roads for signs of flat cat (I was out at almost midnight last night) and found nothing. There’s a wood near the house and my guess he’s gone in there, but it is quite a big wood and will take ages to search properly. The wood has foxes, and the occasional teenage boy with an air rifle, so isn’t the safest place for a small cat (he is still only 8 months old).

Maybe he’ll come wandering back in a day or two when he gets really hungry. He says, hopefully…

June 12, 2007

The great tabby hunter gets more ambitious…

Follow-up to Smudge grows up… from Steve's blog

My morning ritual these days is generally to get up when pounced on by small furry thing, give him breakfast, let him out in the garden, and finally settle down to my own breakfast while watching BBC Breakfast to catch up on events in the world.

This morning was no different. At least initially. As I was sitting down I heard birds in the garden starting to screech. That is normal. We have a blackbird’s nest quite low down in some shrubs at the side of the house and whenever Smudge is out prowling nearby the parents make an enormous racket. But this morning the noise got louder. And louder. And louder. Eventually I realised that it was coming from inside the house so I went to investigate and found a blackbird chick half way up the stairs, with a cat wrapped around it.

This bird was much bigger that the one a week ago and was able to struggle free, at which point I grabbed Smudge and enlisted help to get the bird back outside and the door shut. I’m told it seemed relatively unhurt and made its way back to the nest. There was blood on Smudge’s paw, whether his or the bird’s I have no idea.

An unexpected start to the day…

June 04, 2007

Smudge grows up…

Two important things happened yesterday in Smudge’s life:

  1. He caught his first bird. I didn’t see it happen, so I don’t know how much skill was involved. The first I knew was when he brought it into the kitchen, still wriggling and trying to escape. It was small, probably a young bird rather than a small adult, although I didn’t get a good enough look. Once we’d chased him out of the house and back into the garden he carried on playing with it for ages before losing interest, even after it had clearly ceased caring :-(
  2. He escaped from the garden. Before we got him I spent some time making the garden escape proof, at least for small cats, by putting netting along any wooden fences with gaps, and along the bottom of the gates. Until yesterday my efforts were very successful. Then at one point yesterday afternoon, after the bird incident, we just happened to notice that he was on the wrong side of the fence at the side of the house, and in the front garden rather than the back. He’d got over the fence and couldn’t figure out how to get back! Now that he can make it out, I guess I’m now going to have to think about taking away some of the netting to make it easier for him to get back in. And he’s going to be harder to find in future. Time to start fitting cat-flaps, rather than leaving the back door open for him…

April 21, 2007

Smudge the acrocat

Smudge had great fun this afternoon chasing an assortment of flying insects around the garden. This gave me an opportunity to try out a feature of my camera that I don’t get to use very often. It has a “drive mode” that causes it to take a picture every 0.1s, keeping the last 2s worth when you release the shutter. So, you point the camera at a likely subject (e.g. a cat), press the shutter, and wait for something to happen, and release the shutter immediately afterwards.

Now, the camera can’t keep this up at full resolution – in this mode the pictures are only 1024×768 – and the quality doesn’t seem to be spectacular. But it does let you get results like this:


You’ll need to click through to the full-resolution version to get the whole effect. I perhaps should have arranged them two rows rather than one!!

It is fascinating to see Smudge’s motion through the air. And remember, there are 7 photos in this sequence, all 0.1s apart, so this is just 0.6s of action!

April 09, 2007

Smudge gets braver…

Now that he’s had a taste of the outdoors, Smudge can’t wait to get out there every morning. He’s definitely an outdoor cat! He’s started chasing bees now. Not sure what will happen if he catches one. I guess he’ll only do it the once…

He also seems to be taking an interest in small birds. None have come within reach so far, and his hunting skills aren’t up to getting anywhere close to one, but he does try. And this morning, for the first time, I saw him climbing. So far he’s restricted himself to prowling around on the ground, but this morning I saw him climbing down a tree. I don’t think he went up very far, but I guess it won’t be long.

We’ve also got some cats in nearby houses who have been used to thinking of our garden as part of their territory. Yesterday there were a couple of confrontations. One cat is taking no nonsense from Smudge and just chases him indoors. Smudge hasn’t yet got up the courage to stand his ground, but he is only 5 months old. The other cat isn’t so assertive, and Smudge has managed to stand up to him. Not enough to chase him out of the garden, but enough to avoid being chased himself. He’s going to have to start claiming his territory, though.

March 11, 2007

The great escape

It finally happened – smudge ventured outside. For a little while now we’ve been opening the backdoor and, despite him scratching at it obviously wanting it opened, he always ran away, back into the safety of the house. But during the week he finally got up the courage to take his first steps outside, and yesterday I managed to capture it on camera.
I looks a bit scary out there...
He’s still a bit wary at first. We’re right next to a road and so there’s a lot of noise from passing traffic that he’s not sure about, so he has a good think about it before stepping out, but he did have a good wander about yesterday, getting into the shrubs and patrolling the boundary of the garden.
Smudge exploring
He sticks to the edges, though, not wanting to venture across the lawn as it is a bit too exposed. Still a bit unsure of himself, obviously. And no climbing trees yet. I’m sure it will come though, now that he’s taken his first steps. In fact, this morning he couldn’t wait to get out again.

So much for the garden’s bird population, now that the great hunter is out and about…

March 01, 2007

Cats can be fussy eaters…

Writing about web page

This made me chuckle... 

Mr. Snuffles

Actually at the moment Smudge seems happy to eat anything, so I'm not sure I'll need to use this line on him. Then again, if it doesn't work with the kids...:-)

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