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6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Pet in College

Hi!

I wrote this article, “6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Pet in College” for my college’s chapter of Her Campus. You can read the article here.

I decided to write this article after discussions my roommate and I had over his decision to adopt a cat. When we were at PetSmart one day, he saw a little black and white kitty and fell in love with her. He immediately filled out a form to adopt, unsure whether it was the right choice. We had plenty of conversation about whether or not it was the right time for him or not, which is what inspired me to write this article.

The little girl’s name is Yvie (pictured below). Soon she’s going to get her own post about how she’s acclimated to our home with Chuck and Barry (spoiler alert: it hasn’t been going smoothly, but we have hope yet)!

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Book Reviews by Chuckie

Chuck takes after his mom (me) and is a total little bookworm (Barry, on the other hand, prefers sports – particularly fetch and laser pointer). Chuckie likes to keep up with the things that I’m reading for class, and has a lot of opinions on the things he’s read. So here’s some book reviews by my little literature cat.

(Beware of spoilers)

As You Like It by William Shakespeare | ★★★✩✩

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Chuck is pretty ambivalent towards Shakespeare – he neither loves nor hates him. As You Like It is Chuck’s favorite Shakespeare play (although, to be fair, he hasn’t read all that many so far in his life). He loves reading about friendships and love. Rosalind and Celia are, in Chuckie’s opinion, one of the cutest friendships in literature and he definitely ships Rosalind and Orlando as a couple. He couldn’t help laughing every time Rosalind was in disguise and Orlando didn’t recognize her. Chuckie gives this play three stars for it’s entertainment value and heart-warming scenes.

Sula by Toni Morrison | ★★★★★

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Whenever Chuckie thinks of Toni Morrison, he turns into that heart-eyes emoji because he LOVES her. Chuckie and I read Sula for my African-American Literature course a year ago, and Chuckie could not put that book down! He found Sula to be a gorgeous glimpse of a friendship, community, family, love…just life in general. There were no heroes of the book, only stunningly real characters that Chuckie couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards. When Nel’s husband cheated on her with Sula…man did Chuck feel the absolute pain radiating out of those book pages, and he had to put that book down for a while to process that heartbreaking scene. Chuckie thinks that Sula and all of Toni Morrison’s books are must-reads for all humans and cats, so that’s why he gives Sula a full five stars.

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman | ★★★✬✩

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Chuck is a fan of horror and obscure stories, which is why he chose to read Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. However, he has mixed feelings about it. He actually absolutely loves the short stories in the book. He finds they have fascinating topics, characters, settings. He loves that he can divulge them in bite-sized chunks right before he goes to bed. But half of Smoke and Mirrors is narrative poetry, and for some reason, Chuckie isn’t a fan of it. Chuck actually really likes poetry, but he’s not a fan of the poetry in Smoke and Mirrors, but that might just be because he prefers his obscure fiction to be in prose instead of verse. Maybe that’s just a taste thing, but either way, Chuck gives this book three and a half stars.

“Chevrefoil” and “Lanval” by Marie de France ★★✬✩✩

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Chuckie is partial to minority writers, including women, but he just could not really love  “Chevrefoil” and “Lanval.” He believes that it might be because old British literature is just not his thing, so that might be a subjective dislike of it. He’s heard that Marie de France was one of the best women writers of early British literature, and he’s sure that’s true. To be fair, he wouldn’t rate any of de France’s contemporary writers any higher than he has rated her poems. Although Chuck is a sucker for love stories, he could not really feel any emotions towards the characters in these two poems, so he gives her poems two and a half stars.

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon ★★★✩✩

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Chuckie is only halfway through Gravity’s Rainbow, but he just had to talk about it right now (if you’ve ever read it, then you get why). Although Chuck doesn’t understand what’s going on half of the time in the book, he does recognize that it might be one of the most impressive books that he’s ever read. It’s been a hard question for him to decide how much easy readability should influence the overall genius of a book. Is Gravity’s Rainbow genius even though it’s going to take multiple read-throughs to understand what is going on? Should it be more accessible? Regardless, after the first few episodes, Chuckie was able to find his groove and has gone on a roller-coaster of emotions throughout this book: pity, sadness, disgust, anger, confusion, fascination, shock, awe. So, although Chuckie understands this book is a literary feat that must have taken a lot of research and intelligence to write, and even though he generally enjoys some of the episodes and some of the characters, he only rates it three stars due to its confusing episodes.

Do you agree or disagree with Chuckie’s reviews? Comment to let us know, and keep an eye out for his next review post!

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The Top 10 Best Barry Bleps

Barry bleps. A lot. I’m always catching him in the act of it – I notice him sleeping, pink tongue sticking straight out of his mouth, and he’s completely unaware of it. I pat him lightly on the head and he wakes up – confused, he looks at me, the tongue still flopped out of his mouth, unaware that it’s happening. Sometimes I leave him in his ignorance, and sometimes I poke it, just for fun, then he licks his lips and stashes his tongue back where it belongs.

I’ve documented many, many Barry bleps. There’s nothing quite like his bleps that can get me creeping across a room, careful not to make a sound and disturb him, preparing my camera to sneakily snap a few pictures from every angle.

So I’ve decided to rank the top ten Barry bleps, from least-amazing-yet-amazing-blep to the Number One Blep.

10. Mini-blep

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Nothing too extreme – this mini-blep is definitely a blep, but a subtle one at that.

9. The First Documented Blep

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There’s nothing quite like finding out that your cat is a blepper and realizing that you get to experience in-person bleps for the rest of your life. Plus, a kitten blepping might be the most precious thing I’ve ever seen.

8. Playing Dead Blep

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Okay, maybe he’s just sleeping and not doing a trick, but check out that leg positioning, check out that chunky-looking blep. This picture is slightly unsettling and extremely adorable.

7. Cherub Mini-Blep

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Barry’s chubby and innocent-looking face in this photo reminds me of a cherub. Do you think cherubs blep? Or is Barry a trail-blazer?

6. Bird-watching Blep

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What’s better than staring at birds with your tongue hanging out of your mouth??? Barry would argue, “nothing!”

5. The Birthday Blep 

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The birthday was mine, and as a birthday present, Barry decided to grace me with one of the most intense bleps I’ve ever seen! This blep is full-tongue awesomeness.

4. Shocked Blep

What’s better than a cat looking super surprised? A cat looking super surprised with a super-blep on his face!

3. Sleeping Super-Blep

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This blep – with Barry sleeping and looking like a pure angel – is the most serene thing I’ve ever seen.

2. Hungover Blep

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So, obviously Barry doesn’t drink because he is a cat, but if you’re familiar with hangovers, then you know that this photo of Barry encapsulates the feeling perfectly.

1. The Angry Blep

This is the all-time best blep that Barry has ever done: that devilish glare, that silly tongue hanging out of his mouth. Am I supposed to be taking his anger seriously? Am I supposed to be laughing at that tongue? The mysteriousness and weirdness of this blep is why it has been awarded the title of Number One Blep.

Honorable Mention: Chuckie’s Mini-Mini-Blep 

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Chuckie never bleps, so I only have this one photo. I figured it deserved an honorable mention – although the smallest of bleps, it’s still a special blep in it’s own right.

So those are the best of the bleps! Comment and let me know if you think I have the right ranking, and show me picks of your own kitty’s bleps!

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A New Way to Workout: Yoga with Chuck

Do you feel like your fitness goals have stagnated, that you’ve fallen into a rut? Is your current workout routine just not doing it for you? Are you getting sick of the same old yoga poses (such as the – yuck – downward dog) that you’ve been doing over and over again?

Thankfully, my fitness-addict kitty cat, Chuck, has been working out a new yoga routine that you can try in the comfort of your own home! With this routine, Chuck has lost three pounds and is as fit as all of the meowdels you see on Fancy Feast commercials.

So lay out your yoga mat in a relaxing part of the house where you can’t get distracted by any pesky birds. And make sure your water is bowl is close by – you don’t want to get dehydrated!

Warm-up

So even though yoga is consists of stretching out your muscles, Chuckie still chooses to do a few minutes of warm-up stretching before he really busts out the more difficult moves. He prefers to get on the very tip of his paws and stretch his body out to it’s fullest potential while also arching his back and extending his neck.

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Pose 1: The Arm Reach

Chuckie swears that this move is the reason he has triceps of steel. Simply lay on your side and stretch out one arm as far as it can go – and then do the other. Hold each arm for one minute and repeat three times.

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Pose 2: The Half Cat Twist 

Sit on your butt and twist your body slightly to one side and raise your other arm in the air. Hold the pose for a minute and a half and then switch sides. This pose is great to prep your abs for the next pose.

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Pose 3: The Full Cat Twist

The Full Cat Twist is one of the most demanding yoga poses ever created to date. You must balance on your tail bone and twist your torso to one side – and hold it for two minutes before switching! Chuck swears that The Full Cat Twist is the reason he has that six pack hidden under his fur, so even though this one is difficult, you don’t want to skip it!

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Pose 4: The Leg Lift

Lay on one side, with your arms balanced over your chest, wrists curled towards you, with one leg in the air and the other outstretched. You might look like a cat playing dead, but what you really are is a calorie-burning, muscle-building MACHINE. Chuck even theorizes that you lose up to thirty calories per minute that you hold this pose.

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Pose 5: Upside-Down Cat on the Wall 

This is Chuckie’s all-time favorite yoga pose because he says it really gets the blood pumping to the head. Position yourself next to a wall and rest both legs against the wall while extending your arms to the maximum. Hold for one minute and then switch sides.

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Pose 6: The Lick

The ultimate goal of this pose is to stick a leg behind your head. This pose will work your abs, your glutes, your hamstrings, your quads, and even your calves.

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For those who don’t have the flexibility and muscle strength to perform The Lick, then you can perform The Lazy Lick, of which the goal is to stick the leg straight up in the air slightly in front of you instead of behind your head. Here is Chuckie demonstrating The Lazy Lick:

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After The Lick, do a few minutes of your favorite cool-down pose (except the downward dog, which doesn’t mix well with a cat’s routine).

And there you have it – Chuckie’s ultimate yoga routine! Not all routines are easy for beginners, but with enough time and practice, you should be able to purrfect most of his poses. And after sticking it to it for a few months, you’ll be as fit as a meowdel.

(Psst – keep an eye out for the next blog post: The Top 10 Best Barry Bleps!)

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A Day in the Life of a Cat Mom

Being a cat mom isn’t easy. Cats are weird little creatures, and Chuck and Barry are definitely no exception.

However, even though it’s hard work, being Chuck and Barry’s mom has made me happier than anything else – it’s what gets me through the day. Here is a day in the life of a cat mom. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at this past Tuesday as an example:

7:00 am

It’s not yet time for me to wake up for my internship yet, but Chuckie has apparently decided it is. He leaps into my room (he literally leaps over the threshold of my doorway) and goes, “Meow. Meow. Meow meow meow,” which means, “Mom, wake up. Pet me. Wet food.”IMG_4216

My eyes are rolling behind my eyelids, but I open them and make eye contact with one of my little princes. I pat the side of my bed and he meanders his way over for some pats. I scratch his back and his chin with as little effort as possible before I roll over to go back to sleep.

Chuckie circles my head and meows a few more times, but then Barry enters the room and he gets distracted. Barry hops on the bed and walks over me to perch on the windowsill and look at birds. Then he goes and finds a plastic bag that I didn’t even know existed and starts eating it.

Chuckie walks over and instigates a fight. Chuck and Barry wrestle before sprinting out of the room and down the stairs. I fall back asleep.

9:00 am

I’ve finally gotten out of bed, and I head downstairs into the kitchen to get a yogurt for breakfast. Chuck and Barry sense my approach and they both run into the kitchen and start meowing for wet food. Chuck stands in front of the refrigerator, literally VIBRATING in anticipation of wet food. Barry rubs himself against my legs.

But it’s not time for wet food. They don’t get wet food at breakfast time, they get it for dinner. They are about 7 hours early, so I ignore their desperate pleas and tell them that they have dry food sitting right there if they are that hungry.

Before I leave the kitchen, I refill their water bowl because there’s an unidentifiable brown object in it, along with some hairs.

12:15 pm

I eat lunch at my internship and scroll through Chuck and Barry’s Instagram, missing them way too much and excited to go home and pet them.

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3:30 pm

I return home from my internship and as I open my front door, I yell out, “Kitties!!!!!!!!!”

Barry bounds into the room and hops onto the back of the couch, where it is easiest to receive pets. I give him some scratches and ask where his brother is, but I get no response.

I find Chuck in my bedroom, laying in the middle of my floor (they love sleeping on the floor). He meows his “hello” and I pet him.

4:00 pm

Wet food time!!!!!!! I go into the kitchen and start getting it prepared. Barry shows up, and I tell him to go get his brother. Chuckie appears, and they meow and circle me until I lower the plate with the crack wet food on it and they devour it like heathens.

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 5:00 pm

I’m doing some stuff on my laptop, and all I want is some kitty snuggles but they are nowhere to be found.

5:15 pm

I head downstairs for some water, and that’s when I find Chuck and Barry in the second floor hallway, just laying there (they really love sleeping on hallway floors). I pet them and go on my way.

6:00 pm

It’s laundry day, and I walk into the basement to find Barry standing on the ladder, replacing a burnt out lightbulb. No, I’m kidding, he was just trying to catch a bug and I believe that he got stuck. He scrambles off and scampers up the stairs.

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8:06 pm

On Tuesdays during the summer, my favorite television show, The Fosters, comes on. The hour that The Fosters is on is one of the most important hours of my life and it is my Me Time. It is when I get to take a break from everything, including being a Cat Mom. I tell Chuck and Barry this every week – I tell them it’s Mommy’s Alone Time, and to go do something somewhere else.

But do they listen to me? Of course not.

As The Fosters begins, Barry decides that it’s time to be overly affectionate and show me how much he really loves me. He plops down on my lap, gives me The Eyes, and starts making some bread. All I want to do is watch my show, but Barry’s so cute that I end up practically forgetting the show is on and petting him instead.

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9:30 pm 

I’ve just emerged from my shower and I enter my bedroom. Chuckie had previously been sleeping on the floor, but when I enter he wakes up and IMMEDIATELY he starts yelling at me. “Meow! Meow meow! Meow meow meow meow meow! Meow! Meow!! Meow!!! Meow meow meow meow meow meow!” He meows so fast that I don’t know what he’s even trying to tell me.

But I do know that he wants pats, so I sit on my bed, still soaking wet in a towel, and I pet him for a good ten minutes. I finally get up to get into some pajamas. “Meow meow meow!!!” Chuckie says. I sit back down and pet him some more.

11:00 pm

I’m reading right before bed, and Chuck and Barry are both sleeping on the floor in my room. I’m a happy cat mom and I go to sleep.

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An Open Letter to the Roommates Watching my Cats this Weekend

My dear three roommates,

As I prepare for my weekend trip to visit friends in New York City (more than 48 hours that I will be away from our home), I feel one emotion plaguing me: anxiety. And this anxiety exists because I will be leaving you, my dear roommates, with the most important responsibility: making sure that my cats do not die.

For the nine months that I have had Chuck and Barry, I have been the sole caretaker for them. I’m not complaining about this, but just laying it out as fact: I have been the one to feed them wet and dry food every day, give them water, clean their litter box daily, take them to the vet, bring Barry to the emergency room when he was injured, buy them toys and food and scratching posts and collars and litter, brush them, pet them. That is a responsibility that I have taken on for myself, because the cats are mine and will continue to be mine when we move out.

HOWEVER, since I have been the one to do 99.9% of the caretaking (besides for the pets that you all administer and the one or two times you fed the cats when I asked you to), it leaves me a little anxious at your ability to care for the cats. Look, I know you guys are busy with jobs, schoolwork, relationships and friends, so maybe it’ll be easy to walk by an empty water bowl and not let it register that it needs to be filled by you; it will be easy to forget to give the cats their daily wet food, because “that’s Sarah’s job, not mine”; maybe it will be easy to forget that the litter boxes are overflowing, that they need to be done every day.

What I’m saying is: taking care of the cats has always been my job and my responsibility, not yours. You don’t have to think about it every day and remember to do it. So here I am, a little bit worried that you will inevitably forget. Because I love Chuckie and Barry so much, their happiness and health is my number one priority, and I’m afraid to leave it to people who have never taken care of them before.

I know I’m overreacting and that, between the three of you at least, someone will remember to feed and water the cats. However, please excuse me as I incessantly text our group chat to make sure that somebody has, indeed, remembered to do the litter boxes; please excuse me as I ask for pictures and to FaceTime; please excuse me as I ask if they miss me or are getting enough attention.

And please, whatever you do, just feed my cats. They’re too cute to let wither away.

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Love,

Sarah

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Chuck and Barry Get New Collars…With Bows!

Some moms look forward to bonding with their children, some look forward to bringing bright and forthright additions to this planet, others just have a natural maternal instinct…but I, and maybe other moms, have always looked forward to having cats that I could dress up, photograph, and post on the Internet for Instagram likes and followers.

Okay, I’m kidding. It’s no secret that Chuck and Barry are the lights of my life for more than just the couture they can wear (although, to be fair, when I was a little girl, I did have a passion for dressing up kitties in costumes, such as when I, around the age of seven, traumatized our new kitten, May, by dressing her up babydoll clothes).

However, after seeing so many cute kitties with bowties on catstagram and the rest of the Internet, the part of me that loves dressing up got excited at the idea of giving Chuck and Barry a little pizzazz. Their old collars had gotten raggedy and dirty, so I figured it was time to try something new out.

Because I have an Amazon Prime membership and Amazon Prime has almost anything you need to buy, I decided to check there first for collars with bows or bowties. I found a set of two breakaway collars with bows and bells on them. The sets came in blue and black or red and pink. The part of me raised in the American society that likes to neatly divide up gender into two boxes, boy and girl, man and woman, blue and pink, masculine and feminine, told me that I should get the blue and black set because Chuck and Barry are boys, so they can’t wear pink, but then I thought, do I really have to raise my children in these rigid gender roles (I’d say NO)? And also, they’re cats, so why am I even hesitating on this anyway? I already knew Barry would look dashing in red and Chuckie woulimg_2973.jpgd be adorable in pink, so I went with the pink and red set.

The first thing I did when the new collars came in the mail was take off the bells because the last thing I need to hear is every movement that Chuck and Barry make at every moment of every day.

Then I snapped them on.

And dang, did they look absolutely adorable!

But Chuck and Barry were not happy with the new collars at first, specifically because of thimg_2880.jpge bows. After a day or so, they managed to adjust to them and didn’t seem to give them any mind, but I continued to feel a little nervous about them. Were the bows too uncomfortable? Were they too heavy for their fragile little kitty necks and backs? Did they annoy them, restrict their movements, cause muscle pain? Would they develop arthritis, become deformed, fall and hurt themselves, get cancer, all because of these collars?

After a friend criticized me for having the collars on the kitties a few days ago, I felt too guilty and took them off. I really want to keep a collar on Chuck and Barry in case they get outside, but I’ve been stalling as I figure out what to do with the collars with bows, so recently, Chuck and Barry have been naked.

img_3050-e1493093039738.jpgOn one hand, I can’t find any literature online that states that collars with bows are particularly bothersome or a problem to cats. I even asked my vet tech stepsister and she said she didn’t see why they’d be a problem. The collars also didn’t seem to bother them or greatly affect their day-to-day activities of napping, eating, and roughhousing, either.

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But part of me – the ever-nervous, ever-worried, overly anxious, helicopter cat mom part of me – can’t help but think that it’s better to keep the collars with bows off the cats just in case. I have to get collars back on the cats so they have their name tags and my phone number in case they go missing, but can I sacrifice some cuteness for their current health and happiness? Should I head back to PetSmart and get some new regular collars?

Does anybody have any insights into putting collars with bows/heavier collars on kitties? Good/bad/personal/medical knowledge they could share? Please comment below! In the mean time, check out Chuck and Barry’s catstagram to see more pictures with the bow collars!