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March 4, 2007

At Arm's Length

2007-03-03 33.jpg

I really cannot express the full extent of my exhaustion this morning, though I can say that there is no real reason to be so tired. I think that I have probably hit "the season," which for me is that last stretch of winter before the weather turns. Regardless of whether it is warm or cold, this period always seems to blindside me, leaving me a mess of heavy limbs and spirits until the crocuses pop up.

Some of you have asked for more detail regarding my mention of Olive being naughty. Your requests have been heard- I present to you At Arm's Length, a cautionary tale.

Two Thursdays ago, Alexis was doing his usual Olive-taunt routine, which consists of him putting his face as close to her as possible and talking to her, or poking her, or petting her, or some other form of general annoyance (correct me here if I am wrong, dear).

Olive is one of those cats who makes a lot of noise. We think it's because she is the smallest and tries to make up for her size with sound. Because she screams so much (when you pick her up, when she's purring, when she's running around the house chasing a laser pointer) it is sometimes hard to tell when she's angry and when she's not. Whatever Alexis was doing that evening, I wasn't paying attention- that is until I heard her growl, hiss and then a brief silence, punctuated by my husband cursing and coming toward me with his hand over his eye.

Somehow Olive had managed to punch him in the face, her sharp claws catching both his upper and lower eyelids. After a few minutes of cleaning, ice and neosporin, we decided that it would probably best to go to the emergency room, as the area had immediately bruised and swelled. The cuts were only scratches, however 1) Olive had spent the entire day behind the washing machine in a not so clean space and there is always a chance of infection and 2) Lex's profession depends on his vision.

So, off we went to Long Island College Hospital where, except for a large population of people who were handcuffed to their gurneys and accompanied by plain clothes cops, there was an amazing lack of a wait for assistance. When asked what happened, the popular joke was, "My wife did it," followed by a slightly uncomfortable laugh and then, "Well, actually, it was my cat."

The scratches were totally harmless, as expected, and by the time we got home early the next morning, Alexis' humor had returned enough to admit that his cat had sent him to the emergency room with a black eye.

She might be little but she packs a punch. Lesson. Learned.

P.S. ART PROJECT ALERT! As if I don't have enough projects up in the air right now...why not one more? This one is called Where's Irving? A Collaborative Study of Cat and Landscape © .

Detail #1: group picture book project.
Detail #2: mixed media/collage and/or photoshop.
Summation: I provide the Irving, you place him in your landscape.*

Drop be a note for details.

* No, you will not receive a cat in the mail.

Posted by callalillie at March 4, 2007 9:18 AM | Feline Musings


olive sounds a little like randolph. no punches yet, thankfully.

Posted by: tien at March 5, 2007 9:49 AM

Might I suggest trimming his claws. We're thinking about doing that with Olive (though I think we might get more injured by trying to do so). Her claws get stuck in everything...even though she uses a scratching post (and my chair).

Posted by: corie at March 5, 2007 9:56 AM

In my household, claw-trimming requires two people - one to hold the cat and one to trim the claws. We do it the way we saw the vet do it: grab the cat by the scruff and turn him onto his side, then trim the claws. Works like a charm.

Posted by: Janine at March 5, 2007 10:00 AM

i trim harriet's claws, but have done so since she was a baby so it's never a big deal. plus, grabbing her when she's sleeping makes sure she's not as active as usual. we assume the spooning position: me, crossed legged. harriet, like a baby in front of me.

(and you were smart to go to LICH, which might have had people in handcuffs but at least is a far better hospital than that other one)

Posted by: alyssa at March 5, 2007 10:15 AM

Oh, LIH was actually pretty great, as Brooklyn hospitals go. Far better than Methodist in Park Slope. My experience there was one of the worst that I've had in a long time.

We've always had a lot of trouble trimming Olive's claws. She moves A LOT, even when I wrap her in a towel, and I'm afraid that I'll cut too far down and make her bleed.

Posted by: corie at March 5, 2007 10:23 AM

Wait, wait, wait...whoa. A cat story with no cat pictures? The audacity!

Posted by: ccs178 (Chris) at March 5, 2007 11:12 AM

Nina has done that to me - I get into a staring contest with her and she sometimes will leap up and slap my face! So far no residual damage, but I have worried about that. Maybe both Lex and I should accept that we are lower on the pecking order (at least there's one person in your household that Olive can beat!).

Posted by: jtw at March 5, 2007 11:12 AM

I'm glad that Alexis is okay, I know that any trauma to the eye can be scary.

I can relate to the whole claw trimming issue. I have to put Sassy La Rue under my arm with her head behind my back sort of position while I or B try to trim her nails. It's not fun and we have to be super quick.

Posted by: Jenifer at March 5, 2007 12:22 PM

Irving actually had a guest appearance in a Where's Waldo game (Where are the Bloggers' Cats) that never got posted on my site. I'd love to be a part of this new project, too :-)

Posted by: Liz at March 5, 2007 1:42 PM

I'd like an Irving, please, so I can participate in this project. Irving has never been to Wisconsin, right? This is his big [virtual] chance.

Posted by: kmkat at March 5, 2007 1:52 PM

I was lucky to bring home each of my two cats when they were just small kittens. Both are off-the-street specials; the second one was feral when I got him. Now they both sit very patiently on my lap when I clip their paws, figuring they'll just humor the eccentricities of the Food Lady who fills their chow bowls, and also because it's the only life they've known since they were little.

The best tip I got on trimming claws was to approach the whole thing incrementally. First you get the cat to sit in your lap, and just let you stroke, pet, and handle its paws, front and back. Mission accomplished. Reward. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until everyone is happy.

Then you take the next step of pressing their paws very gently to expose their claws. That's all. Reward. Repeat, repeat, repeat...Next, you extend their claws and just touch the tips with the trimming tool, but do not cut. Reward. Repeat...

When you do get around to trimming, clip extremely conservatively in the beginning, and maybe only a single nail or two on the first go if they're skittish. (I really think this would make a very apt trust-building exercise in a corporate environment!) When the whole process is associated with petting and treats and praise, plus repeated application, they're more likely to resign themselves to it over time. And did I mention treats?

I found that a nail clipper worked better for me than any of those specialized clipping scissors, which slipped around on my fingers a lot and just annoyed my cats. "Sheesh, Food Lady, could you hurry up over here? Because I want my treat already."

Confession: Not just any nail clipper. A Hello Kitty nail clipper. Because I'm crazy like that.

Posted by: Jen at March 5, 2007 2:36 PM

Count me in on the Irving Project!

May I sweeten the pot by mentioning that I work at The American Museum of Natural History?

Can you say Irving Chapman-Andrews?

Posted by: Tiya at March 5, 2007 6:41 PM

Pete is a wild man, but he is extremely patient about getting nails trimmed and taking pills -- but I use Jen's method of slowly tricking him into thinking I'm just being sweet to him.

Posted by: Sally at March 5, 2007 6:44 PM

Clipping is a two person job at our house too. And a one paw at a time job. I trim until he (the cat, not the husband) starts to cry and then we stop.

Posted by: Lady S at March 5, 2007 6:54 PM

Naughty indeed! But a great story nonetheless.

My cat Isabel was highly resistant to nail clipping as a kitten, but she's always loved the bathroom sink. So she'll curl up there happily, feeling safe, while I clip her claws. At first she'd only let me do the front two paws before she bailed, but those are the ones that really matter.

Sebastian, on the other hand, purrs all the way through ear cleaning and nail clipping. He is "one hundred percent housecat couch boy," as my 16-year-old neighbor has dubbed him.

Posted by: Beth at March 6, 2007 7:36 AM

For all you Muji fans out there, check out this small peice from the New York Observer (honestly I'd never heard of the place until this week, and now I've come across it twice):

Japanese retailer Muji has signed the first retail lease at the future New York Times headquarters on Eighth Avenue. The retailer, with products supposedly based on a "philosophy of simplicity, minimalism and consumer functionality," has taken 5,000 square feet in the tower for its American flagship.

The store, according to a release from Times tower developer Forest City Ratner, will overlook "the moss-and-birch-tree garden on the ground floor," and will open in time for the 2007 holiday season

So I guess the real question is, does this make up for Atlantic Yards?

Posted by: dave at March 6, 2007 9:45 AM

Not a chance.

I guess I'll just have to take a trip to Japan.

Posted by: corie at March 6, 2007 9:49 AM

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