Thanks to all of our readers who submitted photos and stories of their animal companions! Winners of the pet photo and story contests will be announced online by this weekend. An online photo gallery will be up by later today (Thursday.)
one day last july
by rachel jean harding
one day last july i opened the back door and outside i spy something that looks like a turtle shell. i stare at it and puzzle for a minute—it looks exactly like a turtle shell—therefore i conclude it must be a turtle.
fear washes over me and i shut the door.
i wonder if it’s dead, i didn’t see any limbs—just shell.
then i open the door and the turtle pokes its head back inside the shell. so i slam the door shut and again feel afraid.
“what the fuck?” i think.
so we bring the turtle in and set him up as best we can. i make two posters by hand that read: “Did you lose a turtle? I found a turtle in the Long’s Hill area. For more info regarding turtle call (my phone number). This is not a joke” and post them down at Hava Java late morning/early afternoon. by the time i got home from work, late afternoon—the turtle was home again. he had been missing for a week or so, turned out he was a pet that lived in the neighbourhood—up a few streets. his name was oscar. oscar has escaped before—and apparently was missing for like a month in the winter.
the owner noted a bump on his head, which was assumed to have resulted from his falling down into the lower portion of the yard.
the following day i was told another story about missing turtles turning up a year later + after the fact having been living under a
fridge the whole time. these and other reasons should convince everyone not to trust turtles.
turtles are fucked.
ps: later i was doing the dishes and i got to thinking about oscar. who was i to turn him in? the little man saw his shot at freedom and ran for it. perhaps his week on the lam were the best days of his life … who was i to say? maybe oscar is dissatisfied with his life on young street, maybe i should have gotten to know him before sending him on his merry or perhaps not so merry way … where would e.t. have wound up had elliott not been brave enough to overcome his initial fear upon encountering extraterrestrial life?
A Message from the Cat’s Staff
By Stephen Harold Riggins
Pizzicati was the unwanted runt in the litter of Spare Cat, who had hopscotched to a neighbour’s house in Witless Bay to give birth. As a kitten, she had lived on a farm so near the ocean she could smell whales. So she had a sense that the world was a dangerous place. Tall men held some odd attraction for her. She liked to smell their moustaches.
Veiled orders were not her strong point. But Pizzicati, who was a patched tabby, did have the ancestry Paul thinks guarantees intelligence: descendant of an experienced mother, mixed breed, raised with people. At first, he referred to her as an “efficient killing machine.” As time passed, he changed his tune to such an extent that he insisted on talking to her on the telephone. In front of Pizzicati I could project an image of power that made her pupils dilate. With the people who mattered, it was not so easy.
Her “birdie” was a miniature fishing pole with feathers tied to the line. She knew that if she begged we would play with her. She knew that a successful beggar had to be visible. If Paul was resting on the couch and could not see the new location of her birdie, she would go to the old location, which was in his line of sight, and meow. The moment he got up she would rush to the new spot.
But when Pizzicati tried to solve more stubborn puzzles – what peek-a-boo tells us about the stability of the self or how to lift the flap of a box while you sit on it – her intellectual limitations were more evident. Water dripping from a faucet puzzled her. How do you distinguish between the living and the non-living? Drops of water move. They make noise. They can hit you. They run for the drain. But somehow drops of water are not alive the way a mouse is alive.
If you share a bed with a cat, it is not difficult to imagine that she might have a little soul of some sort.
By Jessica Parsons
On November 1st, 2003, I decided that I would adopt a pet. I hadn’t decided whether it would be a dog or a cat but I knew my home needed one. Once at the S.P.C.A, I wandered through the rooms of animals. The first room I went into was full of kittens. The cuteness factor was off the scale! I wanted to eat each and every one of them.
I had my heart set on an all-black kitten of course. I admired the kittens in this room, noticing two in particular. There was a little black and white one named Garth, up at the sink pawing at the knobs. I remembered thinking, “How smart! Not only does he know that that’s where the water is but that he needs to move the knobs to get the water!”
I said I’d check out the rest of the shelter. There were no dogs that day so I decided that a cat would be best—low maintenance, self-sufficient, etc. I was drawn back to the first room. There was Garth, still at the sink. I picked him up and held him close to my chest. He let out a few kitten cries but was content to stay in my arms. His little firm belly, his tender little paws dipped in white – I knew he was the one! Garth was content in your arms and playful as well. Just the right balance.
Out to the desk I went to fill out the paperwork. I was ecstatic—I was getting a kitten! The lady who ran the SPCA told me what she knew about him, lectured us about how kittens can be cute but destroy your furniture, etc. Once I paid for everything and signed a form promising that I would have him neutered, another family approached the desk saying they wanted to adopt Buttons! I was happy he was getting a home too.
When I went in the room to get Garth, there were no kittens to be seen. Over in the corner was a three storied Kitty Condo—in the top cubby hole were six kittens sleeping and they were all laying on top of each other. The volunteer slowly peeled one kitten off at a time revealing the second last “layer” and there was our kitten, sprawled across little Buttons! Poor little thing. They were so warm and content.
As I put little Garth into a carrier and back out to the desk, the lady said she had to do one last thing. Her trademark was to hug and kiss each animal before it left. You could see the emotion and concern in her face wishing Garth happiness and love in his new home—again, she had no idea!
The last thing was a kiss on his cheek—and because of her bright orange lipstick, her lip marks could be seen on his black fur. Then I got to take my little one home.
That night, I brought Garth to my bed to sleep. I fell asleep to the sound of his loud purring. There’s no sweeter sound! I thought about a name for my new pet—Garth just wasn’t right. I decided to sleep on it.
When I woke up, I remembered a word that had been said in my dream—supernova. I looked it up in a dictionary: Supernova—a star that explodes and becomes extremely luminous in the process. I thought this was appropriate, and so—he became Nova.
I live in Halifax
by Misty Moon
I live in Halifax, N.S. I have had more than one human in my life, and unfortunately the first one was so cold-hearted that she had my front paws declawed, in favor of her new couch. This forced me into a life indoors, whether I liked it or not. (Declawing is basically an amputation and is unethical in my opinion. Most good cat vets won’t even perform the operation because it is unnecessary and can lead to many problems later on such as not being able to walk properly, ghost pains, real pain, etc… How much time would it take, really, to train a cat not to scratch a couch? All you need is a spray bottle and a couple of days—but anyways, I digress.) Since I have been confined to the indoors, sometimes (especially in springtime) I get a hankering for some fresh air. My new human is pretty decent and sometimes straps me into a halter leash so I can go outside… but I don’t like the harness much since I’m slightly older and set in my ways, and the outdoors is pretty scary for someone who can’t defend themselves.
One day a couple of years ago, my human was gone to work for the day and there were people working on the house we were living in. Despite a note on the door telling them not to let me out, I managed to escape. Unfortunately, with my limited experience, I had no idea what to do next. When my human came home a few hours later and couldn’t find me, she went into a panic and traversed the neighborhood several times calling my name, with not much luck at first. Then she finally heard my petulant meows near the house and managed to zero in on my hideout, which was in between the boards of the second-story back porch. I don’t even know how I managed to fit in there in the first place, but there was no getting me out! She and her roommate at the time, Anne Guy, had a can of delicious wet food, trying to tempt me, and they even ripped out a floor-board to try to scoop me out, but to no avail. Adding to the drama, the food froze after a while because it was so cold out. Eventually, Anne saved the day by scaling up the back of the porch and scooping me out from the side, something my human could not have done in her upset state and with her lack of climbing abilities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Guy with all my heart, she is and always will be one of my favourite humans.
Adventures in Cat Saving and Tree Climbing
by Matthew Murray
In the summer of 2005, I lived on Barnes Road next to what used to be a sports shop and what is currently (I think) the Living Planet t-shirt making place. Anyway, at the time it was just an empty building that had some construction work being done on it.
One fine June morning I woke up and came out to the living room and noticed something different. Outside the window there was a cat. No big deal, right? Well, maybe, but I lived on the second floor of the house and the cat was on the roof of the building next door.
“Fuck,” I thought, “I’m going to have to get that cat down.”
I waited a while, ate breakfast, and read a little bit, but the cat was still there. I was worried that it might try to jump down. So, eventually I couldn’t read any more and went outside to see if there were people working on the building that could go up and bring the cat down. There weren’t.
Back inside my house, I went to get a bag to put the cat in when I got up to the roof. How was I going to get up to the roof? Well there’s a tree in the alley that separates the two buildings. I’d previously thought that it would be possible for me to climb this tree and get up onto the roof. Guess it was a good time to do this.
So out I went and up I went. It wasn’t that hard to climb, though some of the dead branches worried me. I got up onto the roof and the cat (it was a young cat, not a kitten, but almost) seemed pretty pleased to see me. I petted it and wondered how to get down. Climb down the tree with a cat? Seemed sort of dangerous and the cat really didn’t want to get into my bag. I wondered if I could get into the building and go out a door.
I tried one window and it didn’t open, then I tried another and it did. So I picked the cat up and stepped through the open window onto a radiator inside and then down to the floor.
I wandered around the upstairs floor of this house trying to find the stairs (and exploring). Soon I found the stairs and descended to the first floor, ready to leave by a door. However, this was not to be. Both doors to the building locked with keys. I couldn’t get out.
“Maybe,” I thought, “I can get out through the basement” (as, in a previous exploration, I’d wandered around the back of the building and saw that there was a large door on the basement level). However, I couldn’t find any stairs down to this level. Maybe they don’t exist.
Finally, I decided I would just open a window and let the cat out (while I probably could have fit out the window too, it would have been a tight squeeze). So I chose a window while trying to keep a hold of the cat (who was getting increasingly annoyed despite the constant petting).
With assistance from one of my friends who’d been smoking outside my house and had noticed myself and the cat inside the building (“What are you doing in there?”) I got a window open and let the cat out.
Then it was back upstairs, back out the window (closing it after me) and back down the tree. I saw the cat down the street, sitting on a doorstep. It let me pet it a bit, but then ran away.
Still, it’s a good feeling to know that my being unemployed at that time was a good thing … at least for that one cat.
Whippet En Route
By Bonnie Goldman
One spring after classes ended my friends and I decided to go on a road trip from Montreal through San Francisco to our final destination of Vancouver. And my black and white feline Whippet was coming along for the ride.
On the first day, Alice’s old Ford Taurus overheated and died on the bridge joining Windsor and Detroit. We had to wait a day to get it fixed and had nowhere to sleep, so that night we just layed our sleeping bags out in the backyard of a boarded up house.
The cat was in his harness and to keep him close I tied him to my belt loop with a long cord and got in the bag. Things were fine till morning when the neighbors let their dog out. It went beserk through the fence at us, scaring the crap out of everyone, including Whippet, who darted up a tree.
The cord got a bit tangled in the branches, and he was still tied to me. The neighbors on both sides came out to see what the dog was fussing over and started yelling at us. We started getting afraid they were going to call the police. By this point Whippet was so freaked out by all the barking and chaos I couldn’t get close to him at all, and he just kept climbing up the tree.
In desperation, I jumped up, grabbed him, and cut the tangled string. Holding him in my arms, his little heart was ticking and he was suddenly content to cuddle onto me under my jacket.
My friends and I walked out of the neighborhood, sleeping bags in our arms on a mission to get our car fixed and get out.
Whippet is now a ‘mature’ cat who lives with my mom in British Columbia.
here’s a story about my cat.
by Alison Chan.
Poppin woke up, meowed a lot but then didn’t want her breakfast, looked out the window, napped, ran around the house like crazy for a few minutes, napped more, meowed some more, sat on my lap, did some poo, then went to bed. The end. Repeat every day.