In the Air or In the Water?

We’ve been having a lot of fast, intense weather changes here at RedQuarters. Nothing as exciting as Buffalo “See You After the June Thaw” New York, but going from the 70s to the 20s to the 50s to the 20s F for high temperatures. Combine this with the start of the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Finals-Christmas rush, and sanity seems to be a passing mood, not a permanent status.

We got some snow on Monday, just enough that everyone blinked and said, “Oh, that’s snow,” and went on with life. On Friday, we had cold and grey skies, and everyone went bonkers. Well, not everyone, just 90% of the people on the road. Or so it seemed. Perhaps it was the reopening of a large swath of a major through-street. Perhaps it was the “Friday before Thanksgiving.” Perhaps it was “pretend we’re all cats with the zoomies.” Whatever it was, the morning commute turned from “intermittently not dull” to “a touch interesting.” And that was nothing compared with the folks who came to work half an hour or so later. Apparently, in that thirty minute interval, there were wrecks, fire truck call-outs (activating stop-lights that normally don’t come into use), people changing lanes for no apparent reason and without bothering to tell anyone, people in the left turn lane turning right (!), and other moments of vehicular excitement.

By the time I left work, it was “I’m going to drive too fast, or too slow, for no apparent reason, or do both at random moments because feel like it.” Then a young person in a yellow sports car with target fixation tried to remove my bumper as I attempted to exit the coffee drive-through.

Athena T. Cat kept talking at everyone, then ignoring me, then tracking me down when I needed to work, then ignoring me when I had a free moment. Cats.

Oh, and I got to see something new at the gym. You now apparently do a big lift, push your hoodie hood back, get off the bench, change weights, return to the bench and carefully arrange the hoodie hood just so, then do another lift. The edge of the hood must be three inches back from the top of your forehead, no more or less. Or so it seemed. I must have missed the memo, because I don’t own a hoodie. Nor do I quite understand wearing a long-sleeve hooded sweatshirt with the hood up in a warm gym while doing intense exercise. But I tend to collapse when I overheat, so I try to avoid wearing warm clothes indoors when I’m going to lift and/or do cardio.

Since I drink the water and wasn’t inspired to act crazy, I guess it was in the air.


Long-Term Product Review: So-Phresh cat litters

I’ve used So-phresh™ cat litters in Athena T. Cat’s box for several years now. Clay, paper, odor-eating, and pre-shredded, pretty much everything beside the special crystal and the litter for motorized cat boxes (built-in pooper-scooper). I’m quite satisfied with all of them.

Most of the time, when it is available* I use the pellet, either with or without odor reducers. Athena doesn’t care, and I add a little baking soda to her box anyway. She is high-throughput because of her kidney-care diet, and because she’s always drunk a lot of water. This means her litter has to handle a lot of liquid output, which the pellets do quite well. They last 7-9 days in a semi-well-ventilated space, stirred at least three times a day and sifted at least twice a day. The pellet litter doesn’t scatter as much as either the clay or the pre-shredded.

The scoopable clay is your basic clumping litter. It holds a lot of liquid, and you sift out the solid waste, then collect the clump and put it in the trash. I did not notice much odor from the trash (open-top wastebasket in area with low airflow.) In theory, you can just add a little extra litter as needed and never take out the cat box, but I changed it weekly even so. Like other clay litters, it tracked, even using an anti-track mat. And you have to be very, very careful to sift all the clay away from solid waste if you flush the solid waste (some areas do not allow this, so be aware of local rules). It captured scents well, and handled her outflow.

The pre-shredded paper pellets are for cats with sensitive paws, or those that are a little weaker. I got it because it was the only thing available. Shipments have been off and on, and so I tend to grab a sack whenever I find what I use in stock (can store in garage). The local pet palace had been out of all paper litter for a while, so I saw this and bought it just in case. It works. It tracks, and it feels as if there is less litter in the box, even when I fill the box to the usual depth. It dries faster than the pellets, and the scent is no more or less than with the usual pellets. The store got a few bags of pellets in last week, so I grabbed a sack. The shredded litter seems to last a shorter period of time for the same volume in the sack, since it is fluffier. It costs the same as the pellets, so if you have a choice and don’t need lighter-weight litter, I’d go with the pellets.

I’ve used the wheat-based litters. Other than a repugnance to use food as cat litter (I know intellectually that it’s not the edible part of the wheat, but it still irks me), the dust has been a real problem with all three brands of wheat-pellet litter I’ve used. Other people don’t seem to have a dust overflow.

So, I’m pleased with all the variations on SoPhresh litter I’ve used to date.

FTC Notice: I received no benefit or remuneration for this review of the product. I purchase the product for my own use.

Conservation of Energy?

Or just a cat?

Athena T. Cat at rest.

A cat at rest will stay at rest, no matter what her staff wants, until acted upon by an internal impulse. A cat in motion will stay in mo—

No, she’ll flop into a snooze whenever she wants to.

My Cat’s a Hussite!

She takes treats sub utraque specie.

OK, to explain the joke for those who are not far, far too deeply versed in Central European history for their own good . . . When the preacher Jan Huss in Prague in the 1410s raised some complaints people had with the behavior of the Church as an administrative unit, one of the objections was that people could only partake of communion/eucharist in one kind – the body (wafer), not in both kinds (sub utraque species). Those who, after Hus’s followers broke from their local bishop, insisted that laity should be allowed to partake of both elements were called Utraquists.

Athena T. Cat gets two kinds of treats. One is a special formula to help her joints. The other are the little crunchy cat nibbles most cats like. Athena decided to stop eating the joint goodies, for reasons she does not deign to discuss. Mom finally tricked her into eating them by alternating a bit of joint food with a real treat.

So, the other day, I did the same thing. The joint supplement went into the cat, followed by the “real” and we were all happy.

When Mom came back, I informed her that Athena is an Utraquist. MomRed blinked a few times, then grinned.

(Alas, I can’t find my terrifying picture of the statue of Jan Zizka, the scariest Utraquist in the Czech lands. You walk into the museum in Tabor and he’s looming over you, war hammer in hand.)

EDITED: Ah, Found it!

Author Photo, June, 2019. Tabor, Czechia.

Overheard in the Halls: Part Thirty-Four

Young Student [somewhat nervous]: So, um, what’s *mumble mumble* like?

Laconic Sophomore: Not bad.

Y.S.: Um, but I heard that, well, hard case?

L.S.: Only if you ask for it. [significant pause] You know, like that one class did.

Y.S. [much relieved]: Oooooohhh. Got it!


Sr. Scholastica [Aka the Dean]: So, Slow Senor, Silly Senior, and Skeptical Senior all need to take the final?

Me: Yes. Slow had too many absences, Silly’s GPA is below the threshold, and Skeptical wants to bump her grade if she can.

Sr. Scholastica [over reading glasses]: Skeptical wants to take a final exam, of her own free will, to raise her grade?

Me [hands raised]: Yes, Sister. I believe this is one of the signs of the end times?

Sr. Scholastica: I’ll have to confirm with Fr. Gonzales, but I believe it is.


I am passing through the commons after making copies. Jaundiced Junior looks up from his sprawl in one of the lounge-ish chairs.

J.J.: Miss Red, is it true that Poland once invaded Russia?

Me: Yes, in 1603, during the Time of Troubles. Poland-Lithuania got about a quarter of western Russia.

J.J.: That explains a lot! Thanks, Miss Red.


As seen on the Fridge of Wisdom. Just below it:

Me: Any further questions?

A hand waves frantically from the end of the second row.

Me: Yes? [trying not to sound impatient]

Frosted Freshman [sounding impatient]: Miss Red, if this is from Chapter Three, and that was last semester, why is it on this semester’s test?

Me: Because Confucian culture, filial piety, and the Mandate of Heaven come up every time we discuss China.

F. F. [sulking]: Oh.

The rest of the class glares at Frosted.

Me: Any other questions?

F.F. [looks up from his paper in great haste]: Can we go over number ten again?

Rest of class: Basso profundo growl.

Me: No, I’m sorry, but we need to move on. Please ask one of your classmates for the answer. So, number fifty-two. . .


The last faculty meeting concludes, the fridges have been emptied and exorcised, and all books and grades are accounted for . . .

Catch us if you can!

. . . and the faculty disperse until August first.

Product Review: Furminator 2.0

Short version: Wow, does this thing work wonders on a double-coated cat!

When the Furminator™ pet comb first came on the market, MomRed got one. It worked OK on the cat, very well on the furniture. The black comb with larger teeth seemed to get more fur out of Athena’s two layers of pelage. However, over time, she became less tolerant of the black comb. [As I’m typing, she’s begging for treats.] The Furminator™, however, she would put up with. This became more and more important, because her arthritis makes it hard for her to reach all the places that need to be groomed and tidied.

Enter Furminator 2.0. The new and improved version has slightly different teeth, and a built-in device that slides forward and cleans the fur out of the comb. Mom got one the day they became available around here.

This is AFTER she was washed and trimmed and de-furred.

Athena T. Cat came back from the groomer that day. The groomer and DadRed had to tag-team the cat in order for the groomer to use the clippers and shave off about half the mats. They stopped then, because Athena was getting very stressed (so were the humans). Mom then began working on Athena with the new Furminator™ at home. The picture above shows the results, and is from the third time that day Mom had combed the cat. The clump of fur closest to the camera has been compressed to about the size of my palm. The other was just removed from the cat, and dropped off the Furminator™.

The thing works beautifully. Athena tolerates it. We are getting enormous amounts of fur out of her, which is good, because she is “blowing” her undercoat (as Maine Coons do). The cat is happier, the people are happier, and the gizmo is easy to use with a good, ergonomic grip.

Two paws up, highly recommend.

UPDATE: If you want to see the product on the Furminator site, with reviews:

FTC Disclaimer: This item was purchased for personal use and no one in the household received any remuneration or benefit in exchange for this review.

Pre-Caturday Post

“I am soooooo done with this week already.”

So, I dumped some stuff on someone’s guest bed for a moment. Which became an hour. Which meant that Squatter’s Rights came into effect.

“You didn’t say don’t sit on the hat.”

Sun-bathing. Athena T. Cat in her “spring and summer morning chair.”

Can Anyone Tell Me

. . . how to reset *YAWN* a cat?

Athena T. Cat gets up at 0500 every morning. Including Caturday and Sunday. When her major domo wants to sleep until, oh, 0630 Local Time.

I’ve lost her instruction manual and can’t find the reset switch through all that fur. Any ideas?