ORANGE TABBY

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This is the cat who lives in our building lobby. He goes by several names, but we like to call him Needy Cat, because he likes to hog all the cuddles from the residents.

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He has been spayed, so he became very chubby.  The janitors feed him on the sly, because building rules prohibit feeding strays. Obviously he’s not a stray anymore.  This is how he likes to sit, even though he doesn’t know where to put his belly.

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I really like Needy Cat. He comes when I call. I wave my hand and make meowing noises and then he runs to me. He loves being petted. I love petting him, feeling that round tummy.

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SQUAWK

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This is our little budgerigar, Snowball. He’s been with us just over a month.  We got him as a freebie when my sister bought a blue one. Sadly, the blue budgie was returned to the breeder after a few days because it was unhappy and was tearing its own feathers out. We decided to keep Snowball, as he is a sweeter, better-behaved bird.  He likes “grooming” our fingers, and enjoys having his head and neck gently scratched. There are days he’s stand-offish, and days when he would chitter away in protest that we’re not paying him enough attention.  He has a swing and a brass bell toy, a rope ladder and his favorite, the toilet roll tube. Everyone in the family is charmed by him. He is a smarter, more interactive pet than our late guinea pig, Walnut.

Daily Prompt: Protest

GOODBYE, WALNUT

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Walnut the guinea pig crossed the Rainbow Bridge last Sunday. She was with us for 4 years and 9 months. She died peacefully, of old age. By then she could barely see; her eyes looked like they had cataracts, and we suspect she found her food and water by smell, in her last days.

She had been a very pretty long-haired guinea pig, a Sheltie. She wasn’t very affectionate, unlike our previous guinea pig Moonball. She was territorial, for one thing, and for the while they were living together we had to place them in different, but neighboring, enclosures. She was skittish and wary of strangers. She also liked to chew up the newspaper lining her space. As pets went, she was pretty low-maintenance – she was an eating machine that we would admire and try to pet occasionally.

Guinea pigs live for an average of 4-5 years. Moonball, our American short-hair, lasted for 4 years, but she contracted a kind of pneumonia and did not survive it. I still miss her greeting me very enthusiastically in the mornings, and nuzzling against me when I had her on my lap.

My eleven-year-old niece then asked hopefully if we could get a dog next. My sister was not prepared to take on a more vigorous pet that required the attention one would give to a growing child. So instead she got an albino budgie-parakeet, named Snowball. He requires a lot of attention, but is not as rambunctious as a dog would be, and is quite entertaining to boot. Budgies tend to live for about 5 to 8 years, so we expect to enjoy him that long.

Daily Prompt: Vigor

WALNUT THE GUINEA PIG

Last Sunday, my sister Joy surprised me with a text.  “Check your email for important bulletin!” I was so intrigued I immediately opened my email.

I saw this:

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A walking ball of fur with eyes!  “Her name is Walnut.”  Our other guinea pig, Moonball, is an American shorthaired cavy, so the prospect of caring for a fancier breed was exciting.  Walnut is approximately 4 months old, what they call a Sheltie or Silkie.  A cavy with Justin Bieber hair.  My brother-in-law Tristan picked her out of a lineup at the Northeast Greenhills Sunday Market, and paid P500.  He says he was enamored by her black button eyes and teddy bear looks.

Joy and Tristan decided to get another cavy to keep Moonball company, because they’d read that cavies are social animals.  Moonball is now a year and a half old, so it was interesting to see how she’d bond with another cavy half her size.  Walnut was skittish, and tended to run away everytime Moonball would attempt to smell or lick her.  Good thing we had a couple of shelters – a huge PVC T-joint and an overturned plastic basket with cut-out sides – inside what we like to call the cavy-tat.

walnut-01Eventually, Walnut’s hunger forced her to leave the T-joint and join Moonball (and her bulk) at the food bowl.

walnut-05walnut-02walnut-03At first we were concerned that Moonball would hog the food bowl, but Walnut managed to get her share of pellets.

Tristan would occasionally capture Walnut so Joy could give her a dose of Vitamin C from a syringe, and so Walnut would get used to handling and grooming.  Right now she fits on Tristan’s palm:

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Joy also rebuilt the cavy-tat from a 2×3 to a 2×4 Stack-and-Rack cage held together with cable ties with a coro-plast box inside.  The coro-plast (corrugated plastic) box is lined with an extra-large garbage bag and old newspapers, followed by a green plastic mesh floor where poop and urine could pass through.  This makes it easy for us to collect the poop and newspapers for my mom’s composting needs.

cavytatIn the evenings after dinner we like to sit on the sofa and watch Walnut and Moonball run around or eat.  Since they’re still getting acquainted, there’s a lot of chasing going on.  Walnut is a perky little thing; despite being wary of the bigger Moonball, she has learned to spend more time out in the open instead of hiding in the T-joint all the time.

Right now Moonball is about 800 grams and is about as big as a puppy.  She is well socialized with humans, so she actually enjoys being picked up and cuddled every so often.  She’s also potty-trained – she only pees and poops on the old newspaper folded in the corners of the cavy-tat.  We’re hoping Walnut catches on.

Cavies have a lifespan of about 4-6 years, given the best possible care.  We plan to enjoy these two pets for as long as we can.

GUINEA PIG LAP TIME

It’s Eid al’Fitr, a national holiday, and today I celebrate the first time our pet guinea pig Moonball got Lap Time!

Every day my sister and I would scoop her up and give her some liquid vitamin C via syringe, and at first she would struggle. Eventually I got the hang of handling her by the shoulders so she wouldn’t slip from my grasp – I’d wrap her quickly in a soft face towel and Joy would feed her the vitamin C. Moonball is a warm little thing, with a little round belly, so I try to be as gentle as possible and not give her a fright.

While I was out having lunch Joy discovered that she could pet Moonball on her lap if she gave her carrot peels to munch. Moonball allowed herself to be stroked and occasionally nodded off. Naturally my little niece Lilo was delighted; her hands were too little to hold Moonball properly, so she just patted Moonball while she was on Joy’s lap.

This afternoon after returning from errands Joy surprised me by putting Moonball on MY lap. She ate two or three little pieces of carrot peel and snuggled on her face towel. I loved stroking her! She purred and chirped and made these little sounds of contentment. She even fell asleep a while. “We just have to get her used to the idea that she will get carrot peels whenever she has Lap Time,” Joy said. We figured twice-a-day Lap Time would be sufficient. Before this she was a frisky little thing that kept trying to evade us unless she smelled grass in our hands.

We used to have dogs, and I miss having them, but having a little guinea pig to pet is almost quite as good.