Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for October, 2005

More Beastly Blogger

Quality of Life? For Who?

I got a call from someone who took issue with something I said in Wednesday’s (10/5) column about the cat that was shot in Richmond. The cat is recovering but may lose its right front leg.

My suggestion:

"While he’s recovering, which will probably take a while, this is a good time to turn him into a permanent indoor cat. It’s a jungle out there in the streets, and he’s going to be even slower at dodging bullets on three legs that he was on four. My cats are indoor cats and I recommend it to all felines. It’s a lot safer and indoor cats live 5-plus years longer than outdoor cats."

My caller felt keeping cats indoors was like putting them into a big cage, and it was a "quality of life" issue for the cats, and that cats needed to be allowed to roam outside. I said I felt otherwise. And I asked what about the quality of life of the birds and other wildlife killed by the cats?

We volleyed back and forth for a bit and finally parted friends (I hope). It’s an endless debate, really. It’s all a matter of perspective and I’m not too sure there’s really a single definitive answer.

What do you think?

Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2005
Under: Animals, Pets | 9 Comments »

It’s Finally Fall

I like the fall. It still reminds me (and always will) of the crisp early mornings 33 years ago when I would get up before the sun and my associate Mark Ferrari and I would take a teenage mountain lion named Sashi for her morning walks in the backside wilderness of Mount Diablo.

I was curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek (that’s in California for you out-of-staters) back in those days. I spent most of my time, 24/7 actually, running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program at the nonprofit museum. We took in injured and orphaned wildlife, did what needed to be done with them physically and mentally, and then returned as many as we could back to the wild where they belonged.

It was truly an invigorating time. The California Department of Fish and Game had provided us with an orphaned mountain lion cub from a California zoo. Our plan was to raise it and observe it in the field as it grew, to find out its needs, and then develop a training technique so humans could rehabilitate orphaned wild cougar cubs without imprinting them, if and when they were recovered by the department. We watched them climb trees (not instinctive, they had to learn how); get stung on the nose by bees,  run away from snakes, and cover the remains of their uneaten prey with sticks and grass (instinctive!).

On a cold, dewy fall morning, the excited young 60-lb. cat dashed into the tall, wet weeds. She returned just as quickly, charging out from behind a tree to playfully take me down, flopping on top of my chest so I couldn’t get up as she tried to lick the beard off my face. Mark was taking pictures of my morning bath and laughing so hard he could hardly hold up the camera.

Sashi and I laid there together, my laughter mingling with her loud, rumbling purrs. The steam rose from the cat’s hot, wet body and made funny designs in the rays of the early morning sun.

Hello fall, I miss that cat.

Posted on Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
Under: Animals, Wildlife | 2 Comments »

The Beastly Blogger

Pets and Wildlife and everything in-between

Welcome aboard my new blog at the start of what I hope will be a long, winding trip to places we have never been before.

For those of you who have no idea what a blog is, try this on for size:

Blog is short for weblog. A weblog is an Internet journal that’s regularly updated and intended for everyone to see. In other words, it’s a diary of sorts.

I like that concept for one BIG reason. Space (the New Frontier). Lots of it.

When I write my daily (5 days a week, Tuesday-Friday and Sunday) newspaper column on page A2 of the Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times and West County Times, my daily life exists inside an 18.587 inch framework on the inside top corner of the page (right next to the People Section). After 35 years of writing five columns a week, I’ve become pretty creative at filling the insides of my little picture frame, especially with the help of your fascinating e-mails and letters … but it would REALLY be nice, once-in-a-while, to have the space to blather along without having to worry about running off the page. The space to run something really long when you get carried away in your excitement and send me something about what you saw prowling around your backyard last night that’s twice as long as my little column space.

Enter the blog. (Sounds like some sort of creepy monster, doesn’t it?)

Basically, I can write about anything I want, for as long as I want, and at any time I want, and in any way, shape, or form that I want. It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck just thinking about it. Best of all, you can also help contribute to it. In fact, I can’t do it without you. You can react to something I write here in my blog, you can send your ideas for something you’d like me to chat about. I can even print color pictures and drawings here! Wanna see what Our two scrub jays, The Blue Brothers, look like when they’re pecking on the window and begging for peanuts? Want to see my stupid cats hiding from the Blue Brothers because they figure if they can’t see them, they aren’t there?

I’ll also gather and list links to other sites that I think you might find interesting.

Just remember, to interact with my blog, you need to log on here and write it here. That’s the only rule.

So, without further adieu, let’s blog.

Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2005
Under: Animals, Pets, Wildlife | 6 Comments »