I was considering a couple of different candidates for this issue's "Characters". But the section wasn't jelling.
Then, close to deadline, Chantal popped into my mind. I first met her in September of 2001. It was pure chance. I
was reading some pets being housed at a local shelter when her first human mom surrendered her. Her mom was devastated
that she had to give "Shakes" up and Shakes was totally baffled and mystified by what was happening to her.
I was asked to read Shakes. When I got home, I kept thinking about her. I was still mourning the loss of Mont-Blanc,
even though I realized my remaining cat Douceur needed a companion. I intended to bring my feline family back to two
some day, but hadn't decided when. Shakes's availability moved me to action.
|Chantal the chic|
I had always liked the sound of the name Chantal. Since no others came to mind, Shakes was rebaptized Chantal.
She was grossly overweight and I hesitated a bit thinking there was something wrong about giving such a classy
name to a creature with saddle bags on her shoulders. Over the years, Chantal dropped her excess weight
(gradually, ever so gradually) and thus evolved into the chic creature the sound of her name evokes.
Chantal had a second surprise in store for me. It turns out she's a therapy cat. Instinctively she knows who
needs her comforting, who can take advantage of it and is open to it. She also has the distinction of communicating
with me without my making any effort. [See the Pets and Humor essay in this newsletter.]
I'm Mont-Blanc. I made my transition several years ago, but I've kept in contact with my mom. We had a special affinity
and some special periods while I was on the earth plane. Mom thought Iíd be the one writing this column, but Douceur
got really excited-and I do mean really-and so mom let her do it for the first newsletter. Iíd been a little tough on
her at times, beating her to the food bowl, etc., so I thought I'd give her a chance to write. Being on this side of
the veil makes a difference. I donít need to compete with her in the same way I did before when we were both at mom's.
When I died, Douceur missed me and thought about me a lot. That touched me. We spend a lot of time together now.
Recently mom asked us to check into some animals who had recently crossed over. We did and reported back to her on
how they were doing. Through us, mom was able to give several people updates on how their pets were faring in our
country. Douceur and I work together to help mom in her projects and her personal issues. We give her ideas and we
try to make her laugh when we can. She looks forward to our visits. We do too.
Q. I'm appalled that those of us who have had our pets declawed are looked upon as evil. Yet, no one says anything
about the Dobermans who have their ears bound or their tails cropped (again, totally meaningless amputation). In fact,
most people think this is "cute" when done for purely aesthetic reasons, but cruel when declawing is done to promote a
better relationship between a cat who continuously claws everything and its owners. We are neither cruel nor sadistically
selfish. We declawed our cats years ago before more information on the topic existed.
A. It is true that people declaw without understanding that they are amputating a joint. I've spoken about this on
several occasions in my column [Waterfront Journal/City Journal/Secaucus Journal]. I havenít brought up ear or tail
cropping simply because the issue has not arisen. However, I do not support it. As far as I'm concerned, our pets are
perfect as is. They do not need "aesthetic" surgery. Nevertheless, I wouldnít put ear cropping in the same league as
declawing. The only thing they have in common is that the surgery is performed for the owner, with no benefit for the pet.
While vigilante style tactics are not my style, I recognize that aggressive confrontations do serve to bring certain
issues to a head. Perhaps more people are aware of the unnecessary cruelty of declawing because of the efforts of
Q. I've been adding [the *Bach's flower essence] Rescue Remedy to my dog's food and I don't see him getting any
A. The essence doesn't work in food. You need to put it in his drinking water. If he doesn't drink much water, you can put a
drop of the essence in a spray bottle filled with water and mist him with it. If he doesn't like the direct spraying, you can
mist the room. If you don't have a spray bottle, dip your fingers in the drinking bowl and wipe them on his fur.
The essence can be absorbed through the coat.
A Number One Weight Problem, A Weighty Matter
by Catherine Ferguson
Number One is getting a head start on his middle-age spread. Over the years, his midsection has been progressively thickening. At eight,
he is still an energetic extrovert. His expansive personality is expanding in all directions, to his waistline and all other lines.
It would appear that Number One was born to eat. What, after all, can you expect from a cat who is all black except for the white bib on
his chest and four white paws that look like white gloves and spats. This tuxedo cat has a highly refined taste in food. Nevertheless,
the normally elegant cat turns into the proverbial pig when he feels a compelling need to compete with his housemate Fruitcake, who poses
no threat to anyone else. His philosophy seems to "I will eat until I bust, just as long as she doesnít get any."
Fruitcake is the half-crazy calico who moved in with Betsy at the same time Number One did. One of Betsyís co-workers gives shelter to
abandoned cats until he can find good homes for them. Fruitcake has always been Number Oneís companion and best cat friend. Unlike him,
she keeps her svelte, young adult figure. Maybe being afraid of everything, even her own shadow, keeps her trim. As the prototypical
scaredy-cat, she is constantly jumping up startled and running for cover. Betsy is amazed that the calico coloring has not yet turned all
white from worry. She also fears Fruitcake may cut short her natural life span, even though she is healthy and of a sturdy build. Since
Betsy knows of human beings who have worried themselves sick, she dreads losing Fruitcake prematurely.
On the surface, Number One appears debonair and even cocky, he does so try to live up to the tuxedo image. Yet whenever he has to go to
the vetís, he soils himself each and every time. After years of this repeated experience, Betsy still cannot believe her eyes -or nose
for that matter. The ultra-curious, the bold, the intrepid Number One loses his nerve -and his self-control- once he is placed in his
carrier and the car is en route. Whereas Fruitcake, who jumps at the literal drop of a hat, sees no more cause for alarm in a visit to
the vetís than she does in a rustled newspaper.
The thoroughly modern and normally polished Number One is no plebeian Puss Ďn Boots, but rather a Puss Ďn Spats or Puss Ďn Tux.
He approves of Betsyís culinary skills and appreciates the dishes she prepares that are seasoned with garlic. When she takes her meals,
he accompanies her. Discretely, he sits under the table to wait for handouts -or more accurately hand downs. When the offerings do not
come quickly enough, or frequently enough, he gently taps his mom on the knee, lest she forget he is there to help her clean her plate.
Number One is a New Age cat of sorts, he believes in sharing -at least Betsyís meat and fish dishes, especially if they are laced with
garlic. His desire to share is less evident when it comes to Fruitcake.
Betsy finds it hard to cut back on Number One's food supply. He is a consummate beggar and when that does not work, he sticks to her
ankles and she runs the risk of tripping over him and breaking her neck with each step she takes. His resolve is stronger than hers.
Betsyís one hope is that his high energy will eventually make him burn up what he consumes. Middle age his not dampened his love of life
and playfulness. He still jumps for joy and flies around the house propelled by his own secret, inner games or games he engages in with
Fruitcake. Perhaps one day his joie de vivre will strike a balance between his love of activity and his epicurean palate.
Q. Kenny is a rambunctious four-year-old we adopted six weeks after our beloved dachshund was killed. (You wrote about Alex in
your first newsletter.) Kenny likes to climb on our laps. He follows me constantly, with his nose in my crotch or bottom, both of
which I cannot stand. He runs over our 15-year-old cocker spaniel, Madison, and he knocks her down. He also does this to our
three cats. They don't like him and we fear for their safety. He drinks too much water. We thought he was diabetic when he
urinated in the house on three separate occasions, so we brought him to the vet. He is physically okay. When he's outside, he's
uncontrollable, pulling on the leash and barking incessantly. He jumps on people and sniffs their crotches. I like to take him
to the local dog run for exercise and socialization. But there is a nasty man who leaves tainted food to poison dogs. Madison
nearly died from it. I'm at my witsí end. Please help.
A. Kenny is a handful! The feeling I had after I first met him (in the flesh) was that he was a gentleman. That word kept popping
up in my mind. I feel that is the core of his essence. Nonetheless, there is a lot of boorish behavior covering up that core.
He adores Madison. Because he feels comfortable with her, he feels he can act on all his whims and be forgiven. He was probably much
better behaved when he was treated badly and felt he needed to be on his pís and qís just to survive. He loves you and Eric and
similarly feels he can act first and think later. You need to start with the Bach flower essence* Star of Bethlehem to address
the traces of his past abuse. You add the essence to his drinking water. If the other animals drink his water, it will not effect
them. Talk with him for a few days about what you like about him, his appearance (heís got a great bod), his energy, whatever appeals to you. After a few days of praising him, start talking about how his behavior is irritating you and why. You can tell him that human beings do not want dogs sniffing their crotches and that it is a turn off. It is perfectly normal dog behavior, but is highly offensive to humans. That is something he can understand. He wants to be loved and he can understand that offensive behavior can cost him friends. Address the issue of his size and the discomfort and danger it poses to your well-being and Ericís. Tell him how you and Eric have been hurt, how serious the situation is.
Kenny is harboring a lot of anger. Tell him you understand he had reason to be angry in the past, but the ill treatment he endured
is a thing of the past. Let him know you're willing to work with him to let go of his justifiable rage.. I believe the excessive drinking is a holdover from his stint as a garage dog. He went long hours without water. Now he feels he needs to tank up whenever it is available. Tell him he does not need to worry about going without water or food for that matter.
Can you socialize in a less-formal manner? Say in the park, but not specifically at the dog run? He likes your cats, he just finds
them a bit strange.
Pets and Humor
by Catherine Ferguson, Ph.D.
I thoroughly enjoy my work as a pet psychic. It gives me the opportunity to meet lots of wonderful animals and some admirable pet parents. I also get to laugh. Sometimes itís just a chuckle. At other times it's a hearty belly laugh. Let me share some of my experiences with you.
Most pet humor, in my experience, is unintentional. The animals are simply being themselves. When they take us by surprise, we laugh. Pogo, a two-year-old Cairn, showed me how he considered himself to be royalty. He liked riding in the back seat of the car, front paws on the back of the front head rest looking out the windows while his human chauffeured him around. He also showed me how he loved to relax on the sofa, while surveying his kingdom. He even demonstrated the royal wave as practiced by the queen of England. Pogoís human and her young son burst out laughing when I related to them what he had told me. To look at, Pogo was a simple, straightforward little dog. Who would have guessed the simple exterior harbored royalty?
Snuffy's owner wondered why her two-year-old dog preferred sleeping next to her husband instead of her. I was puzzled when Snuffy told me the man is "softer". The ownerís friend suggested that hubbyís body hair might feel like fur to him. Go figure. I canít always explain the messages pets give me. Sometimes the best I can do is to simply relay the information.
Oso is a young Bichon. His owner wanted to know why he snored so much because it was keeping her son awake at night. Oso showed me that he was providing Alex with a lullaby. His intention was to help the son sleep while reassuring him of his faithful, supportive presence. My friend Bev lives in the country. Her cat Hamlet has his own door and frequently brings home mice, chipmunks and other wild creatures. She then spends hours running all over the house, upstairs and downstairs trying to catch the critters and then release them back into the woods. After a few years, Bev figured out that Hamlet observed her running around and decided he needed to keep up the good work to make sure she got regular exercise. Oso and Hamlet may not share the same point of view as their owners, but they demonstrate deep caring for their humansí needs.
Animals tend to be frank and direct when they express themselves. Many of us spend a good deal of time and effort beating around bushes in the hopes of being polite. Therefore our petsí directness catches us off guard. After spending eight months with me and my 12-year-old Douceur, Chantal told me she needed a playmate or two. The then four-year-old cat bolstered her request by remarking that "between you and Douceur, it's like living in an old folksí home". I didn't appreciate the comparison, but I did recognize her bona fide need. So I did what any good cat mom would do, I went out and interviewed cats and eventually brought home two new playmates.
When pets respond to questions about food, the answer tends to come in loud and clear. Most of their communication is conveyed in images. When it comes to food, I get the message verbally. That is I hear the response in my head and I also get the tone of voice and the attitude. There is no pussyfooting. The mild-mannered Snoopy hardly waited for his owner to finish her sentence asking if he was happy with his food. "MORE BEEF!!!," he asserted. Short and succinct. Snuffy, who struck me as being generally polite and well-behaved, was also quite emphatic about MORE BEEF. He was taking the opportunity of my presence to make sure his owner got the message.
The only time I've seen pets intentionally try to make us laugh is when Iíve contacted those who had returned to spirit. Rocky was a beautiful white cat who had suffered severe illness before being euthanized. His owner was still upset about the suffering and his death. Rocky danced a funny little jig to prove to her that he was more than fine now, that he felt light-hearted and light-footed as well.
*If you'd like to receive a copy of the instructions for the use of Bach's flower essences, send a self-addressed stamped
C. Ferguson, 107 Kensington Avenue,
P.O. Box 301, Jersey City,
You are welcome to send your comments and questions for future mailbags to:
Contact information: 212-445-4730; 201-433-7955; firstname.lastname@example.org or
Copyright 2005 by Catherine Ferguson. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form
whatsoever without written permission.
The information in this newsletter is not to be understood as direction, recommendation or a perscription of any kind. Nor is
it intended to take the place of a qualified healthcare/wellness professional. Further, it is not our intention to advocate the
abandonment of traditional medical treatment.