Wednesday’s cat is lacking ears

September 24, 2014 • 1:51 pm

We’ve met Gus the Cat before (here, here, and here), whose staff consists of reader Taskin. Gus lost his ears when he was caught in a live-trap set for him during a very cold winter in Canada. Trapped in a cage in freezing weather, Gus got frostbite, eventually losing his ears and nearly his toes. But Taskin took him in, and now he’s the happiest, sweetest, whitest and fluffiest cat ever. I call him “earless and fearless.” In fact, his truncated ears make him look extra cute.

Taskin sent me two recent photos of Gus. The first was labelled “What do you suppose Gus is thinking?”

Gus thinking
Local laws dictate that Gus and all moggies must wear a leash when outdoors (he has a nice red harness).

It was also sent to reader Natalie Claudia Ingrid Pfeiffer, who responded with a haiku (not in her native tongue!):

“To save my green world,
Why can’t you solve climate change?
I’m just a white cat.”

And here’s another picture of Gus doing his Gene Simmons impersonation.

Gus 2



29 thoughts on “Wednesday’s cat is lacking ears

  1. I’m thinking Gus is thinking the ‘nip is just starting to kick….

    And hurray for cat leash laws! Cats belong outdoors as much as dogs (and people) do, and similarly leashed.


    1. Ben, please enlighten me. I must be terribly naive, so I need to understand: what makes a leash for a cat not only commendable in certain respects but actually advisable? Surely a lot of cats would absolutely hate having a collar and leash attached to their necks? Is the denigration of a cat’s dignity clearly outweighed by the advantages? What does Baihu say to that?

      1. First, all the reasons for leashing dogs apply to cats…and many of them in spades. For example, an unleashed dog might get into fights with other dogs…an unleashed cat might get seriously injured or killed by a stray dog. An unleashed dog might get spooked and run away or into traffic or the like…a spooked cat isn’t just going to run away faster than you can chase it, it’s going to disappear fast and somewhere you’re not going to be able to reach it even if you do find it.

        Baihu doesn’t mind the harness and leash any more than any dog I’ve ever known…and, indeed, when he wants to go outside, he’ll even start playing with it. On the trail, he’ll walk alongside me (with frequent stops to sniff the news and occasional false starts down non-trail gullies or the like) for good stretches, until either he gets tired (or hot) or somebody else approaches us. When the latter happens, his first instinct is to slink away under a bush or the like, but I quickly scoop him onto my shoulders and he stays there until it’s all clear again (if he feels like walking, which he doesn’t always).

        Hope that helps….


        1. Two of my ex-strays enjoy walking outside on a harness and leash, though only in the backyard (they were several years old when I bought the harness).
          My other cats wouldn’t tolerate the harness or were too frail to go for walks; none of them wanted to go outside anyway.
          It’s easier to teach them to walk on a leash if they are young, healthy, and haven’t learned to view the outdoors as a place of danger and deprivation.

          1. One thing that might help…if they’re already comfortable spending extended periods of time on your shoulders or in your arms or the like, go ahead and harness them up and sherpa them around. If they want to get down and explore on their own, great! But even if not, you’re both getting some fresh air and a change of scenery.

            The first times I took Baihu for walks outside the back yard, I carried him in a soft-sided cat carrier. As we both got more comfortable with the idea, I kept pushing the envelope bit by bit. Yesterday morning in South Mountain Park, he probably walked about half a mile all by himself (still on leash, of course) on our mile-and-an-half loop through the desert.

            If the forecast is to be believed, starting this weekend the highs won’t merely be flirting with triple digits any more, we might actually not even top 90°F — and it might even get into the sixties (instead of the eighties) overnight! If that holds, we won’t merely be hitting the nearby trails hard, we’ll even start doing some short road trips, like to the Superstition Mountains. My goal is to expand to some overnight trips this year, maybe even do Sedona and the Grand Canyon in the Spring….


              1. Very likely.

                One important thing: due to feline physiology, you should NEVER EVER attach a leash to a cat’s collar. Use some kind of harness, and the basic figure-eight is probably the best there is. There are also expensive “walking jackets” but I’d only try one on a cat that wasn’t going to have anything to do with a regular harness. Regardless, the “lift point” needs to be over the shoulder blades, and not the back of the neck.

                Acclimation is also going to be important. Put the harness on and immediately take it off. Repeat the next day, except offer some quick fusses before taking it off (as well as, of course, always, before and after). Especially do this just before mealtime. After a few days, leave the harness on for an extended period of time, including play time — that especially will help you figure out if it’s properly adjusted or not. Once the cat is cool with the harness, attach the leash and follow the cat around inside for a bit. (Don’t leave the leash on with the cat unsupervised, of course.) (And, personally, I like to loop the leash through my belt so I can go hands-free.) At that point, even the most reluctant feline is likely to be just fine with the harness, and you’re ready to go into the back yard.

                Then, from the back yard to the front yard, then to the corner, and then around the block, around the neighborhood, in the car to the park….

                Do it all with baby steps and you’ll be amazed at what kind of progress you make, and how easy it all is.


            1. This all very interesting and makes me ponder. I agree that cat safety comes first. Try to imagine Mayhem (winner of the Cat Confession Contest) on a leash though. LOL

        2. I was surprised that Gus was pretty amenable to the harness from the start. It really is a relief to not worry about him wandering off and getting into trouble, or causing trouble in the neighbourhood. He’s not too good at going for actual walks. A trip to the mailbox a few houses up the street takes forever, what with all the sniffing, flopping, inspecting, rolling and general zig zagging about. He is cute though.

        3. If you love you cat and you want it to have outdoor time, the leash is the way to go.

          “Regular” (free-roaming) outdoor cats have an average life expectancy of about 2 years (in the US). An inside-only cat has a life expectancy of about 14 years. The difference should make the hazards a free roaming cat faces pretty clear.

          1. I basically agree, and Fred is an indoor-only cat, but my Timba lived till almost 23 and she had free use of the kitty door.

    1. Stray cats do have to be controlled (they wreak havoc on birds, for instance), same as any stray animal. The fault of the person with the trap was not checking the trap several times per day or having it on a CC TV or something to prevent harming the cat. (They did, afterall use a life capture trap. Many people just put out poison or somethign similar)

      I guess I’d blame the original owner first.

      Well done Taskin for helping Gus. By the way, is that short for Caesar Augustus? 🙂

      1. Gus was found in a rural area and was likely a barn cat who started wandering. The idiot who trapped him in -40 weather last winter at least had the sense to take him to my friend’s vet clinic. (Hurray for vets who will take care of hurt animals even if they may never get paid for it.)

        Gus has lots of variations on his name, Gussie, Guster, Gusman, Augustus, Gustav, Gussele… Depends what mood we’re in 🙂

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