Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Banana and Cheese: A Guide to Feeding Squirrels

Banana and I have spent a lot of time observing squirrels; sometimes in our backyard, and sometimes in our front yard.

Therefore, we feel very qualified to give you our list of things to feed, and not to feed, our furry four-footed friends.

First, our list of things NOT to feed to the squirrels:

1) Steak. Squirrels will eat meat; we’ve heard that they will even eat hamburgers if they live near college students. But squirrels will not eat steak because they rarely have steak sauce in their nests.

2) Ice cream.Squirrels are very slow eaters, and they hate it when ice cream melts all over their fur. Also, unless they know you very well, they will not come down from the tree to take the frosty treat before the ice cream has softened into a puddle.

3) Cardboard. Banana pushed a piece of cardboard under a tree just last week, thinking she might fool a squirrel into coming down for “pizza”, but she soon found out squirrels are very, very clever.

4) Goldfish. We’ve talked to some of our cat friends, and nobody has ever seen a squirrel dip a paw into a pond. Likewise, no squirrel has been silly enough to fall into a pond (unlike some friends we know…Twitch!).

5) Cat food. That’s just wrong! Very, very wrong, and they will not like it. Trust us when we tell you to feed cat food only to cats. Banana suggests that you feed cat food to cats quite often.

Now, our list of things Banana and I think people ought to feed to squirrels (especially if we can watch):

1) Spaghetti. Although we have never witnessed it, trust us when we tell you that squirrels love spaghetti. But, before serving spaghetti to squirrels, please invite Banana and I to your house. We want to laugh at…I mean…watch them as they try to suck those noodles into their mouths. We think it would be very funny…I mean…nutritious to serve spaghetti to squirrels.

2) Meatballs. See spaghetti (above). If you served spaghetti and meatballs at the same time, that would be hilarious…I mean…a complete meal. It makes Banana and I want to break into song (please join us):

“On top of spaghetti,

All covered with cheese,

I lost my poor meatball,

When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,

And on to the floor,

And then my poor meatball,

Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,

And under a bush,

And then my poor meatball,

Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty

As tasty could be,

And then the next summer,

It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,

All covered with moss,

And on it grew meatballs,

And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,

All covered with cheese,

Hold on to your meatball,

Whenever you sneeze.”

3) Corn. Squirrels really do like corn. Banana and I like it when Gale hangs the corn on our corn cob feeder; the squirrels spin around and around as they try to get the kernels off the cob. Very entertaining, and nutritious too.

4) Sunflower seeds. Squirrels like sunflower seeds…a lot. I think they like them mostly because cats do not like sunflower seeds.

5) Bagels. Another food that is amusing for cats, tasty for squirrels. We especially like it when the squirrels put their paw through the middle, and twirl the bagel as they eat it.

For more information on squirrels, check out this website:

And, if you would like to sing along with the song, “On Top of Spaghetti”, here’s a great YouTube video:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It’s Our Year

It was July 4, 2010…..

“Hey, Banana,” shouted Cheese, as he peered at the computer screen. “You’ve got to see this!”
Banana sleepily strolled into the room, stretching her hind legs as she moved toward him.
She also had to sidestep Tabbouleh, who pounced on her paw. “This had better be good. I was dreaming I was climbing a mountain of kibble.”

“It says, right here on Gale’s computer, that it’s our year! It has been since February, and nobody told us,” pouted Cheese.

Banana, suddenly very interested, jumped up into the chair next to the computer desk.

Tabbouleh, who had been chasing after her, skidded across the floor, and smacked up against the pink leg of the dinosaur piƱata. “What are you talking about? Our year? I knew every day was our day—Gale says that all the time. But our year? I don’t understand.”

Cheese pointed to the computer screen. “It’s the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. And it has been since February 14th, but nobody bothered to inform us of such an important event. “ Cheese suddenly looked like he was dreaming. “We should be honored with a parade, or a party, or maybe a fountain should be named after us.”

“Yeah!” exclaimed Banana, falling into the same dreamy state. “Or we could have a huge banquet, with lots of food and dancing squirrels! We should make sure our people have this party before Tabbouleh leaves; that would mean presents, because everyone brings presents for kittens.”

“No, wait!” Cheese suddenly looked panicked. “NO parties or parades; those get too noisy. And too many people would want to come. Maybe just a quiet night in the back yard?’

“That’s purr-fect, “ agreed Banana. “As long as there are plenty of snacks. How about tonight?”

The cats and their people spent a nice evening out on the patio; as the sun set, Cheese was delighted to see the fireflies begin their light show. But imagine the shock the cats felt when loud booms, followed by flashes of colorful lights, filled the sky.

Banana and Cheese were startled, but the noise woke Tabbouleh from a kitten nap he was taking next to his new best friend the pink dinosaur! As their people clapped and cheered, Banana leaned over to Cheese, and whispered, "They knew it was our year all along. I can’t wait to see what else we do to celebrate.

I’ll bet next we’ll be getting our very own chickens!”

To learn more about the Chinese Lunar Calendar (are you a boar? A monkey?)

To learn about the Year of the Tiger, and how you can help save these great cats

To learn more about fireworks

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"And the Next Day”…Tabbouleh Part 2

At 6:03 a.m. on Monday morning, Banana left her usual post outside the bedroom door to find Cheese.

“Cheese! It’s still here!” Banana shouted.

Cheese, who was lying on the dining room table, looked scornfully at Banana. “Yes, I already know that. I can smell it, can’t I?” He turned his attention toward the back yard, where he could see a squirrel packing pieces of corn into its cheek.

“Well,” persisted Banana, “what are we going to do about it?

That KITTEN might try to eat our food, or sleep in our favorite spots, or play with our toys! Ewww…kitten drool…!!!” Banana looked panicked and disgusted at the thought.

Their conversation was interrupted by Karen, who breezed by them on her way to the kitchen. Banana followed her, anticipation making her tail stick straight up. Karen stood at the counter, mixed something in a small container, poured whatever it was into a tiny bottle, and then breezed right by Banana again.

“Well!” exclaimed Banana. “She forgot to feed me…oh, and you, …of course! How could she forget to feed me? She knows that’s her first important job of the day!”

Disgusted, she flopped down in front of the patio door. “She didn’t even pat my head or scratch me in that puuuurrfect spot on my back!” If Cheese didn’t know Banana as well as he did, he would have said she sounded like she was going to cry.

Long minutes passed; Cheese watched as another squirrel shoved sunflower seeds into its mouth. Banana was tossing and turning on the floor; she was interested in nothing, and her loud sighs were really beginning to get on Cheese’s nerves. Finally Karen reappeared, carrying an armful of nasty-smelling towels to the washing machine. “Ewww…,” cried Cheese, burying his nose in his paws, “….that kitten must not know proper litter box usage! I hope it doesn’t touch me!” He shivered at the very idea of coming in contact with such an untidy creature.

Both Banana and Cheese were now very, very miserable, and it was all that tiny kitten’s fault!

Karen was back in the kitchen now, and Banana’s ears twitched at the sound of food hitting the bottom of dish. Banana skidded around the corner and ran right into Karen’s leg.

“Oh, Banana! I bet you thought I forgot you,” purred Karen, as she reached down to pat Banana’s head. “Tabbouleh is taking up a lot of our time at the moment, isn’t he?” Her hand moved down to stroke Banana’s back. Banana responded with a sharp reply that ended with a purr of her own.

Cheese came in to sniff the food bowls, and allowed Karen to scratch his head. Just then, Gale entered the kitchen, carrying Tabbouleh, who was wrapped up in a hand towel (and looked a lot like a burrito). She knelt down so Banana and Cheese could get a good look and a bit of a sniff at Tabbouleh. Cheese hurried away in disgust at the smell, but he was also feeling a twinge of sympathy for this kitten that was abandoned by its mother.

He knew exactly how it felt, because he had been left by his mother at that age too. Banana just stared in amazement; how could that loud kitten be so small?!

Later that day, as the people and the cats were lounging in the living room, Gale cleared her throat.

“The next few weeks are going to be hard,” she began. “Karen and I have decided we are going to be a foster family for Tabbouleh. That means we are going to take care of him until he’s old enough and strong enough to live with people of his own.

Banana and Cheese, we’re going to need your help. He’s going to need to learn some stuff from big cats—how to play, how to eat, and how to clean himself. Do you think you can teach him some of those things?”

Banana and Cheese thought about this. Banana was still worried about having kitten slobber all over her toys, and

Cheese was nervous about whether Tabbouleh could really learn the fine points of grooming. Then they each thought about the moment, earlier in the day, when they saw Tabbouleh all wrapped up and looking so little and helpless.

Cheese knew the kitten really needed him; he remembered that, before he came to this family, he lived with a foster family of cats and their people too. Those cats taught him a lot of things! Banana decided if Cheese was going to help, maybe she could too. She would push her very special fuzzy catnip balls under the big black chair; they would be safe from Tabbouleh there, and maybe he wouldn’t lick the strings as much as she thought. Besides, she was THE expert when it came to eating, and there was a lot she could tell Tabbouleh—she only hoped he would be there long enough!

Over the next few days, Gale and Karen, Banana and Cheese, and Peter (who was on summer vacation from school) realized they had made the right decision. Tabbouleh was a lot of fun, and was very cute. He learned things very quickly, and he didn’t chew on too many of Banana’s toys. Tabbouleh grew and grew…and…best of all (according to Cheese) wasn’t nearly so stinky.