This Best of Bogue column originally was published Dec. 8, 2009.
Dear Gary: A curious thing happened yesterday while my blue tabby, Maxim, was looking out the front window.
A hummingbird flew about 2 feet from the window and stared at Maxim for several seconds. Did the hummingbird know there was glass between them?
Some time ago my cat Big Boy was sitting on the front porch and the same thing happened. The hummingbird flew down and stared at Big Boy for about the same amount of time. Big Boy did not move. This time there was no glass between them and I couldn't believe my eyes. They were just too close for comfort.
DEAR CHRIS: Hummingbirds have a streak of curiosity that's bigger than they are.
They want to know about everything that lives in their yard.
Yes, some hummers know about glass. Some of them, unfortunately, learn about glass the hard way by bumping into it.
The male Anna's hummingbird that guards his feeder in my yard will hang in the air just outside our kitchen window and chew me out if his feeder needs filling. He won't touch the glass.
I think they also know that cats are predators -- probably from experience -- and they just want to check them out. If either of your cats had made the slightest move toward the hummer, zip, it would have been gone.
Curious, yes. Dumb, no.
DEAR GARY: I have a theory that many cats do not like their water bowl to be on the ground.
My husband set up a wooden board on bricks, raising the bowl about 5 inches off the ground, giving our kitties many choices.
They can stand up and drink (all paws on the ground), or they can stand with front paws on the board (front paws needed for balance). They can lie on the board and drink (front paws tucked).
They seem pleased with the arrangement and no water is spilled.
Hoping this works.
DEAR MARGE: You've made it difficult for your cats to make a mess with their water bowl.
Most cats like to make messes, but they're also pretty lazy.
DEAR GARY: I have a sweet older cat (14-plus) who loves the outdoors and that I inherited from a neighbor.
She will come in sometimes for a nuzzle, but gets nervous after five minutes or so and wants out. She has been an outdoor cat her whole life.
I set up a box with a pad for her outside, and she uses it daily, but last night was very cold and I kept her in. She howled the whole night.
Do you have any ideas on how to keep her warm outside on these frigid nights? Inside nights are not restful for either of us.
DEAR JOHN: A short-term solution would be to put your kitty's outside box and pad under a larger cardboard box, in the same spot, with an entrance hole cut in one side.
Drape a warm blanket around the smaller box and pad so she can snuggle into its folds to keep warm.
For a long-term solution, visit your local pet stores and take a look at their small dog and cat igloo houses.
These are designed to give outside pets a place to get in out of the elements and keep warm. They seem to work pretty well.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.