Ask Luke’s Mother-in-Law: Clean Cats and Petroglyphs


Martha Boyd – ex-cop, real-estate appraiser and crazy cat lady – has an answer for everything. Even the strangest questions her son-in-law’s readers can come up with. Every week, she handles whatever issues and queries you’ve got in her own unique fashion.

Hello, hello. We made it thru another week of sillyness. The weather warmed up again out here in the desert. Up in the low 90s most of the week. Very pleasant. I am still getting tomatoes in my garden; only a few cherry tomatoes now and I generally have them eaten by the time I get back to the house. I just graze in the garden – now if I could just figure out how to grow salad dressing. LOL.

On Saturday, I went for another hike in the National Park. The weather is nice in the 70s, but this too has brought out the tourists. So getting a bit more crowded on the trails. Did the hike to Barker dam again; almost all of the water is now gone. Climbed up to the petroglyphs and then went on to Jumbo rocks, Skull Rock ( I think it looks like the gorillas from Planet of the Apes) and Keys view. From Keys view you look down into the Coachella Valley, and it was so clear I could see from Cabazon all the way to Salton Sea and beyond to Mexico. Even saw Camp Rock where Gram Parsons was set ablaze with high-octane fuel. I spent about 4 hours wondering around. Drove in at Joshua Tree and out at 29 Palms.


Had to do a small bit of rock climb to get the petroglyph picures; my friend Vicki took the pictures on her cel as we both did not bring cameras this time. Now I am not a mountain goat, but Vicki insisted that I climb up the rock to sit by the petroglyphs. Now, my first response that is printable was cluck, chuck, chuck and I either had to climb or lay an egg. I am not halfway to mountain goat status. The pic of the rock with the hole is what we had to climb thru. All dirty thoughts can now be expressed.


Found that if you mix French Vanilla coffee creamer with pumpkin baking spice you can make your own pumpkin spice coffee – cheaper than Starbucks or Micky D’s. Also made a crockpot of potato pork soup this week, and it got the kitty paws up approval rating. Enjoying my caramel apple candies from Halloween.

So what have you all been up to?

dear MIL i have a cat that is a rescued feral beast. i love her dearly but she can be violent. i’ve been on medical leave for almost 5 months. so i’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her. when i work, i’m out of the house for at least 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. i’m contemplating taking in another cat to keep her company when i return to work. i ‘m worried about acclimating her to a new cat/kitten, and wonder which would be a better choice, cat or kitten. can you offer any insight?

Yes – all of my kitties are feral. Each and every one was born in my garage and then moved into the house. If the current kitty is not too old, say maybe a couple of years, then a new kitty might work the best as they are still both in the play stages. When we brought Frizzy in about a year ago the other two kitties were older Felix – the eldest is about 10 – and Boo about 6-7. They are both more sedentary and did not particularly care for the new bouncing bundle of joy. He kept trying to play, chase etc and they were more interested in being couch potatoes; when he got tired of being smacked by them, Frizzy mostly left them be. Because of this he got lots of toys to run and play with. He especially likes the jingle bells you can get now at Christmas – they are light enough to pick up and carry, but not be able to swallow and they roll on the tile floors so nicely. (buy them 1/2 price after Christmas).

Anyway, about a year after Frizzy moved in, Love Bug and Prirate came along (there was 1 litter between Frizzy and the last two). Felix and Boo again were none too happy about bouncy kitties, but Frizzy on the other paw was very happy – he now had 2 bouncy fur balls to play and run with. He became such a good big brother and kept the babies busy and away from the older ones. They were his babies. So to the point – a lot could depend on the current baby’s age as to what would be the best fit. Either way, make sure you have a couple of weeks that you can be home to supervise before you go back to work. If you don’t have time to do that, keep them separate while at work if you can and let them get together when you are home at least until they get used to each other. Good luck. So far at my house no one has killed anyone.

QUESTION! I find the dumbness of presumptively smart movies like Interstellar extremely upsetting. Short of this planet exploding or the sun going nova, can you think of any way in which moving the people of Earth to another planet would be both easier than dealing with the problems here and decrease rather than increase the number of problems that have to be solved in order for the species to survive? Even if the atmosphere turned completely toxic wouldn’t it still be easier to deal with that one problem here rather than going somewhere else where the atmosphere is almost certainly going to be toxic in addition to everything else that’s going to be radically different like entirely different climate and temperature ranges and seasonal shifts, and gravity and atmospheric content and on and on and on?

I totally agree with you. I really think it is totally stupid to think we could just pick up everyone on Earth and boop, just move them to another planet, space rock or what ever. Maybe if the transporter from Star Trek was available – but still, could you imagine the line and how many transporters we would need? Mind boggling. Or if everyone were flown into space – how many space ships do we need to build, and how are they all going to take off and land? I think it would be much easier just to deal with the issue here on Earth, and better yet don’t let it happen in the first place – just don’t let the environmental problem happen in the first place – we are not all that stupid and if we are then we probably deserve to be wiped out.

Followup QUESTION! My only explanation for the dumbness of the movie Interstellar is that it is actually a creationist film pushing an anti-evolution message to the masses, do you think this is possible?

Well, they can do anything they want in a film, any message etc. No, I have not seen the film, only the trailers, as it has not made its way out to our 1 theater yet. I think we just need to take the film for the enjoyment and not litterally for any messages it may contain. After all the Pope now seems to believe in little green men.

Another follow-up QUESTION! We all know that there are B-movies and there are A-list movies, but should there be a new category for the new trend towards massive big budget A-list movies that are at least as dumb as the cheesiest B-movie? Or perhaps we should come up with a new class of film that is dumb but presents itself as smart because it has a big budget?

Oooo very good. There just some movies that no matter how much money a studio tosses at it or how many big “stars” you have it just sits there and goes dahhhhh. Too bad there is no vowel between A and B.

Have you ever seen a ghost in the desert? I had an ex girlfriend that insisted she had.

Yes, I have. We have a ghost that likes to peek out the window by moving the curtain. I have checked: it is not one of the kitties going behind the curtain. Every so often when I am working in the living room one of the side window curtains (they are heavy Indian rugs) will move from the side toward the interior of the window, like someone was pulling the curtain to peek out. My cats do not go near this window.

In my last house I had the same thing happen and this was before we owned cats. It was also the living room window and every so often that curtain would move back and forth. In that house we even had footsteps on the stairs going up and the ghost like to move my tea set on the buffet. I think the peeking ghost moved with us.

Also, sometimes a friend and I go to Mental Physics and go to the meditation garden area. We have seen several spirits there (no, we are not drinking). We even took temperature equipment with us and when the spirit appeared the temp dropped by about 20 degrees, and then when it left the temp went right back up to where it had been.

Cats are presumably desert animals and you live in a desert so have you noticed any signs that cats are better adapted to that environment? I live in GA and there does seem to be a problem with a behavior that cats have in common with horses, dust bathing. In a desert they’d be able to do this and the rounded nature of desert sands means that it falls right off their coat afterward witha good shake. Being in GA all we have is clay and it sticks to them, therefore the cats around here are frequently filthy. Do you have any advice for bathing cats? I’ve found a hot wet washcloth is the method they find least objectionable. I think it resembles a cat’s tongue to them.

Yes, my outdoor kitties love to roll in the sand in the yard. You are right – after a good roll and shake the fur looks pretty good. The indoor cats don’t have this natural cleaner; rugs or tile floors just are not the same and thank heavens they don’t roll in the litter box.

The indoor kitties get brushed every day. I have found the best brush to use is not the metal kind like you find in pet stores. They prefer a regular human nylon bristle hair brush. All I have to say is brush, brush and the flock comes running.

As for the cat and water thing, I started them all all (indoor ones) when they were just babies with warm water and a face cloth. I even have one Frizzy that I can put his head under a running faucet. When he was a baby we had to do that to clean his eyes open as his mom was not caring for him. He got used to the water running, getting the eyes open and being able to see, so he got very used to the water. My cats have even been known to hop into the tub when I am taking a bath – it is like furry rubber duckies. They splash around for a bit and hop out – doesn’t do much for the bathroom, but they have fun.

Am I the only one who likes daylight saving time? I’d rather come home in the dark than have to leave for work in the dark.

I like to have the sun come up sooner in the day rather than later. I like to get out and get my field work done early and then be able to open my office by 10 am. So I generally am on the road by 6 to 6:30 am and at my first house by 7am. This way I can see 1 or 2 house and be back to the office by 10 or 11 at the latest to type and answer phones. I just want the time to stay consistent and not bounce back and forth every 6 months.

How do you get a cat to stop scratching her neck till it bleeds and scabs, and then to stop doing it while it heals?

I had to get an outside opinion on this one – here you go

First you have to determine what the cause is. for example ear mites , fleas , contact allergy , food allergy. Once you treat the cause of the problem, then the constant itching and scratching cycle will subside.

Has Miss Francis started doing this? Have you changed the food or litter brand?

Well, group, that is all for this week. We are starting a Saturday walking group. Going to do about 3 miles each time and work up to longer walks. Should be fun and right now the weather is really nice. Not sure what we will do when the summer comes again – maybe a pool group. Hope everyone had a good Veterans Day. Looking forward to Road to Paloma; so far I still don’t know who is going to be attending from the movie. The film fest is not providing much info at this time. But will keep trying to find out. Anyway be good to each other. Have a great rest of the week. Huggs.

You got questions? About any and everything? She’s got answers. Leave your burning inquiries on any topic in comments below.