Thursday, December 25, 2008

Don't Mess Around With Santa Claws!


Rudy and Peep knew they were in trouble. They’d been guarding the cat door all evening, because Fuzzy kept trying to come inside, and they’d had to repel him several times. The last time when there had been a rustle at the cat door Rudy had been at the end of her patience, and when the door opened, she savagely clawed at the intruder.


Unfortunately, it wasn’t Fuzzy. It was black, but not a cat, and actually appeared to be of all things, a black glove. At first she thought she’d clawed some type of intruder, but then Peep had said, “Oh no, Rudy – you hurt Santa Claws!”

Rudy had jumped back and looked out the window that was over the cat door. Yes, there was someone standing outside in a red coat and hat with white trim, and he was looking at the hand he’d just pulled out of his glove. It was bleeding from several gouges, and he sucked on the injured fingers while calling out for a bandage. One of the reindeer carefully walked up onto the porch, holding a first aid kit in his mouth. Santa Claws took the kit, opened it and took out some antiseptic and several adhesive bandages. He carefully cleaned the cut and put the bandages on while Peep and Rudy watched from inside, their mouths hanging open in horror. There was no way Santa would leave them presents after they’d hurt him.

After Santa had finished bandaging himself he gave Rudy and Peep a particularly hard look, turned around and nimbly jumped over the porch rail and onto his sleigh. He then got off to reharness the reindeer who’d brought him the first aid kit. Santa threw several small packages he’d been carrying into the back of the sleigh and they took off into the sky.

Peep looked at Rudy, who was now staring at the floor. “I guess I’ve ruined Christmas for all of us. I’m sorry, Peep.” Rudy began to cry softly.

Snuggling up against Rudy’s side, Peep began to groom the crying cat. “It’s okay, Rudy. You were doing what you do best – protecting our home. How were we to know that Santa would try to come in through the cat door. And anyway – there’s no way he would have fit through that little door. I think he was just trying to tease us. Maybe Fuzzy put him up to it.” Peep was desperately trying to make Rudy feel better.

“No, it’s all my fault! I knew it was Christmas Eve – I should have been thinking. It’s all my fauuuult!” Rudy was wailing inconsolably now.

LT came running in. “What’s wrong? Is someone hurt?” When he saw Rudy wailing and Peep snuggled up close, LT settled on her other side to provide whatever support he could. “What’s the problem here, Rudy? You don’t look hurt. Are you sick?”

“I ruined Christmas, LT. Santa hates me now and will neeever leave presents for us agaaaain!”

Peep decided an explanation was in order. “We’d been keeping Fuzzy out all evening, and Rudy clawed Santa Claws’ hand when he reached in through the cat door. He just bandaged himself up and left, and didn’t leave us any presents. It wasn’t Rudy’s fault. She was trying to protect us, like she always does.”

“You WHAT? You hurt Santa Claws? I don’t believe it! We’ll never get another present as long as we live, and he’ll probably tell the Easter Bunny and the Great Pumpkin and the Higher Cat that we’re mean, evil cats. I can’t believe you did that Rudy!” LT moved away from Rudy, and looked at her with disdain.

Peep thought LT was totally out of line. Rudy needed support, not this ridiculous criticism. She jumped up and swatted LT in the head – hard. “LT, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Just go AWAY!”

Both Rudy and LT looked at Peep in amazement. She never attacked LT. He was the head cat of the household. Rudy was glad her friend stood up for her, but worried that LT would mop the floor with her. LT just glared at Peep and stalked off, tail held straight up in the air to show his displeasure.

Peep coaxed Rudy up onto the couch. Mommy and Daddy were asleep, so no one would bother them there. Peep gave Rudy a thorough bath, grooming her long ruff until it was soft and stood out like an Elizabethan collar. Rudy gradually calmed down, but was just so sad. She lay on the couch, saying nothing, but sighing every few minutes. No Christmas for any of them, and it was all her fault.

Finally, Rudy drifted off to sleep, but it was a sleep troubled by dreams, and they weren’t nice ones. In one dream, everyone moved away and Rudy was left alone, with only Harry for company. In another, there was no food anywhere in the house, and no mice or other small animals in the yard to catch. One dream involved giant mice chasing her – including one that wore a bright red coat and a pointed red hat with a white pom-pom. Finally, one dream began nicely. She was sitting on the couch, just where she’d fallen asleep, but she was alone. The house was warm and smelled like cooking bacon – her favorite smell. She heard a tap at the door to the deck and looked up. She saw Santa Claws standing at the door, gesturing her to come out. Rudy hesitantly walked to the cat door and went outside. Santa leaned down and scratched her head, paying special attention to her ears. Oh, Santa knew how to scratch a cat. He told her that he knew she’d just been protecting her house, and that she hadn’t meant to scratch him. Santa said that Rudy was on his ‘nice’ list, and that she’d stay there because she was such a good friend to the other cats and her people. He apologized for leaving so quickly before, but he’d been behind schedule and had to get to Thailand. He’d just now finished his rounds, and wanted to get back to Rudy before the sun came up. He told her that there were presents for all three of them and told her that she was a good cat. Rudy purred like a freight train and rubbed up against his legs for a moment before Santa said that he needed to leave. Rudy then went back inside and hopped back on the couch and settled down again. That was the last dream Rudy had before awakening to the Mommy and Daddy wishing them a Merry Christmas.

The Daddy brought something over and explained to Rudy and Peep, who was sitting on the floor, that Santa had left some special presents for them. He didn’t know why, but they’d been on the floor by the cat door. “Maybe it’s because we don’t have a fireplace, so he thought that cat’s presents would best be left by the cat door.” The Daddy then showed them the presents. Balls with jingle bells, fuzzy toys – all sorts of toys that they all loved. He left the toys with Peep and Rudy and went into the kitchen with the Mommy.

Peep looked at Rudy. “I had the strangest dream last night, Rudy. In the dream you were outside talking to Santa Claws, and he was scratching your ears and talking to you.”

Rudy looked at Peep in amazement. “I had that same dream, except I was the one outside talking to Santa. He said he wasn’t mad at me and that I was a good cat.”

Peep and Rudy just looked at each other. Were they dreams? Did Santa really come back early this morning? It must be so – there were presents to prove it.

Photo courtesy of rabbit57i - http://www.flickr.com/photos/rabbit57i/2119251408/

At midnight on Christmas, the animals speak

It was Christmas Eve and the Millbrandt house was full. Oma was visiting, and both of the grown boys were home. Between the five humans and the five animals, the property was practically bursting at the seams, or so Benji thought. At least Sheep stayed outside. If he decided to come in, Benji decided he’d leave, or maybe just find somewhere he could hide and no one could find him.

Oma seemed to be the Growly man’s mother. It was hard to really tell, but she and the Growly Man both spoke the same language as Runa, the German Shepherd. B
enji had finally figured out that what they were speaking was called German, and not germ. The Lovely Lady had said something to Growly Man about her not understanding German, and that’s how she knew. Now it made sense that Runa only spoke German. If she was a German Shepherd, of course she’d speak German. It made a lot more sense than Runa speaking the same language as germs. Benji had never even seen a germ, much less heard one talk. There was no way that a dog, who wasn’t even as smart as the cats could learn the language of germs.

Everyone was a lot happier since the power had come back on and the furnace had gotten fixed. It was very nasty outside. There had been snow and today it had rained and everything was sloppy. Between the rain and the cold, Benji was so glad he had a house and people to feed him and give him warm places to sleep.

Benji wasn’t sure exactly what Christmas was, but it seemed to be something like Thanksgiving, where lots of people came over and stayed and there was really good food. Oma was even better than Lovely Lady about giving the kitties treats. Whenever she cooked something, little bits of it seemed to get into their bowls – even Runa’s.

While Benji was daydreaming about what Oma might give them to eat tomorrow he was joined by Krishna and Misty. The humans had all gone to bed, and it was almost time to sneak upstairs into their beds. Their beds were the warmest place possible on cold nights, particularly the Growly Man and Lovely Lady’s bed.

Krishna said, apparently apropos of nothing, “It’s almost midnight. We need to decide what we’re going to do about it.”

“Umm, go to bed?” That was Misty’s idea. She’d been awake for over two hours, and it was time for a nap. Benji nodded, as that seemed the best idea to him too.

Krishna gave them a look as though they weren’t quite bright. “It’s Christmas Eve and almost midnight. We only get one chance a year to speak to the humans so they can understand us. It’s an opportunity we can’t miss. Should we ask for better food? Special kitty beds?”


Misty was genuinely confused and a bit upset. “They can’t understand us any other time, why should they understand us at midnight on Christmas Eve? I think you’re making this up to make Benji and I look like fools. That’s not nice, Krishna.”

“I’m not sure why, but I think it has to do with the animals who were with Baby Jesus in the stable when he was born. Since he had to be born in a stable, God let the animals be able to speak to him to welcome him to the world.” Krishna’s idea was a little short on details, but he had the basic idea.


Now Misty was convinced that Krishna was putting them on. “No way, Krishna. Jesus was a very important man who lived a long, long, long time ago. There is NO way he was born in a stable. Humans don’t get born in stables, especially not important ones.”

Misty and Krishna argued back and forth, each trying to convince the other. There is no one like a cat for being sure that his or her point of view is the only correct one, and when there are two cats involved, the argument can go on for days.

As the minutes ticked by, Benji slipped out of the room, and quietly climbed the stairs. When he got to the top, he went in the bedroom at the head of the stairs. He care
fully jumped up on the bed, after looking at the clock and seeing that it was, in fact, midnight. He navigated the down comforter to get as close as he could to Lovely Lady’s ear and very quietly said, “I love you.”

The Lovely Lady was very much asleep, but she half-woke at the sound of a strange voice, and seeing Benji near her, said, “I love you too, Benji. Merry Christmas.”

Did she really understand him? Benji decided she did, but she was too asleep to realize that she didn’t usually have conversations with her cats – at least where they both spoke English.



Photo courtesy of Zielony - http://www.flickr.com/photos/zielony/2109740816/

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's cold here in New Hampshire

Misty and Benji huddled under the sofa in the living room. It was bad enough that the outside was still breaking, but the indoors wasn’t much better. It was still dark all the time, and the only warm room in the house was the kitchen, and it had been invaded by a dog. Right before the storm, the Growly Man had brought home a German Shepherd. It was big and liked to sleep near the stove, right where their food bowls used to be kept. The Lovely Lady moved them a bit, or made sure that dog wasn’t around when they were fed.

Krishna sauntered into the living room saying, “Where are you, kittens? I know you’re in here.”

Misty answered from under the sofa. “We’re under here. The dog can’t get at us if we’re under here, and it’s too cold to go outside. I’m starting to think that maybe we should have found a different home. It’s cold and dark and now we’ve been invaded by a dog that doesn’t even speak English.”

“Well, you’re right about the dog. I’ve never met a dog that I couldn’t communicate with before. I thought that all dogs spoke the same language as us cats, but this one sure doesn’t. I heard the Lovely Lady talking to the Growly Man, and he said that the dog speaks germ. That makes no sense to me. I know what germs are. They’re little tiny things we can’t see that make people or animals sick. Why would a dog want to talk to germs?”


Misty and Benji didn’t have a clue about that, but they had heard the Growly Man say that the dog had come from a breeder and that she was tired, or something like that. “Maybe the germs are what made her tired, and so she learned to speak germ to get them to leave her alone? You seem to get along okay with her, Krishna. How do you do it?”

“Oh, I just gave her a swat or two on the nose when she growled at me. A growl is a growl, no matter what language you speak. Actually, I think she may be nice, for a dog, but it’s hard to tell, since we don’t share a language. I’ve started to try to teach her some English, but it’s slow going.” In fact, Krishna had been doing a lot of talking to the dog, pointing out things and telling her the word for them. She’d push something off the table and then say the word for it. It had taken a couple of tries for the dog to figure out what she was doing, but now she seemed to be picking up the words fairly quickly. If only she was a cat, Krishna would get out a book and they could sit together and look at pictures together and learn that way. The dog seemed nice, but Krishna wasn’t ready to snuggle down on the floor with a new dog.


“Krishna, why is so dark in here all the time now? It wasn’t like this before.” Benji poked his head out from under the sofa. It was safe to come out, since Krishna was there to protect them.


“Well, the electricity still isn’t working. That’s what makes the lights work. The ice storm knocked down the power lines, and they haven’t been repaired yet. I heard the Growly Man talking on the phone to someone and he said that there were hundreds of people trying to fix all the power lines around here. It’s been a week and they still haven’t been able to fix them all. Lovely Lady was worried last night that the pipes from the well might freeze, and then there wouldn’t be any running water until someone came and thawed out the pipes with a blowtorch, or even until spring. The Growly Man has been bringing water from the outflow from the pond every day to use for the toilets. It’s a lot of work. He even has to go and get wood to keep the stove going so they don’t freeze themselves. People don’t have good fur like we do to keep them warm in the winter. They need clothes and heat, or they freeze. I’m not sure what that means, but it has something to do with being very cold, and I know it’s not good.”


Misty peeked out from the couch. “Wow, I’m glad I’m a cat. My fur keeps me pretty warm, even if we’re out in the shed. I can fluff it out, tuck my paws in and put my nose down, and if I’m not toasty warm, I’m at least not too cold. The Growly Man has been wearing his big heavy sweater every day, and sometimes he’s even wrapped up in a blanket. Do you think we should be helping to keep them warm? When we snuggle together we stay warmer. Maybe if we sat on them, they’d be warmer.”

Krishna nodded. “I bet it would help. I know that they can make me warmer if I sit right next to them, so I bet we make them warmer too.”


Benji didn’t look too happy with this plan. “I don’t know, Misty. I’m still pretty shy with Growly Man and even with Lovely Lady. I’m not sure I’m ready to sit on their laps, or snuggle up with them.”

Misty looked at Benji steadily. “Lovely Lady has been taking care of us since the summer. She feeds us, and makes sure we have enough water and watches out for us. I think it’s time we stopped being selfish and did something for them. We can’t haul buckets of water, or bring in firewood. The only thing we can do is to help keep them warm. I know I’m going to try to do it. I’m still a bit skittish myself, but for Lovely Lady I’m going to try it. Tonight, when she gets home. Or, maybe tomorrow. But I’m going to do it.”

Benji looked quite crestfallen. He wasn’t really a selfish kitten, but this was going to be hard. He’d try, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to do it. Krishna saw his indecision and came over and started to groom him. “Benji, you’ll do it when you’re ready. You can’t force a flower to bloom until it’s ready. You’ll do it when you can. In the meantime, let’s keep each other warm.” The three snuggled together on the loveseat, cradled in the blankets. Yes, it was dark and not awfully warm, but at least they had each other.



Photo Courtesy of Amy Mo- http://flickr.com/photos/amymo/1895711/

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is the world coming to an end?

Misty and Benji were huddled in the shed. Outside each time a breeze came up the icicles hit against each other with a musical sound. Unfortunately, if a stronger wind blew they broke and hit the ground with an explosion of ice shards. It was Sunday, and since Thursday the world had been encased in ice. It was bitterly cold and the two half-grown kittens snuggled as close as they could to try and keep warm.

"I think the world is ending, Benji." Misty was terrified, pupils so wide that her irises couldn't be seen. "First the trees all died. The grass died too, but that took longer. Then the water in the pond was turned into that cold horrible stuff that we can't drink, and the sky started shedding. Krishna said it was just like rain, but rain doesn't lie there on the ground! Now the whole world is covered in shiny stuff and it's breaking!"

"Maybe you're right, Misty. It's just gotten worse and worse for so long now. It was beautiful when I came here to live with the Lovely Lady. It was warm all the time, and the sun licked my fur every day. Even when it was dark it was beautiful. The stars twinkled happily at me. Now they are sharp and mock me. The sun, when it's even out doesn't warm me. I don't like it here anymore, except when we're inside." Benji was plainly miserable.

A gust of wind came up, breaking a branch off a tree outside of the shed. It fell to the ground and shattered against the coating of ice that covered the grass. Both cats jumped and ran to the kitchen door, scratching frantically.

The door opened, and the Lovely Lady let them in. They ran by her at full speed, both with their fur standing straight out. "Did that scare you Benji, Misty? This weather is terrible, isn't it? We haven't had an ice storm like this in ten years. I don't know when they're going to get our power back on, but I hope it's soon. You two should stay inside as much as you can. It's cold and dangerous out there." The Lovely Lady walked to the refrigerator and grabbed the food container off the top. It wasn't quite supper time, but the kittens looked like they needed a treat. For that matter, so did she.

They had been without power for three days now, and even with the wood stove going, it was pretty cold in the house. Then again, she thought, old houses aren't known for their insulation, so she shouldn't be surprised that the house wasn't holding the heat. She headed back upstairs to get under the down comforter and read for a while. If she was lucky, she'd fall asleep for a while.

Benji and Misty polished off their snack and headed to the living room to snuggle in the blankets there. They found Krishna already cocooned in one and joined him. It was cold enough that none of the cats wanted to fight for dominance. Warmth was much more important right now.

"Krishna, we think the world is ending. The trees died, the grass died, the pond got hard, the sky started shedding, and now the world is breaking. Tell us the truth - is this the end of the world?" Misty turned despairing eyes on Krishna, hoping he'd tell her it wasn't so, but sure that he wouldn't.

Krishna sat up and struck a pose. He cleared his throat and declaimed:

“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


“That's a poem by Robert Frost, and I've been thinking a lot about it over the last couple of days. I never knew what it meant by ice being destructive, but now I do. No, kittens, the world isn’t coming to an end.”

Benji looked at him totally confused. “But you just said that that ice could destroy the world!”

“Yeah, but I didn’t say it was doing it right now, and it’s just a poem anyway. Poems are pretty words that talk about how things might be. Nope, the world isn’t ending. It’s just winter.” Krishna looked smug. He’d lived through several winters and felt quite superior to these kittens who’d never seen winter before.

“The trees didn’t die. They do this every year. The leaves fall off, but they grow back every year. I have no clue why they do that, but it’s true. Same with the grass. It turns brown, but in spring it gets green again. No mysteries there, just winter.”

Both kittens just sat thinking for a few minutes. Misty spoke up, “But why is the pond hard and cold? And what’s with the world breaking? If I go out there I could get hurt!”

“The hard stuff on the pond is ice. It happens to water when it gets really cold. Even a bowl of water will do it if it’s left outside. It can be kind of fun, if you’re brave. When it’s been cold for long enough, you can go sliding on the pond. You run down the bank and jump and when you land you can slide almost all the way across the pond. It’s way fun, but it has to be really cold for a long time, so that it’s frozen to the edges, and you have to stay away from the part where the beavers dam the outflow. That doesn’t freeze. We can do that together in a few weeks.” Krishna personally loved winter. He loved jumping in snow over his head, fighting his way out and then batting the snow around. It flew all over the place. When he got too cold, he went and snuggled with Sheep, if he couldn’t get in the house. Sheep was warm. He had been looking forward to sharing his winter fun with the kittens, but they looked so scared he wasn’t sure they’d ever leave the house. “The sky doesn’t shed, either. That’s snow, and it’s even more fun that ice. I’ll show you when we get enough of it. You’ll like it, trust me.”

As he was talking, the Lovely Lady came into the living room. “You three have the right idea. Keep each other warm for a little longer and the power will come back on and the heat will come back.” The kittens looked at her with a worried look. The loved Lovely Lady, but still weren’t completely trusting where humans were involved. “It’s just winter, kitties, along with a bad storm. The ice will melt and it will be safe outside. Summer will even come again, but not for a long time. I forget that you guys have never seen it like this. New Hampshire is cold in the winter. Your mothers probably told you about this, but it’s hard to believe until you see it. We’ll all be okay.”

Misty meowed at the Lovely Lady. She did love her, and felt she needed to trust her. If both she and Krishna said that this would all end, then it wasn’t the end of the world. With that settled, now she could sleep, so she did.


Misty


Benji


Krishna


Sheep

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Holiday Cats Can Get Into - The Eating of Large Birds

Peep and Rudy sat on the deck looking out at the yard. A vulture sat perched in a tree on the edge of the neighbor's property. They weren't sure what he was looking at, but knew it wasn't them.

"Vultures are the ugliest birds the Great Cat ever made, don't you think, Peep?" Rudy had her lip curled up in disgust. "I bet they don't taste any better than they look, too. They eat road kill, for goodness sake. Who knows how long the things they've killed have been dead, or even why they died. They could have been diseased. I'd never want to eat vulture."

Personally Peep thought that Rudy had as much chance of catching a vulture as she did winning the lottery. Rudy might be a good hunter - she certainly claimed to be, but that vulture outweighed both of the cats put together. It could probably pick one of them up and fly off with no problem.

Peep sighed. She loved eating birds, but they were so hard to catch. She'd never consider going after the vulture herself, but she'd like it if a nice grouse were to slowly walk through the yard. Then Peep could have a good fowl dinner. "Even if the vulture isn't good to eat, wouldn't you just love to have a nice large bird for your supper, Rudy?"

LT sauntered up to the bottom of the stairs and looked up at Peep and Rudy. "Well, if you don't mind them cooked, you'll have your wish soon." He sat down and began grooming himself, studiously ignoring the others.

"Is Mommy making a chicken for dinner tonight? Oh, I love it when she makes chicken!" Peep jumped up, but sat down quickly when LT shook his head.

"Nope. She's not even home yet, Peep. But...next week is Thanksgiving, or as we of the feline purrsuation call it, "The Eating of Large Birds". LT smiled to himself. Oh, how he loved the crisp turkey skin, or a nice cooked turkey heart.

Rudy looked confused. Last November she was still living at the barn, so she didn't know much about Thanksgiving. She'd seen some talk shows about it recently, but the cooking ladies seemed to talk about pies and vegetables. Being an obligate carnivore, she automatically tuned out those discussions. "Where, pray tell, do we get these large birds? Is this part of the fall migration or do they get deposited in our food dishes?" Rudy hated to be teased, and she had a suspicion that LT was making fun of her.

Peep saw that Rudy wasn't understanding the conversation, and undertook to explain the holiday of Thanksgiving. "Rudy, Thanksgiving is a holiday. People get together and eat cooked turkey and other foods and then either they all watch football games or they yell at each other. I've seen it on television lots of times, and sometimes Mommy and Daddy make a turkey here and people come over and eat it with them. They don't do the yelling or the football watching here, though. Just the turkey eating."

As explanations went, this one left a lot to be desired, even from a cat's point of view. LT interrupted, "Rudy - who cares why they do it. They cook birds bigger than that vulture over there! And unlike that scrawny buzzard, these turkeys have so much meat on their chests that they can barely stay upright when they're alive. And their legs - ah, their legs are so big and round that you couldn't put your mouth around one and carry it away. The Eating of Large Birds is the best holiday of all for cats. People always talk about Christmas being the best, but for cats, it's definitely Thanksgiving.

Rudy looked at Peep and LT, eyes wide. "A whole holiday just devoted to eating birds? Maybe people aren't as silly as I had thought. It makes more sense to me to celebrate good food than things like soldiers or ships sailing somewhere or working. I like this idea. Count me in."

LT sauntered past and went into the house, licking his chops in anticipation. Peep sat on the deck drowsing in the sun. Both of them dreamed of Thanksgivings past when they'd had their fill of turkey. Oh, if only Thanksgiving were tomorrow....


Photo courtesy of Josh Bousel - http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshbousel/220658320/

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When Good Cats Go Bad


After Mary Rose and Jay went to bed on Saturday night, Peep sought out LT and Miss Rudy. "I think the Mommy has finally lost her mind. You should have heard her tonight. She and the yarn lady were watching this stupid show called "When Good Pets Go Bad" and Mommy told the yarn lady that I'm a real troublemaker when I play with my cat toys and that she'd expect almost anything from me. Me! I'm the Peep - meek and mild mannered little black kitty. Last year she thought I was Jenny Lensky and this year she thinks I'm Cujo." Peep plopped down and waited to hear what the others thought.

"Well, the Mommy is under a lot of strain, you know," offered Rudy. "She's finishing her last semester of her degree and is trying to figure out what to do. She wants to get her Mathters degree, but it's so expensive, and with the economy the way it's been going she's really worried."

Rudy was very much Mary Rose's cat, no matter how much she loved Jason, and she'd defend her Mommy no matter what.

"I don't think she's lost her mind either, Peep. You've heard her tell stories about you before. She exaggerates how good you are, and sometimes how bad you are. You are her little Peep, exceptional in all things - good and bad." LT felt his answer was the right one. The Mommy wasn't crazy, and she wasn't under any more strain than any of them, from his point of view. She just liked to stretch the truth when it made for a good story. "And I bet that if the Mommy or the Daddy knew the worst of it, they'd offer us to that show. I bet we've all done things that would land us a spot on the show."

Peep looked doubtful. "I don't know, LT. The things on that show were a bison throwing a man up in a tree, fighting horses, and a man dressed up as Santa Claus being gored by his pet reindeer. I don't think I've ever done anything nearly that bad!" Personally, Peep thought that she was an exceptionally good little cat, who almost never caused any trouble.

LT settled himself down on the rug. "Lets have a little truth-telling session here. I'll tell you both the worst things I've ever done, and then you two do the same. Then we'll vote and decide who would most likely make it onto the show - not that we'll ever do anything about it - but it's cold tonight, and it will give us something to do."

Rudy snuggled in next to him. "Can I go first? I've got a doozy of a story from when I used to live at the barn!" Without waiting to hear what the other said, Rudy started her story.

"Well, it was like this. Granpops didn't let me or Georgie in the house - we were only outdoor cats. That was fine by me, usually. I was raised to be a barn cat, not some foofy house cat. But there was this one day when it was raining really hard and it was cold and windy and I was miserable. Granpops came out to feed Gray and us cats, and the wind was so strong that the door didn't close right when he came outside. I saw that the door was open, and I was cold and miserable, so I ran in the house. I was wet and muddy and probably didn't smell too good, because I had been sleeping with Gray because it was so miserable. I snuck into the house and ran into the living room. I squished myself under the sofa where it was nice and warm and no one would find me. I didn't think about muddy paw prints though. When Granpops came in he followed the paw prints into the living room and he made me come out from under the sofa and he put me back outside. That was pretty bad, right?" Rudy had been so wrapped up in telling her story, that she was surprised to see disdainful looks on LT and Peep's faces.

"Did you scratch him or bite him?" LT asked.

"Not really. I hissed a lot, and I think I scratched him a little by accident when he tossed me out the back door."

"I think that is a good naughty cat story, Rudy, but I don't think it would rate for a When Good Cats Go Bad show." Since Peep had seen the episode, she was the expert.

"Fine, Miss Smarty Pants. You tell us why YOU deserve to be on the show." Rudy huffed a bit, feeling that she'd been put down.

"I think the worst thing I ever did was when I peed in the inside of the box spring in Mommy and Daddy's bed when I was too scared to go outside when Fuzzy was picking on me." Peep was ashamed that she'd done that, but what could she do? Fuzzy had beaten her up every time she put her head out the door. The Mommy had figured it out though, and given her a poo box in the house and everything was okay now.

LT rolled his eyes and Rudy snorted. LT spoke quickly, to head off what he was sure would be a royal put down from Miss Rudy. "Little Peep, you are just too nice a little cat to ever do anything that would warrant putting you on that show. I don't think you'd even make onto a naughty cat show. Even the new man in Tibet thinks you're a sweetheart, and no cat is on his or her best behavior in Tibet."

LT settled himself in some more, and the others could see that he was readying to begin his story. "It all started one day before either of you lived here, and before Daddy met the Mommy. Daddy had gone out, and I was the only person left to guard the house. I heard a car pull into the driveway and go around back by Daddy's garage. I knew it wasn't him, because it didn't sound like his work truck or his little truck. I jumped down off the bed and up into the window so I could see who it was.

"It wasn't anyone I'd ever seen before, and he was acting really nervous. He kept looking over his shoulders and around him, like he was afraid. He came to the back door and fiddled with it and opened it up. I'd run into the kitchen and was under the table. I saw him put something in his pocket and it wasn't a key. It was something like a nail file, long and skinny. He started walking around the house, tossing things around as though he was looking for something. I figured out he was a robber, and decided I needed to do something to protect Daddy's stuff. I climbed up on top of the bookcase in the living room, figuring he'd come in there. He did, and he was stuffing money in his pockets. I guess Daddy had been paid in cash by someone, because it looked like a lot of money.

"I jumped down off the bookcase onto the back of his neck and one shoulder and bit him and scratched him for all I was worth! He tried to pull me off, and lost his balance and fell onto the coffee table. It broke, and he was stuck in it. I kept jumping on him and scratching him and biting him and he couldn't get up. He tried to scramble up again, and I jumped on his back while he was on his hands and knees. He jumped up and fell down again when I bit his shoulder really, really hard. He hit his head against the door onto the deck and knocked himself out cold. While he was unconscious, I pulled all of Daddy's money out of his pockets and hid it under the bed. Finally the man woke up again, and dragged himself out the house and drove away. I got Daddy's money and put it on the kitchen floor so Daddy could find it when he got home. Daddy was so proud of me - I was a bad cat for that robber, but I guess I was a good cat for Daddy."

Peep and Miss Rudy's eyes were wide, and Peep's hair was standing on end. "You were so brave, LT. I would have been so scared, I never could have done something like that."

Rudy, also looking at him with admiration said, "LT, you really did that? I'm so impressed!"

LT looked over at them, grinned and said, "Well, I actually didn't do that, but I tried. A man came to the door and let himself in and I attacked him, thinking he was a robber. I scratched him up really badly, but it turned out to be Daddy's brother, the man who got Daddy to adopt me. I hadn't seen him in so long, I didn't recognize him. I think that day I really was a cat gone bad."

Both Peep and Rudy laughed at him then, and voted that he was the most likely candidate for the show. They'd never harmed a family member, at least intentionally. In the end, they decided that they were just a bunch of softies, and went to sleep.


First photo courtesy of Kyle Kesselring - http://flickr.com/photos/kesselring/1000358904/
Second photo courtesy of Lindsey Applegate - http://flickr.com/photos/mrsapplegate/2566153368/

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Couture for Cats - Miss Rudy watches Project Runway

Rudy grumbled around the house on Thursday morning. Peep tried to stay out of her way, but it was obvious to her that Rudy wanted someone to ask what was wrong, so she did.

"It's not fair that we have to only watch what our people watch on television. I think cats should be have rights to the remote control just like people do!" Rudy was ready to continue her rant, but Peep wanted to know why Rudy was so upset about the television.

"What did you want to watch, Rudy?" Peep could take or leave television, but Rudy liked certain shows.

"Why, the Project Runway final episodes, of course! They were on last night, and I still don't know who won. I just hope everyone gets out of the house by 10 am so that I can watch. Otherwise, I'll be reduced to just seeing the winning designs on the internet, and let me tell you, that's no substitute for the real thing!"

Jay was the last one out of the house at about 10:05, so Rudy missed the beginning of the show. She sat with her eyes glued to the television for two hours, watching the people and the clothes. Peep watched for a few minutes, but couldn't see the allure of talking about clothing. Clothing was something that people had to wear because they didn't have fur, so what was the big deal?

When the show was finally over, Rudy sighed in delight. "Oh, I wish that I could wear some of those designs. I know they'd look absurd on me, but maybe if Kenley or Leann would design a dress just for me...." She put her head down on her paws. She knew this would never happen. The only clothes designed for cats were Halloween costumes. No flair, cheap materials and one size fits all. She didn't even think that the folks who made cat costumes had ever even been to design school. I did make such a difference.

Peep broke into Rudy's reveries. "Are you NUTS, Miss Rudy? I've been shoved into dresses and wings and bandanas, and let me tell you, it was HORRIBLE! They were too tight or threw off my balance or too long. Cats are not MEANT to wear clothing, Rudy."

Rudy's reply was soft and sensible. "No, Peep, you're wrong there. The reason those clothes didn't work was because they weren't designed for you - your size, your interests. Couture clothing is well made, and would fit and feel just right. Besides, I heard Mommy say that the dress was really made for a dog - of course it didn't fit, and she got it from Wal-Mart. No sense of fashion there!"

Rudy ran to Jay's computer and turned it on, calling Peep to come look at some real cat fashions. Peep was doubtful, but came anyway. Rudy obviously had researched this before, because she went straight to a couple of pictures. "Here - look at this one. This was made specifically for this cat. Admittedly, it's not my style, but look at how it fits her!"

Peep looked at the photo and hoped that Mommy would never see this one. She could picture herself dressed up in this for Halloween. "If it's so comfortable, why's the cat lying on her back?"










"Umm, to show off the front of the dress, silly! Oh, and look at this for a male cat. A satin shirt - you can't quite put a cat in a suit, so a satin shirt is a good compromise."

"Rudy, he looks even more unhappy than the cat in the dress. Enjoy yourself - I'm outahere." Peep leapt off the desk and headed outside. The weather was still warm, so she figured she'd lie on the deck for a while and hope that Rudy wouldn't follow her for another fashion commentary. She didn't want to hear another word about clothes.

Rudy sat at the compute for hours, surfing through photos of cats in clothing. Most were silly, but those few...she just imagined herself in a design made specially for her by Kenley or Leann. She would be soooo beautiful....

First photo courtesy of
Nikitushka - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikitushka/1369155070/
Second photo courtesy of Honey Bunny - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehoneybunny/1066071713/



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Harvest

Peep and Rudy were both in the garden, gently poking at the leaves of the turnip plant. It had been more than the time the package had said, and still there were no turnips. “I don’t get it, Peep,” said Rudy. The tomatoes and eggplants and everything else in this garden grew just fine this year, but all these stupid plants did was have leaves, and some sorry excuses for flowers! No turnips, not even tiny ones. How can we keep Mommy home if we can’t grow our own turnips?”

Peep looked mournfully at the plants. “I don’t know, Rudy. We made sure they were watered, and believe me, that wasn’t easy when Daddy stopped watering the tomatoes. We weeded around them to make sure that they didn’t get choked by weeds. Almost all of them survived, even the ones we hid on the edge of the lawn and mixed in with the flowers, but not a single turnip! It’s not like we don’t know what we’re looking for. The package had a beautiful picture of a turnip on it, so it’s not like we missed any. These plants are good for nothing.” Peep kicked at a clump of dirt in frustration.

“Maybe there is something we didn’t know about for turnips. I’ll look them up on the internet when Daddy goes to work today. I’ll bet there are articles on growing turnips all over the internet. I’ll have to sift through dozens, and I’ll find just what we need.” Rudy began to feel better. She hated not being in control of a situation, and these turnips were far beyond her control. The leaves looked beautiful still, but good grief, she was expecting at least four inch turnips out of this deal. Tomato plants could produce dozens of tomatoes – was it too much to expect a silly turnip plant to grow at least three or four?

When Jay finally left, Rudy and Peep ran into the house. “Phew – it still smells like that Junior in here, doesn’t it? There’s nothing worse than the stench of dog.” Rudy had truly disliked Junior invading the house, and hadn’t found got to know him at all, as Peep had.

“Oh, he was just a miserable and lonely dog, Rudy. He’d had too much pain in his life, and thought he was abandoned, yet again. He wasn’t that bad, and I also heard the Mommy say that he was sick too by the time he got home. That’s not to say that I like dogs, it’s just that he had his own problems that made him so disagreeable.” Peep knew she wouldn’t convince Rudy, but felt she needed to defend Junior, knowing what she did about him.

Rudy jumped up onto the chair and found that Jay had left the computer on. He almost never did that, but he’d received an emergency call and had run out quickly. Rudy grabbed the mouse and opened the internet browser. “Turnips, turnips. Hmmm. If I put in ‘grow turnips’ let’s see what comes up. Ah! Here’s a site from the University of Illinois Extension, whatever that is. Uh-oh.” Rudy turned and looked at Peep. “I think our turnips may be just fine, Peep. Look at this picture.”

Jumping up onto the desk, Peep skidded into the keyboard and scattered papers before she got her footing. She settled herself, trying to look as though her acrobatic recovery was intended all along, but Rudy wasn’t even looking. Rudy stared at the screen with her mouth wide open. Peep followed her gaze, and her jaw dropped too. “The turnips are UNDERGROUND? What are they doing down there? How could you ever tell they were ready to be picked, or dug up or whatever you do to get them out of the ground?”

Rudy had the answer for that. “It says here that we should harvest fall turnips in early autumn, and that’s what it is now. We can start with one and see if it looks done, and if it is we can dig more up. What a gyp, though. Each plant only has one lousy turnip at the bottom. What’s with that? Even the eggplants grow more than that!”

The cats jumped down and headed out to their turnip patch. They inspected each plant, loosening the soil around the base of the stalks to see which ones looked the largest. They all looked about the same, so Rudy and Peep carefully dug the dirt out around the round white roots of one plant. When it was mostly exposed, Rudy tried taking the stalks in her mouth to pull it out. “Eeeeeww! This tastes terrible! It tastes as bad as dogs smell. Ick, ick, ick. I’m not putting that in my mouth again. These darn things can rot in the ground for all I care.” Rudy sat down and began to groom herself to get the taste out of her mouth.

Examining the plant, Peep dug a little more and tried rocking the turnip. It definitely was moving, but didn’t seem ready to roll up out of its hole. “Maybe if we dug a little more and then used our claws to drag it out the rest of the way it would work. It’s not like we are trying to move a car – it’s only a turnip.”

So, the two cats dug and pulled, and then dug and pulled some more. Finally the turnip popped loose with a tearing sound and both cats went flying, followed by a white turnip. Rudy announced, “that’s a lot of work for an ugly vegetable. It better keep Mommy from running off to those turnips in Virginia. She can do whatever she wants to this turnip, because I’m leaving this one be.”

“We’re not done yet, Rudy. Let’s get a few more, and then we’ll put them on Mommy’s desk where she’ll see them as soon as she comes in. I don’t think we should put them in the kitchen. Daddy might just cut them up and cook them, and since we never did figure out what Mommy actually does with the turnips, I think they should be just as they are when we pull them up. That way she can make satellites out of them, or cook them or write papers about them.” As Peep talked she worked the soil loose around a second turnip.

It took them a good hour to get four turnips out of the ground. They laid them all in a row and took a bit of a rest. Then it was time to get them inside. Rudy flatly refused to pick up the turnips in her mouth, and Peep didn’t want to carry them all in by herself. They compromised with Rudy rolling the turnips to the deck, and then Peep carried each in through the cat door and deposited them, one at a time, on Mommy’s desk. She had to back through the cat door since the turnip leaves were so large, and they did taste pretty horrible, but if the Mommy liked them, it was worth it. Exhausted, Peep curled up on the bed when it was all done, and was asleep within minutes.

When Mary Rose got home she found the turnips on her desk, along with a trail of dirty paw prints. She’d actually followed the dirty paw prints from where they crossed the kitchen in to the office, wondering what, exactly, the cats had gotten into. She sat down on the chair with a thump. What in the world was going on? Had Jay left them on the desk, and the cats come to investigate? That made little sense – he’d put them in the kitchen, not on her desk, and he didn’t even like turnips, anyway. But where would the cats get turnips, and more to the point, why would they give them to her? Was this their way of getting back to her for letting Junior come over? No, they looked more like a gift.

Mary Rose turned her in her chair and saw Miss Rudy and Peep both staring intently at her. Peep peeped and Miss Rudy cocked her head as though to say, “Well?”

“Ah, thank you very much for these turnips, ladies, if you were the ones who gave them to me.” That seemed to go over very well. Rudy’s tail and ears perked up, and Peep trilled delightedly. “They’re, um, just what I needed. I really needed some turnips, and, ah, didn’t know where I’d have to go to find some. You’re the answer to my prayers.” She reached down and stroked Peep, who rubbed up against her leg, and then smoothed Rudy’s long luxurious fur. Both stayed with her for loving for a few minutes and then headed back to their interrupted naps.

When Jay came in for dinner he asked Mary Rose if she’d been digging in the garden. There seemed to be a number of holes in the garden that hadn’t been there when he left for an emergency call late in the morning. Mary Rose shook her head and just said that it must have been the cats, harvesting the fall turnip crop. Jay, thinking that she was being sarcastic didn’t answer until she put a bowl of mashed turnips on the table and said, “And here they are, courtesy of Miss Rudy and the Peep.”

Photo courtesy of Coleman and Caroline - http://flickr.com/photos/rcl_cbc/2156393957/

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Junior's coming, hide your cat toys!

“Junior’s coming, hide your cat toys. Junior’s coming, hide your cat toys.” The Mommy had been singing that song around the house for days. The cats knew Junior. He was a little dog - not bad for a dog, but a dog nevertheless. He’d been to the house to visit once before and had been fairly civil, so the cats figured if Jillian brought him over again it would be okay.

But – on Friday morning Jillian showed up with Junior in his carrier along with dog food and then LEFT, the cats were worried. It was fine for Junior to be in the house with his owner but without her who knows how he’d act. Rudy heard Jillian tell the Mommy that she’d call every day and that she’d be home on Sunday night and then Jillian headed out the door, leaving Junior.

Junior looked up at the Mommy and rolled on his back, tail hitting the floor rhythmically. Mommy bent down and rubbed his tummy talking all the while about what a good trick that was. Rudy snorted in disgust. If the best this dog could do was to roll on his back he was low on the dog intelligence scale, and everyone knows how much smarter cats are than dogs. He was no competition for Rudy, at least in the brains department.

As Rudy imagined how she could outsmart him, Junior looked up and saw her. He ran at her, barking furiously. Rudy quickly decided that although she was smarter, he probably had bigger teeth. She ran for the cat door and blasted through it. She didn’t stop until she was in the middle of the yard.

As she sat there shaking, LT sauntered over. “What’s up Miss Rudy? You look a little winded.”

Recovering her composure, Rudy snidely sang, “’Junior’s here, hide your cat toys’. That little monster has been dumped on us for the weekend. He was almost nice when he was here with Jillian, but he just chased me out of my own house! I don’t know what Mommy was thinking of – a dog in OUR house. It’s a cat house, not a dog house. That should be holy, sacred. When I think of what that dog is going to do until he leaves, I could just scream!”

LT shook his head. “Rudy, you have always been way too dramatic. He’s a small dog. If all three of us rushed him, he’d go running with his tail between his legs. We just need to stand up to him a bit. The Mommy loves him, that should be enough for us. We’ll love him until he can love us. Shouldn’t be too hard.” With that, LT sauntered into the house.

Less than two minutes later, LT came streaking out. “I’m too old for this! I’ll be back when he leaves, or if Mommy or Daddy shut him up in a room. Otherwise I’m outahere.” LT took off for the woods. He figured he’d visit some friends for a few hours, maybe even a few days, if he could convince them to feed him. That football with legs wasn’t worth getting upset about, but LT’d just as soon stay away for a bit.

When the cats came in to eat, Junior growled at them. If they didn’t immediately leave he began barking, so they stopped trying to come in to eat by the end of Junior’s first day there. Mommy put their dinner outside, where they gathered to eat before the Cat Club Meeting.

“I don’t know how long this dog is staying, but he can’t leave soon enough for me,” said Peep. “No way I’m sleeping out here. There are big scary things in the night. They’ll come and eat me.”

Rudy had already decided that she’d be sleeping in the garage that night. It might not be as warm as the house, but she’d make herself a comfortable spot and settle in where it was safe.

The Cat Club meeting was a “We Hate Dogs” meeting. Everyone there had a story about what dogs had done to them. Even Peep had a story. Junior had cornered her in the house that afternoon, and she’d had to leap over him to get to safety. She told the story, and then announced that she’d decided to take up residence in the box spring until “that dog” left.

Saturday was an uneasy day for the cats, particularly since Junior seemed less and less amiable. Peep, who was the only one still inside heard him barking and growling. To Mommy, Daddy and the yarn lady, it was just noise, but Peep heard what he was saying, and suddenly Peep wasn’t quite so angry at him anymore.

“Why did she go and leave me like this? How could My Lady abandon me? Isn’t it enough that I’ve been abandoned twice in my life already? I’m an old dog – too old to learn to live with three cats who don’t even like me. My Lady’s mother’s cats like me. They snuggle with me, and lick my ears. These cats just run like I’m some sort of a monster. Oh, I want My Lady to come home! Arooooo!”

Junior was miserable. It wasn’t that he hated them, they just didn’t know each other. She didn’t think she really wanted to get to know him well enough to lick his ears, but no one deserved to be so miserable, even if he was a dog.

After everyone went to bed that night and Junior was put into the computer room with the door closed, Peep crept out and stood outside the door. She checked to see that it was closed securely, and then called Junior’s name. “Junior – it’s Peep. Can I talk to you for a minute?”

To the humans, Junior began to bark furiously, but what Peep heard was, “What the heck do you want, cat? I’m lonely, this isn’t my home, and you want to torment me some more?”

“No, Junior. I just want to tell you a little story, if you’ll let me. Something happened to me this summer just like what’s happening to you right now, but it turned out okay. Your mommy will come back, believe me. I heard my Mommy say that your owner was only going for three days, and since I learned how to count this summer, I know that she should be back tomorrow. I learned to trust my Mommy this summer – you need to trust yours. If she says she’ll come back she will. She’s called you each day, didn’t she? She wouldn’t do that if she didn’t love you.”

She heard a plop from the other side of the door. “You’re right, Peep, but I’m still so miserable. The only times My Lady has left me since I came to live with her she took me to her mother’s house where I slept with the cats. They’re warm and they like to purr a lot.”

Peep sighed. “Would it help if I sat here for a while and purred really loud? I can’t snuggle with you, because the door is closed, but I can purr for you. Maybe that will help you fall asleep.”

Junior yipped a happy yes, and Peep settled down to purr loudly. Within minutes she heard doggy snores from the other side of the door. Peep got up and turned around to see LT and Rudy staring at her with wide eyes.

“Why were you purring at a door? Have you lost your mind, Peep?” LT was very concerned. Peep was effected very much by disruptions, and he thought that maybe she’d broken down altogether.

“Nope – I was just purring Junior to sleep. It turns out that he’s just lonely. He’s like us. He thought Jillian had abandoned him, just like his old owners had abandoned him. Well, I’m tired, let’s go to bed.” With that, Peep ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed, and snuggled in next to the Daddy’s legs. He was so warm, and she was asleep within minutes.

In the morning, Junior was still upset, but he’d lapsed mostly into depression. He lay in his travel case, head on his paws and alternately dreamed of My Lady and worried that she’d never come home. Late in the afternoon, he heard this house’s lady call out to him, “You’re going home now Junior – your mommy’s home.”

Junior huddled deep into his case, and if he’d been able to he’d have zipped it up for the lady. He was so ready to go home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Peep, our little angel




Peep came running out through the cat door as though she were being chased by dogs. She didn’t even look to see if Fuzzy was around, she was in that much of a hurry.

“Where’s the fire, Peep?” Rudy was lying in her usual spot on the lawn, enjoying the sun and looking beautiful.

“Those monsters in there stuck wings on my back!” Peep shuddered and started grooming herself aggressively. “I hate it when they do things like that. Mommy almost never does things like that unless the yarn lady is around. I’m sure it’s all HER fault. I’m never talking to her again, even if she begs to brush me or wants to pet me for hours on end.”

“Wow, you are mad, Peep. What do you mean, they put wings on your back? I don’t see any wings.”

“Mommy grabbed me and put elastic around my legs that held the wings on and then the yarn lady took PICTURES of me. It’s not bad enough that they torture me, they have to document it on film???” Peep was so angry that she was yelling.

“People are odd that way. They like to take pictures of all sorts of things. Things that look pretty, things that are funny…I wonder which one they thought you were – pretty or funny?”
Sometimes Rudy wasn’t very sensitive, and this was definitely one of those times.

LT came sauntering around the corner. “The yarn lady just took my picture too, but I was just sitting in the Adirondack chair. It’s a good thing she didn’t try to put something on me – I would have scratched her silly.”

The thing was, Peep just wasn’t the kind of cat who would scratch someone over something like this. She’d put up with it, and then be miserable. She might complain to the other cats, but never to the Mommy or Daddy, not that they would understand her anyway. Sometimes for a cat, claws are the only way to say you really don’t like something.

“So what happened, Peep?” asked LT.

“Well, the yarn lady started following me around, but I didn’t want to get picked up, so I kept moving. She sat down on the couch, and I thought I was safe. I jumped up on the coffee table, figuring she just wanted to pet me. She does like me, you know. But then she picked me up, and I fought a little bit, so she put me on the sofa. The Mommy came in holding those horrible wings, and she grabbed me and put them on me and held onto me. They didn’t hurt, but I’m a cat, we don’t WEAR stuff.



“Mommy held me while the yarn lady took my picture a couple of times, and then put me down, and I tried to run away. Mommy grabbed me again, but then let me go again. The yarn lady was trying to get an action picture I think, but I moved to fast. So then I jumped on the floor, but those STUPID wings just felt so bad on my back, and I didn’t know how to get them off, so I just cowered there on the floor, trying to figure out what to do. Then Mommy took pity on me and took the wings off. I ran, believe you me. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”



“I’m sorry that happened to you, Peep. Unfortunately, you’re just the cutest little cat. Even the man in Tibet said that. I heard Mommy telling Daddy that the new man there said that you were the sweetest little cat he’d ever seen, and that he wouldn’t stick you with that big, horrible needle.” LT wanted to be reassuring, but wasn’t sure what to say.

“You’re right about the man, LT. He left and came back and told Mommy that he got a tiny little needle because I was a tiny little cat. It didn’t even hurt at all. I hope that man is there instead of Doc next time I go. I like him a lot better. And I am sweet, aren’t I?” Peep was calming down. Somehow LT had said the right thing.

“I was going to come outside and run away for ever, but maybe I won’t. I can’t help it if I’m so little and cute, can I?” Peep struck an exceptionally cute pose and giggled a little.

“Don’t overdo it, Peep. We love you, but cute is as cute does.”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cats in Space

Rudy sat in the living room admiring the photo of the Mommy in her space suit. She was standing in
front of something that didn’t exactly look like a rocket, but since it was at NASA, it obviously was a rocket. Perhaps Mommy’s project didn’t have to do with turnips after all, since the picture showed her wearing her space suit. Rudy wondered how Mommy liked it in space, and what she did there. Maybe she was working on how to grow turnips in a space suit, or maybe on the moon.

The mommy looked good in her space suit, but the helmet didn’t look very comfortable. How would she be able to smoke in space with that helmet on? Mommy wouldn’t like it if she wasn’t able to smoke. And how would you eat with that helmet on? Maybe she only went up between meals. It wouldn’t be a problem that way.

Rudy was tired, and she fell into a doze while looking at the photograph. Her thoughts became a dream, and in it she, Peep and LT were floating in space. Oddly enough they weren’t wearing space suits, yet they could breathe perfectly. It was difficult to move in space. Rudy flailed her legs but didn’t go anywhere. LT was in motion and he bumped into her and each of them shot off in opposite directions. Peep called to them to come back to her, but they couldn’t.


Rudy started to panic. What could she do? How could she get home? She couldn’t even see the earth from where she was. She twisted her head, and caught a glimpse of it over her shoulder. It seemed so far away.

Rudy found herself moving into a cloud of small to medium sized pebbles and rocks. What were they doing up here? One approached her, and Rudy pushed herself off of it and back towards where she could see Peep in the distance. It was hard to see a black cat against the darkness of space, but there was a cat-shaped darker spot in front of the stars that had to be Peep.

She moved slowly towards Peep and called out for LT, telling him to find a rock and push off it towards the Peep. Two large figures were also moving towards Peep, both wearing space suits. One looked like the picture of the Mommy, but with her helmet on, and the other was tall and skinny. Rudy figured it was probably Daddy. They seemed to be attached to some kind of long rope.
Maybe they could get them back home again.

Mommy reached out and grabbed the Peep, and as Rudy came near, the Daddy grabbed her. LT was moving lazily towards them, his legs flailing out in all directions.

“I hate this. I want to go home NOW!” LT wanted dirt under his feet, and for his body to obey him when he asked it to do something. He’d had enough of space. The Daddy grabbed LT, and Mommy pushed something on her suit, and the ropes started pulling them towards a space ship. This was more like what she thought the Mommy would fly in. There was an open hatch, and the ropes were pulling them towards it.

They entered the hatch and Daddy closed and locked it. There was a loud sound, and air came rushing out of vents and filled the tiny room. When a green light flashed, Mommy and Daddy pulled off their space suits.

“Don’t you three ever do that again! Do you know how much money NASA had to spend to send us up here to rescue you three? It was only because I did such good work for them this summer that they did this for me. Some people just wanted to let you three float off forever. They talked about sending you some communications equipment so you could transmit pictures back, but I was lucky someone realized how important you three were to me!” Mommy was mad, but at the same time she was hugging Peep, ruffling Rudy’s fur and gazing lovingly at LT, who was held by the Daddy.

In a few hours they were back on earth. A super-top-secret plane flew them back home, and deposited them right in their back yard. LT kissed the soil and said he was never leaving again. Peep ran inside to check on the house, and Rudy stood in front of the Mommy and said, “Thank you for coming to get us Mommy. I don’t know how we got there, but I’m glad you came and rescued us from space. I’ll never complain about your turnips again, because your turnips showed you how to come rescue us. I love you, Mommy.”

Photo courtesy of About Women, Fire and Dangerous Things - http://flickr.com/photos/wfdt/303621330/

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic hopefuls dreams dashed

The Olympic coverage this past week or so has been a little less comprehensive than I had expected. The sportscasters have highlighted athletes from just about every country and doing almost every sport, but one segment of the coverage has been shamefully lacking. They have not profiled a single cat athlete. Admittedly, few cats actually make the Olympic teams, but that is not for lack of trying.

Cat athletes have a rigid schedule, just the same as human athletes. They are allowed no more than 12 hours per day of sleep, and close to competitions most cats are allowed a mere 9 hours of sleep per day. They are kept on strict diets consisting of tuna, tuna and more tuna – the thought being that it is both food for the brain and the stomach, and what cat wouldn’t do his or her best for tuna every day? The coaches (god forbid, don’t call them trainers) mercilessly beg their athletes to practice for longer periods each day, aiming for a goal of 30 minutes at one time. It is rarely achieved, as cats are not known for their cooperation. As they say, if they were they would be called “dogs”.

I’ve included a few photos of notable cat athletes, with a brief sketch on each of them. No, none made their national teams, but we honor their efforts the same way we honor our human athletes who try but do not win the gold.


Photo courtesy of 1room1key - http://flickr.com/photos/1room1key/810130633/

Jared is a long distance runner – his best length being the 50-yard dash. Although that is not considered distance running for humans, Jared considers this to be quite long enough, and feels that marathon runners must have some sort of disease of the brain, as no self-respecting cat would ever purposely get that worn out. Jared’s training routine is comprised of several sessions per day where he runs from his owner’s back door to the end of a nearby field and back. At this point his owner usually catches him and brings him back inside. The owner is under the mistaken impression that Jared is an indoor cat. Jared made it to regional competitions for the 2008 UK team, but was defeated by several local darts players, who had been convinced to try out for a lark.



Photo courtesy of polandeze - http://flickr.com/photos/polandeze/390314091/


Boris, another UK athlete is a vaulter. His practice routine consists of vaults over a stone wall in the garden. He probably would have made the team, except that his technique consists of hitting the wall low and scrambling up to the top to get over. The judges in the regional competition felt that Boris should have vaulted over with only a touch of the front paws on the top of the wall. Better luck next time, Boris.


Photo courtesy of Chris Breeze - http://flickr.com/photos/92833011@N00/2169852879/

Giada’s sport is the long jump. She excels at long fluid jumps, as can be seen in this photo. This Kentucky born cat’s motivation for her sport is her favorite mouse toy, and in training her jumps increased from a mere 4’ 2” to a cat record of 8’ 11”. Her owner vigorously supported her in her quest to be the best long jump cat ever, throwing her mouse toy time after time, even after he would have rather been sleeping or watching the tube. Giada made it to the finals of the Olympic trials for the US team, but was unfortunately disqualified when it was found out that she was indeed, a cat. It turns out that cats are not allowed to compete in the long jump, as they are thought to have an unfair advantage in this sport, due to their four legs and muscle structure. Giada is considering changing over to an equestrian sport. Being from Kentucky, she thinks she could find a horse friend or two who could teach her to ride.



Popa is a Japanese cyclist who is seen here on an unmodified bicycle. She began cycling with her owner at a young age, first riding in a basket, and finally pedaling her own modified cycle which allows her to lie on her tummy and pedal with all four paws. The front paws are also used for steering. Her dreams of Olympic glory were dashed when the international Olympic committee ruled that she had to use a standard bicycle, similar to the one seen in this picture. Here she is sitting on the seat trying to figure out if she can somehow work within the Olympic committee’s restraints. She decided, sadly, that she would not be able to master this monster in time for this summer’s games.


Photo courtesy of Ruben Perez - http://flickr.com/photos/rubenperez/2679104188/

Mino is seen here by his pool. He was approached by a local coach to compete for Venezuela’s swim team as a relay swimmer. It was thought that his small stature and quick reflexes would give the team an edge, although it was probably more the thought that the other teams would be so distracted by a swimming cat that they would watch rather than concentrate on their own swimming. Unfortunately, Mino was not able to bring himself to actually get into the water to swim, so he did not actually make it into even local competition.

Photo courtesy of Rooey - http://flickr.com/photos/rooey/1308344974/

Mitty is seen in her last practice in the sport of weight lifting. She was promising, even as a kitten, and was encouraged by her owners and their friends to pursue her beloved sport. Time after time she beat her own personal best, and the press was calling Mitty a shoe-in for the US Olympic team. Unfortunately she began to believe everything the press was saying about her, and she called a press conference to witness her lift the weights shown in this picture. Needless to say, she was not successful in lifting this immense burden, and but recovered in time to watch the Olympics on television, muttering the whole time, “I could have been a contender.”


Photo courtesy of k a t m - http://flickr.com/photos/invis/2764836575/

Flash is shown here in training for the only event in which cats are not put on rigid sleeping schedules, or if they are, the intent is to sleep longer and harder. Flash has been training for the marathon nap competition for the past four years. She has perfected her technique for falling asleep instantly, and can sleep for up to eight hours at a stretch. Her owners have been fairly supportive of her aspirations, although when the local mouse population got out of hand, they put their feet down and told Flash that she needed to catch those mousies. It had been expected that the marathon nap would be approved for exhibition sport status for this year’s Olympics, but unfortunately it was denied that status. Detractors on the international committee were overheard saying things such as “How hard is it to sleep? Anyone can sleep. We don’t need a competition for couch potatoes!” Flash was deeply hurt by the decision of the committee and has retreated to her bed, and anywhere else that she can sleep undisturbed to dream of Olympic Glory.

So, my kudos to those brave cat athletes that tried and to those who thought about trying, and even to those who decided trying would just be too slavish. Tuna for all!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The sky is falling

It was unusual for Peep to be outside at night, but here she was, outside in the pitch dark. The skies were clear, and if she sat in a particular part of the front yard, she could see the stars well. They were beautiful, and she enjoyed looking at them. She’d heard on the television that some people put names to different groups of stars that reminded them of things. There was something called the big dipper, which seemed to have an offspring named the little dipper. Some stars even had their own names. There was the North Star, Polaris, that people used to find their way at night, and there was the funny named star – Beetle Juice. She ate beetles from time to time, and some of them were a bit juicy, but she didn’t know why people would have named a star after the goo inside of beetles. As far as Peep knew, people didn’t eat beetles.

Tonight she just wanted to admire the stars, and greet her own constellations. There was the Cat, of course. It was a long group of stars that looked to her like a cat all stretched out in the midst of a leap. There was the Mice, which was a tight little group of stars that looked like a little family of mice all huddled together as though they had been cornered and were about to be caught. Her favorite though was Mommy’s Chair, which was a group of stars that looked like a chair. She imagined that a star mommy would sit in the chair to allow the star cat to come and sit in her lap.

As she watched the stars tonight, something happened that she’d never seen before. As she looked at Mommy’s Chair, a star near it suddenly moved very quickly, streaking across a section of sky and appearing to fall down towards the ground. It didn’t seem to be falling towards her, so Peep wasn’t worried that a giant star was about to fall on her, but if one star could fall, couldn’t all the rest? As Peep worried about this and continued to watch the sky, another star plummeted towards earth.

One is just one, but two means it happened more than once and could happen many, many times, thought Peep. She lay there, trying to decide what she should do. Tell LT? Well, what could he do? Nothing – he was a cat like her. Tell Daddy? He was big and strong and could fix almost anything, but she didn’t think he could get up into the sky and fix stars. Tell Mommy? Oh, yes! Mommy worked at NASA this summer. NASA was the place where they sent people up to the stars, so they would certainly know what to do about stars that wouldn’t stay up in the sky. Peep just wished that Mommy has spent her summer there working on stars instead of turnips, but at least she knew people at NASA now.

Peep ran inside to get the Mommy. It would be difficult, because she was sure that Mommy was asleep, and she’d heard her say that she was still trying to catch up on her sleep. This was important, though, and Peep decided that she’d wake Mommy, whatever it took and get her outside.

Jumping on the bed, Peep proceeded to sing to the Mommy. “Are the stars out tonight, who cares if it’s cloudy or bright, I only have eyes for you!” No, that wouldn’t do. “Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are.” That song was too babyish. As she tried to decide on another one, Daddy picked up Mommy’s hand that was on top of the blanket and pushed Peep off the bed. She hated when he did that. Like she didn’t know who was pushing her off the bed. She wasn’t stupid, you know.

So Peep sat on the little table and sang, talked and was generally annoying until Mommy sat up and looked at her. “Peep, is there a reason behind all of this noise? I’m trying to catch up on my sleep after all the hours I put in on that darn internship paper.” Peep just meowed louder, and jumped to the floor, running to the door and meowing again. Mommy shook her head and decided she better figure out what Peep wanted. Maybe one of the other cats was sick or hurt.

At the back door Peep stopped and meowed very loudly. She pawed at the door with velveted paws until the Mommy opened it. “Is the cat door stuck, Peep? Was that the problem?” When Peep refused to move off the top step and meowed if possible even louder, Mary Rose decided that Peep must really want her to come outside.

Without even turning on the light, Mary Rose stepped outside. It had cooled off considerably, and the night sky was bright with stars. The moon was not out, so the stars were brighter than usual. As soon as she looked up, Peep stopped meowing. Well, thought Peep, that was easier than I thought it would be. She’ll see one in a minute and settled down to look for the falling stars herself.

Within a minute or two Peep saw one streak across the sky. Obviously the Mommy saw it too, because she said to Peep, “Did you see that shooting star? Oh, that was beautiful. I forgot that it’s August, and the meteor showers are in August. Don’t worry Peep, those aren’t real stars. They’re just little bits of junk that hit the atmosphere and burn up. Almost all the time nothing even reaches the ground, except maybe for some dust.”

All the tension went out of Peep at once. Nothing to worry about – little bits of junk. Great news! Her favorite constellations wouldn’t fall down, and they wouldn’t get smooshed by giant stars hitting them. She could just lie here and enjoy the show, which she did with the Mommy, who decided to stay and watch also.



Photo courtesy of Rongem Boyo - http://flickr.com/photos/writemboyo/1102099113/