Thursday, July 31, 2008

You've got mail - no, sorry, that's a cat

Thursday afternoon, Rudy went looking for the Peep. She wasn’t hard to find, as she was in the living room asleep, as usual. “Boy, Peep you sleep a lot,” Rudy said as she woke her up.

“I don’t sleep more than any other cat. Cats normally sleep ten to twelve hours per day. That’s how come we have so much energy when we are awake. Now, since you’ve interrupted my sleep, what do you want?” Peep was fuzzy headed, but was awake enough to get Rudy off of a pick-on-Peep session.

“Oh, right. I got an email saying that the turnip seeds were shipped the same day we ordered them, and the anticipated delivery date is tomorrow. I think we’d better start checking today, just in case, and also to figure out how we’re going to open the mailbox.” This was going to be the hard part. The mailbox was right at the street, and on a post. The whole idea would fall apart if the Daddy got the package and not the cats.

The two cats walked up the driveway, and stared at the mailbox. Peep thought a minute and said, “You know, it would be easiest if I jumped on top of the mailbox and opened it from there. I don’t know any cat who would be tall enough to open that!”

“Sounds good to me. I’m glad you don’t mind jumping up there. It looks kind of slippery on top.” Rudy stepped back, in case Peep slid off. She didn’t want Peep to fall on her.

Peep backed up a step or two and made a spectacular jump. She hit the mailbox a little low, unfortunately, and although she tried to dig in her claws, she just slid down the side of the box, leaving scratches in the black paint. “Oops. I’d better jump a little higher next time.”

Her second try was perfect. She landed right on top of the box. Once up there, it was a little scary, as it was curved on top and she was perched on the curve. She settled herself and turned to see how she could get the top open. There was a metal tab at the top, and she figured she needed to push it away from her to open it up.

“Okay, Rudy. Here I go!” Peep carefully lay on top of the mailbox and stretched out her front paws so that they hung over the front of the mailbox. She pushed the tab very carefully, because every cat knows that for every action there is a reaction. She didn’t want the reaction to be that she pushed so hard that she fell off of the mailbox.

Slowly the tab moved for a second or two, and then the door fell open with a squeal. “Eek. Daddy needs to oil that thing. That’s a terrible noise. As though someone were scratching slate pavers with their claws!”

“Who cares? Is there anything in the box?” Rudy, being farther away, wasn’t so affected by the noise.

Peep crept forward and tried to look inside. “I don’t know. It’s hard to see from here. There’s nothing right in front, but this box is deep. It might be way inside.”

“Well, go in it then, and see if our package is in there.” Rudy was getting impatient. Cars were whizzing by and they made her nervous. She wanted to get back to the house.

“I’ll have to get down and jump in from the ground. It’s a good thing I’m a little cat. This isn’t a very big mailbox.” Peep jumped down and evaluated the best place to jump from. Unfortunately it was kind of in the street, so she posted Rudy as guard to make sure no cars were coming when she jumped.

Her first try resulted in Peep sliding down the open lid of the box as it opened all the way, or maybe more than it was supposed to. It was now hanging straight down. Her second jump was successful, and Peep walked to the back of the mailbox. Her muffled voice came from the inside. “Nope, nothing here yet.”

Peep didn’t hear a reply, so she said, “Rudy, are you there? Please tell me you didn’t abandon me here at the street!” Still, there was no answer. Peep looked at the box and decided that it was just big enough to turn around in, since she was so small.

As Peep finished her turn, which was harder than she thought, she looked up and saw the Daddy peering in at her. “Uh, oh,” Peep thought. “I’ve been caught. I’m glad the seeds weren’t here at least.”

“Are you expecting some mail, Peep?” The daddy carefully grabbed Peep and removed her from the mailbox. He got in his truck, put her on his lap and drove up the driveway to the house. Peep had never ridden on his lap while the truck was moving. It was kind of fun, at least in the driveway. When he opened the door, she ran off to find Rudy and tell her about her ride, and that, oh, the package wasn’t there.

When Jay talked to Mary Rose that night, he told her about finding Peep in the mailbox. “Why do you think she was in the mailbox? Normally, she won’t go anywhere near the street, and I’d actually prefer it if she didn’t!”

“Well, I did just send her a postcard. Well, it was to all of you. Maybe she’s got ESP and sensed it would arrive today.” Mary Rose could believe that Peep could do just about anything, but not even Mary Rose would have expected Peep and Rudy to order turnip seeds over the internet.




Photo courtesy of Holli - http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollimichele/381438873/

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fatherhood

The three cats, particularly Rudy, were happy to have Ginger and her kittens stay as long as they wanted. Ginger’s owner had arrived the day after the birth bearing gifts. She had a large shopping bag, and from it she pulled four small ceramic bowls and a wealth of expensive single serving cat food containers. Peep’s wide eyes saw at least four different types of containers, and presumably different flavors of each.

“This is just a little thank you for opening your house to Ginger, not that you had much of a choice in the matter. For as long as she’s here, I’ll provide some little treats for the cats’ meals. A mother cat and five kittens must be an imposition on your cats, and anything I can do to make it up to them is good. I figured they would probably like some fancy food to sweeten their dispositions.” Lettie proceeded to stack the cans on the counter and placed the four bowls next to the food.

Jay was flabbergasted. “You didn’t have to do anything like this. I’d have been more than happy to feed Ginger while she’s here.”

“Ah, but I’m not doing it for you, Jay. I’m doing this for your cats.” Lettie obviously knew that this was an argument he couldn’t discredit and smiled at him. “I’m a bit of an amateur potter, and these are some of the many cat food dishes I’ve made over the years. I never got the hang of throwing large bowls, so I seem to make a lot of cat food dishes. I picked out ones that I thought each of your cats would like.”

Peep walked up to Lettie and said, “You are such a nice lady. Ginger is so lucky to have you for a Mommy. Thank you very much.” She rubbed up against Lettie’s leg to show her appreciation.

“This cat has such an adorable little voice, and she’s such a dainty little thing. In all the fuss yesterday, I didn’t get her name.” Lettie reached down to scratch Peep’s head.

“We call her the Peep, because her voice is a little peeping sound. She’s a very sweet little cat.” Peep looked up at her Daddy in appreciation. She loved it when he said nice things about her.

Now that the kittens were a few days old, Ginger had let the others come in to see them. Their eyes still weren’t open, of course, but despite that they had started bumbling around on the blanket. On Wednesday when Rudy stopped in to say good morning, she found Ginger tired and cranky.

“I don’t know how mothers ever get any sleep,” Ginger complained. “The kittens were up most of the night, and there were few times they were all asleep at the same time. I’m exhausted.”

“Wow, that’s tough. Do you want me to find LT, so that you can go take a nap?” Rudy knew better than to offer to watch them herself. When Ginger agreed, Rudy went in search of LT.

She found LT asleep under a tree outside. When she woke him he rolled over and said, “Just a couple more minutes, Mom. I promise I’ll get up in a couple of minutes.” He then saw who it was and sheepishly said, “Sorry Rudy. I’m just tired from these kittens. I never knew being a father was work. I thought you just admired and played with them.”

Rudy shook her head. “Well, their mother is even more tired than you are. She needs a break, so you better get your tail inside.”

Groaning, LT stood up and stretched. “Rudy, would you mind guarding the door of the spare room for me? I’m afraid I might fall asleep and then what would happen?”

“No problem, LT. I’ll stay far enough away to satisfy Ginger, but close enough so that I can keep an eye on you and the kids.” Rudy was kind of enjoying this. The kittens were really cute. She got to look at them as much as she liked, but had no responsibility for them at all. She actually thought one kind of looked like her, although she wasn’t sure the coat would be as long as hers.

Ginger gladly turned over kitten duty to LT and said she’d be out in the living room having a nap after she grabbed a bite to eat and visited the poo field. LT settled down with the kittens who seemed delighted that he was there. He was sure they knew who he was, because they liked to play more when he was there. Even with their eyes closed they tried to chew on him and climb on him. They were so small that it was a stretch for them to climb up on his leg when it was lying flat on the ground. He truly loved these kittens, and wished they could stay with him, but he knew that neither Ginger nor the Daddy would allow five kittens to remain indefinitely.

Rudy sat inside the door of the room and talked with LT while he wrangled kittens. Now he knew why people put mother cats and kittens in boxes – they couldn’t get out! Every time he got one back with him, another started to wander away. Considering they could barely walk, he didn’t quite know how they did this. Rudy was amazed at LT’s patience. She pointed out ones likely to make a break for it if his attention was busy with another kitten, or two, or three.

They finally settled down to sleep after about half an hour. LT gratefully sighed and lay there trying not to fall asleep himself. “Go ahead and sleep, if you need to LT. I’ll keep an eye on them. I can see them all from here.” LT was very grateful to hear Rudy’s offer.

“Thanks, I’ll take you up on that.” He dozed off, comfortably surrounded by kittens. Fatherhood was wonderful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Turnips again

Although she knew the Mommy would be home soon, Peep missed her a lot today. The Mommy was someone you could count on. She fed you, teased you, scratched your head and sang to you. The Daddy did these things too, but it wasn’t the same coming from him. Peep sighed, and worried that Mommy would go away again to grow turnips. She still didn’t understand this turnip thing. Was Mommy growing turnips? And what did turnips have to do with math? She knew the Mommy was doing math down in Virginia – she’d told her that when she came home for those few days. I doubt she’s just counting the turnips, thought Peep. Anyone could do that; they wouldn’t need a special math person to count turnips, unless perhaps there were an awful lot of turnips.

Peep pondered what the Mommy could be doing with turnips and math as she went through her day. As she ate some delicious crunchies she thought that maybe she was doing math about the best way to grow the turnips. As she groomed herself, Peep thought maybe it had something to do with what you did with turnips. Come to think of it, what did you do with turnips? Peep figured she’d ask Rudy or LT – maybe they would know.

LT said he’d heard of turnips, but had never seen one, that he knew of. “Peep, we’re obligate carnivores. Why would I eat turnips or even know about them?” He was clearly not interested in turnips. His attention was taken up by Ginger and the kittens, and he had no time or patience for Peep.

On the other hand, Rudy was willing to talk. “Hmmm, I’ve been wondering about turnips since I got that email back from the yarn lady, but I didn’t do anything about it. I know they’re vegetables, but that’s about it. Let’s look it up on the internet. I bet we can find something on Wikipedia. They have articles about everything.”

Peep didn’t know Wikipedia from a hole in the wall, but if Rudy was willing to help, she’d go along with it. “Sounds good, Rudy. Let’s go.”

The two cats went into the office, where Rudy booted up the Daddy’s computer. “I wish he’d leave it on. It’s such a pain to jump up there and balance to turn it on. Sometimes I fall two or three times before I get it right. I’m not as young as I used to be!”

Within a few minutes, Rudy had the computer up and running. Going to Wikipedia, she carefully entered the word “turnip”. The article that came up had lots of information, but didn’t give the cats any further ideas about what the Mommy would be doing with turnips. People ate them, fed them to cattle, wrote about them and sometimes carved funny shapes in them, like pumpkins. None of those things particularly were math-related.

“Well, it looks like they could grow around here. If we could get some turnip seeds, we could plant them in the garden, and then if Mommy needs to do something with turnips, they’d already be here. What do you think of that, Rudy?” Peep’s idea was a little way out, but at least she was trying.

“Not bad, but I’m not sure where we’d get turnip seeds. Although I know you can shop online, you need a credit card, and I don’t have one. I don’t think Daddy would appreciate our using his card to buy turnip seeds, do you?”

“Well, if it’s for a good cause, he might not mind. He doesn’t want Mommy to be away any more than we do. Why don’t you look for a place to buy them, and if we find one, then we’ll worry about it.” Peep was being very practical. Don’t worry about something unless you need to.

They found a company called Main Street Seed and Supply Company that would sell them the seeds for $1.95. That seemed like a very reasonable price, and they agreed that they’d go for it. Rudy entered the information, and when it came to the checkout, there was a button that said “Pay with PayPal”. Rudy didn’t know what that was, but it sounded friendly, so she clicked on it. Several screens came up in series, and they found that the Daddy had saved his PayPal information on the computer, so they didn’t even need any card numbers to order the seeds. Within a few minutes, the order was complete, and the last screen said that the seeds should be shipped within 48 hours.

“Wow, that was easy. Now I can see why people get addicted to internet shopping. You don’t need money, and it’s really quick. Now what else do you think we might need….” Rudy was ready to surf the net for other purchases.

Peep was a bit more practical. “Um, Rudy, I think we should stop with this. It’s not our money, you know. The Daddy has to work very hard to get it, and although $1.95 seems really inexpensive, we don’t really understand money. For all I know, you could buy a car for $1.95.”

“Oh. Rats. You’re probably right, Peep. I hope we didn’t bankrupt the Daddy, buying those seeds. Well, it’s too late to do anything about it now. We’ll just wait for the seeds and plant them when they come. We’ll have to check the mailbox, so we can get them before Daddy does. He’d probably just send them back, thinking it was some sort of mistake.” Rudy laughed. “He grows tomatoes, not turnips!”

“Thank you for your help, Rudy. I feel better knowing that we can do something to help keep the Mommy home once she gets here.” Peep butted her head against Rudy’s and nuzzled her ear a little to show her appreciation.

After Rudy went back outside to monitor the yard, Peep settled down for a nap and dreamed of turnips. Giant turnips, wanting Peep to explain to them their purpose in the universe.











Photo courtesy of Adam Rice - http://flickr.com/photos/sudama/23471300/
Note - photo was altered to add the image of the Peep, looking at the turnip.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Have you seen my cat?

On Monday morning Rudy came in for breakfast. She was enjoying some delicious squishy food when she heard strange sounds coming from the spare room. No one ever used that room for anything that was why it was called the spare room, so therefore it shouldn’t be making noises. She carefully went to the door and peered in. She didn’t immediately see anything, but the sounds, and they sounded like kittens, of all things, seemed to be coming from the closet. Rudy thought maybe she was hallucinating. Had she eaten something that gave auditory hallucinations? She didn’t think so, but there had been some yummy berry she’d sampled earlier this morning. Perhaps it was hallucinogenic.

She moved stealthily into the room, hugging the wall. As she peered around a piece of furniture, she spotted a blanket on the floor of the closet, all smooshed up, and it appeared to be moving, somewhat. She slinked closer and a voice said, “Please, whoever you are, don’t come any closer. I don’t want to scare the kittens.”

Rudy recognized that voice. It was Ginger. What in the world was Ginger doing in Rudy’s house with kittens? She knew that Ginger was about to have the kittens, but here? That made no sense at all. She had her own home, her own people. Wouldn’t you want to be with your people when you had your kittens? Never having had any, it made the most sense to Rudy.

She stopped and said, “Ginger, is that you? It’s Rudy. What are you doing in the closet with kittens?”

“Taking care of them, of course. If LT was going to help me, I had to have them somewhere where he could get to. My owner wouldn’t let him in the house and I did not want to have these kittens outdoors, particularly in the storm we had yesterday! There were branches flying all over the place, and hail. Can you believe it – hail! In any case, the kittens won’t be ready for visitors until at least tonight, so please leave us in peace. Oh, and if you see LT, please let him know I need him to take over for a bit soon? I need to grab a bite to eat and go outside.”

Rudy mumbled some answer or another and left the room, in search of LT, or Peep or someone who could fill her in. She found Peep lying in the living room and Peep explained the whole thing to her. Yes, the Daddy knew about the kittens and he was fine with them. Yes, LT had been helping Ginger with the kittens and he was the only one who’d been near them yet. The Daddy hadn’t even gotten close to them. Peep saw it all as rather matter of fact, and that helped Rudy to take it a bit more calmly. So what if a near-stranger decided to have kittens in her house? It made no difference to her. She never used that room anyway.

She found LT outside on the deck, sunning himself. “Hey, LT, Ginger said she needs your help in a little bit.” Rudy flopped down next to him, and nuzzled his head. “You’re really good, helping her with them. I didn’t expect her to come to our house to have them, though.”

LT was immensely relieved that Rudy wasn’t going to make a big fuss over, or have kittens, as the phrase went (he sniggered a bit at that thought). “I didn’t expect that either. She just showed up yesterday just before the storm and plopped down in the closet and started popping out kittens. Daddy is taking it very well, I must say. He told her they were beautiful, and they really are.” Rudy yawned and put her head down. This was too much for her to think about, so she decided that sleep was the best idea.

Late in the afternoon, there was a knock on the back door. Jay had just returned home, and he went to see who was there. An older woman stood outside the door, holding several pieces of paper. Jay hoped she wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness or selling something. He hated dealing with folks like that. He opened the door and asked if he could help her.

“Oh, I certainly hope so. My name is Lettie, and I live several houses down the street. My orange tabby, who is very pregnant, disappeared right before that terrible storm yesterday. I’m stopping at all the neighbors and asking if they’ve seen her.” The woman was obviously quite distressed.

Jay laughed. Perhaps it wasn’t a considerate reaction, but he couldn’t help it. He opened the door wide and said, “Come on in. When I arrived home yesterday I found my cat guarding an orange tabby in one of my closets. She has a new litter of kittens and they are beautiful. I’m not sure why she decided to have them here. Maybe she got caught in the storm, and my cats invited her in. Who knows?”

The woman came in and with a sigh of relief sat down at the kitchen table. “Oh, I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I thought I’d lost her in the storm. So many branches came down, and I was afraid she’d been hit by one and killed.” As her breathing calmed she asked, “May I see them?”

“If she’ll let you. She wasn’t interested in me getting too close yesterday, so I just admired them from a distance and complimented her on her beautiful family. I have to tell you that my male cat, LT, was standing guard, but he couldn’t be the father, because he was fixed when he was a kitten.”

Getting up, the woman said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. She’s a purebred, and I had been planning on breeding her, but she got out when she was in heat. The house had been surrounded by every male cat for miles around for days. I think I’ll going to have her fixed after this litter. I can’t put up with that again. The howling was dreadful!”

She walked into the room with Ginger, and standing a little ways away, she admired the kittens. “Ginger, your little ones are just so beautiful! You are such a good mother cat. I do wish you’d had them at home with me, though. I could have taken care of you, and taken you to the vet if anything went wrong.”

Ginger shuddered at the thought of going to the vet while trying to give birth to kittens. Well, it was a good thing she’d been here. “Hello, Mother dear,” Ginger said. “We’re all fine right here, thank you. I’ll bring them home when they can walk it on their own four paws. LT’s owner is taking very good care of us, but I do love you.” She got up, taking care not to step on any of the sleeping kittens, and walked over to her owner. She rubbed up against her leg and sniffed the woman’s hand. Lettie reached down and scratched Ginger’s ears. Jay could see that there was a lot of love between them, and was certain that when the kittens were old enough she’d return to Lettie with them.

Ginger looked back towards the closet and noticed that one of the kittens was awake and trying to find her. She leapt back to the closet and lay down with the kittens again. “I love you Mother dear, but right now, my duty is to my kittens. You understand don’t you?”

Lettie just looked at Ginger and the kittens and said, “Oh my. I don’t think I’m ready to be a grandmother.”

Photo courtesy of Robin McShaffry
- http://www.flickr.com/photos/robnit/123976515/

Sunday, July 27, 2008

LT's Kittens

Late Sunday morning, Ginger arrived in the back yard and announced to LT that she was about to have her kittens. “Let’s go in and find a good place, shall we?” she asked.

LT looked at her with no comprehension. “In where?”

“In your house, of course. You didn’t think I was going to have these kittens outdoors did you? My owner would never let you in the house to help me, so we need to use your house. Let’s go. These kittens aren’t going to wait much longer.” Ginger ran up on the deck and through the cat door into the house.

LT followed her, completely confused. “You mean, you’re going to have the kittens in my house? What will Jay say?”

“It doesn’t matter. Now find me a closet, or nook or some little place where I can be undisturbed.” Ginger was already looking around on her own, but since she didn’t know the house it would be easier if LT pointed her in the right direction.

“Um, there’s a closet in the spare room where Mary Rose keeps her fancy clothes. There are shoes on the floor, but we can move them, and I’m sure I can find you something soft to lie on.” LT was thinking furiously. What would Daddy say? What would Rudy and Peep think? It was one thing to help Ginger with the kittens; it was totally different for them to move in!

Ginger assessed the closet, shoved the shoes out of the way and plopped on the floor. “This will do just fine, and now, please get out of here. I’m about to pop a kitten, and I’d prefer privacy.” She practically growled this last sentence.

LT retreated to the kitchen, and began pacing. He heard Ginger panting in the next room, and then a tiny cry. She’d been right – she had been ready to pop a kitten. Peep emerged from the bedroom, sleepy eyed and yawning.

“What’s all the ruckus? I thought I heard Ginger’s voice, but what would she be doing in our house?” Peep yawned again when she was done speaking.

“Well, what she’s doing here is having kittens. She’s in the closet where Mommy keeps her dresses and she’s having kittens. She showed up a few minutes ago, marched into the house and announced that she needed an out of the way spot. I don’t believe this!” LT looked as though he were about to become hysterical.

Peering around the corner of the door into the spare room, Peep saw Ginger in the closet, and quickly pulled her head back out. “Yup, she’s having kittens alright. Congratulations, LT. You’re a father.”

“What do I do now? I mean, am I expected to do something? Does she need anything? Water, food, litter, boiling water, sterile cloths? LT was truly ranting now.

Peep looked carefully at him and swatted him in the head. She wasn’t gentle about it, but she kept her claws in. “LT calm down. You aren’t going to help by getting hysterical. Ginger is doing all the work in there, and you don’t hear her ranting. You’re just here as support. You sit here and wait until she calls you in, and then you go inside. First you admire the kittens from a distance, and tell her how beautiful they are, and then you tell her how good a job she did having the kittens. Then, only when she asks you to come closer do you go near the kittens. She’ll probably want you to sit with them for a few minutes while she gets something to eat or drink or goes outside to the poo field.”

Having been given clear instructions, LT calmed down. “How do you know all this, Peep? You’ve spent most of your life here, and don’t even get around the area as much as I do.”

“Female cats are just born with this knowledge, I think. I didn’t know it until I thought about what she’d need, but as soon as I did, I knew it. It’s probably because cats don’t want other female cats around when they have their kittens, so they need to have all the information they need inside of them, rather than someone telling it to them. And you don’t see us going to Tibet to have kittens.” Peep shuddered at this thought. “Tibet would be the worst possible place to have your litter. There are so many other animals around, even dogs, it smells horrible, and there’s nowhere soft and small to find to protect the kittens. It’s got to be inside us, or there wouldn’t be any cats.”

LT looked at Peep with respect. He’d always thought of her as an oversize kitten, but she really was quite mature in her thinking. “Thank you, Peep. You really helped me a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t think that male cats are born with the information on what they need to do when kittens are born.”

Giggling, Peep answered him. “That’s because all you need to do is follow the female’s instructions, LT. We let you know what to do. If you hadn’t admired the kittens and complimented her, believe me, Ginger would have asked you. Given her genteel southern breeding, I’m sure she would have been very polite about it, but it will be nice for you to do it without being asked.

Just then, they heard Ginger calling for LT. He hesitantly walked into the doorway, and Ginger called him in closer. When he got to within about a foot of the kittens she tensed and he stopped. “Ginger, what a fine little bunch of kittens you have there! There’s a ginger like you, a black and white, a brown tabby, and, no make that two gingers and two black and whites. Is that all, or are there more I can’t see right now?”

Answering wearily, Ginger said, “Just the five. A first litter is usually not a big one, but these all look to be healthy kittens. They are beautiful aren’t they?” She reached down and vigorously cleaned the head of one of the gingers.

“They are beautiful, but no more beautiful than you are, Ginger. You did a marvelous job. They do look healthy and quite happy to be out in the world.” With that, LT moved forward another step or two, and when Ginger didn’t stop him, he nuzzled her head. “You are incredible.”

“Thank you, LT, and now will you watch them for a few minutes while I take care of a couple of things?” Ginger looked at him expectantly.

LT stepped into the closet and told her he would be honored to be trusted with her kittens. She got up slowly and headed towards the kitchen. “Just keep them in the closet with you. I don’t think they’ll even manage to stand up so soon, but they might try to crawl.”

Terrified, LT lay down just as Ginger had a few moments ago. The tiny kittens bumbled around him, making little mewing sounds. One of the black and whites buried himself in LT’s stomach, while another wobbled over to LT’s face. LT instinctively reached down and vigorously washed the head of the little one, this one the brown tabby. “Hello, little guy. You’re quite a handsome little kitten aren’t you?” He was besotted.

When Ginger returned about fifteen minutes later, LT was comfortably grooming one kitten, and keeping an eye on the other four. Ginger thanked him, and asked him to stay nearby, in case she needed him again.

LT took that as a dismissal and went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, the Daddy walked in the back door. “Looks like we’re about to have a major thunderstorm, LT.” I’m going to check the windows, and shut them at least most of the way.”

He moved off through the house, and LT followed him anxiously. Although the window in the spare room wasn’t open, he’d eventually realize that his house now had six extra cats, well, one extra cat with her five newborn kittens. After closing some of the living room windows, the Daddy came into the kitchen and looked in the refrigerator for some lunch. He made himself a sandwich and sat down at the table to eat it.

After finishing the sandwich, the Daddy made a pot of coffee and sat drinking coffee and reading, while the storm raged outside. During a lull, LT heard Ginger calling for him again. Uh-oh, LT thought. This was the moment of truth.

The Daddy’s head came up and he looked at LT. “That wasn’t you, was it, LT? It didn’t sound like Peep or Rudy either, and it sounded like it was in the spare room.”

LT rushed into the spare room and said to Ginger, “I think Jay’s coming in here - now!”

“He can admire my kittens if he likes, but he may not touch them.” Ginger said this regally, as though a queen bestowing honors upon a lowly subject.

Jay walked into the room and saw LT in conversation with a cat in the closet, and the cat had three, no four, no FIVE kittens. He backed up a step and thought quickly. He’d seen this cat around before. It was the ginger cat who hung out with his three, but LT couldn’t have kittens, Tibet had taken care of that. So, had he been adopted by a pregnant cat? He wasn’t sure.

“Well, hello there, pretty little lady! I see you decided that Mary Rose’s closet would be a good place to have your kittens. I’m glad she’s not here right now, so you won’t be disturbed.” Turning to a very proud LT he said, “Well, I guess congratulations are in order LT. I don’t know how you did it, but you’re a father.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday night's Cat Club meeting

At the Friday night meeting of the Cat Club it had been obvious to even the oblivious males in the group that Ginger was about to have kittens. She immediately became the focus of the meeting. No one was crass enough to ask who the father was, and Ginger didn’t offer any information. Everyone was interested in how her owner felt about the upcoming litter and her chances of being able to keep all of her kittens with her.

Peep and LT felt very strongly that cats should be able to keep their kittens until the parents decided it was time for them to go out into the world. This was usually longer than the people involved thought was reasonable – usually four to five months, rather than the two months at which people began to look for homes to take the kittens. Maybe it was because neither LT nor Peep had had happy kittenhoods, but they felt that all kittens and parents should stay together for as long as they liked.

Of the new cats, Ladybug and Snoogums seemed the most interested in the new kittens and suggested names for them. Snoogums particularly wanted the kittens not to be burdened with names like his. “I like simple names, ones that are descriptive of a physical or personality trait. Names like yours, Peep. Your voice sounds like a little Peep, so your name is perfect. Snoogums, on the other hand, sounds like I’m about to cough up a hairball.” Everyone laughed at that.

Rudy sat through most of the meeting basking in LT’s declaration earlier in the day. He loved her. She’d known that, but for him to say it so clearly was just…. She couldn’t even think of a word to describe it. She was bursting to tell someone, but this wasn’t the type of thing you could say to the whole Cat Club. She didn’t want to tell Peep. Peep either would be jealous, or more likely wouldn’t attach much significance to it. Rudy considered Peep to be a bit emotionally immature. She decided that sometime this weekend she’d go visit Ladybug and Bunny and tell them. They would appreciate something like this. In the meanwhile, let them all fuss over Ginger. She wasn’t worried about her.

Ginger, meanwhile, sat with LT, fielding a barrage of questions. She explained that LT had offered to help her with the kittens. Unlike people, cats seem to prefer to have no one right with them at the birth of the kittens, but once they are born, they do want the father there. He can watch them while she gets something to eat or just move around a little bit, and of course, he has to admire how amazingly beautiful they are. Other female cats are only permitted to visit after a day or two, and then are kept at a distance. Ginger didn’t know why she felt this way, she just did. It was her first litter of kittens, but she was confident that everything would go just fine.

LT was happy that Rudy wasn’t making a fuss over this situation. He wasn’t sure how she’d take it when he stayed with Ginger for the first few days after the kittens were born, but he’d handle that when it happened. No use worrying about tomorrow when today’s still happening. That was LT’s motto.
Photo courtesy of ritcharnd moskow - http://www.flickr.com/photos/stinkypeter/134844656/

Friday, July 25, 2008

LT declares his love

It was Friday, and LT was dreading tonight’s meeting of the Cat Club. He knew he needed to talk to Rudy before the meeting, but he also knew that it wouldn’t be an easy conversation. He sighed and set out to look for her.

He found Rudy lying in the sun by the back door. “Oh, LT, isn’t a beautiful day!” She rolled over on her back, showing her beautiful white belly.

“Rudy, you know how much I love you, don’t you?” LT sat down near Rudy. He wanted to be close, but not too close, in case she got angry with him.

Rudy gone him a sharp look “Cats don’t ask that kind of question unless they are about to do something that shows they don’t love you. What is going on, LT?”

Groaning, LT said, “I knew this wasn’t going to go well.”

“What isn’t going well, LT?”

“Rudy, I think I fell in love with you the first time Daddy brought you in the house. You were so beautiful and brave. Your legs hurt so much, but you didn’t show it. You were so polite to me and the Peep. I was mad at Daddy for making you go back out in the cold garage.” He shook his head, remembering that day. “And then you came in to live with us for good and I was so happy. You filled an empty place in my heart that I never knew I had. I’ve tried to show you that. I’m not always good with words. You are my love.”

Rudy looked at him in amazement. “LT, that was beautiful. I know you love me, silly cat!”

“Good, now remember that. You have to remember that.” LT sighed. “Ginger is going to have kittens soon, and she’s asked me to stand in as their father.”

“Of course she’s having kittens. Any ninny could see that. But I know you’re not their father.” Rudy was confused.

“Yes, but since they don’t have a father here she wants me to be with her to help with the kittens. Kind of like adopting them. But that has nothing to do with you and me, Rudy. I don’t love Ginger. Just you.”

Rudy thought about this. She didn’t think there was anything to be upset about. Ginger just needed help, and a cat wanted a father for her kittens. It made perfect sense. “LT, there is no problem. Ginger needs help, and you’re going to give it to her. If I were in her position, I’d ask the same thing. You’d be a great father, LT. I’m sorry you can’t have kittens of your own.”

This was a huge weight off of LT’s mind. He was so afraid that Rudy would be jealous, and a jealous Rudy was something he wasn’t prepared for. She could be downright vengeful when she was angry. “Thank you for understanding, Rudy. You’re the best!” He moved closer and snuggled down next to her, glad that the weather was cool enough to make this a comfortable thing to do. Now, if the next week or so would go as smooth as this, everything would be all right.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

LT's story

LT and the Daddy had just finished their breakfasts and were still sitting at the kitchen table. Daddy was reading and absentmindedly caressing LT’s head. Although LT wasn’t much for pats and such, he loved the Daddy and was happy to be sitting on the table, sharing this time with him. As LT lay in a half-drowsy state he thought about what the Peep had said yesterday. He felt about the Daddy the way the Peep felt about the Mommy. He’d been with the Daddy almost all of his life, and really all of it that he could remember clearly. He was such a little kitten when he came to live with the Daddy, it was hard now for him to figure out if what he remembered was a memory, or what the Daddy had told him about how he was when he was a kitten.

The first memory that LT had at all was living on a farm with his cat mommy and daddy. He didn’t think it was a very nice place for them to live, because he remembered that his mommy didn’t really have enough milk for all of the kittens. There had been quite a few others in the litter, he wasn’t sure how many, but his mommy was always hungry. The kittens had fought over her milk, and sometimes he’d been batted aside, and left hungry himself. When they were old enough to eat real food, there wasn’t enough for all of them, and again he often lost out on the available food.

One day as he lay crying from hunger a huge man had come and picked him up. He’d never been handled by a person before, and was absolutely terrified. The man had spoken to him very softly, and rubbed his fur with one gentle finger. As the man continued to talk, he’d started to calm down. The man had put him in a box with a very soft towel and made a nest for him to lie in. The man then put the box in his truck and drove away.

That ride had been terrifying. Of course, since that time, he’d had many rides in cars and trucks, but what does a little kitten know from trucks? It was bumpy and noisy and it seemed like it would never end. The man petted him from time to time, again just with that one big finger, trying to soothe him, but at that point he was too terrified to calm down.
After what seemed to be forever, the bouncing stopped and the man picked up the box and got out of the truck. There were voices above his head, but he was too scared to look up and see what was going on. He burrowed further into the towel, trying to hide altogether.

A different smelling set of hands picked him up and a voice said, “Look at this little fellow. He can fit in one of my hands! What a beautiful little tiger cat. From what you say, he’s lucky to be here rather than on that farm. He probably would have starved, or gotten attacked by something and killed.” The man brought him up to his face and rubbed his cheek against his fur, saying, “What a lucky little tiger cat. Hey, I think there’s a name in that. I’ll call him Lucky Tiger.”

The man, who he soon discovered was named Jay, brought him in the house and gave him some absolutely delicious food and a dish of milk all to himself. He’d sat on the kitchen table, the same way he was right now, next to the Daddy. He’d never had that much food in his life, and the man had stopped him from eating too much. “I don’t want you to get sick, Lucky Tiger. Just a little bit at a time.”

The man picked him up and placed him back in the box with the towel. It was late in the day, and wherever the man went, he took the box with him and talked to the kitten, so that he wouldn’t be lonely. At bedtime, the man took the box into the bedroom and placed it on a table next to the bed, and checked on the kitten throughout the night.


LT sighed as he remembered his kitten days. Life was so incredible then. There was more food than he could ever want, and a marvelous man to play with. It would have been perfect if there had been other cats, but he was an only cat at that time.

He soon had enough of sleeping in the box. He kept climbing out of it, and the man had stopped putting him into it, fearing that he’d fall off the table and hurt himself.
That night at bedtime, Lucky Tiger had scrambled up onto the bed and stood on the man’s chest, looking into his face. He remembered telling him, “I love you. You are so good to me. I get lonely at night, though. Can I sleep here with you?”

The man seemed to understand him, and said, “You can sleep here with me, but I can’t promise I won’t roll over on you, so be careful, hear?”

He walked to the top of the covers and burrowed down under them, snuggling up to the man. Oh, this was heaven. He had the best night’s sleep he could remember in his short life, and didn’t wake up until the man got up in the morning.


“Time to rise and shine, sleepy head,” the man said.


“Just five more minutes, Daddy,” he remembered saying. It was the first time he’d called him Daddy. It just seemed right. He took care of him just like a mommy cat or daddy cat would, and actually better than his mommy and daddy had taken care of him.
From that time, he slept in the bed with his Daddy until he was a grown up cat. It was always so safe and comfortable to be snuggled under the covers with him – almost like being with his littermates and his cat mommy.

As he grew, he started to venture outside. There was a big wide world out there, and it just begged to be explored. There were birds, and mice and rabbits and lots of nice things to look at. He always came home though, when he heard his Daddy calling him. “Lucky Tiger, Lucky Tiger. Come here Lucky, come here LT.”

The Daddy found that as the kitten grew, he looked more like an LT than a Lucky Tiger. Lucky Tiger was a good name for a kitten, but this was now a cat, and a good-sized muscular cat. He was more of an LT, the Daddy decided.


LT became very adventurous as he got older. At first he would spend hours away from home, and then almost the whole day. He did have one scare, though. He had followed a rabbit one day, and when the rabbit dove into its hole, LT looked around and had no idea where he was. He looked here and there, but couldn’t find any landmarks that he recognized. Maybe it was because it was dark? He didn’t know. LT settled down and decided to wait until daylight to see if he could find his way home.

For days, LT searched and searched, but couldn’t find his home. He was a good hunter, luckily, so he didn’t go hungry, and it had rained enough that he could find fresh water, but he missed his Daddy. Finally, he found an old car that was abandoned, and jumped into it to sleep. He figured that the Daddy would come looking for him. Daddy wouldn’t let LT get lost and not come and find him.


LT stayed in there for two days, leaving the car to hunt and call for his Daddy. He’d almost given up hope when he was awoken from his sleep by the Daddy’s voice. “There you are, LT. I’ve been so worried about you! You’ve been gone for a week. I was afraid that you’d been kidnapped or even killed by some big, strong animal. Come home, LT.” The Daddy lifted him up and gave him a big hug. Placing him on the ground, Daddy called LT to follow him.

As he followed the Daddy through some trees, he found that he hadn’t been far from his house at all. How could he have been this close and not found his home? Well, never mind, he was just happy to be home.
It seemed like a good idea to stick close to the Daddy for a while after that episode, but LT’s cat nature called out for exploration. He decided that he needed to systematically map the surrounding woods in his mind, so that he could never get lost again. This took months, but when he was done, he was confident that he couldn’t get lost anywhere that he could run to without getting exhausted. It was worth the effort, because he never wanted to leave the Daddy again.

LT returned to the present and smiled at his Daddy. Life was so good. Not only did he have his Daddy, there were two other cats to keep him company, and a Mommy to take care of all of them. She might be gone right now, but he knew she’d be back, because she loved the Daddy as much as he did, and how could either of them ever leave him forever?

Photo courtesy of Elio - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pansaram/257641756/

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peep misses the Mommy

Peep was worried. This morning when she woke up she realized that she hadn't thought about the Mommy at all yesterday. When she thought some more, she realized that very often hours went by when she didn't remember the Mommy wasn't here, or that she missed her. Was she forgetting about the Mommy? She hoped not, because she loved the Mommy so much. She sat and thought about the Mommy. She tried to remember her face, and although she kind of remembered it, she didn’t remember it all that well.

Panicked, Peep ran to find Rudy or LT. She ran through the house, calling for them, but they weren’t inside. She burst through the cat door, not even looking to see if Fuzzy was around, and called for them again. Not receiving an answer, she ran towards the trees where LT often took his naps. She called his name frantically, and received a sleep answer.

“Peep, what’s wrong? You sound like it’s the end of the world!” LT tried to simultaneously wake up, find out what was wrong and calm the Peep. He didn’t succeed in calming Peep.

“I can’t remember what the Mommy looks like! I didn’t even think about her yesterday at all. I think I’m forgetting her. I don’t want to forget the Mommy, I love her so much!” Peep talked so fast that her words fell over one another, making it difficult for LT to understand.

LT tried to come up with a good answer for her from his sleepy brain. He was never at his best when he woke up, but he knew he needed to give Peep a very good answer to keep her from getting completely hysterical.

“Peep, other than those few days, we haven’t seen the Mommy in almost two months. It’s hard to picture things in your head that you don’t see all the time. You know you still love her, Peep.” LT spoke in a slow calming voice, but it didn’t seem to have an effect on Peep.

“I can’t forget her, LT, I just can’t! She’s my Mommy. I’ve already forgotten my cat mommy, I can’t lose this Mommy!” Peep couldn’t even sit down. She walked a few steps, sat down, stood back up, walked and repeated the sequence over and over. Her voice had gotten to the level of a wail, and Rudy came running over.

“What’s wrong? Is someone hurt?” Rudy was out of breath. She’d run from the next yard over where she’d been hunting.

LT quietly explained the problem to Rudy as Peep continued to pace and rant. They decided they needed to use drastic measures to stop Peep; otherwise they’d never get her calm.

LT roughly cuffed the side of Peep’s head. Peep stopped in her tracks and cringed on the ground. “Why did you do that? It’s not bad enough that I’ve forgotten Mommy, now you need to hurt me?” At least she wasn’t wailing anymore.

“Peep, I did that because you were hysterical and I needed you to stop and listen. You were making yourself more and more upset, and weren’t listening.” LT said this in a matter of fact voice, and while he was talking Rudy went and sat down next to Peep.

“Peep, I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the Mommy. Tell me some of the things that you like about her.” Rudy decided that it would be good to get her talking about the Mommy, remembering the good times they had together.

“The Mommy is good, and beautiful, and she loves me, and she brushes my coat, and she scratches my head….” Rudy cut her off, because Peep was still too upset.

“Peep, of course she’s those things, but tell me about some of the times you and the Mommy had a good time together.”

“Oh – well the Mommy likes to dance with me and sing that silly song “It’s a jungle out there.” She holds me by my front legs so that I’m just standing on the rear ones and rocks back and forth singing that song over and over. I think it’s from one of the television shows that she likes. It’s really silly, but it’s kind of fun. Oh, remember the time that Mommy dressed me up in that silly little dress and took my picture? I hated that dress – cats aren’t supposed to wear clothes, you know, but the Mommy was so happy to see me in it, and she showed the Daddy and the yarn lady and took my picture. Then I tried to rip it off, but I couldn’t, so the Mommy took it off me. She also put a funny bandana around my neck, like I was a dog. I kept trying to back out of it, because it felt like I had my head stuck in something, but no matter how much I backed up, it wouldn’t come off. She said I looked very nice in it, but I’m not a dog, you know. Oh, and I love the times that the Mommy cooks bacon for us. She cuts up little tiny pieces that are cat sized, and she feeds them to me. She knows that the big pieces would probably choke me, because I’m so little, so she cuts them up because she loves me. Oh, the Mommy is so good….” Peep sighed and relaxed into Rudy.

LT sat down on her other side, and both cats purred at Peep. She was calming down, but they wanted her to stay that way. “You see, Peep, you haven’t forgotten the Mommy. I think our minds are just keeping us from missing her too much, because then we’d be sad and just cry all the time. I know I love her as much as the day she left, I just don’t think about her as much. No matter what, she’s still our Mommy.”

“She is. And she’ll be coming home in a while. I’ve been comparing my counting marks, and she’ll be home in less than a cat.” While that made perfect sense to Peep, and some sense to LT, Rudy had no clue what she was talking about.

“What do you mean, come home in less than a cat? I believe she’ll be coming home in a car, the same way she left.” Rudy tried to make sense of the sentence, but wasn’t having much luck, so Peep explained her counting system to Rudy.

“Four claws make a paw, four paws make a cat, and each claw is a day. So, how I figure it is that she’ll be home in less than four paws worth of days, which is the same as a cat.” Peep proudly explained this to Rudy.

“Wow, Peep. I knew you had figured out how to keep track of how long the Mommy had been gone, but I didn’t know it was so complicated! You’re a smart little cat.” Rudy licked Peep’s head to show her admiration.
“I am, and it’s all because of the Mommy. I guess you’re right, I do remember her, even if I don’t know what color her eyes are. I remember how she loves us, and that’s what is important.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Herding geese continued

Sorry, although I didn't hit the post button, it somehow posted before I was done. Very strange....

Peep looked at the spokesgoose and said, "Would you like me to help you find your way home?"

The four geese looked at each other uncertainly. The spokesgoose said, "If you come outside, you'll probably eat us. Maybe we should just stay here. Would the people who live here feed us?"

"NO! You can't live here." Peep said this a little more forcefully than she'd intended and the geese scattered.


"What will we do?"
"Oh, I'm afraid of that cat."
"What if there are more cats?"
"I wish we were home."

To shut them up, Peep called to them, "I promise I won't eat you. I pledge it by the Higher Cat."

"The Higher Cat would probably like you to eat us. Pledge by the Great Grey Goose!"

"Okay, by the Great Grey Goose, I pledge that I won't eat you, or even try to eat you. Now, can I come out?" Peep was sorely frustrated, and was tempted to just chase them away. She did feel sorry for them, though, and that won over her frustration.

"Fine. As long as you remember that pledge." The geese watched her as she jumped down. They looked around in confusion until she appeared around the side of the house.

"Why don't you just sit here for a while and I'll try to find out if anyone is missing any geese." Peep had an idea, that the geese were as silly as the new cats' owners seemed, and maybe they were her geese.

"That's good. Can we eat the lilies in the pond? They look delicious." All four geese were eying the lilies.

"Please don't do that. My Daddy went to a lot of trouble to plant those lilies. I'll be back as soon as I can." Peep ran off towards her new friends house.

She'd never been there before, but Mr. Snuggles had described how he got to their yard, so she just had to reverse it. Luckily she didn't meet any other animals along the way, because she really wasn't a brave little cat. She found Ladybug lounging on the lawn. "Ladybug, are you missing any geese?"


"Geese? Why would I be missing geese. They're horrible nasty things that peck at cats." Ladybug shuddered. She'd had a bad encounter with some geese as a kitten and had barely escaped with her life.

"Rats. These four geese are in my yard, and they say they live nearby. They're driving me nuts, and I want to find where they live and take them home, because they don't seem to be able to figure it out on their own." Peep looked up at the sky, hoping for inspiration.

Mr. Snuggles walked over and nuzzled Peep. "Did I hear you mention geese? The people two houses past us have four ugly white geese. I can usually hear them honking all day, but come to think of it, it's been quiet. Do you want me to take you there?"

Peep, Mr. Snuggles and Ladybug set out for the house that usually had geese. They found a yard with a goose house, goose feed, a water butt and trampled grass, but no geese. Peep looked around carefully, memorizing the yard, so that she could describe it to the geese. "This is probably it. A place for geese, but no geese, and I have geese without a place. Occam's Razor would lead me to conclude that the geese belong here. Thanks for the help."


Arriving back in her yard, Peep found that the geese had eaten most of the lilies out of the pond. They looked at her sheepishly. "You were gone so long we thought we'd starve. We had to eat something!"

"Grass? Don't you eat grass?" Peep was really losing patience now. She'd gone to the trouble of finding the geese's home, and they'd eaten the lilies. She'd been gone no more than fifteen minutes, for cat's sake.

"Oh, we do eat grass! Okay fellas, let's eat some grass!" The geese proceeded to start on the lawn.

"Never mind. I think I've found your home." Peep described the goose house, the water butt, the yard and the house that the people lived in and waited for an answer.

"Well, it could be our home. We've been away so long, I'm really not sure. What do you think?" said one of the geese to the rest.

"Could be..."
"Did we have a house?"
"I'm not sure...."

Peep decided that it didn't matter if it was the right house or not, those geese were going there and she was taking them.

"I'm sure it's your house. Now, if you'll just follow me, I'll take you there." She set off and turned as she got to the edge of the yard. The geese had resumed eating the lawn.

"Let's go!"

The geese just looked up and said, "But we're still hungry."

Peep had a brilliant thought. "Speaking of hungry, the other two cats who live here should be home soon. They didn't say they wouldn't eat you, you know. They love to catch birds and eat them. If I were you, I think I'd want to leave now."


Squawking, the four geese ran towards her, and then past her into the trees. "Hey, wait! You don't know where you're going. Stay with me, because we might run into those cats, and if you're with me I can tell them to leave you alone." Peep ran to catch up with them.

Although it had taken only five minutes to get home from the geese's house, it took nearly half an hour to lead the geese home. They kept wandering off or stopping to eat. As they passed the house where the four cat friends lived, they spotted one, and all immediately began yelling, "Cat, cat, cat! Watch out for your lives!"

Peep calmed them down, saying, "They know I'm bringing you home. They helped me find your house, for cat's sake. Just follow me, please."

They finally arrived in the right yard, the little black cat leading the four geese. There was a woman standing in the yard, who clapped her hands together and called, "Oh, you came home! I'm so glad I didn't have to go find you again."

The woman bent down and scratched Peep's head. "Thank you for bringing them home. They're not very bright, and tend to get lost easily. I hope they didn't bother you too much."

The geese meanwhile, had run to their food and water, and completely ignored both Peep and their owner.

"Well, bye, I guess. I'm glad you got home." Peep said to the geese.

One goose looked up and squawked, "Cat, cat, cat!" and ran away.

Peep shook her head and headed for home. She was very glad that she was not a goose.

Photo courtesy of Zenera - http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenera/37575560/




Herding geese

Tuesday afternoon was shaping up to be very strange. Peep was awoken by the sound of geese honking outside the window. "Geese?" Peep thought, "We don't have geese here." She levered herself off of the floor where she was sprawled to absorb the coolness of the tiles. She jumped up on the trunk and looked out the window. Geese. Several geese. In the yard. Honking. Peep shook her head and wondered if she was dreaming.

She padded to the kitchen to see if anyone else was in the house. No cats, no Daddy. It was just her and the geese. She jumped up into the open windows in the computer room and bedroom and looked to see if Rudy or LT were anywhere around. If she was going to confront geese, she'd rather have reinforcements. Unfortunately, she seemed to be the only cat in the area. She didn't know if that was because the geese had chased off the other cats, or if they were just off visiting or exploring.

Peep went back to the trunk in the living room. As she looked out the window, one of the geese spotted her. "Cat!!!" The goose trumpeted the word to the others, who flapped aimlessly, not knowing what to do.

"What's a cat?" asked one of the geese.

"That's a cat! That thing in the window. Cats eat geese, and ducks and everything else they can get their mouths around!" The first goose seemed to be a bit hysterical, but was standing his or her ground.

The other geese stopped and looked at Peep, who had never been stared at by four geese before. The goose who had spoken first said very slowly and carefully, "Hello, cat. We are four geese who are lost and trying to find our way somewhere. We're really not sure where, but we know it's not here. Can you understand me?"

Peep got the impression that the goose thought she was not quite bright. She shook her head and said, "Of course I can understand you. How can you find someplace if you don't know what it is?" Privately, Peep thought the geese weren't very bright.

"Um. Oh. Well. Yesterday we left our home and today it's not there. We looked for it, but couldn't find it, so we decided that it was gone, and we had to find a new place to live." The goose seemed confused.

"Hmmm," Peep said. "How far did you fly to get here and which direction were you flying? That could help you get home." She felt that pointing out the obvious was a good way to start, since they didn't seem to get the obvious.

"Fly? Why would we fly?" The goose looked at her quizzically.

"Um, because you're geese. Geese are birds. Birds fly to get places." Peep thought the conversation was going downhill, if that were possible.

"Birds? No, birds are little things. Sparrow, cardinals. Little bodies that can fly. We can't fly." The goose gave her a goose look, tilting its head to one side and looking at her with just one eye.

Oh, boy, she thought. "You do have wings, just like the sparrows and cardinals, you know. I've seen geese fly."

"Not with these wings." The goose spread his wings and Peep saw that the ends of each wing were missing. "Someone cuts off our feathers. It hurts. They've done it since we were goslings, so we don't fly."

"I'm sorry to hear that. But if you walked here, it couldn't be very far, could it?" Peep decided that maybe they weren't as clueless as they acted. "How long did it take you to walk here?"

"Very long, very long." All the geese honked this together.

"But you said that yesterday you were home, and so you could have only walked for one day, right?" Peep figured single, specific questions would be best.

"Yup, and round about suppertime we ate and started walking. When we woke up this morning, we weren't home. We're lost!" With this all the geese started to honk excitedly.

Peep rolled her eyes. It sounded like they had walked for maybe an hour or two, and from what she saw, they probably didn't move fast or too purposefully. She made an instant decision that she'd need to help these geese find their way home, or they'd never leave her alone.

Monday, July 21, 2008

And now for something completely different

I, the yarn lady, have two cats. Over the past two months they have become increasingly jealous because I spend so much time writing about someone else's cats. Therefore, I am dedicating today to my two cats, Sammy and Kenjei.

Sammy is almost eight years old, and Kenjei is about six. As you can see from this picture, they are quite good friends. They are asleep in their favorite spot, their daddy's armchair. Unfortunately, this is the favorite chair of the three humans who also inhabit the house, so there can be a lot of competition for this spot.

Sammy, the black and white cat, came to live with us a few months after the death of our long-loved Jeffrey. We were so used to having a cat, we decided that he needed to be replaced, and preferably by two cats, as two cats
can entertain each other. We visited our local SPCA, and picked out Sammy and a second cat, Pudgy. Pudgy, unfortunately developed a medical condition after several years and we could not keep him. Sammy's name at the SPCA was Larry. I couldn't imagine a cat named Larry, so we came up with Sammy, since it sounded kind of like Larry, and hopefully wouldn't confuse the cat too much. Since Sammy doesn't really respond to any name at all (being very much a cat), it has worked out fine.

Kenjei was given to us by his cat mother. She was a stray that we had seen in our yard from time to time over the years. On a very hot summer day (I think it was around 100 degrees) this stray cat came walking across the patio where I was sitting. This was very odd, since this cat had never before or since come anywhere near that close to me. She stopped and looked me right in the eye, and then kept going. A moment or two later a half-grown kitten came romping after her. He was the most adorable scrawny tiger kitten. He looked like he was probably only two months old. I made little noises at him to attract his attention and he looked at me like I was a giant monster. I promptly put out food and water (especially water since it was so hot) and set out to make friends with the kitten. Despite his mother's lack of friendliness, this little one was more than happy to eat my food, drink my water and even be petted, as long as I was sitting down. As soon as I stood up he ran. To this day, he's still a bit scared of standing people. I guess they are just too big.

Since it was so hot, and the heat wave was forecast to continue for the next week, we decided to bring him in right away. He did have to visit Tibet first, to make sure that he wouldn't bring any illnesses in to our cats. He was mostly healthy, but did turn out to be about four months old. He was just undernourished, and as we discovered, short. He was named by my daughter, who loves all things Japanese, and who thought Kenjei sounded like a good Japanese name for a cat.

Physically, Kenjei is an endomorphic cat. He's got short, squat legs and tail, and at the best of times he's chunky. Most of the time he's just fat. Sammy on the other hand is several inches taller and a very long cat. His head is a bit small for his body, but it doesn't seem to effect his self-image or intelligence.

Sammy has been an indoor/outdoor cat since he first came home. He's very careful, and despite our living close to the very busy street, Sam stays in the back yard (or other people's backyards). In the winter he spends most of his time indoors, but in the summer he likes to be outside most of the time. He likes to come in, grab a bite to eat and go out again. Since we don't have a cat door, that necessitates someone opening the door for him a lot. It's a good thing I don't work anymore, at least from Sammy's point of view.

Kenjei is not the brightest tool in the shed, and is a bit of a chicken. Once he got inside the house he didn't want to leave it again for about four years. He enjoyed looking out the glass door, but never tried to go out. Two years ago he started "escaping" the house on occasion. Once outside, he'd become terrified, and we'd have to pick him up and bring him in. One day he got out and didn't come back. We called and looked and looked and called, but no Kenjei. After a few days, we thought we'd lost him. Almost two weeks after that, I spotted him as I drove into the driveway one night. It turns out that he'd ventured across the driveway into the real real backyard, and was scared to cross the driveway and come back. He was living in our shed, behind a large piece of plywood that leaned against the wall. It took about a day to lure him out of the shed with food, but he did finally come out - many, many pounds thinner. He'd gone from rotund to skinny in a little less than three weeks. A visit to the vet found him to be in perfectly good health.

Only this summer has Kenjei ventured outside again. He's learned to come back in, a very important skill! He mostly goes out at night, since the noise of all the traffic bothers him. We have to make sure that he comes in before the last person goes to bed, as he may be too scared to come near the house in daylight, although he has come back in during the day once or twice.

All three of us love our cats, although the other two in the house seem to prefer Sammy (not that I'd tell Kenjei that). He is a bit easier to be affectionate with, since he doesn't run in fright when you walk by.

Well, that's it for the yarn lady's cats. Tomorrow we will return to our regularly scheduled blog about the Peep, LT and Miss Rudy.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Too hot...

It is too hot today to do anything. Everyone in the household is doing as little as possible, and doing that in the coolest place they can find. Peep and Rudy are both lying on the tile floor in the living room. Peep is sprawled on her stomach, with as much of her as possible making contact with the cool tile floor. Rudy is taking a different approach. She's lying on her back, exposing as much of her belly to any moving air that might possibly cool her.

LT is outside, having cleared a space in the dirt in the deepest shade he could find. He alternates between lying on his back and lying on his side, and occasionally clears a new spot as he finds he's transferred too much of his body heat to the dirt to be comfortable.

The Daddy is in his radio room, which is usually fairly cool, at least if he puts a fan on. Today he's wondering if he should actually put in the air conditioner, in case it's too hot to sleep tonight. It's 90 degrees right now, and feels like 96. Too hot. He wonders if he needs to go to the grocery store, as at least it would be cool there, but decides the labor of bringing the groceries into the house would negate any cooling effect from the store.

Occasionally one of the four inhabitants goes and gets something to drink. It's too hot to even think of eating, at least right now. Maybe when the sun goes down they'll feel hungrier.

Today is a day to be endured. Hopefully tomorrow will be cooler.

Photo courtesy of Pablo Godoy - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pabloggodoy/253500885/

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dreams

It is very late at night and all of the cats are asleep. LT is asleep outside under the trees. It was still hot when he decided it was bedtime, and so he decided to find a spot where he could sleep directly on the cool dirt. He’s moved away dried leaves and pine needles and cleared himself a nice flat area on which to sleep. His head is pillowed on one front paw, as he is sleeping partially on his right side with his legs stretched out to allow any breeze to cool his belly. What is he dreaming of?

In LT’s dream he is in a large basket in the corner of the living room, surrounded by five kittens. Three of them are tigers and look remarkably like LT, although their fur seems to be longer. They have kittenish ears, that is to say they are very small and close to their heads. One is black and short haired and the other is black and white with long feathery fur. It’s too early to tell easily if they are boy or girl kittens to an outsider, but LT knows that two of the tigers are males and the other three are females. Their mother is out in the kitchen, helping herself to a well-deserved meal, and LT, the proud father is minding his kittens. He rasps his tongue, cleaning one of the males who is sticking very close to his daddy. The other male is the intrepid one of the litter. He’s trying to follow his mother into the kitchen, although he isn’t very steady on his feet yet. He’s made it to the edge of the basket, and if LT doesn’t do something, he is likely to topple out onto the floor. LT quickly reaches out and pulls the kitten back in before he can hurt himself. The little girls are crawling all over him. One is on his back, and one has just fallen off of his head, as she was trying to sit on top of it. The third is gnawing on his toes, possibly trying to nurse. LT looks up as he hears the Mommy come into the room. She tells him what beautiful kittens he has fathered and how proud she will be to have the in the house forever and ever. LT is unfortunately awakened at this point by a passing opossum, who steps on a twig, breaking it loudly. LT grumbles and tries to return to his dream, but it is gone.

Miss Rudy is asleep on the trunk in the living room. She fell asleep on it after pulling the nice fuzzy cover off of it, because it was just too warm to sleep on it. She likes the breeze she gets from the windows when she sleeps on the trunk, but not the warmth of the fuzzy thing. Rudy is practically lying on her back with her rear legs splayed, showing her belly for anyone to see, if there happened to be anyone in the room. Her breath makes little whistling noises since she is sleeping in such a contorted position. (Her head is pointing to one side, partially closing her throat.) Even in such a position, Rudy is beautiful. Her white belly fur is luxurious and her long white ruff stands out from the surrounding black fur.

Rudy dreams of clouds of butterflies. She is in the midst of them, and they are darting in all directions, playing with her. There are monarchs, luna moths, swallowtails, painted ladies, hummingbird moths, lacewings and blue morphos. These butterflies would never in nature be seen in the same area or at the same time of day, but in Rudy’s dream she is surrounded by them. Her black and white coloration is a stark contrast to their many colors. A luna moth, with a wingspan of almost five inches swoops down to hover near Rudy’s nose. Rudy reaches up with a velveted paw to touch the moth’s wing and the two of them dance off together, the moth flying upward and Rudy leaping to gracefully follow it. After a few moments, the luna lands on a bush and is replaced by a hummingbird moth, whose wings move so fast they can barely be seen. This moth lands squarely on top of Rudy’s head and issues an invitation for Rudy to play tag. Rudy enthusiastically accepts, and the game is on. Rudy is “it” and all the butterflies are hers to tag, if she can get to them before they get to home base, a marble statue of a cat who is reaching a paw up to the sky. The butterflies are off instantly, but to make it fair, they fly at a level where Rudy can reach them, but only if she jumps. Rudy gently tags a swallowtail with her own tail, and then races for the hummingbird moth. She narrowly misses it as it slides between the branches of a bush, where it is safe. Rudy decides on another target, and goes after a splendid painted lady, but narrowly misses her as the butterfly seems to magically slip aside. She takes another leap of it and gently touches it with a paw. She races towards the statue, now obscured by the butterflies perching upon it. She stops in awe, as she sees the statue, now a patchwork cat made up of hundreds of butterflies. As she admires the statue she falls deeper asleep and the dream slips away.

Peep is asleep next to the Daddy. She is curled tightly and the tip of her tail is just touching her nose. Anyone looking at her would guess that there is a round black pillow on the covers, as in the dark, no part of her is distinguishable. She sleeps silently, secure with the Daddy close by.

Peep’s dream is of her sitting with the Mommy in the living room. Mommy has her computer and is working on an important math formula that she brought home from NASA to complete over the winter. She is stumped. She can’t figure out how to make some of the numbers work in the formulas. The number systems and mathematics she has learned just doesn’t seem to apply here. Peep looks over the papers the Mommy is working on, and somehow they make more sense than they had before the summer. Maybe the Mommy is using a simpler type of math, or maybe Peep has just become that much smarter this summer. When the Mommy goes to get a cup of coffee, Peep looks through the amassed papers. She is still carefully analyzing one particular section when the Mommy returns. She sees that Peep is hard at work, and decides to see if a cat can make more sense of it than she can. After an hour’s hard work, Peep discovers that the counting system she developed over the summer could be used to convert the numbers in the Mommy’s formula, and that if she did that it would work perfectly. Peep snatched the paper with the formula and ran outside with it. She found an unmarked patch of dirt and began her figuring. The Mommy found her out there a while later, hard at work. She was about to take back her paper when she saw what Peep was doing, and leaned down to look closer. As she looked at it, she realized that Peep was really onto something. Peep had written out the counting system, and then had used her symbols in the formulas and was in the process of doing the final calculations. The Mommy sat down with a thump and looked at the Peep in awe. “Peep, you’ve done it! I’ve been working on this for weeks, and haven’t been able to make any progress and you’ve figured it out!” Peep barely acknowledged her as she finished the calculation. When she was done, she sat back and smiled at the Mommy. Maybe, just maybe, she was a smart little cat. Peep purred, both in the dream and in her sleep, and the Daddy’s hand reached out on the bed and gently rubbed her head. Peep woke briefly, nuzzled his hand and went back to sleep.

Sleep well, cats.
Top photo courtesy of Freeparking - http://www.flickr.com/photos/freeparking/2401662465/
Middle photo courtesy of Stewart and Vickie Carrington - http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewickie/706394725/
Bottom photo courtesy of bon bon - http://www.flickr.com/photos/phantomkitty/259379993/

Friday, July 18, 2008

New members at the Cat Club

LT called the meeting of the Cat Club to order. “Tonight I would like to propose four new members for membership in our Cat Club. Most of you probably have already met them. I know we didn’t get off to a good start, but I think we can all be friends if we try. I propose the following members, Mr. Snuggles, Ladybug, Bunny, and Snoogums. Can I have us show of paws of those cats in favor of accepting them into our club?”

Rudy and Peep immediately raised a paw. Ginger hesitantly raised one and Fuzzy sat with all four paws squarely on the ground. “All those opposed?” Fuzzy raised a paw defiantly. “Is there any discussion?” said LT.

Fuzzy raised his paw and said, “If you think I’m gonna be in the same club with those four dips you’re crazy. They beat me up, insulted me for my name and now they want to be friends? Their names are even stupider than mine. Who in the world would name a cat Snoogums or Mr. Snuggles? Ladybug and Bunny are just animal names. At least Fuzzy describes me, because I have a fuzzy tail.”

LT looked at each of the current members and asked, “Would anyone like to say anything in support of the potential members?”

Peep raised a paw. “I didn’t think I would like them, because they were mean to you and LT, Fuzzy. But now that I’ve had a chance to get to know them I think they’re actually kind of nice. They were afraid that being the new cats in the neighborhood they would get picked on so they decided to pick on everyone else first. It wasn’t right, but I can understand that they were scared. Fuzzy, you attack LT and Rudy and me and we don’t kick you out of the club. Please give them a chance?”

Fuzzy looked at the ground for a long time. Finally he said, “All right, but if there are any problems I’m going to beat up the whole lot of you.”

LT sat up straight and said, “The vote to accept Mr. Snuggles, Ladybug, Bunny, and Snoogums into our club is finished. I now declare them members.” LT walked over to the edge of the woods and meowed lovely and then came back to his place. In a few moments the four new cats walked over and sat down with the group.

Each member of the group introduced him or herself and told a little bit about their background. The new members told amusing little stories about their owner who was a bit of a batty old lady. She had been known to dress up her cats in doll clothes and arrange them for photographs. Snoogums said, “If we can ever bring you in the house, I’ll show you the photo album that has all those crazy pictures in it. It’s really funny.”

When it was Fuzzy’s turned to introduce himself he said, “Yeah, my name is Fuzzy and I was named that because although Peep and I look alike my tail is really fuzzy and hers is really skinny. Unlike Peep, I didn’t get adopted by a nice fancy family. I still live where I was born and have to struggle for food. Sometimes my owners feed me but a lot of the time they don’t. Sometimes they put food out but then throw rocks at me when I go to eat. If I had a better place to go I would but I don’t. I don’t take kindly to being picked upon by pampered house pets and then ridiculed for my name. So you new four just stay out of my way.”

Ginger raised her paw. “I am delighted that we have new members, especially since two of them are ladies. We see the same faces day after day and it’s nice to have someone new to talk to. Please accept my welcome to the neighborhood.” Ginger was always so ladylike and everything she said sounded lovely with her beautiful southern accent.

Bunny spoke up, “Well, thank you Ginger. I’m delighted to have such beautiful and handsome new neighbors and such gracious ones. Fuzzy, I can really understand why you’re angry. I’d be raging mad if someone had done to me what we did to you. Please accept my personal apology.” The other three new cats quickly followed with personal apologies to Fuzzy.

“Okay, okay, okay! I forgive you all. Now, just leave me alone.” Although Fuzzy’s words were impatient, he seemed to be captivated by Bunny. She had batted her eyes at Fuzzy and he was all flustered. No female cat had ever acted like that to him before. These could be interesting neighbors.

The rest of the meeting was quite routine but for once after the meeting was over all of the cats did not scatter quickly for their homes. Peep bravely stayed outside to talk to Ladybug while Fuzzy sat down to talk to Bunny. LT huddled in conversation with Ginger and Miss Rudy was monopolized by Snoogums and Mr. Snuggles, who seemed to adore her.

It wasn’t until Jay came home that the cats realized how late it was. He walked up to the group and was happy to see them all getting along so well. “Sorry to interrupt this meeting of the Cat Club, folks. I’m just passing through.” The cats decided that they’d talked late enough, and everyone headed for home.






Photo courtesy of Makoto SATSUKAWA - http://www.flickr.com/photos/masatsu/1808205717/

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rudy, standing in for the yarn lady

Hi, Rudy here.

I got an email from the yarn lady last night, asking me to write the blog today. She said she’d had a lump on her tongue cut out on Wednesday and didn’t feel up to writing, so here I am. I thought about having a lump cut out of my tongue, and had Peep stick out her tongue, as I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at a tongue before. Tongues are really quite thin, you know. She probably has a hole going right through her tongue. No wonder she doesn’t want to write today. She’s probably just lying around with her tongue hanging out saying “Owww, owww.” I feel bad for her, so I’ll do a nice catch up today for her.

Daddy’s feeling much better. He got up today and did things around the house. He ate a really good breakfast (and fed us bacon while he was at it) and watched television and read his book. He said he didn’t feel well enough to go to work, though. Mommy was worried about him. She called every day at least twice to make sure he was okay. I don’t know what she could have done from down in Virginia, but it’s nice to know she still cares about us.

I thought for a while on Tuesday that I was going to have be like Lassie and go for help for the Daddy. I would have gone to the neighbors and meowed until they came over, or maybe sent an email to the yarn lady, telling her to come over. I know she usually checks her email a lot since she can’t work anymore. I’m glad the Daddy got better on his own, though. It would have been hard to get the neighbors to come in the house. They’d just think I was asking to be let in. I probably would have had more luck with the yarn lady. She would have called or come over and taken care of the Daddy.

We’re all okay here. It’s a good thing that cats can’t get sick from people germs. We wouldn’t want to have the Daddy’s cold. He was so achy and miserable. Picture three cats lying around in misery. We’re all such drama queens (and king, I guess) that the Daddy would have thought we were all dying! That would have made him very worried, and he doesn’t need that with trying to get better and keep the house nice and feed us and all.

Well, that’s about it for today. If the yarn lady asks me to write again tomorrow I’ll come up with something nice. Perhaps I could write one of the kitty tails that my cat mother used to tell me when I was a kitten….


Just a quick postscript from the yarn lady -

I don't have a hole through my tongue, just a hole in my tongue. People tongues are a lot thicker than cat tongues, Rudy.

Thanks for taking the blog today!

The Yarn Lady