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 -
Second photo courtesy of Lindsey Applegate -

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 -
Second photo courtesy of Honey Bunny -

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


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 -

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.