Monday, November 8, 2010

Lonely Lemuel

Kid knew it was fall and that winter wasn’t far away.  The temperature dropped every night to an uncomfortable chilliness, and the daytime was comfortable only if there was sun and somewhere to sit that wasn’t the cold hard ground.  Getting older was for the birds.  Her bones ached in the cold and it seemed like her fur wasn’t as thick as it had been a few years ago. 

Luckily, the yarn lady (the new lady who’d moved in a while back) was more than happy to make sure she got inside.  She’d distract Buddy so that she could get on the deck and in the door safely.  Once inside there were plenty of places to lie down that were soft and warm, and lovely food.  Val always gave her at least twice as much food as the other cats, rationalizing that since she spent most of her time outdoors, she deserved it.  Kid certainly wasn’t going to tell her that she was spending more time indoors these days – the squishy food was too yummy. 

But this morning she was outdoors.  Val’s family had been around all afternoon yesterday and they were noisy and unpredictable, so she’d opted for the outdoors.  She’d dozed off on some soft cushions in a shed and woke up only after everyone in the house had gone to bed. Kid had gone to the sliding door on the deck, but there were no lights on, so Val and the yarn lady must have gone to bed early. 

After a cold night outdoors, Kid was wandering the property waiting for someone to get up and let her in.  It was just light, and although the yarn lady got up a lot earlier than Val, she didn’t think she’d be up this early.  She headed down to Bart’s farm figuring she’d see who was out and about there.  At least it would kill some time.

She peered through the hedges and noticed that although the chickens weren’t out, the turkey named Lemuel was.  He gobbled a greeting to her, and then said clearly, “Hello Kid, I’ve missed chatting with you these last few days.”

“Hi, Lemuel.  It’s been a bit chilly lately, so I’ve been spending more time indoors.  How’s it going with you?”  Kid had gotten to know the turkey and felt a bit sorry for him, as he was quite lonely.

“Oh, about the same.  The chickens are poor conversationalists, and the farmer just doesn’t seem to listen to me at all.  Every time I see him I ask when he’s going to bring me some hens and jakes and he just doesn’t listen.  Sometimes I wonder if he even understands a word I’m saying.”  Lemuel shook his head and his wattle wobbled back and forth. 

Kid cocked her head.  “Okay, I know what a hen is, but what’s a jake?” 

Lemuel shook himself a bit, and Kid knew she was in for a lecture if she didn’t head it off.  “Jake is the term for a young male turkey, before he becomes fully mature and jenny for the females.  Babies are poults or chicks…”

“Oh, I never would have known all that.  With cats we’re just kittens and cats.  Turkeys are much more complicated, I guess.  You know, humans don’t understand our speech at all.  They lost their abilities for cross-species communication somewhere along the way.”  Kid hoped that by changing the subject she could sidestep a lecture on the family structure of turkeys. 

Lemuel strutted about for a few moments, picking at grain on the ground.  “I guess I knew that.  I’m just so lonely without other turkeys that I keep trying every day.  All the farmer does is shove grain at me.  I never got this much food at my other farm.  I know that I need a little more insulating fat for winter, but the amount he’s giving me is a bit ridiculous.  It’s as though he wants a fat turkey.  He looks at me sometimes and tells me to eat up, that he likes a large turkey breast and big drumsticks.”  He shook his head. 

Bells went off in Kid’s head.  Turkey breast.  Drumsticks.  People didn’t refer to live animals in those terms, that was what you said about something you bought at the supermarket to cook.  Bart couldn’t be - - no, even he wouldn’t bring in an animal just to fatten it up and kill it.  The goats gave milk, as did the cows.  He collected the chickens’ eggs, not the chickens themselves.  No way he’d…then a thought occurred to Kid.  Cold weather.  Fall.  Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving turkey.  NO!  Impossible.  Turkeys came from the grocery store.  He’d seen Val bring in whole chickens and turkeys, plucked and without heads and feet and wrapped up in plastic. 

Some of the panic she was feeling must have shown on her face.  “Kid, are you okay?  I don’t think Bart is some sort of deviant.  He just admires a well-built turkey.  Perhaps he feels that I will father superior poults if I am fleshier.  It’s possible.” 

“Oh, no.  I just thought of something else.  Listen, Lemuel, I’ve got to be going.  Val will be calling for me anytime now, and if I’m not close I’ll miss my breakfast.  Okay.  I’ll be seeing you.”  Kid scampered across the yard and though the hedge.   She was going to have to talk to the other cats about this.  Maybe they would know if Bart would do this unspeakable thing.  She prayed to the Great Cat that she was wrong.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another rainy day

Date: 10/4/10 09:34:22

Hi, Emma here.  After that great summer with no rain, it seems like it's always raining now.  I am bored with rain, and I hate getting it on my fur!  If I get stuck outside in the rain I have to find a dry place and then run for the house when I see someone at the sliding door on the deck.  If I'm lucky enough to be inside, I have to deal with the yappers.  Oh, such a funny thing happened with one last night.  Ziggy has a hurt paw, and Loveymom took him to the vet for it this weekend.  He had this funny looking bandage on it and he was limping something bad.  Well, he was running around on three legs, holding his leg up in the air, so I walked over and stood where he could see me and I dangled my paw in the air just like he was doing - just to harass him a little bit.  I thought he'd come after me and then I'd run to Loveymom because she loves me better than them and she'd protect me.  Well, he just stood there, and eventually asked me if I had a hurt paw too!  What a stupid dog.  But Loveymom got the joke - she started laughing and then when the yarn lady came home she told her about it. 

I've barely seen Kid in the last day.  I think he's stuck out in the weather, poor guy.  Buddy's been his usual self, trying to keep Kid from coming in the house, but Buddy doesn't want to be out in the rain any more than I do.  And since he only chases Kid when they're outdoors, if Kid could just get inside he'd be fine.  Well, maybe later. 
Date: 10/4/10 12:08:14

Rudy here. By the Great Cat – I want this rain to stop!  Although I must say we’re having a much easier time of it than the Mommy is down in Mary Land.  She told Daddy that it absolutely poured almost without stopping for two whole days last week, and rained most of the other ones.  I hope she didn’t have to drive through too much rain last night when she went back.  I worry about her with all the driving she has to do.  I thought the Daddy would never leave today.  When it rains he doesn’t do as much work, since he’s almost always outside when he does it.  I can’t use the computer if he’s home, even if he’s asleep.  Can you imagine him walking into the office when I’m reading my email?  Oh, that would be rich.  He’d probably put two and two together and figure out it was me with the viruses, and buying the turnip seeds a couple years ago.  That and he’d probably want to put me on Letterman for Stupid Pet Tricks. 

I guess LT has found somewhere outdoors to stay dry.  He’s got a bunch of places he hangs out.  Peep is asleep on the bed, totally slugged out.  She claimed that new pillow of Mommy’s and likes to sleep on it when Mommy isn’t using it.  I’m just going to hang in here until it clears up.  I think I’ll check out Flickr and ogle some handsome toms.  I’m just bored with all this rain, although the weekend was pretty good. 
Date: 10/4/10 13:45:52

Hi Rudy.  Being an indoor cat I don’t much care what the weather is, except that sometime my humans track in water, and I don’t like stepping on wet floors.  And, I guess my crunchy food gets a bit soggy if it rains for too many days in a row.  I do like sitting by the back door and watching the rain, though.  It’s so pretty.  I have to tell you that Ursula is being a nutcase these days.  My loving Daddy thinks she got into catnip, but she’s just crazy.  She’s been actually bouncing off furniture.  She launches herself at a chair, hits it with her paws and rebounds in another direction.  Squirrelly.  She tried to do that with me – I dunno, maybe she thought I weighed as much as an armchair and wouldn’t go flying across the room.  She apologized profusely, but man that hurt. 

The noisy girl came up and laid on the bed with me for a while the other night.  I miss having someone who will give me loves for as long as I like and then let me snuggle behind her knees.  Ande was good at that.  I still see her, and sometimes we snuggle for a little bit, but it’s just not the same.  My loving Daddy was talking about getting new carpet in the downstairs.  New carpet would be new opportunities for scratching, so that would be nice, but he’s talking about how all the furniture needs to be moved, and they have to tear up the old carpet first.  I think I’d be spending a day or two upstairs while that goes on. 

Well, not much going on here, and I think I hear the noisy girl getting up so I need to get off the computer.  Byeeee!
Date: 10/4/10 14:12:52

Hi, sorry to take so long to get back to you, Emma.  I saw your email this morning, but when I was about to reply I thought the noisy girl was going to get up, so I had to log off.  Turns out she was just using the facilities, so I’m back.  I’m sorry to hear that Ziggy has a hurt paw, even if you do like to torment him.  Ande and the noisy girl say he’s a nice dog.  The noisy girl talked to me about all of you after she came back from visiting your place with Ande.  She said you look like one of her grandfather’s old cats – same coloring and build, except her legs were a bit shorter.  I’m glad you were nice to her.  She’s a good kid, and probably won’t even be too noisy when she’s over there with Ande, since she won’t have her computer to play loud music from YouTube.  Sometimes when I’m hanging out in her room she puts on the music and starts jumping around, I think it’s called dancing, but it looks like jumping to me.  I try to find the safest place possible, like under the table the television is on, way back against the wall.  I don’t want to get stepped on! 

I was just writing to Rudy and said that I don’t know from rain, because I’m an indoor cat.  So, I can sympathize with you, but I have no clue what it’s like to be out in rain, and I don’t think I want to find out from everything you all say.  Well, try to stay dry, and I’ll email if anything interesting happens.  It mostly doesn’t here, but you never know!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New developments in the class action lawsuit

The situation surrounding the class-action lawsuit against me is getting very complicated.   Two of the plaintiffs have notified the courts that they are removing their names from the suit, and the other plaintiffs are, well I can’t say up in arms because they don’t have arms, but they are upset.  Ziggy and Bella have decided not to sue because they realized the reason I didn’t write about dogs was because I didn’t know any dogs well.  Up until the last week, I’ve never lived with a dog, and never even had a dog as a close friend.  They have concluded that I was just didn’t have dogs in my life to write about, and so wrote about cats.  I don’t think this is the whole truth, but it’s their conclusion.  

Troy is furious.  He’s the English Lady’s dog.  His reply to Ziggy, who is the spokesdog for he and Bella, was, “She’s known me for years now, and never wrote once about me until this summer when she took pictures of me being forced to swim in that pool.  You’ve been corrupted by a manipulating human who is just there to get you to drop this lawsuit.  Dogs need parity, and you’re capitulating for a few head pats.”   Ziggy’s reply was less than polite, as he considers Troy to be an arrogant snob.  Nice enough, but a snob.

Runa is staying out of the whole mess, probably because her primary motivation in this suit is food.  Since she lives in New Hamster she is also physically removed from the situation.  She has no personal interest in me – as long as she has her Woofie (as she calls her human, whose name is Wolf) she’s happy.  

The plaintiffs who don’t know me personally but have just signed on as members of the ‘class’ of dogs that are underrepresented in my blog are of course angry.  My email was full all weekend with messages from these dogs accusing me of tampering with the witnesses, buying the affection of the dogs, all sorts of things.  I can’t even figure out what some are trying to say, as their spelling and grammar are just atrocious.  

My lawyer, Cooper, just said, “I told you this would be a problem, but you didn’t listen.”  I was hoping he would have constructive ideas as to how to handle it, but no, I just get condemnation.  I’m doing an online video conference with Cooper and his human partner tomorrow, and will be making a quick phone call to the court beforehand to check on something.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Variety is the spice of life

Peep was bored.  It was a beautiful early fall day, cool and sunny.  The whole world was out there waiting to be played with or explored, but she was bored.  She’d gone out to see if the bullfrog was around the pond, thinking maybe she’d bring him in for a game of chase, but either he heard her coming or was hiding in the muck from the cool weather – no matter, he wasn’t available.  She’d patrolled the yard for bees and wasps and found nothing but some butterflies who were considering starting their migration to Central America.  Mommy was running errands, so she couldn’t entertain Peep and Daddy was out, either on a job or somewhere else. 

Peep wandered around the house.  It was a nice house, but it was boring.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  Except for some books and papers that were left around sometimes nothing ever changed.  The same stuff on the same tables.  The kitchen tablecloth changed from time to time, as did the bedspread, but even those tended to alternate between the ‘same old, same old’ stuff. 

Variety – that was what Peep wanted.  She’d seen on television that people redecorated their houses.  There were even entire shows about putting new stuff around the house.  Curtains, knick-knacks, occasional tables and small rugs were the types of things that humans changed when they got bored with their houses. 

Peep came to a decision.  It was time to redecorate the house.  She wished that Daddy hadn’t locked them out of the Paypal account.  She bet she could find some great stuff on Ebay to decorate with.  Giant cat statues, huge velvet pillows, fluffy wallhangings that could double as places to sharpen your claws – those all would be perfect, but there was no way she could do any online shopping.  She’d just have to make do with what she could find around the house. 

Walking from room to room, Peep identified items that could be moved or pulled out from where they were being kept.  There was a lovely old blanket on top of a chest that was very thick, and probably could double as a rug for the living room.  The bathroom rug, in Peep’s humble opinion would look better in front of the sink.  The kitchen rug should be on the floor in the bedroom so Mommy wouldn’t get cold feet when she got out of bed.  Some pillows on the floor in one of the closets could be traded for the ones currently on the couch.  And hmmm, her trunk was full of all sorts of interesting things.  Stuffed animals and toys were used as décor on the television shows.  She could use those to pep up some areas that were lacking. 

The blanket would be the best place to start.  Once it was placed, Peep would have a better idea as to how much more the living room would need.  She tugged and pulled at it, finally getting it onto the floor in the living room and then spent at least ten minutes unfolding it and smoothing it out.  It actually was a bit larger than the area she had planned to use it for and she had to bunch it up against the legs of the table in the corner.  No matter, it looked good, and considering how cool it was today it felt better than the cold tile against her paws. 

Next Peep moved the bathroom and kitchen rugs.  That was an easy job, and she was delighted with how the kitchen floor looked.  She checked out the rest of the room and realized that the tablecloth and the rug clashed horribly.  The tablecloth would have to go.  It was a very nice butcher block style table and there was no reason not to show it off.  Peep jumped onto the table and checked out what was on top.  One basket of bananas, not a problem.  She used her claws to pull one end of the tablecloth up onto the table, dragged it so that part of the tabletop was clear and then pushed the basket onto the bare table.  From there it was easy to drag it off the table onto the floor where it lay in an ugly, uncoordinating heap.  She thought for barely a second before dragging it into the bedroom closet and stuffing it as best she could into a corner.  While she was there she removed the pillows she wanted for the living room.

She placed the pillows carefully on the couch, arranging them to her liking.  Maybe she wasn’t Kim Myles, but she thought the place was starting to look better.  Now for the tchotchkes.  Peep rummaged through her trunk.  A stuffed cat would look nice on the bed just in front of the pillows, so she put it there.  The mouse collection was arranged artfully on the coffee table in the living room.  One by one she pulled items out and determined if they were décor quality, and if so found just the right place for them. 

After she placed the last item she took a walk around the house.  The office was the same, no changes there, but it was a functional type of room so that was okay.  The spare room, same thing.  No one went in there except to get stuff, so it didn’t matter.  The true living areas, though, were definitely more attractive, even down to the hamster she’d placed on the toilet tank. 

Thoroughly exhausted, Peep curled up for a nap.  As she drifted off to sleep she imagined the house being featured on one of the decorating-on-a-shoestring shows.  She was sure that none had ever featured a house redecorated by a cat before.  Maybe she could get the yarn lady to take pictures….

Friday, October 1, 2010

One born every minute

Rudy logged on to her email account for the first time in a month.  After that whole computer virus debacle she had been terrified to touch the computer.  Rationally, she knew that opening those picture files was what had allowed the computer to become infected, but emotionally she felt as though she would be lighting a bomb fuse by just turning it on.  Last night, though, Daddy had left the television on and a show had come on about computer security.  It turned out that other than opening those darn files, the way Rudy managed her email was about the safest way it could be done.  She used a web-based email system, so none of the messages were downloaded onto the computer, the computer’s virus programs were automatically updated and she had the email site set so that any images that were part of an email didn’t load unless she clicked a ‘show images’ button.  Really, all she needed to do was to exercise a little caution.  So, here she was logging on, holding her breath and praying to the Great Cat for the best.

She couldn’t believe all the messages she had, and decided to create some email filters once she’d gone through them all.  From the subjects listed, she could easily send to the bulk folder most of the commerce related stuff, as well as a lot of the um, solicitations.  Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete - she felt like she’d be clicking on that icon for hours.  She wished the little box you clicked to mark messages was a little bigger.  Paws weren’t great for fine control with a mouse (well at least a computer mouse).

Here was a message from Tatum – Rudy opened it to see what he had to say.  Hmm, complaints about the noisy girl and the food selection.  It appeared that whichever human bought the cat food had been buying a lot of the one with the little pieces of vegetables in it, and Tatum didn’t like that.  Rudy shot off a quick reply, commiserating with Tatum on his difficulties.  She’d met the noisy girl a few times and thought she was perfectly nice, except for talking too much.  Tatum must have just been having a bad day when he wrote it. 

Thankfully, the responses from the Craigslist personal ad had stopped.  There were, unfortunately, several messages from the Nigerian man.  Rudy hit the delete button on the oldest immediately, and then another, but by the time she saw the subject of the last email she hesitated before hitting ‘Delete’.  The subject was “imminent starvation”. 

Despite Rudy’s gruff demeanor she really had a big heart.  The thought that this man’s children and nieces and nephews might be starving was heartwrenching.  Was it possible that he hadn’t known that the photos contained viruses, or worms or whatever they’d been?  Maybe someone had taken the photos for him and given him the disk, or put it on a thumb drive so he could load them onto his computer and they already had viruses and…wait a minute. 

In a flash Rudy realized that she’d been a bigger sap than she’d even thought herself to be.  How could a man whose family was facing imminent starvation afford a computer to send her these messages?  How could he afford the internet access?  And, wait just a minute – the photos he’d sent of his house and village didn’t even show any electricity.  Yeah, they can run underground lines, but that sounded expensive and sophisticated.  She’d been had.  Royally.  And not only that, he counted on her naivety or kind-heartedness to get her to fall for it yet again.  She clicked on delete, and then immediately emptied the Gmail trash.  She may have been a sucker, but she wasn’t going to be one anymore. 

Photo courtesy of Karen Demerly -

Thursday, September 30, 2010

All turkeys are not named Tom

Kid sighed.  Another stormy day and here he was – out in the rain.  He knew he could probably get into Val’s house and find a cozy spot, but it was such a hassle to get past Buddy.  He’d need to find a time when Buddy was sleeping, or at least somewhere out of sight of the deck, and then scoot inside quickly.  No matter how much Ziggy and Bella loved him, they were not going to be interested in doing escort duty with all this wind and rain.  So, he decided to check out his alternate shelters for inclement weather. 

Bart’s farm had the best variety, but it kind of depended on which animals were in which fields.  He didn’t like the goats much.  They smelled and had one-track minds.  Food.  Food.  Food.  When was the farmer going to feed them?  What would they get?  No matter that he always brought the same thing – they were always hopeful that he’d bring something new and interesting.  The chickens were just plain insane.  They thought he’d try to catch them and eat them, despite that most of them were as big as he was.  Admittedly he did have claws and teeth that were much more effective than their dinky little beaks, but he didn’t want to kill chickens.  All Kid had to do was set foot inside their enclosure and they’d all start screaming, “Fox, fox!”  He’d tried to explain that he was not a fox, wasn’t even closely related to the species and didn’t look anything like a fox, but they didn’t listen. 

The cows were half-way decent conversationalists, but their field was just too messy in the rain.  Their huge hooves churned up the mud and puddles formed in the depressions.  They also were not clean-minded about where they dropped their, um, droppings, and when it rained the field became a land-mine of well, it’s better not to say.  So, the cow shelter was out. 

Kid picked his way down the hedgerow between Val and Bart’s property carefully, keeping an eye out for Charlie-the-dog.  He doubted Charlie would be out today, and they actually got along pretty well, but only after Charlie had his initial canine reaction of ‘cats are to be chased’.  Charlie chased, Kid ran, Kid jumped up on fence and scolded Charlie, Charlie calmed down.  Same routine every time.  Dogs just don’t learn from experience. 

Today, however Kid noticed a new creature – one he’d never seen before.  He thought it was a bird, because it kind of looked like the vultures that he’d seen from time to time.  He approached its enclosure carefully, as he didn’t know if it would try to escape or attack him. 

He called out a hello to it, and it jumped in the air about six inches.  Okay, so whatever it was, it was nervous.  “Hi, I’m Kid and I live on the other side of the hedgerow.  Howdy, neighbor.”

The creature looked at him out of one eye, head turned and cocked and gave a somewhat garbled greeting.  Kid thought that perhaps the creature was Italian, like Bart and as a new arrival didn’t speak English well.  “I was looking for a shelter from the rain, although it seems to have stopped for the moment, and I saw you here.  I thought I would be neighborly and welcome you to the area.”
The creature bobbed its head on its long neck a couple times and said in a much clearer voice, “My name is Lemuel.  I’m sorry, you startled me.  I thought I’d seen most of the animals who lived here and I hadn’t seen a cat.”

“Pleased to meet you, Lemuel.  That’s quite an unusual name.  As I said, I live across the hedgerow.  What kind of creature are you, exactly?”

Lemuel raised his head and assumed a regal pose.  “I am a turkey.  I am one of a species that is actually native to this land, as opposed to most of these other animals who were brought from other countries.  I can trace my pedigree back 200 generations.  As to my name, it was my sixth cousin’s, twice removed.  Unfortunately, the farmer here calls me Tom.  I don’t know why, but humans like to call all turkeys Tom, even if they are female.”

Kid, who couldn’t trace his pedigree back to who exactly was his father, wasn’t awfully impressed with lineage.  “Well, I’m glad to welcome you to the farm, and to assure you that I will not chase you, harass you or try to eat you.  In any case, you’re bigger than I am, so I don’t know if I could.” 

The settled down for a chat, since it looked like the rain would hold off for a bit.  Lemuel had come from a farm about a half-hour away, and had come only recently to Bart’s place.  He was a bit lonely, as Bart had bought only one turkey.  Lemuel thought that was rather short-sighted, as one male turkey does not make a dynasty on his own.  He’d come to the conclusion though that Bart was just checking out the set-up for turkeys and would bring females in a week or so once he saw how Lemuel settled in.

As they chatted, the clouds darkened again, and Kid looked anxiously at the sky.  “Lemuel, I think it’s going to rain soon.  If you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a nice dry place to wait out the next downpour.”

“It was nice to meet you, Kid.  I look forward to talking with you again and introducing you to the rest of my flock when they arrive.  It will be soon, I am sure.”  With that Kid ran off and took shelter in a neighbor’s shed, conveniently left open.  A pile of soft cushions from a lawn chair was the perfect place to nap away a rainy afternoon.  

Photo courtesy of Martin Pettitt -

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rain is tough on old bones

LT truly hated rain.   Most cats don’t like water in general and rain in particular because it got in their coats and made them heavy and uncomfortable, but LT just hated it.  Maybe it was because he was primarily an outdoor cat who went inside for food and a bit of love and companionship from the Daddy.  Maybe it was because he was getting older.  Whatever the reason – he hated rain.  If he went inside he’d have to put up with Rudy’s nattering on about something he didn’t care about (like her soap opera), or Great Cat forbid, people other than Daddy. 

His bones hurt, and even when he wasn’t downright wet he was damp.  He couldn’t groom the dampness out, or even roll on something to get it absorbed.  The air was so full of moisture that it beaded on his fur.  He finally decided he was a feline substitute for the yard, and instead of the dew forming on the roses, it formed on him. 

He sat in the garage, but it smelled like oil and truck parts, so he’d left.  He sat in his little house, but the wood was damp and smelled like, well, wet wood.  He sat under Daddy’s truck, and the water seeped in after him, wetting his paws.  He sat under the deck up close against the house, and it dripped through the cracks onto his fur.  Finally he gave up and went in the house.  Even Rudy was better than this constant wet. 

The cat door closed with a thump that mirrored LT’s mood.  If anyone crossed him, he’d take a swipe at them, claws out, and the hell with the consequences.  Peep saw him come in, judged his mood to be bad and ignored him, covertly watching him with slitted eyes.  When he’d stomped into the office, she quietly got up and went looking for Rudy who happened to be asleep on the china cabinet and hadn’t noticed LT go by. 

“Rudy,” Peep whispered, so that hopefully LT wouldn’t hear her. “LT just came in and I think he’s having a bad day with all this rain.  His tail was lashing like crazy and he was walking really stiff.”  She giggled a bit. “I know it’s not funny, but there was so much water beaded on his fur he would have thrown rainbows if the sun was out.  Don’t bug him or talk to him about stuff, okay?”

“I’m not as insensitive as you think, Peep.  My back legs are hurting me today, so I know how LT feels, at least a little.  I’ll leave him be, unless you think maybe he might like some company.”  Rudy was offended, but not seriously so.

Peep let LT sit in the office for a bit, and went quietly in, trying to judge his mood.  LT was grooming the moisture off his paws, and Peep could see from how stiff he was that he’d have trouble getting to his back.  She settled down next to him and silently began to groom his hindquarters.  Eventually they met in the middle of his belly and LT quietly said, “Thanks, Peep.  This gets harder every year.  Most of the time I don’t mind getting old, but the stiffness in the rain is a bit tough.  Now if I could only get warm….” 

Peep looked at him and gently asked if he would mind some quiet company.  LT replied, “So long as that Rudy keeps her mouth shut about that soap opera of hers, I would really appreciate it.” 

LT padded into the bedroom and jumped up on the bed.  Peep got Rudy, telling her that she needed to keep her lips zipped and the two of them settled on the bed, one on each side of LT.  Their combined body heat warmed LT, all of them for that matter, and within half an hour they were asleep.  When the Daddy came home that was how he found them.  Three cats, who were now all curled into each other on the bed.  Daddy backed out silently and decided that he’d sit in the living room and read quietly, as he didn’t want to disturb such a peaceful pile of cats.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Buddy, remaking his image

Buddy had been working hard the last few days to repair his image with the yarn lady.  The first time she’d written about all of them in the blog she had portrayed him as an evil cat, who terrorized poor, poor Kid.  When the others had told him about that, he hadn’t believed it.  She’d seen him for just moments, sitting below the deck, watching as Ziggy and Bella ran into the house with Kid.  He wasn’t evil – he was just protecting his territory.  Cats are supposed to do that. 

It wasn’t even right that Val considered Kid to be part of their family.  He spent most of his time either in the next door neighbor’s yard or at Bart’s farm at the back of the property.  He only came in at mealtime, and then claimed more than his fair share of the squishy food.  But Val was convinced that she was the only one who fed him, so she made sure that twice a day he got his double ration of squishy food.  Buddy only chased him to make his point that it was really his place, and Kid was just a visitor with kitchen privileges. 

When Buddy realized that the yarn lady was going to stay with them, he was delighted.  Now that Val was working almost every day, there was no one around to open the door for him when he wanted to come in for a smackeral of crunchies or for a nap on a soft place.  If he was lucky, she’d be around during the day and could act as doorman and even provide on-demand rubs. 

He’d watched her for a day or two to make sure she really was a human who truly appreciated cats.  He noticed that she’d stop and rub Emma’s head and tell her how much she looked like Puddin’ Cat.  Buddy didn’t know who that was, but was happy to see that she had proper head scratching and belly rubbing skills.  When Kid came in she made a fuss over him, telling him what a beautiful calico he was, and carefully scratching the places he couldn’t reach at the back of his ears. 

The yarn lady had also approached him, but up until today he’d allowed only the briefest contact before retreating to observe.  She didn’t seem offended, and when he moved away she talked to him about how she’d like to scratch behind his ears and rub his belly if he’d let her.  He really liked that she didn’t talk baby talk – the voice she used for the cats was the same as the voice she used to talk to Val.  Smart human.  She recognized how intelligent they were.  He also noticed she did use a ‘pet’ voice to the dogs sometimes, and figured that she realized that their intelligence wasn’t up to the level of the cats, and adjusted how she spoke accordingly.

So this morning when Buddy saw her on the deck he jumped up on the rail and walked straight over to the yarn lady.  He butted her hand with his head, and allowed her to provide a lengthy scratch to his ears and the sides of his jaw.  He then carefully flopped onto his side, presenting his belly for her attention.  She not only gave a belly rub, but used her other hand to make sure he didn’t fall off the rail onto the deck.  He appreciated her care, especially since he was enjoying it so much that he wasn’t exactly paying attention to his balance.  Eventually he sat up and she gently scratched the area at the back of his neck and told him how happy she was that he’d accepted her.  Buddy thought to himself that her opinion of him had probably changed considerably, and he liked that and sat there and let her scratch him some more. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Witness tampering

I just finished a consultation with Cooper McKenna, my lawyer for the class action lawsuit and he is not happy with me.  It appears that I may have compromised my position as I could now be considered as using undue influence over some of the plaintiffs in the case.  I’m staying with Val right now, and she is the Ziggy and Bella’s owner.  I didn’t consider this when I needed a place to stay.  I knew she was looking for a housemate and we got along well, so I asked and she said, fine, bring your stuff over. 

Well, I now see Ziggy and Bella every day and pet them and talk to them, and Cooper thinks that could be interpreted as trying to influence either their participation in the suit, or the content of any testimony they might give.  He also asked me if I had done anything that could be considered abusive to either of them.  Of course I haven’t abused them!  They are lovely little dogs, and I told him that, describing them to him – Ziggy, the enthusiastic although probably not too bright Maltese and Bella, the sausage shaped Chihuahua.  Cooper informed me that just how I’d described the dogs could be considered as verbal abuse, as I could be trying to demean or shame the dogs since I’ve said that in front of them.  I think those two things are mutually exclusive!  Either I’m being nice to them, or I’m verbally abusing them, right?  Perhaps a sharp lawyer might make the case that I could be systematically trying to break them down, and so am doing both. 

There’s no additional news on the lawsuit, other than some other dogs who have signed on as plaintiffs.  Cooper hasn’t said anything more about how he will handle the case, and we haven’t even been assigned a judge, much less a court date.  I’m not in a hurry to take this to court, as I’m not sure how I’m going to handle all the lawyer and court fees.  It’s not as though I can file a counter-suit against dogs for my court costs.  I’d probably just get paid in Milk Bones, and although Cooper might enjoy them, the bills I’ve received are for U.S. currency, and not dog goodies. 

I’m not going to change my behavior with Ziggy and Bella just because of this suit.  I won’t ignore them because I’d consider that emotional neglect, and I’m not leaving here on the say-so of a poodle, even if he is my lawyer. 
Bella and Ziggy begging for pizza

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Helping the kitsune

The Cat Club had a surprising visitor this week.  LT had opened the meeting as usual, welcoming everyone and asking if they had any news for the group.  Peep and Rudy both reported seeing the fox around the property over the last couple days.  She seemed to be watching them carefully or checking out the house and cars.  Rudy was concerned.  “Do you think she’s actually some sort of sneak thief who’s canvassing our property so she can rob it?” 

LT replied, “I doubt it.  What do our humans have that a fox would want?  Furniture, clothes, old radios?  I don’t think those are items that would interest a fox.”

“Food!  Food!  She probably wants the treats Daddy gives us, or the food that he and Mommy eat.”  Food was Rudy’s main love in life (other than One Life to Live), and if her food supply was threatened she would fight. 

The other cats looked unconvinced.  Foxes were pretty good at securing their own food supplies, and this one hadn’t even scavenged the garbage cans.  As LT was about to say that he didn’t think that would be a concern, the fox appeared at the edge of the trees. 

“I’m not going to take your food, or the humans’ clothes or furniture, although I wouldn’t turn up my nose at a cozy blanket to sleep on.  May I join you all?”  Inariko was a polite fox and had a healthy respect for the damage that eight cats could do to her if they wanted.  Yes, she could disappear on them, but they might actually damage her before she could react if they were very, very quick. 

LT looked at the other cats to see what they thought of this request.  “Does anyone object if Inariko approaches?”  When no one objected, he then asked, “Will everyone agree to keep their claws in and not harass her while she is here at the meeting?  I would like to offer her the same consideration we show each other at these meetings.”  When the other cats agreed, Inariko approached. 

“As I’ve told you, my name is Inariko.  I’m not exactly a fox, or more accurately, I am not just a fox….”  Inariko went on to explain that she was a kitsune and what exactly a kitsune was and did.  When they were reluctant to accept her explanation, she first disappeared right from where she was sitting, and then reappeared as an exact duplicate of Peep.  That demonstration scared the daylights out of all of the cats, and Bunny got hysterical at the sight of two Peeps.  Inariko vanished again and reappeared in her fox form and the others calmed Bunny. 

“Okay, okay, we accept that you’re some sort of a spirit that’s called a kitsune!  So why are you here?”  Rudy asked this question, because she was suddenly afraid that the kitsune had come to take her friend Harry, who was also kind of a spirit cat, being that he was the ghost of a cat who had lived on the property many years ago. 

Inariko posed prettily and told them.  She thought if she made a good visual impression it might help her message.  “That’s what I want to talk to you about.  I am a kitsune that is sometimes sent somewhere to do a good turn for humans or various animals.  When I arrived here I didn’t know why I was here, but last night I realized it was because something is going to happen on this land to the humans and cats who live here.  I’ve been hanging around here for a while now, and I really like all of you, and I don’t want you or your humans to get hurt.  Unfortunately, I probably won’t know exactly what the threat is until it happens, so all of you could really help me by keeping an eye out for anything unusual and sounding some sort of alarm when it does, so I can respond.” 

All of the cats instantly agreed to help Inariko keep a watch on the property and its inhabitants.  Of course LT, Peep and Rudy were worried about the Mommy and Daddy, but the other cats were just concerned about their friends.  They broke the day up into watches, and the cats agreed to patrol the property during their chosen time.  Luckily, the human lady with whom Bunny, Mr. Snuggles, Snoogums and Ladybug lived had relaxed her policy of not letting the cats out much and they were able to promise their help. 

As to the alarm, after scavenging the property for likely items, the cats constructed a makeshift tower out of bits of metal left over from what the Daddy used for his business.  They figured if they knocked it over, it would make a lot of noise.  Since neither human was home, they tried it out, and it was quite successful.  It was so loud that it woke a groundhog, who came out and scolded them thoroughly for disturbing his sleep, until he realized he’d overslept, after which he thanked them profusely. 

With their watch schedule and alarm tower in place, they ended the meeting, promising Inariko that they would give her any help they could.  Later that evening, when the Mommy and Daddy arrived home, they were greeted by all three cats who had been worried that something might happen to them before they could get home.  Peep wove in and out between the humans’ legs, Rudy escorted them into the house, and LT gravely watched from the walkway and then came in and butted his head against the Daddy’s hand, as he sat on the couch.  Each cat knew he or she would do everything possible to protect the Mommy and Daddy, even more than themselves or each other.  Life wouldn’t be worth living otherwise. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hungry cats

Emma, Buddy and Kid were hungry.  It was morning and therefore a human should supply food.  There was a human wandering around the house, therefore she should provide food.  It wasn’t Val, who was still asleep, but rather some other nice lady they had met before and who was happy to rub their heads and scratch behind their ears.  Unfortunately, nice as she was, she didn’t know where the cat food was, or so she explained at length.  

Kid sat in his special spot, right next to his food bowl on a low cabinet, and every time the human walked by he stood up and arched his back and tried to look adorable, hungry and friendly at the same time to encourage her to provide noms.  Emma sat under the table, perched on one of the legs and Buddy threaded his way between the human’s legs to let her know he was hungry.  

The human, to her credit did try to figure out where the food was.  She found a container of dry food and put a scoop in Kid’s bowl.  To be polite, Kid ate a few mouthfuls, but he wanted squishy food.  “It’s in the cabinet to the right of the stove.  If it’s not in front, just push everything around – you’ll find it.”  

Unfortunately, the human didn’t speak cat.  Kid knew that, but was hungry enough that he repeated it for emphasis.  The human thought he wanted love, so she stopped and scratched his ears, rubbed his head and apologized again for her lack of knowledge, and promised she’d get it right tomorrow.  

Ziggy and Bella wandered into the kitchen when they heard food going into a bowl.  Who knows, maybe she’d feed them too.  Ziggy bounced up to her and said, “Good morning, yarn lady.  I hope you slept well.  Wouldn’t you like to feed us all now?  Everyone gets a bit of squishy food from one of the cans in the cabinet.  I know it’s cat food, but Bella and I get to eat it because we help Kid get in the house.  I like cat food, I really do.  It’s squishy and tasty and I wish Val would give us our own can for our help.  You know that we risk our delicate skin twice a day to help Kid get in here.”  

The yarn lady bent down to pet Ziggy and try to convince him to be a bit quieter since Val was still sleeping.  Bella looked at him and snorted.  “Your mouth has the runs, Zig.  And no way we’re going to get our own can of food, and even if we did, I wouldn’t eat it all.  I’m watching my figure, you know.”  

Buddy offered a sotto voce comment from the dining room.  “It’s an easy figure to watch, since there’s so much of it.” With his full voice he said, “Ziggy – if I wanted to nail that furball, Kid, I would.  You’re no match for me.  I just let you two do it because you look so darned silly escorting that cat.  Think about it.  Do you see me attacking Kid in the house?  No.  We’ve all been sitting here for the last half hour, oh-so-patiently waiting for food and I haven’t laid a claw on him.”

Just then they heard Val come out of her bedroom.  Food time!  She showed the yarn lady where she kept the squishy food and how much to give everyone, although she did explain that Kid could have more if he wanted it, since the only time he came in to eat was morning and evening.  Buddy and Emma could graze on crunchies at other times.  

Kid finished eating and returned to his outdoor domain.  Buddy and Emma finished their portions and went out to sit on the deck, since it was such a lovely morning.  Bella and Ziggy settled down on their blankie under the coffee table.  Just before he dozed off for his morning nap it occurred to Ziggy that the yarn lady hadn’t asked about feeding him and Bella.  Uh-oh.  He’d have to rectify that situation later.  She sure needed to know where the dog food was kept and how much to give them.  



Friday, September 24, 2010

Action and more action

Inariko was a fox with a mission, but up until today she hadn’t known what that mission was.  She’d found herself at the house with the radio tower and the three cats one day, not quite sure how she’d gotten there, or for that matter where she’d come from.  She did recall that things like this had happened before, and usually when there was something she was supposed to do. 

You see, Inariko wasn’t an ordinary fox, although she looked like one.  She was a kitsune, or fox spirit.  As far as she knew she was the only kitsune in the United States, or at least in New Jersey.  Her kind were from the far east and most lived in Japan.  As a spirit, she could do things of which real foxes could only dream.  Her favorite was disappearing.  She could make herself vanish at will.  After many long years of using this skill, she realized it was most effective if she did it just out of sight of the beings she was trying to fool.  That way they weren’t sure what happened.  If she just up and vanished in front of someone, there was a good chance it would be passed off as some sort of hallucination or dream.  Just because she was a fox spirit, that didn’t mean she didn’t have the same tricksy nature real foxes had. 

All in all, Inariko was a kind kitsune.  Most were, but some used their abilities to lead others to harm, probably just because they were totally unpleasant spirits.  Another ability kitsune had was to be able to appear as another type of being.  Most commonly kitsune would appear as beautiful human women, but they could appear to be human children or even men if they preferred.  They could also appear as other animals, and Inariko had experimented with many of these, sometimes just for fun. 

Soon after she’d arrived at Peep, LT and Rudy’s house, Inariko had realized that they were very special cats.  Not special like her, they were just mortal housecats, but the way they cared about each other and their humans was quite extraordinary.  Witness the way LT and the others had been patrolling the property for bees and other stingy things.  Other cats might chase flying bugs, but not monitor the property to keep them away. Another example was how they care about each other’s feelings.  They were so good about how they’d told Greymalkin they didn’t want to be bossed around, and then made sure she knew they liked her for herself.  They also had an incredible sense of humor.  Inariko was still laughing about the ‘delicacies’ Rudy and Peep had made the other day. 

But now Inariko’s mission was clear, well kind of clear.  She was there to protect this household against some sort of threat.  She’d awakened in the night to a sure knowledge that something bad was going to happen to this household, human and cat alike, and it was up to Inariko to make sure it didn’t harm them.  Unfortunately she didn’t know if it was some sort of disaster, like a fire, or perhaps an attack by a wild animal.  She just knew she needed to act when it happened, and in order to do that she had to be on the lookout for whatever it was.  So, it was time for action and more action.  First to watch for whatever it was, and then to do everything in her power to counter it.  She’d come to love the beings in this household, and she didn’t want anything to happen to them.  

Image courtesy of Ron Dunnington -

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's not paranoia if they are out to get you

Rudy knew she wasn’t paranoid.  The humans were out to get her.  First on Saturday, Mommy had taken her to Tibet, and she’d received more shots than the other two cats combined.  And then on Tuesday, the Daddy had scooped her up, shoved her into the cat carrier and driven her off to Tibet, only to abandon her there.  It was bad enough going to Tibet, but at least Mommy or Daddy would be there with her, but Daddy just put down the carrier by the desk, had a brief conversation with someone and then just – left.  Well, admittedly he did tell Rudy that he’d be back for her later, and that she’d be fine, but he left her there.  In Tibet.  With the man who liked to torture cats.  What worse fate was there? 

Rudy had cowered in her carrier for what seemed like hours, but probably wasn’t.  Then she was hauled out of the carrier by That Man and plonked on the table.  He held her down and stuck yet another needle in her nether quarters.  After that, her memory got very fuzzy.  She remembered yowling at him, “Let go of me.  I’m going to shred your hands for giving me another shot,” but then things got confused and she didn’t remember anything clearly.  The next thing she knew, she heard the Daddy’s voice again, and she was back in her carrier.  Her brain didn’t feel like it was quite connected to her skull, and her mouth hurt like anything.  This wasn’t how she felt when she came here, and it wasn’t like she’d felt any time before when she’d been to Tibet. 

Daddy picked up the carrier and brought her out to the truck.  The drive home was torture.  She was dizzy and couldn’t control her legs, so every time Daddy turned a corner she just slid around in the carrier.  Finally they arrived home and Daddy brought her into the kitchen.  When he opened the carrier she tried to bolt, but couldn’t.  She wobbled her way out, slowly.  “What did he do to me?  I’m crippled for life and my mouth hurts so bad I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat again.”

When Daddy tried to soothe her, she tried to scratch him, but kind of fell over when she couldn’t balance on three paws.  Luckily she was already on the floor, so it was more like she just fell on her side a bit.  He backed away, telling her that she’d feel better within a couple hours.  She had sincerely doubted it at the time, but by dark she was feeling much better.  The mouth was still a little sore, but nothing seemed to be missing.  The gums around the tops of her teeth were just ouchy.  She tried eating squishy food very carefully and found her mouth to be working fine.  She could walk pretty well, also, but her balance was a bit off.  She decided not to run or jump, as she wouldn’t know if she’d get to her desired destination. 

When Peep came in to eat, Rudy described her ordeal.  Peep replied, “Well, that’s better than what I’d heard on Saturday.  They were talking about pulling two of your teeth, and it sounds like you still have them all.  That’s something to be glad about, isn’t it?”  Rudy growled at her, and would have swatted her if she thought she could do it without falling over.  She decided this dizziness was the pits, and suddenly had some sympathy for the yarn lady, who was dizzy all the time. 

By the next morning Rudy was totally back to normal, at least physically.  Emotionally she was a bit of a wreck.  Every time she heard a noise she was convinced that it was the Daddy and he was going to grab her and take her to Tibet.  He’d tried to pet her, and she growled at him, “Move it or lose it,” and when he didn’t back off fast enough, she nailed his hand.  It wasn’t even enough to break the skin, but she didn’t want to let him close enough to grab her.  She spent the rest of the day outdoors, and not in her usual spot on the walkway.  She hid beyond the edge of the trees, figuring she’d see the Daddy before he could catch her.  She only went in to eat when he was away from the house.  She was taking no chances. 

This morning LT had told her to get over herself when she asked him to check and make sure Daddy wasn’t hiding somewhere in the house.  She hadn’t seen him leave and didn’t want to take any chances, even though the big truck was gone. 

Rudy told LT and then Peep that she was sure he’d just grab her and take her to Tibet again. If not today, then tomorrow, or sometime soon.  Both Peep and LT shook their heads, but didn’t try to argue with Rudy.  Rudy thought that meant they agreed with her, but actually they’d just decided they shouldn’t try to argue with a delusional cat. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Winter preparations

Tatum and Ursula, as indoor cats were experiencing the oncoming fall in rather second-hand manner.  The windows upstairs in Ande’s room were open all the time and the air conditioner was off, and that was about as close as they came to the great outdoors.  Tatum loved to sit on the window sill and smell all the delicious smells that came in: grass, leaf mold, pine trees and occasionally the scent of cooking meat from the next door neighbor’s barbecue.  

Both cats liked to sit in windows and watch the activities of the birds, animals and insects that lived in or visited the back yard.  The front windows weren’t as interesting, as mostly it was just cars rushing by at very fast speeds.  Recently they both had observed squirrels rushing around the yard carrying nuts.  Neither cat had any idea where they were getting the nuts, as they hadn’t seen any nut trees in the yard.  They knew from conversations that there used to be a walnut tree over the back patio that dropped nuts on people’s heads and a black walnut tree over near the Jones’ house, but both of them had been cut down years ago, as they had been sickly.  

This morning Tatum got up the courage to ask a squirrel why he was running around with all these nuts.  “Winter, got to prepare for winter,” the squirrel replied.  “If I don’t have a supply of nuts and seeds cached away I might not make it through the winter.  And if my mate has pups I’ll need even more, as I’ll need to feed her and the babies when they are old enough.  Oh, I need a lot more nuts!”  The squirrel ran off, nut in mouth, and Tatum sat back to think.

Last fall and winter he’d been at the SPCA.  He hadn’t come to live here until winter was nearly over.  Were there things he as an indoor cat needed to do to prepare?  Tatum decided to ask Ursula.  

“Hmmm, I don’t know, Tatum.  Last fall I was a very little kitten.  I was only born in summer, you know.  At this time of year I was just getting used to eating squishy food and drank out of my bottle.  But, if the squirrels are preparing for winter, we’d probably better do the same.”  Ursula ran off with her usual enthusiasm to start her preparations, without knowing exactly what they should be.  

Tatum was more of a thoughtful cat.  He liked to have a plan, rather than just running off at the first enthusiasm.  His first thought was to do some internet research, but Ande was playing a Van Morrison marathon on the computer.  He loved the music, but wished she’d get off so he do some research.  He couldn’t even use his beloved Daddy’s computer, as the noisy girl was using that one to play games.  Bowing to the inevitable, Tatum sat and swayed gently to the music, laughing occasionally when Ande started bopping around in her seat.  

Ursula walked past him into the kitchen and returned in a minute with her cheeks puffed out.  She gestured with her head for Tatum to follow her.  She led him into the living room and under the couch.  Ursula carefully spit out the crunchy food she’d been holding in her mouth and proceeded to cover it with a sock that had been lost under the couch.  “This is it, Tatum.  We’ve got to make caches of food all around the house, so that in winter we’ll have enough food!”  Ursula was proud of her idea.  “There’s room under this sock for more, and we can put it behind the dressers and in the back of the closets.  I think we could even fill up the humans’ shoes with crunchy food.”  

Tatum wasn’t so sure of this idea.  “Ursula, the reason the squirrel needs to hide his nuts is because it might snow and he can’t get to the food on the ground.  I don’t think it’s going to snow in our house, do you?  Did it snow in here last winter?  When it rains it stays outside unless Ande’s left her window open, and even then just a little gets in.  Besides, don’t you think that the noisy girl will feed us, even if it does snow?”

Ursula had to think about this for a minute.  She’d started on a course of action, and didn’t want to back down, but had trouble coming up with reasons for a minute.  “Oh, what if it snows so bad that they can’t get out to buy us more crunchy food?  Then we’d be could starve!  We have to put caches aside for times like that.   And I’d appreciate you not calling my dear, sweet Pikachu ‘the noisy girl’.  She’s the best person in the world!  She feeds me and lets me sleep in her room and snuggles with me as much as I want.”

Tatum had his own opinion on that, although she was the only person he’d let pick him up, but that was just because it was the only time she wasn’t being noisy and bouncy.  And she knew how to carry him nicely and put him down as soon as she got him wherever he was supposed to be going.  For a snuggle, he preferred Ande, but still she didn’t compare with his beloved Daddy who loved him more than anything in the whole wide world.  

“I don’t know about you, Ursula, but even crunchy food gets stale when it’s left out too long.  I think if you want to hide food, we should hide a whole bag.  That way if they run out of food, we can just eat from the bag, like we do sometimes when a whole bag is left on the floor instead of being put in that darn plastic container.”  Tatum nodded to himself and decided to carry out the plan immediately.  He’d noticed last night when Ande had filled the crunchy food bowl that there were two bags in the container, and one hadn’t been opened.  This would be the time to take it and hide it.  

It took Tatum a while to pry off the lid of the container.  He had to wedge both the container and himself so that when he pushed on it neither slid away, but finally the lid popped off.  Tatum jumped up on a chair next to the container and with supercat strength lifted the bag out and dropped it on the floor.  He then dragged it into the living room and under the couch to the corner with the little table.  No one bothered to go back here.  The table was wedged between the television and the couch, and it probably could stay under there for years without being found.  

Meanwhile Ursula continued to make caches, as she still thought they’d need more food, and she claimed she didn’t mind stale food, although Tatum thought she did.  Personally he just thought she was stubborn.  

Eventually Ursula tired of the exertion and flopped down for a nap.  Tatum also decided sleep was a good idea, and went upstairs to sleep on the very soft bed.  He was sound asleep when he was awakened by a yell from downstairs.  “Who the heck filled up my shoes with cat food?  Pamela!!!!!”  Tatum sniggered and decided to go back to sleep.  Let the noisy girl, or Pikachu, or Pamela, whatever her name was, take the blame for this one.  He did hope, though that no one would notice the missing bag.   

Photo courtesy of Rob Baldwin -

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Food fit for a king

LT was very glad that fall was coming.  It was beautifully cool at night, and the days were pleasant, warm in the middle of the day without being hot and nice enough to sunbathe for prolonged periods of time in the morning and late afternoon.  Daddy had even raked together some nice piles of pine needles for him to lie in.  They smelled heavenly and were cozy to sleep in at night.  That was a big advantage to fur.  You could sleep on pine needles and enjoy their smell without being poked by them all the time.  Humans had to sleep on gigantic soft pillowy things that they then covered with soft cloth.  Their skin was so sensitive, and any little bit of fur they had did nothing to keep them warm or protect them.  Not for the first time he thanked the Great Cat that he had been made a cat.

Earlier today Fuzzy had been begging at the back door for the treats that the Daddy gave out.  Amazing.  This was the cat that didn’t want to have anything to do with them after that one Cat Club meeting, but when exposed to fancy treats he forgot all resentments and greeted them all happily.  He’d even been nice to Peep without being told, which was a first.  LT wasn’t sure that he should be jealous that Daddy gave treats to Fuzzy, worried that the treats would run out faster or happy that Fuzzy wasn’t picking on any of them.  He rolled around on his back in the pine needles, crushing a few to get extra pine scent and in the contentment brought about by the smell he decided to be happy about Fuzzy’s new behavior.  

He eased himself out of the needles and carefully stretched out all four legs.  His old bones really appreciated it when he babied them a little.  Long slow stretches – first the hind legs, one at a time, and then the front legs, also individually.  Then he arched his back and wiggled a bit to work the kinks out of his spine.  He also waggled his head a bit to loosen his neck and then bent his chin to his chest to finish the stretch.  Now he felt ready to do anything.  

LT considered for a minute and then took off like a shot across the yard, heading towards Carl’s truck, where Peep was sunning.  He hoped she was asleep, as this would be much more fun if she didn’t see him coming.  LT approached the truck from the back, jumped up on the sloped rear panel, which incidentally was covered in that nice rubbery covering that claws could get some purchase in.  He vaulted over Peep, who woke up with a start, and bounced off of several pieces of the tow truck’s machinery and ended up on top of the cab.  “King of the truck!” LT warbled.  “I am the King of the Truck and no one can challenge me!”  He then sat down, lifted a rear leg and proceeded to groom himself nonchalantly.  It didn’t look like it, but he was keeping a sharp eye on Peep, in case she decided to challenge his supremacy.  He almost hoped that she did, as he had some ideas on dodging to cause her either to fly over the top of the truck or skid across the cab roof and fall off the other side.  

Peep looked up sleepily at LT.  “Whaz going on, LT?  You can be King of the Truck if you like, as long as I can sleep here.  I prefer it down here where it’s not so slippery.”  

“Minion, yes, you may sleep in the lower parts of my domain, as long as you pay me tribute.”  LT had read an old book with Daddy recently, and some of the characters had talked like this.  He hadn’t realized he’d get to use this flowery language quite so soon.  What fun!

“Pay you tribute?  What’s tribute?  Mommy and Daddy pay the vet with pieces of paper and pay their bills with other kinds of paper.  Do you want me to bring you some paper?  I think I could find some old envelopes in the office trash basket.  Is that good enough?”  Peep was still mostly asleep, and didn’t realize that paper out of the trash might not be what he was looking for.

“Hush, varlet!  You offend our royal ears.  How dare you offer to honor me with garbage.  For that offense to our royal person your tribute is now doubled!  No, tripled.  You must bring me three delicacies to tempt my royal palate ‘ere you sleep on this royal truck again.  Now, off you go, knave.  Fulfill this quest and you will be honored above all cats!”  LT was really getting carried away, and almost asked Peep to bring him one of the couch pillows for his royal throne.  He would have done it, but was afraid that he might slide off the cab roof, and that would offend the royal dignity.  

Peep slunk off the truck and walked around to the back door where Rudy was sleeping.  “Rudy, did you just hear what LT said?  What in the world is he talking about?  What is a delicacy?  I know that a deli is a place that humans buy cut up meat to put on sandwiches.  Does he want me to find him some cut up meat?  I really don’t want to go all the way to Glory’s and try to steal some meat just to sleep on the truck.”

“Nah, a delicacy is just something that’s good to eat.  Maybe something a little bit fancier than usual.  It could just be the regular food with a garnish on it to make it look pretty.  That’s what they do on the cooking shows.  They make something that you or I would consider a raw hamburger, put a couple endive leaves next to it and call it ‘steak tartare’.  It’s still just a raw hamburger.  Hey, I have an idea.  Let’s root around in the kitchen and see if we can come up with some true ‘delicacies’ for old LT.

The two cats went inside and took stock of the food that was sitting around easily available.  There were some bananas well past their prime, a lovely bunch of grapes that the Daddy hadn’t quite managed to finish yet, some stale cake in covered pan and half a pot of coffee that had been left on too long.  Within minutes they had transformed the bananas into ‘banana blancmange with fine herbs’, the grapes into ‘grape kebabs’ and the some of the cake and coffee into ‘espresso gateau’.  They’d used plates from the counter, hastily licked clean to hold their delicacies.  Oh, this was going to be so much fun!

Peep went back out to where LT was sitting regally on the truck cab and said in a low hesitant voice, “King LT, I have prepared three delicacies in the kitchen for your delectatation.  No, sorry, delectation.  Sorry, that’s a difficult word.  But it means that they’re delicious and you should come and eat them.”  She bowed her head and waited for LT to jump down and join her.  

LT, feeling that he was at last being shown the deference he deserved as senior cat of the house, vaulted gracefully to the ground and led the way into the kitchen.   When he saw Rudy, his ego was so inflated that he didn’t even consider that they might be making a bit of fun at his expense.  “So, my minions, what have you prepared for me?  If your tidbits are to my liking I might consider allowing the two of you to join my royal court.”

Rudy had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.  “Oh, King of the Truck, we have created three brand new delicacies to tempt your tender palate.  First we have a banana blancmange with fine herbs.”  She pointed to the plate with a smooshy mass on it with sprinkles of something greenish on top.  LT didn’t know what a blancmange was, but knew from bananas and herbs.  So, it couldn’t be too bad.  He took a little taste and decided it tasted like almost rotten bananas and moss.  Not very good.  “Ah, quite an interesting dish, my subjects.  I mustn’t overeat on the first dish, so let us taste the others.”  Personally, he hoped the other two were better than the first.

Rudy presented the grape kebabs – grapes speared onto incense sticks that smelled really strong.  “Ah, what a novel presentation for grapes.  And what is the significance of the sticks?”  

“Oh, the sticks are frankincense, as that is a scent worthy of a true king.  We felt it would enhance your highness’ experience of the grapes and make grapes, a fruit for the masses suitable for royalty.”  Peep managed to say all this without busting out laughing.  LT sniffed them, and replied slowly, “Ah, yes, frankincense is suitable for a king, but I, uh, believe that it should be a finisher to any meal, so I will leave it for last.”  He was beginning to think that perhaps the two cats were having fun with him.  

Peep presented the last dish – espresso gateau.  “This is a carefully aged cake, with strong espresso as a glaze.  As in the carefully guarded recipe, the espresso is poured over the cake only moments before serving, so as to not compromise the crunchiness of the aged cake.  I hope that it is worthy of your royal highness.”  Both Rudy and Peep now bowed their heads low over their outstretched front paws.  In concert they said, “Is your highness satisfied?”  

LT looked at the three dishes, probably none of which were edible, and began to laugh.  “You two took my joke and turned it around on me, and did a better job than I did.  I was just going to make Peep catch me a mouse or two, but the two of you have made me these absolutely inedible things and dressed them up with names that make them sound like they should be served in the finest restaurants in Paris.  I have an idea.  Let’s leave these for Daddy.  Maybe he’ll think they’re from the Yarn Lady and try them.  That’ll be a joke on him.”

All three of them wandered back outside and climbed on the truck together.  LT and Rudy sunned on the cab roof and Peep returned to her favorite spot.  When Daddy came home and went in the house all three cats looked at each other and laughed, but decided they’d let him figure out the ‘delicacies’ on his own.   

Image courtesy of James LeVeque -

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The man who liked to torture cats

It was a black day for the Peep, Miss Rudy and LT. First thing this morning the Mommy trapped Peep in the office and Rudy in the bedroom and then brought out the cat carriers. First she rudely shoved Miss Rudy into a carrier (from Rudy's point of view at least). Rudy hollered to Peep, "Save yourself, Peep, she's going to take us to Tibet!"

When the Mommy came into the office Peep was cowering under the desk. She did not want to go to Tibet. She'd heard on television that Tibet was a marvelous country, but Peep's experiences were that it was just a place that had way too many cats and dogs and smelled terrible. Plus, every time she went there she ended up in terrible pain. The nasty man who lived there seemed to enjoy torturing animals, and even worse than that, Mommy let him do it.

Mommy walked into the office saying, "Come on out, Mommy's little girl. You know I love you but we need to go to Tibet.". Peep's answer was not something that can be printed in a family-friendly blog. Suffice it to say that she invited the Mommy to ingest something that wasn't normally considered food. After a brief tussle, Peep ended up in the carrier and Mommy had a few new scratches.

Meanwhile Daddy was trying to convince LT to come to him. Since they were outside it was a totally different proposition. LT had heard Rudy yelling inside and knew exactly what was going on. He considered just blowing town and leaving Peep and Rudy to their fates, but he knew he'd have to go another day, so after a token protest, LT let the Daddy catch him and put him in the carrier.

The drive to Tibet was uneventful, other than Rudy's constant complaints. Mommy carried them into the building and Peep was happy at least that there were no other animals there. The man who liked to torture cats was there unfortunately, and Mommy greeted him like an old friend. They chatted about Mary Land and the Daddy and then Mommy brought all the carriers into a little room. She took the cats out one at a time and the cat torturer pried open their mouths, felt their tummies and pushed something cold into their poo holes. LT thought that was the worst indignity he had to suffer each year on their trip to Tibet. It didn't hurt, but it was rude! Finally the man stuck a very sharp thing into each cat's flank. Poor Rudy got stuck more than the other two, and he also spent a lot of time looking in her mouth.

Mommy carried Rudy and LT's carriers to the car and came back inside for Peep. As they were about to leave, the man told Mommy that Rudy would need to have two teeth pulled. Peep shuddered at that. It sounded quite painful. She'd accidentally pulled out claws from time to time, and it hurt like the dickens. Having teeth pulled would be even worse. Well, she certainly wasn't going to tell Rudy about this.

They returned home, sore and in bad moods. As soon as Mommy opened each carrier, the cat made a beeline for the cat door and then congregated outside.  "I can't believe this," said Rudy.  "I do not understand why I have to get more pokey things than you two.  He stuck me three times with that thing.  My butt hurts, I have a headache, and I'm so mad I could chew nails."  

Peep, with an eye towards conciliation said sadly, "Rudy, I was about to say that I wished the Mommy loved us as much as she loves you.  She protects you from more diseases, and you even got that special potato chip stuck in you so that if you ever get lost someone can send you home to us.  Neither of us are that special, you know."  

Rudy puffed up a little with pride, although it was marred by her wincing from the pain of her headache.  "Yeah, I guess Mommy does love me best.  And it's a computer chip, not a potato chip.  It's so they can scan me, like at the grocery store, but instead of a price, it will say, 'Miss Rudy, Most Beloved Cat'.  

LT made a retching noise.  "Gag me with a spoon, guys.  I'm outa here.  It's time for my post-shot nap out in the woods.  It's not like I think she's going to haul me back to the vet, but I'm not giving them any chance.  ttfn."

All three cats made their ways to their special spots for such dreadful occasions, Rudy and LT to the woods, and Peep to a perch on Carl's truck where she could spot anyone heading for her and take evasive action as needed.  Later that afternoon, Peep was visited by the Yarn Lady, who gave the Peep scratches and rubs for a nice long time and sympathized with her on the her terrible ordeal.  Peep thought to herself, well, at least I'm done for another year.

Image courtesy of