Saturday, July 31, 2010

An important but difficult Cat Club meeting

The July 30th meeting of the Cat Club did not start out well.  Rudy and Peep looked mutinous as LT opened the meeting to order.  LT began by saying that he wished to deviate from the usual order of business.  Greymalkin broke in, saying that the minutes of the last meeting needed to be read an approved before they could go on to any new business, and old business should be discussed before anything new anyway.  Rudy slitted her eyes and Peep made a low growl in her throat, staring at the officious secretary.  

Greymalkin realized that all was not well, and huddled into a low crouch, fearing that Peep was about to attack her.  “What’s wrong, folks?  I know I didn’t have a chance to get the mission statement committee up and running this week, but that’s no call for incivility!”  

LT took command of the situation.  “Peep, Rudy, settle down.  There is no reason not to approach this in a polite manner.  Greymalkin – I don’t exactly know how to say this in such a way that it won’t hurt your feelings.  Well, here goes.   The Cat Club really isn’t the type of club that needs formal minutes or Robert’s Rules of Order and we know what our mission is.  It’s to be cats and enjoy ourselves.  This isn’t so much of a club as a bunch of cats that like to hang out together one night a week.  We do follow somewhat of a meeting format, but we got that from the Esther Averill books about a little cat named Jenny Linsky who looked just like Peep.  The Mommy read us that book a few years ago, and it had a Cat Club in it.  We thought that was a neat idea, so we formed our own club, and invited all cats who would agree to sanctuary rules for meeting nights to join.  Do you understand, what I’m saying?”

The little grey and white cat looked crushed.  “I understand.  You don’t need me.  I’m just a nuisance to this group of friends.  I can take a hint.”  She started to slink away, but LT called her back.

“It’s not that you’re a nuisance, Greymalkin.  You’ve just been a bit, um, pushy about all these rules.  You’re probably a perfectly nice cat, but all we’ve seen is a businesscat who doesn’t ever take a break to relax.”

She shook her head.  “That’s just not me.  I am a business cat.  Before we moved here, I ran a mousing cooperative.  I worked my way up from assistant mouser to counter to secretary and ended up running the whole thing.  That was my life.  I didn’t ask to move here – my owner just packed me up one day and drove hours and hours to get us here.  I had hoped that I could offer my expertise to your organization and not waste everything I’d done with my life up to now.  I see I was wrong.  I shouldn’t have assumed you wanted what I had to offer.  I should have created a business plan, pitched it to you…well, it doesn’t matter now.  I won’t bother you any more.”  With that Greymalkin ran off into the trees at top speed.

Fuzzy sneered, “Well that went well, LT. You used your usual tact with the ladies.”

“Not true, Fuzzy.  LT was perfectly tactful and explained everything nicely.  I think Greymalkin would have been upset at anything we said.”  Peep felt bad now that it had been done, and even regretted playing with all the shredded minutes last week.  

Rudy sighed.  “We didn’t realize that she did all that simply because it was all she knows how to do.  I’ll go talk to her tomorrow and let her know that we’ll like her for herself, even if she doesn’t know who she is.”  

“Unfortunately, we do have an important new item to discuss tonight.”  LT looked serious.  “Our Daddy has had his name stolen, and we decided to help him pick a new one.  Will you all help us by voting on names that we think would be suitable for Daddy?  We each came up with three names, and figure that if we all voted on them we could come up with a good name for him.”  

Mr. Snoogums looked confused.  “My lady never knows when I’m talking to her, so how are you going to let him know that you’ve picked out a new name for him?”  

“That’s almost the easy part.  The yarn lady knows that we’re smart cats and can read and write.  We send emails to her sometimes and she helps us out.  Only for real important stuff, because she is just a human after all.  We can’t expect her to understand everything, but simple stuff like this is okay for her.”  LT himself was unclear how smart people were in relation to cats, but he knew they could handle a job like this.  

“Okay, I’ll read out the names.  Raise a paw if you like the name.  You can vote more than once, because we have more names than cats.  If we have a tie, we’ll do a run-off and then it will be one vote each cat.”  

LT read the names off, and Peep counted the votes.  After the first round, they had a three-way tie between the name Horatio, Curtis and Marvin.  The tie-breaker was close, with Horatio getting just one vote more than Marvin.  Bunny proposed that the second place name could be the Daddy’s middle name.  That way he’d be Horatio Curtis, and Bunny thought that had a nice ring.  

The meeting ended soon thereafter, and Rudy went inside to compose an email to the yarn lady.  Since she came over every Saturday night, she could propose the new name to the Daddy then.  Rudy loved it when they’d solved a problem.  She sat on the keyboard and purred.

Horatio Curtis

Friday, July 30, 2010

What is in a name?

Peep, Rudy and LT were having a family conference.  They were worried because Daddy said that he’d been stolen, although that was strange since he was obviously still around.  He was upset and even angry because it might cost him a lot of money.  The cats weren’t quite as worried about the money.  As long as there was enough for cat food, they were okay.  Fancy cat toys were nice, but not at all necessary. 

“Rudy, you heard him on the phone.  How did he say that he got stolen, if he’s still here in the house?”  LT wanted to get the facts straight. 

“Well, he used a fancy word for it.  He called it identity theft.  Maybe it meant they stole his name, and now he’ll need to change it from Jay to something else.  At first I thought he meant that he’d been stolen somehow, like maybe somebody stole one of his body parts.”  Rudy explained it the best she could, but of course she’d only heard half the conversation, and didn’t understand all of the words.  She tried to be careful with words after the fiasco two summers ago when Mommy had an internship and Rudy had thought she was doing something with turnips.  That misunderstanding had resulted in a crop of turnips which they had all been forced to eat for what seemed like months. 

Peep piped up, “Oh, I know about identity theft.  I saw about it on the television.  Daddy just needs to pay money to some company and it will never happen because people will watch him and his stuff all the time.” 

“It’s too late for that, Peep.  It’s already happened.  Hmmmm.  Well, what it sounds like is that somebody stole his name.  That’s what an identity is – your name, who you are.  I am Lucky Tiger, LT.  You are the Peep.  Rudy is, well, Rudy.  I think it’s lousy that somebody stole the Daddy’s name.  Rudy, did the conversation sound like he’d be able to get it back?”

Rudy shook her head.  “Nope, on the phone he asked if he’d get it back, and it sounded like the person on the other end said no, because he asked why couldn’t they get it back for him.  I’m afraid our Daddy has no identity anymore.”

Peep looked scared.  He’s still the Daddy, though.  I mean, we’re the only ones who call him that.  The Mommy calls him Jay or Jason.  I think those are the only names that got stolen, right?”

LT nodded.   “I agree Peep.  Maybe we should help him think about new names.  We could pick out some good ones that we think he’d like and send the yarn lady an email so that she could suggest them to him.”  He sighed.  “Sometimes I wish we could communicate directly to Mommy and Daddy, but I don’t think they’d ever believe we are smart enough to send emails.  Mommy would think it was a joke by the yarn lady probably.  Okay, what names would be good?”

“Mr. Green Jeans.  He looks like old pictures of that guy from the Captain Kangaroo Show!”  Rudy had obviously been waiting to make this contribution, as she started talking almost before LT closed his mouth.

“And people would call him, what – Green?  Hello, is this the Jeans household and am I speaking to Mr. Green Jeans?  I don’t think so, Rudy.”  Peep sniggered nastily.  She wasn’t sure she had a better idea, but that one was plain dumb.

“I’ve always been partial to the name Alastair, myself.  Alastair Cook had such a lovely voice, and the Daddy has a lovely voice.  He could call himself Alastair.”  That was Peep’s contribution. 

Rudy retaliated with, “Yeah, and that guy on the Optimum Voice commercials has a nice voice too.  Do you want Daddy to call himself Barry?  I think not.”

“Ladies, let’s not argue.  Let’s think about this and each come up with three suggestions.  We’ll write them down and vote on them and whichever one gets the most votes wins.  We’ll suggest that one to Daddy.”  LT put an end to what might have become a real catfight and settled down to try to come up with the perfect name for Daddy, just in case he couldn’t get his back. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don't take yourself so darn seriously

Rudy was out of sorts this evening.  LT was out somewhere catting around, and Peep was chasing butterflies and acting like a silly little kitten.  She’d invited Rudy to play, telling her that she shouldn’t be such a fuddy-duddy, but Rudy certainly didn’t feel like playing.  She felt like scolding Peep and telling her to act her age, so she did just that.  Goodness, Peep had to be at least six, and here she was acting like a silly kitten.  

Holding her tail high and rigid to show her displeasure, Rudy stalked out to the garage.  When she got there she batted to the side a few odds and ends the Daddy had left on the floor.  Goodness, couldn’t anyone be responsible around here?  Peep acting like a kitten, and Daddy not clearing up the floor!   She sat down and thought about what she should do next.  It wasn’t time to eat, she wasn’t tired and there was no one with whom to have a decent conversation.  Unless - - maybe Harry was around.  She hadn’t seen her spectral friend lately.  

“Harry, are you here?”  She sat down to wait, as Harry sometimes took a few minutes to materialize, or come over or whatever ghosts do.  Rudy’s tail lashed back and forth, although she didn’t even notice it.  

“Having a bad day, are you?”  Harry came through the wall from the radio room.  It really freaked Rudy out when he did it, but hey, if you have a ghost cat for a friend, you have to accept certain things.

“My day is perfectly fine, thank you.  It’s Peep.  She’s acting like she were an eight-week old kitten.  I expect to find her chasing her tail next.”  Rudy’s tail lashed even faster, at one point going right through Harry’s front legs.  

“Hmm, based on how fast your tail is moving, I’d say you’re the one with the problem, not Peep.  When my tail starts going like that I know I’m pretty annoyed.”  In fact, Harry’s tail was lying curled around his body as he sat looking at Rudy.  “What’s really bothering you, Rudy?”

Harry looked so serious and caring that Rudy stopped her tail lashing and mental complaints.  Maybe there was something bothering her.  “I’m not sure Harry.  I just don’t feel, well, right today.  It’s like my fur has been combed backwards and I can’t get it going the right direction.”  

Looking sad, Harry said, “Oh, it’s times like these I wish I still had a body.  You need a good supportive grooming.  Someone to put your fur and mind to rights.  I don’t miss eating half as much as physical contact with another cat.”  

Rudy looked stricken.  “Harry, my bad mood must be contagious.  I didn’t mean to make you sad.  I am such a thoughtless cat.  I yelled at Peep, kicked the Daddy’s stuff around and then made you feel bad.  I’m just worthless!”  

Harry looked incredulous.  “First you’re so mad you could spit, and now you’re so depressed you look like you are about to melt into a puddle.”  Harry stood up, walked over and sat down next to Rudy.  He then quite deliberately twitched his tail so that it went right through Rudy’s head.  Back and forth, back and forth.  “Don’t take yourself so darn seriously, Rudy.  You’re just not powerful enough to make me feel sad or make Peep feel bad about playing.  My being a ghost has its down side, but if I was a real live cat, could I be doing this?  He flicked his tail again, making it look like it was coming out of Rudy’s nose.  “Snap out of it, Rudy!”

When Harry started talking, Rudy briefly looked extremely offended, but then listened carefully to what he was saying.  She carefully opened her mouth, but instead of saying anything, she positioned her mouth around the ghostly tail as though she were biting it.  “Gotcha!  She then sprang through him where he was sitting, something she’d never dared to do before.  It didn’t feel like anything at all, just like she was jumping through plain air.  “You’re right, Harry.  I do take myself too seriously sometimes.  I feel sorry for myself and then blame everyone else for it.  So, let’s play instead.”  

Rudy and Harry sprang around the garage, jumping from table to table, onto the floor and then back up on a shelf.  Sometimes Rudy chased him, sometimes he chased her.  Finally, Rudy collapsed, completely out of breath.  “No fair!  You don’t have to breathe, so you can keep going, and I am…pooped.”  

She heard a laugh from the yard.  There was the Daddy, and it looked like he’d been watching the whole time.  “Rudy – I should put you in the circus.  It looked exactly like you were chasing someone, but no one is there.  That’s quite an act.”  Jay walked in and scratched Rudy’s ears.  “I’m glad to see you having such a good time, but now I need to clean up from that job I finished right before dinner.”  He bent and began picking up the bits that Rudy had kicked aside.  

Rudy looked at Harry.  “He can’t see you, can he?”  

“Nope, and I’m going to keep it that way.  I’m your special friend, not anybody else’s.”  He bent down and licked as though he were grooming Rudy’s ears, while she sat there and purred.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's for lunch?

Peep woke up hungry.  She went to the kitchen and ate a few crunchies and a mouthful of squishy food, but those didn’t satisfy her.  Sitting back on her haunches, she considered what exactly she was hungry for.  Perhaps a different type of squishy food?  Some flavors were better than others, but she didn’t think that was what she wanted.  The crunchy food was closer to what she wanted, but the flavor wasn’t quite right.  That was odd, because most of the brands of crunchy food tasted pretty much the same, no matter what the box said or what color they were.  Peep ate a few more crunchies, just to stave off starvation, and then wandered out onto the deck to think.  

She looked around to see if anything outside would give her a clue.  Trees, nope.  Bushes, nope.  LT, definitely not.  Grass…maybe.  Peep only ate grass when she had a tummy ache, and right now her tummy felt fine, but something about the grass looked good.  She checked the yard to see if Fuzzy was lurking anywhere close, and deciding the coast was clear she walked down the steps and ate an exploratory mouthful of grass.  Yuck.  Grass never had a good taste, and today was no exception.  She didn’t want grass.  

She stared at the grass and noticed some ants.  She stuck out her tongue and licked one off the ground, giving it a test crunch.  She’d heard that ants tasted peppery, and wanted to make sure they weren’t too spicy for her.  They did have a slightly peppery flavor, but not too strong.  Interesting.  She licked up a few more but decided that they weren’t what she wanted.  Peep also realized that she’d swallowed one without crunching it, and that it was wriggling as it made its way to her stomach.  That was an unpleasant sensation.  

Peep walked around the yard, examining everything.  She considered the cactus plants.  She’d never eaten one of those.  She walked over and examined the pads and spines.  Some spines were long and sharp, others were shorter and almost like hair.  She wanted to avoid getting either in her mouth, as she bet they would hurt.  There was no way she could take a bite of one of those without being skewered by a spine, so she gave up on a meal of cactus.  

A butterfly hovered over a nearby cactus.  Peep loved butterflies.  They were so beautiful, and sometimes they would play with her, flying ahead or just out of reach.  She wasn’t interested in playing chase right now and didn’t want to eat the butterfly.  Butterflies didn’t have enough body to make even one good bite and the wings would probably stick to the inside of her mouth.  Not appetizing.

As she admired the butterfly, a grasshopper popped up from the grass nearby.  Peep loved chasing grasshoppers and loved catching them even more.  They were so unpredictable and could jump more than a yard at a time.  The best thing was to watch which direction it was going to jump and start running just before it hopped and be lucky enough to be in the right place when it landed to slam a paw down on it.  

Over the next five minutes Peep did just that.  She watched, ran and smacked, but missed the grasshopper every time.  She just hoped the grasshopper had been hopping for a long time and would get tired before she did.  She even tried springing when the grasshopper jumped to see if she could land first.  Well, she did, but she landed nowhere near the grasshopper.  As she turned to figure out where it had gone Peep saw it the air, heading towards her.  It landed a few inches from her, and lightning quick she reached out a paw and tagged the grasshopper.  It squirmed under her paw, but she held it and then picked it up in her mouth.  Interesting.  

Satisfied with her catch, Peep headed for the house.  Once through the cat door she carefully sat down and lowered her head so that her mouth was just above her paws.   She opened her mouth and immediately grabbed the grasshopper with one paw.  She examined it as it tried to get loose.  Deciding she did want to try eating it, she stunned it with one swift paw strike and stared at it.  Okay, she thought, let’s do this.  

A few minutes later, Peep sighed happily.  She hadn’t known it, but grasshopper was just what she’d wanted.  Definitely crunchy, but with a light, green taste.  

Photo courtesy of Chrissy Wainwright -

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Rudy logged into her email account with great anticipation.  Maybe today would be the day that she found her soulmate.  Normally, days could go by without an email.  Her only regular correspondent at this point was Tatum, the yarn lady’s cat, and he was the strong, silent type of cat.  When he had something to say, it was worth listening to, but he wasn’t the type to blather on about things. 

Today was very different.  The messages continued on for several pages, and they all seemed to be in response to her personal ad.  With great anticipation she scanned the message subjects, trying to decide if she should start at the top, bottom or with a particularly promising response.  Hmm, better start with the first response and work her way forward. 

The first one read, “Hi Molly, although my name isn’t Tom I’d like to meet you.  I love babes with long hair, and look forward to brushing yours.  Check out my photo and if you’re interested in getting together call…”  Rudy clicked on the attachment and up popped a photo of a guy next to a motorcycle.  She scrutinized the photo, looking for the cat in the picture.  Even enlarging it, she couldn’t see a cat.  She read the email again carefully and came to the conclusion that the writer was a human, and thought she was one also.  One didn’t typically refer to cats as ‘babes’.  Okay, that one to the trash, on to the next.

After reading about half of the responses, Rudy looked back at her original posting to try to figure out if the humans who had responded were dense or if she had misrepresented herself.  “Long-haired tuxedo molly looking for a tom in central NJ.  I love lying in the sun, being brushed and snuggling up with someone I love.”  It was perfectly clear.  A molly is a female cat, and tuxedo described her black and white coloring.  A tom is a male cat.  She didn’t capitalize either word, so they were clearly not names. 

Rudy quickly scanned through the rest, and not one of them was from a cat.  Most of the photos showed perfectly nice people, and if she was human maybe she might have liked to meet them.  Sighing, Rudy deleted them all and sat thinking.  “Maybe I need to revise my ad and spell out that I’m a cat.  C-A-T.  Cat.  Not a human.” 

She logged on to her Craigslist account and clicked on the button to edit her post.  She futzed with it for a few minutes, and came up with what she thought was a much clearer ad.  “Neutered female cat, long-haired with tuxedo coloring looking for a male cat for companionship and meaningful conversation.  I love lying in the sun, being brushed and snuggling up with someone I love.”   She posted the revised ad and hoped for the best.

Monday, July 26, 2010

molly ISO tom

Jay had finally left for work, so Rudy streaked into the office and jumped up on the desk, vaulted to the file cabinet, snaked her paw down and turned on the computer.  She had become quite adept at this maneuver, which involved hanging over the edge of the computer to press the power button.  Occasionally she slipped and ended up on the floor five feet below, but computer access was worth the risk. 

After checking her email, Rudy went to the Google search engine.  As it loaded, Rudy reflected with gratitude that she really liked this new computer.  It was so much faster than the old one, and she didn’t have to worry about the \ she got every time she hit the ‘enter’ key.  Rudy thought to herself, “Okay, now how to search for this…hmm, let’s try find, perfect and cat.  Nope that’s not it.  I get sites about how to choose or name your kitty.  Maybe match and cat?  Darn, same results.”  Rudy thought harder.  She knew what she wanted, but for one wasn’t sure if it existed, and second, didn’t know if it would have in internet site.  “Ah ha – cat dating.  That’s gotta have some good hits.  Maybe, maybe….”

Half an hour later, Rudy jumped down from the desk in disgust.  Although one site claimed to be a dating site for cats, the only ones listed on it were people.  What’s up with that?  Another one you had to register for and then it would send messages to the other cat.  She’d been interested in that until she saw that almost none of the listed cats were, well, cats.  She didn’t know what a johnbonjovijohnbonjovi was, but it didn’t sound like a cat.  Maybe a dog – sometimes they had the stupidest names, but why would a dog register on a cat website.  Unless…the dog wanted to lure unsuspecting cats to some secluded place and beat them up? 

Rudy lay outside on the walk and sighed.  How in the world was she ever going to find her soulmate?  Snoogums and Mr. Snuggles were perfectly nice cats, but there was no, well, electricity between them.  LT was like an older brother or an uncle.  Fuzzy was just crazy.  She didn’t really know any other male cats.  When she lived at the barn she’d had her pick of cats – the neighborhood was full of them, but she just wasn’t interested then.  Now she was, and no compatible cats.  What to do, what to do….

She jumped up and ran back inside.  On the keyboard she typed in  You could find anything on Craigslist, right?  Well, maybe she could find the perfect cat.  Rudy filled out the registration form and labored over her personal ad. 

“Long-haired tuxedo molly looking for a tom in central NJ.  I love lying in the sun, being brushed and snuggling up with someone I love.  Email if interested – please include photo. “

That summed it up perfectly.  She was a long-haired female black and white cat, looking for a male cat.  She put it in the Strictly Platonic section (well, she had been spayed at Tibet), hit the send button and hoped for the best.  

Rudy sunbathing

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Minutes of the July 23rd meeting of the Cat Club, Jackson Chapter

Minutes of the July 23th meeting of the Cat Club, Jackson Mills Chapter

In Attendance: LT, Miss Rudy, Peep, Fuzzy, Ladybug, Snoogums, Mr. Snuggles, Bunny, Greymalkin

The meeting was called to order at 9:20 PM by LT.  Last week’s minutes were read by Greymalkin, secretary and approved with minor corrections.

Treasurers Report:  None.  The chapter has no assets or liquid funds.

Old Business:  The heat wave was discussed at length, and members Peep and Mr. Snuggles offered pertinent tips on keeping cool in these long summer days of over-90 degree heat.  LT objected that Peep’s recommendation was not necessarily a sound one, since it involved lying within ten feet of the road where she might be spooked into running into the road by a wild animal.  Snoogums voiced his weekly complaint about the new format of the Cat Club meetings.  Greymalkin explained again how the meetings had lacked any structure prior to her coming to the Club, and that all organizations need by-laws and procedures in order to help them fulfill their stated missions.  Since there were no objections other than Snoogums, his complaint was withdrawn.

New Business: Greymalkin pointed out that while the Club had made significant strides in the months since she had been made secretary, it lacked a formal mission statement.  Without such a statement, the club was merely a loose aggregation of individuals who just happened to get together on occasion to “hang out”.  She proposed that a committee be established to draw up a draft mission statement for the Club’s review and approval.  A voice vote confirmed Greymalkin as the head of the committee.   Miss Rudy, Ladybug and Bunny were then tapped to serve on the committee. 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.

Minutes recorded by:

Rudy rolled her eyes as she finished reading the most recent “minutes” of the Cat Club.  “’Loose aggregation of individuals’ my rear paw.  We’re a bunch of cats that like to hang out together.  Sometimes we talk about stuff that we think is important, and sometimes we just shoot the breeze.  We don’t have a mission – other than to be cats.  What more of a mission in life could there be?”  She flopped down on the back walk and systematically began shredding her copy of the minutes and didn’t stop until she had reduced the sheet to a tiny pile of confetti.  

Peep walked over, her copy of the minutes clamped in her jaw.  She sat down and dropped the sheet in front of Rudy.  “You might as well add my copy to your confetti pile.  Oh, why did we she ‘tap’ us to be on this darn committee with her?  I don’t want to write a mission statement.  I don’t even know what one is, really.”

“She picked only female cats because she knows that the males would just ignore her or not come at all.  She can’t bully them.  The only reason she gets away with bossing us around in the meeting is that we’re all too polite to tell her to put her head where the sun doesn’t shine!”  Rudy thrashed around on the ground as she said this, as though she were wrestling perhaps a very small alligator.  “I have a mind to stop going to the meetings altogether.  That would show her.”

Peep thought about it for a moment.  “Ladybug’s owner has gotten much stricter about letting all the cats out at once, and Fridays are the only day that all four of them can get out, and that’s only because she has her bridge group over and she doesn’t pay attention to the cat door.  If we didn’t go, we wouldn’t see Ladybug, Snoogums, Mr. Snuggles and Bunny.  I’d miss them.”

Another copy of the minutes landed on top of the confetti pile, which had doubled in the last few minutes.  “I’ve had enough of Robert’s Rules of Order, whoever he was and I don’t care for Parliamentary procedure.  I don’t even smoke Parliaments anymore.  Next week we tell Greymalkin the truth about our club and what we want from it.”

Peep got in the last word.  “If she wants our committee to write a mission statement, well I have one for her – Girls just want to have fun!”  Peep dove into the small confetti pile and threw bits into the air.  So, the minutes were good for something.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to Ursula (and Dotsie)

Ursula rushed to the computer where Tatum already sat.  “I have email?  Really have an email just for me?”  No one had ever sent Ursula an email before.  She knew that there was an account Tatum had set up for them so that they could communicated with Rudy, Peep and LT, but no one had ever sent her a message just for her.  What in the world could it be?

Letting go of the mouse, Ursula sat back in wonder.  “It’s my birthday?  I didn’t even know I had a birthday.  People have birthdays, not kitties.”  Tatum was asleep in the kitchen and Ursula rushed in there to tell him the news.  “Tatum, wake up, it’s my BIRTHDAY!” 

“Happy Birthday, kiddo.  Now let me sleep.”  Tatum put his head back down on his paws and at least appeared to fall asleep. 

Ursula rocketed around the house.  As she slid across the kitchen floor and hit the door she wondered what cats did to celebrate birthdays.  She also wondered if her people mommy would feed her tuna.  The mostly-grown girl had eaten tuna last night, and she had specifically said she wasn’t sharing any with Ursula, so she didn’t have much hope that that one would give her any today.  Perhaps the people mommy would, though. 

Ande (that’s the people mommy’s name) was sitting at the computer in the living room and talking on the phone.  She got up and Ursula tackled her ankles.  “Tuna, tuna for my birthday.  Give me tuna for my birthday,” Ursula sang as she dug her claws into Ande’s ankles. 

“What is with you today, Ursula?  I don’t appreciate having my ankles mauled by a small cat.”  She walked into the dining room and sat down at the other computer and started typing.  As she typed, she talked out loud to herself.  “Okay, what birthday cake picture can I send my sister?  I can’t very well give her a cake since she’s in Maine about to get on a schooner, but at least I can send her a picture of one.  Ooh – look!  A coffee-lover’s cake.  I’ll put that in the email.” 

After she’d sent the email, she looked at Ursula, who was sitting on the floor staring at her.  “It’s your birthday too, Ursula.  I first met you 51 weeks ago and you were such a tiny kitten.  Kay was taking care of you, and when you were just two weeks old we took you to Maryland with us to visit Mary Rose.  You went everywhere with us – on the train, out to dinner and even the movies.  You didn’t have a cat mommy, so Kay fed you and loved you.  I helped too, especially on that trip.  You’d sleep with me at night on the bed and when you woke up hungry in the middle of the night, I’d feed you from your little bottle.”

After she’d finished typing, Ande got up and found a good sized can of tuna in the lazy susan.  She opened it with Ursula right at her feet.  “Tuna, tuna for me on my birthday!  Tuna just for me!  None for Tatum.”  Then she noticed that there were two bowls.  Oh well, it was a big can, there was enough for both of them. 

Ande put the bowls on the floor and wished Ursula a happy birthday.  “You know, since you were found as an abandoned kitten at a day or two old, we didn’t know exactly when your birthday was, so I decided to give you my sister’s birthday to share.  That way I’d never forget your birthday.   Enjoy your tuna, kitties.” 

The two cats applied themselves to getting the tuna inside their tummies as quickly as possible.  When he was finished, Tatum carefully groomed his face and whiskers.  Ursula, on the other hand, licked both bowls until she had rasped off even the memory of tuna with her tongue.  Only then did she sit back and sigh contentedly.  She walked to the cat tower, jumped up on top and looking at her people mommy said, “Thank you, Mommy.  That was lovely.  I’m glad you remembered my birthday.  I love you.”  

Ursula 8/9/09

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quite early morning

Five-thirty in the morning is the perfect time to be outside. Almost no cars are on the road, the stars are still out and night-singers are still singing.  LT could hear cicadas, a long-eared owl and some rhythmic insect that he’d never been able to figure out.  In the distance he could hear someone’s rooster crowing madly.  Whoever said that roosters crow at dawn was only partly right.  Roosters crow at dawn, in the middle of the night and throughout the day…maybe people were just so tired that they slept through the middle of the night crowing.  If he waited another few minutes the birds would begin to wake up and add their songs to the mix.  Sparrows and finches of several varieties, titmice, robins, cardinals and juncos all had lovely songs.  

LT had always loved this time of day, but as he got older he seemed to look forward to it more and more.  Perhaps it was because his prey was a bit slower with recent sleep (and therefore easier to catch), but he didn’t think that was the whole reason.  The world was just more beautiful as night slowly became day.  

The stars were barely visible through the trees, so LT walked to the driveway where he could have a better view.  He loved the constellations.  The Great Cat and the Seven Mice were only visible in the winter, but the summer constellations were just as nice.  The Comfy Chair and the Food Bowl were reassuring, although not very exciting.  The Hare was more exciting; LT could imagine himself battling a great celestial hare.  

The sky began to lighten as LT gazed at the stars and the birds slowly started their morning songs.  First just one or two, but within ten minutes they’d woken each other up and the yard was full of bird song.  The owl continued his deep song, “Hoo, hoo-hoo.”  As LT sat perfectly still in the driveway he saw a young rabbit at the edge of the driveway munching on dandelions.  The bunny grabbed the stem in his mouth and then as he chewed, it disappeared into his mouth, bite by bite and then finally the flower.  When he finished that one, he hopped a bit and helped himself to another one and then some dandelion greens.  LT considered whether or not to catch him, but decided that he was just too peaceful right now.  He didn’t rely on wild food, it was more the thrill of the chase for him.  This morning wasn’t for thrills, but for quiet appreciation of all that the Great Cat had made.  

It was so peaceful and relaxing that LT dozed off right in the middle of the driveway.  When he woke it was full daylight and cars were whizzing up and down the street.  LT stretched, back first and then legs and yawned so large that someone could have put a golf ball in his mouth.  He headed up the driveway and through the cat door into the house.  The Daddy was sitting at the kitchen table with a book and a cup of coffee.  When he saw LT he got up, poured some milk into LT’s special milk dish and put it on the table.  LT joined him on the table (well, actually the Daddy was sitting on a chair, but the important parts of him were on the table) and drank his milk.  Daddy let him finish and then gently scratched his ears.  “Well, here we are for another day, old man.  It’s going to be hot, so try to stay somewhere you can keep cool.”  

LT had plenty of places to keep cool, and when the Daddy had left, he checked them out, deciding on the shed floor.  The shade kept the cement quite cool, and it was the perfect place to doze the day away.

Image courtesy of Gidzy -

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peas and Queues

Peep walked into the living room to find Rudy glued to the TV.  Well, not actually glued, but watching intently from her perch on the coffee table.  “Rudy, it’s 2:55 AM!!  Turn off the television.”  

“No way – my show is over in just five minutes.  Pipe down and let me watch.”  Rudy barely moved her head.  She didn’t want to miss a moment.  Peep sat patiently until the credits started to roll and Rudy sighed contentedly.  “I just knew that those two were pregnant.  No way they were suffering from food poisoning!  Natalie and Jessica pregnant.  Whoo!”  Rudy shook her head in disbelief.

“What are you talking about?  We don’t know any Natalie or Jessica.  And what is this about food poisoning?  Daddy may not be a great cook, but he isn’t about to give anyone food poisoning.”  Peep was thoroughly confused.  

“It’s my soap.  Who would have believed both were pregnant?  They just thought that David had tried to poison them.”  Rudy was still caught up in the show.  

Peep walked over to the remote and stepped on the power button.  “You shouldn’t be watching the TV at 2 in the morning.  Daddy is trying to sleep!”  

“Well, Daddy was home during my story yesterday.  I had to watch it – I was worried about those two.  I thought maybe they were going to die or something.”  

Rudy was an avid fan of One Life to Live.  Most of the time she could watch it during the day, but occasionally the Daddy was home and she couldn’t turn on the TV with him watching.  Cats aren’t supposed to know how to operate television sets, or for that matter follow soap operas.  In fact she was a bit embarrassed that Peep had caught her watching.  It would be one thing if it was a show about cats, or perhaps a documentary about something quite serious, but Rudy felt that soap operas weren’t in keeping with the image she portrayed.  

Luckily, Rudy didn’t know what Peep was thinking right then.  If she could have entered Peep’s mind she would have heard, “Soap operas – I should have expected that.  Rudy is all about drama – gossiping about other cats or imagining herself as the heroine in some sappy tale.  ‘Rudy rescued from pirates’, ‘Rudy, a princess raised by sheep’.  What Peep said instead was, “Do you really want Daddy to learn what we do when he’s asleep or not home?  I don’t and I know LT doesn’t.  You better watch your peas and queues, or we’ll be on David Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks.”  Peep stalked off to resume her interrupted sleep.

“Peas and queues?  Why would I watch vegetables and lines of people waiting for something?  I just don’t understand that Peep sometimes.”  Rudy snuggled down and considered Natalie and Jessica’s dilemma.  She drifted off to sleep imagining scenarios of babies switched in the hospital – enough of a plot twist to keep One Life to Live on for another decade, at least. 

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Peep was lying under the bed, enjoying the cool air from the air conditioner.  The Daddy had only recently put in two window air conditioners, giving in to the reality of getting older.  Peep didn’t care why, actually – she just enjoyed the cool.  As she rolled onto her back she saw the scratches she had made on the bed slats two years ago.  The first time the Mommy had gone away she’d been gone for such a long time and Peep had taught herself to count to keep track of how much time it would be until the Mommy came home again.  Peep looked at the scratches and reminded herself of her counting system.  First scratches – one for each day.  Then paws, four scratches equaled one paw, just like she had four claws on each paw.  Next cats, four paws equaled a cat.  That was obvious.  Four cats equaled a house.  She’d decided that because no house should ever have more than four cats, for the sanity of the cats and the people who lived there to take care of them.  Last was four houses equals the world, because two years ago she was sure that there could not be more cats than that in the whole world. 

Peep shook her head, wondering at how na├»ve she had been back then.  She’d been such a little Peep, even though she’d already lived through at least four Longest Nights that she could remember.  She stretched, enjoying the pull of her muscles.  She had even grown over the last two years.  She didn’t look like a skinny little kitten any more.  In fact she looked like the middle-aged cat that she was, but Peep preferred to think of it as being having the build of a mature, responsible cat. 

Not only did she look different, Peep acted different.  She wasn’t afraid to go outside anymore, and often enjoyed sitting out near the Daddy’s special outdoor burner for hours on end.  She could keep an eye on the little pond for frogs and the trees for chipmunks when she sat out there.  She laughed a bit when she remembered how scared she’d been of her brother, Fuzzy.  He was just a bully – he stopped picking on her once she’d faced him down and told him that if he expected to be able to come in her house and eat her food that he’d better behave.

Everything was so different now.  Well, except Rudy.  Rudy still though she was the ‘Queen of All She Surveys’, and since Peep had no interest in competing for that ridiculous made-up title Rudy was welcome to it.  LT was slowing down and not interested in yard patrols and days-long journeys.  The Mommy was working in Mary Land all the time now, but came home on the weekend.  And Daddy – well the Daddy hadn’t changed.  He still went out and did his work every day and then came home to his real job – taking care of Peep, Rudy and LT.  He fed them and loved them and played with them.