Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Too hot

It was hot, and LT was feeling all his years.  When he was a kitten he didn't mind the heat - he swore he used to run so fast that the breeze he generated cooled him off.  Not anymore.  Sure, he could still run, but he ended up hotter than when he started, not to mention out of breath.  

There wasn't a bit of breeze today and the sun was beating down mercilessly.   LT wished for a moment that he was a white cat so his fur wouldn't absorb the heat, but rather reflect it.  Well, at least he wasn't black, like the Peep.  She was currently under the porch with the loaf cat.  She'd created a small wallow in the dirt to leach the heat from her body, and she said it worked pretty good.  

Although he supposed he could do the same, LT preferred to sit somewhere padded, like in his new summer house or in the grass.  Today, though the pine needles seemed to be holding the heat, so he'd opted to lie on a part of the lawn where the grass was nice and cushion-y.  

The Daddy was working at home today on somebody's truck.  He had it in the yard and was fiddling with something in the engine, occasionally making rude comments about how *some* people didn't know how to maintain their vehicles properly.  LT knew that Daddy was very careful and took care of his trucks, making sure that nothing bad happened to them.  He knew he's just have to fix them himself, and he didn't want to have to do that.

As the Daddy went back and forth from the truck to the garage or to the house to get something to drink, he'd look over at LT and say something to him each time he passed.  A couple times he stopped and scratched LT's head.  It was nice when Daddy worked from home.  As the day got hotter, LT assumed the pose that exposed the maximum amount of belly fur to the air, hoping that it would help to cool him off.  It helped, but stray sunbeams that filtered through the leaf canopy kept hitting his fur and kept him hot.  Bother.

LT watched Daddy as he went into the house for lunch.  He knew that because Daddy had invited him to come in and keep him company, but LT was too hot and lazy to move.  He tried to doze, and thought it would be nice if someone would bring him a cold drink and perhaps fan him with a big palm frond.  That would be cooling, but there wasn't much chance of that.  

When Daddy came out again he had a small container of water.  He put it down near LT and said, "Here you go, little guy."  As he scratched LT's head, he shook his own and made a tsk-tsk sound.  He went in the garage and emerged a moment later with a very large yellow and white checked beach umbrella.  LT watched while Daddy opened it, and then carefully placed it on the ground so that it provided maximum shade for him.  He then moved the water a little closer, and positioned it so that it was in the shade also.  Daddy stepped back and said, "Well, LT, that should keep you cool, if anything can.  Try the water, it's cool but not too cold, so that it won't give you brain freeze."

Daddy went back to work and LT took a sip of the water.  Interesting flavor - he'd never tasted water like this before.  He looked carefully at the container and noticed a crushed sprig of mint suspended in the water.  LT sighed contentedly and took another sip of water.  He could get used to a life like this.  He dozed off, knowing that he was a very Lucky Tiger indeed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Okay, it REALLY can't get any worse

Ursula was starting to get used to the yarn lady's new home.  From her base under the tall four-poster bed, she made forays into the living room where the yarn lady was knitting or using her computer.  She'd pad into the living room, twine herself around the yarn lady's legs and check out another corner of the room.  From time to time she'd look in on Tatum, who was still under the couch.  "Are you going to stay there all week?  This place isn't half bad, you know."  No reply - Tatum's eyes were as big as saucers, and Ursula figured he was suffering from the cat version of PTSD.  In her mind, he just needed to relax. 

After exploring the living room, Ursula stood in the doorway to the kitchen, tail lashing.  Why was the floor different in there?  She loved the dark red wood floors in the bedrooms and living room.  If she ran a bit, she could slide if she stopped suddenly.  It was like the new tile floor in the kitchen at home, except this stuff was even slipperier.  But that kitchen floor, she wasn't sure about that.  She took a step on it, but backed up quickly, and sniffed at the flooring.  Did it smell funny?  Was it that it wasn't wood like the other floor?  She wasn't sure, but she didn't like it.  Ursula poked at the floor a bit.  It supported the yarn lady's weight, so she was pretty sure it wouldn't collapse.  It wasn't sticky, or ouchy.  Then the sun came out from behind a cloud and a bright ray of sun hit the kitchen floor.  That was it!  It was too shiny.  It almost hurt her eyes where it reflected the sun.  She carefully sidestepped the sunbeam and did a perimeter search of the kitchen.  No mouse holes.  Good.  Washer/dryer - nice for the yarn lady, irrelevant to her.  Stove, sink, dishwasher.  Ursula figured the yarn lady probably didn't use this one any more than she had at home.  Daddy and the noisy girl were perfectly happy to use dishwashers, but not the yarn lady. 

Having completed her inspection of the kitchen she returned to report on all her findings to Tatum, hoping to reassure him.  She found the yarn lady lying on the floor talking to him.  He was still just staring, not answering.  He was obviously breathing, but just too terrified to do anything.  After a while the yarn lady tried to entice him out with water, food and then even poked him with the dustmop handle.  She stared at him a bit more and picked up her phone.  "Val, I think I have a problem.  I think Tatum is stuck under the couch.  Can you help me get him out?" 

Ursula went over to Tatum.  "Are you stuck?  Is *that* the problem?" 

Tatum didn't even blink.  Ursula shook her head, and went back in the bedroom.  She just didn't understand him sometimes.  If he needed help he should just ask. 

Val arrived within a few minutes.  The yarn lady was lucky to have her for a friend.  She just picked up the end of the couch, and Tatum scooted out.  Then he found his voice.   "It took you long enough to figure out I was stuck!  Can you imagine me, a claustrophobic cat, stuck under a couch, for days, weeks even?  How long were you going to leave me there?  I'm surprised I'm not dead - I haven't eaten in I don't know how long.  I couldn't even tell you - I was smooshed so bad that I couldn't even cry out for help!  What kind of cat mommy are you?"  Then to his dismay, Val picked him up and tried to calm him down.  He barely *knew* this lady, and she's picking him up??  The yarn lady took him from Val and brought him into the bedroom, where he squirmed and ran into a closet.  No more low spaces for him. 

Ursula looked in and said, "Chill, Tatum.  It wasn't weeks, or even days.  You were under there for maybe a day, and how were we supposed to know you were in trouble?  You didn't tell us.  And the yarn lady is a great cat mommy.  She figured out there was a problem and fixed it."  She stalked off and plopped on the rug next to the bed. 

After Val had gone home, Tatum calmed down.  He prowled the room, swatted at Ursula, just for form's sake and jumped up on the bed, where the yarn lady lay reading.  "I'm sorry I yelled at you.  I know you were trying to help me, and I do appreciate it."  He lay down pressed against her and purred his best purr.  She'd understand that, even if she didn't understand his words.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Tatum had thought a couple days ago that life couldn't get much more difficult than it had been over the past two weeks.  He was wrong.  His beloved Daddy had been packing boxes and moving stuff around so much that Tatum had been convinced that they were all going to move.  It was only after an exchange of emails with Rudy that he discovered that all the fuss was over the rugs being torn up and new floors being installed.  Why didn't anyone ever tell him anything?  Tatum had decided that he'd just stay upstairs in the noisy girl's old bedroom until the work was done, except for quick forays for food, drink and um, visits to the necessary.  That would be okay. 

Then the ultimate indignity.  The noisy girl grabbed him and stuffed him into a box with a little metal mesh door that she shut tightly.  Torture!  Why would they put him in this little box?  He yowled at the noisy girl to let him out, but she just made silly noises at him and tried to pet him through the mesh.  He reached out with a claw and grabbed her hand, saying "Let me out now!  I can't stand being cooped up like this!  Now!  Now!  Now!"  She yelped in pain and freed her hand from the offending claw. 

His Daddy came in with Ursula in a second box and within minutes they were out in the yard and being loaded into a car.  Tatum hated cars more than anything.  They meant that you were being moved *again* and most likely would never see the people you'd come to love anymore.  Why would they do this to him and Ursula?  "I'll be good - I'll sleep on your lap!  I promise I'll never claw the furniture again, just take me back hoooooome!"  Ursula cried too, but much more softly - almost a ladylike cry. 

They were only in the car for a few minutes when it stopped and the doors opened.  Their boxes were carried into a building - and Tatum just hoped that if they were taking him back to the SPCA that at least the nice volunteer lady would still be there.  How could he live without his beloved Daddy, though? 
"Bring them in here.  Good, let's open Tatum's carrier over here by the litter box."  Tatum knew that voice - was it the nice volunteer?  He didn't think so, but he was so upset he couldn't think straight.  He streaked out of the carrier, vaulted over the litter box and smooshed himself into the corner of the closet.  When he looked around in terror, he realized that it wasn't the SPCA - no cages, no other cats, no smell of antiseptic.  A face appeared in the door of the closet.  The yarn lady?  

"Don't be scared, Tatum.  You're just going to stay with me while the floors get done."  So that was what was going on.  He and Ursula had been katnapped because of floor replacement.  Well, how long could that take?  Tatum figured that he could stay in the closet for the couple hours that it would take, but just wished they'd left him at home.  He'd have stayed in the little room.  Really, he would have....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coming Clean

With all the recent furor over bloggers not being who they say they are, I had a discussion with most of the participants involved, and we've all decided to come completely clean regarding what is written in the blog.  I would not want anyone reading this blog to believe that we are anything other than who we really are, or that we represent any views other than our own.  So, here goes.

I am the yarn lady,  a 50-mumble year old woman living in New Jersey.  I really am a cat lover, and up until my recent move I have lived with one to three cats for the past twenty-eight years.  I'd planned on getting a kitten as soon as I'd settled in to my new place, but the need to cat-sit two lively cats for a week and a half has caused a delay in my plans.  I'll be getting my new kitten in the middle of July :-)  I am called the yarn lady by the cats because I love to knit and have, um, a lot of yarn and tend to pull out my knitting when I'm sitting for any period of time.

Peep, as she is affectionate named, is a small black cat who is about eight years old.  She'd owned by the Mommy and Daddy and lives with LT and Rudy.  She is a loving little cat who loves to play, and has grown up a lot since I started writing this blog.  She really does like to help out around the house (in her own way) and actually has caught frogs and dragged them into the house in order to play frog hockey.  Peep did not actually hide in the car and go to Maryland two years ago, but she wanted to.  She'd told me about how she wanted to see where the Mommy lives, so I wrote her a story that described how it *might* have been if she had stowed away in the car.

LT, whose full name is Lucky Tiger is really a traveler.  He, of all of the Mommy and Daddy's cats, is the one most likely to venture far from home.  I'm really not sure if he made as far as Lakehurst the first year that I wrote this blog, but when I spoke to him recently he's still sticking to that story.  

Rudy is Rudy.  She's a hissy cat, as the Mommy puts it.  When the Great Cat was giving out cat virtues and characteristics when she was born, Rudy wasn't listening, and raised her paw when the Great Cat asked who wanted to be a hissy cat.  She thought he was saying pussy cat, so instead of being a lovey-dovey lap cat, she is, well, a hissy cat.  She does love to be on the computer, and yes she really does email me and other cats.  So there.

The Daddy is the guy who takes care of Peep, Rudy and LT day in and day out.  He truly loves his kitties, and isn't ashamed to say so.  He really did have his identity stolen last year, but he did *not* have to change his name to Horatio Curtis.  The cats would have liked that, but he declined to do so, as it would have meant a lot of paperwork.  

The Mommy is the lady who is the reason this blog started.  She was working for NASA way down in Virginia and wouldn't be able to see her beloved kitties every day, or even every week.  I started writing these stories to let her know what her cats were doing every day.  She still works far away and only comes home on weekends.  Unfortunately she doesn't get to read her email every day, so she doesn't see these stories very often.  I still write them, though because I've found that I like to write about the cats (and the occasional dog).

Well, there are all the principals in this blog.  We really do all exist and are who we say we are.  We are not dogs from Albania or endangered giant French hamsters.  I hope this reassures our readers of the veracity of the content published herein. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The summer house

One day a few weeks ago LT was lying on his pile of pine needles.  It was very comfy and afforded a nice view of the yard and they smelled heavenly.  Unless it rained, of course.  If it rained, as it had been doing a lot, the needles were soggy and didn't smell quite so good.  There were other places to lie if his pile was wet, though.  He could go inside, or if the weather was particularly foul he could go into the little house Daddy had made for him years ago.  It was really more of a winter house, but it certainly protected against the elements.  LT dozed off, enjoying the rare day of sunshine. 

LT awoke to the sound of boards hitting each other.  He looked around groggily to figure out what was going on.  Daddy was pulling lumber from his truck and stacking it in front of his work garage.  It looked like he was going to build something.  LT shifted so that he could watch without having to turn his head constantly.  It left his back to the side of the house with the door, but he didn't think anyone would sneak up on him from there, except perhaps Rudy. 

Daddy got out his noisy saw and proceeded to cut the lumber into smaller lengths.  He measured and mumbled to himself as he did it, holding up lengths of wood singly and in pairs as though he was trying to figure out what to do with them.  Next he found a large piece of plywood and proceeded to make it into small pieces.  Humans were daft, thought LT.  Cut up wood, nail it back together.  Or in the case of the yarn lady, cut up pieces of fabric and then sew them back together into almost the exact same size and shape piece.  Daft. 

The noise was loud enough to attract Rudy and Peep's attention.  "What's up, LT?  Is Daddy fixing a wooden truck?"  Rudy snickered at this attempt at humor. 

"No clue, Rudy.  I woke up to him fiddling with the wood.  Watching him isn't a bad way to pass the time, though, and it's better than being put to work myself."  LT stretched and yawned.  Cats have a poor view of work, at least the type that humans did. 

Peep sat down and scrubbed at her eyes.  "I hate the sound of the saw.  Is he almost done?" 

All three cats were now watching Daddy as he finished cutting up the wood and started reassembling it.  First he made a rectangle out of four of the pieces and then attached  upright pieces, making kind of an open-sided box, thought LT. 

"Maybe he's making a hutch for some baby rabbits," offered Peep. "Maybe he found them without their mother and wants to protect them from predators." 

"Like me," Rudy answered.  "I love baby rabbits for breakfast.  Not enough meat on them for a full meal, unless of course you get the whole litter." 

Peep glared at him, although she was as fond of rabbit as Rudy was.  When one is thinking of rescuing baby animals it is in poor taste to discuss eating them. 

Daddy started attaching plywood to the frame, and then oddly enough grabbed some shingles and started shingling the slanted top.  Last, he made a small platform with short legs and attached it to the roof.  He carried it into the middle of the yard, near LT's pine needle pile and started filling the short enclosed part at the bottom with the needles. 

It sure didn't look like a rabbit hutch, thought LT.  It kind of looked like his winter house, but with open sides and a top perch.  As he started to consider whether it might possibly be for him, Daddy put a small soft piece of cloth on the top platform, picked up LT and plunked him on it. 

"There you go, LT.  Pine needles for comfort, a roof for shade and a platform on top for when you feel the need to survey your kingdom.  A summer house fit for the king of cats, LT."  Daddy smiled and stroked LT's head. 

Rudy and Peep looked on jealously.  "No one makes houses for us, you know," grumped Rudy.  "You've got a winter house and now a summer house.  We've got bupkis." 

LT looked down from his high perch (well, not all that high, but higher than Rudy and Peep were at present).  "Daddy knows that I love to be outside, and he loves me.  I was the first kitty here, and I am the king of cats."  He settled down on the soft cloth and let Daddy love him some more before he drifted off to sleep.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Furor at the SPCA

The cats at the Eatontown SPCA were networking.  This morning one of the volunteers had come in and mentioned that a nice lady would be coming in soon to look for a kitten to adopt.  She happened to mention that it was the same lady who had adopted Tatum last year.  Some of the cats in the big area for adult cats who had lived there for a long time remembered Tatum as a very sweet kitten who unfortunately had been at the shelter for a very long time before he had found his forever family.  They didn't remember the humans who had adopted him, but the volunteer had said how they continued to send her photos of him for months after he was adopted, and had sent news of how well he'd adapted to his new home.  So, even though there were people who came in every day to adopt kittens, this was good news because the lady was a proven cat owner and lover.  

It was always a bit of a risk for shelter animals when they went home with a family.  Sure, the SPCA humans interviewed the prospective families, asking lots of questions to make sure that the adoption would be a good fit, but humans were like cats, they tended to describe themselves and their living situations as at least slightly better than they were.  And some humans exaggerated a lot.  Every once in a while an adoption wouldn't work out and a cat would come back with horror stories of human children who were too rough, giant dogs that tried to eat them or in one case a house with more cats per square foot than, well, corn in Kansas.  An owner who had previously adopted a cat, and moreover still lived with that cat was a relief to any shelter cat.  

So, the older cats who remembered Tatum spread to word to the cages within hearing distance.  Then, when one of those cats was taken out of his or her cage to be held by a prospective human, the news spread to cats in the next room, and within an hour or so, all the cats in the shelter knew that there was a 'live one' coming in sometime soon.  Someone who didn't just want to hold every single kitten because they *liked* holding kittens.  Someone who wasn't likely to decide to come back another day to see if there was a better selection of kittens.  Well, hopefully not for that last one.  You never know what humans are looking for, but Tatum was just a garden variety grey tabby cat.  If she'd liked Tatum she probably wouldn't hold out until she found a Scottish Fold at the SPCA, like that was going to happen!  

The older cats talked very slowly and carefully to the younger kittens whenever they could get them to listen.  The attention span of a two to three month old kitten was about, oh, ten seconds if you were lucky, so the older cats had to space their instructions to the kittens, once they'd given them the basic information about the nice lady.  The human had longish dark hair and dimples and was a bit past plump.  She'd probably be wearing blue jeans and those funny rubber clog shoes they called "Crocs".  How the volunteer knew all this information, the cats weren't sure, but it was good that the cats would be able to identify her.  

"Make sure you groom yourselves, kittens."  "If she takes you out of your cage to hold you, snuggle up to her and purr really loudly."  "Stand at the front of the cage and put your paws up on the bars and open your eyes real wide. Then meow very nicely.  No yowling, mind you."  "Make eye contact when she looks at you."  "Keep your claws sheathed - velvet only!"  These were some of the instructions repeated over and over to the kittens.  

The volunteers and SPCA staff who were working were amazed at the amount of meows they heard throughout the day.  One cat heard an SPCA employee say, "It's not a full moon, so it can't be that.  I wonder what's got the cats in an uproar, and it's both the adult cats and the kittens, but not any of the dogs.  Very odd.  I hope they settle down soon, or someone is going to have to stay with them tonight to make sure they're not getting sick.  I'd hate to have to suspend all adoptions, but if there's a possibility of illness among all the cats we may have to."  

For a few minutes there was even more meowing, as the cats who'd heard this spread the word to the other cats and then there was near silence.  None of the cats wanted adoptions to be suspended.  All of them dreamed of going to forever homes, even ones who had lived there for several years.  The employee who'd made that comment looked around in amazement.  Every single cat was suddenly on his or her best behavior - sitting or lying quietly with angelic expressions on their faces.  "Hummph.  You'd think they were listening to me!  Imagine that - although I love these cats, I don't think they're smart enough to understand what I said.  Oh, whatever."  She walked out towards the office and passed cats who were quietly snickering to themselves.  The human would be amazed if she knew what the cats understood and thought, but that was probably never going to happen. 

Photo courtesy of Alan Chan -

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thinking about kittens

Tatum and Ursula were discussing the yarn lady and her new home.  They'd heard her and the noisy girl talking about how she wanted a kitten, and Ursula had mixed feelings about it.  "The yarn lady is *my* mommy.  She helped raise me from when I was a tiny, tiny kitten and I lived with the English lady.  If she gets a new kitten, well, would she still love me the same way?"

"Of course she would, Ursula.  And anyways, I'm just glad she's not going to take you with her.  I know we fight sometimes, but I'd really miss you if you weren't here."  Tatum nuzzled Ursula's face and gave one ear a little lick.   

"Thank you, Tatum.  I'd miss you too.  I heard the Daddy, the noisy girl and the yarn lady talking one day about how I should go live with her when she moved.  The noisy girl didn't like that idea at all, and the yarn lady agreed that I should stay here.  The noisy girl loves me a lot and would miss me terribly.  I do wonder where the yarn lady will get her kitten from.  It's not like you find kittens knocking at your door, you know.  I mean there are feral kittens around, but a lot of the time they have health problems, or they're too wild, and I know the yarn lady wants a kitten that will be cuddly and healthy.  A wild kitten wouldn't be a good idea."  Ursula shook her head. 

"Oh, she'll get the kitten from the same place I came from, the SPCA.  They've gotten all their cats from there, well, except you.  When you get a kitten from there you know that it's healthy, because they have Tibet there to take care of the animals.  I think that's where you went when you had your operation."  Tatum knew what he was talking about.  He'd lived at the SPCA for nine months before he'd come to live with his beloved Daddy. 

"Well, you know when I was there, I wasn't paying attention an awful lot.  There were lots of cats and dogs in a big outside room and I was so scared.  Then they gave me a shot to make me sleep and I don't remember anything until after I got home.  If there were a lot of kittens there, I sure didn't see them."  Ursula shuddered at her recollection of that visit to Tibet.

"You know, there was a really nice lady there who always talked to me and took care of me.  I think she's there today.  How about I send her an email telling her that the yarn lady is going to be there looking for kittens and ask her to tell the kittens so they can show off for her when she comes?"  Tatum was getting excited at the thought of another kitten getting a forever home.