Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Fake News: Cats threaten strike

February 17, 2011

NEW YORK (Feb. 16) — A nationwide group of cats said its members would go on strike March 1 unless humans agree to add lunch to their daily roster of meals.

A labor organization known as Cats United for Lunch Time (CULT) will conduct a work slowdown which could escalate into a complete stoppage if the cats and their people can’t reach an agreement. The cat union wants a noontime serving of food to be added to the morning and evening meals so that they can eat three times a day.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that they make us skip lunch,” said Tom, 3, the tabby president of the union. “Twelve hours is just too long to wait between meals.”

A spokesman for the Human Overlords and Masters Organization said his group was opposed to the initiative. He claims it would be too much trouble for people to take off work every day at noon so they could come home and feed the cat.

“I give my cats a large enough serving that they should be nursing it throughout the day,” said HOMO president Martin Stern. “They’re not supposed to wolf the whole bowl-full down as soon as I put it out for them.”

“But those desiccated globules of tuna-scented filler are just so delicious!” Tom said. “They demand to be eaten immediately.”

Stern also rejected the idea that a sandwich could be left behind for the cats when their family heads out the door in the morning. He said most cats are repelled by mustard, so a sandwich option would be unworkable.

“C’mon,” Tom persisted. “It’s a lunch in name only anyway. It’s the same stuff we eat in the morning and in the evening.”

Tom said that if his group’s demands are not met, the work slowdown will begin at the beginning of March, with a complete stoppage to follow a week later if further negotiations fail.

“How can they have a ‘work slowdown’?” Stern asked reporters. “A, they don’t do any work anyway and, B, if they did, it’d be impossible to do it more slowly than they do it already.”

Tom said Stern’s comments reflected an insensitivity that lay at the heart of difficulties which have existed between the union and management for the past several years.

“They just don’t respect what we do,” Tom said. “It only looks natural because we work so hard at creating that illusion. Napping, bathing ourselves, basking in the sun, these are not our natural behaviors. We’d rather be hunting down squirrels but we do this lazing-about business because it entertains you.”

Tom wouldn’t describe what the slowdown would look like, however he did say a complete shutdown of his group’s operations could “cripple the entire economy within days.”

Stern said no, it wouldn’t, countering “you know, we could do without actual cats in these positions. Just about any easily domesticated groundling could do every bit as good a job.”

“Ray-eow,” answered Tom. “Sounds like you’re looking for a catfight.”

"It's absolutely ridiculous that they make us skip lunch," says Tom.

The care and feeding of cats

January 24, 2011

Even though I have three, I’m not sure I understand the point of owning cats.

They seem like such an arbitrary choice for domestication in our homes. How exactly did they win out over every-bit-as-good choices like ferrets, muskrats, weasels and other ungrateful groundlings? Can the beaver not catch a mouse? Can the squirrel not meow loudly in response to be a natural gas leak in your house?

OK, maybe not meow, but they could chirp and throw acorns.

It’s said that the cat is a fastidiously clean creature, however that’s only because they seem to be licking themselves every time you turn around. I’m sure some of this is done in the pursuit of cleanliness and I’m just as sure some of it is done for purposes of self-gratification. Where they really need to clean themselves up — in the crevices of their paws where soiled cat litter tends to accumulate — goes virtually unattended. That only seems to come loose when they leap unauthorized onto the kitchen table, hopping over my cereal bowl of granola and making it a little more crunchy than I’d prefer.

I do appreciate how they virtually house-train themselves in proper user of the catbox. I look out the window on wintry days at some of my dog-owning neighbors, gingerly carrying their poodles and miniature dachshunds into small snowfields, and placing the animal down to do his business. The dog looks up at its shivering master, as if to ask “what am I supposed to do with this?” They sniff the ground for a while, perhaps paw it once or twice, then refuse to cooperate. Meanwhile, my cats are in our warm, cozy utility room, peeing like there’s no tomorrow.

Not far from their catbox sits their dinner bowls, in what would be a highly questionable bit of feng shui to those of us higher up in the animal kingdom though perfectly acceptable to my cats. I guess they like the convenience of managing input and output functions in such close proximity to each other. And there’s also the fact that their food smells only slightly better than their waste, so why not lump it all together in the same room? They may have to leave the vicinity to barf on the couch or your favorite throw rug. Other than that, though, they’d probably be just as happy to spend most of their waking hours sharing quarters with the washing machine and the dryer, especially when the dryer is running at a low, warm purr.

Ever since my wife began working nights about a year ago, I’ve taken over responsibility for the evening feedings of our three cats, Harriet, Taylor and Tom. They’re on a twice-a-day meal schedule, as is the tradition with household pets. (How they ever got screwed out of lunch remains a mystery). Having enjoyed their first meal of the day shortly after I get up around 6 in the morning, they have become plenty ravenous by the time evening arrives.

Using passive-aggressive techniques that can’t have worked very well in the wild, they emerge from their various sleeping positions and slowly gather around as I sit in my easy chair watching TV. There are no overt requests at first, just a kind of assertive loitering designed to remind me they are creatures who require sustenance, and they require it pretty damn soon. Taylor sits erect on the back of the couch next to me, trying to appear as obvious as he can. Tom takes up a position on the floor nearby, ready to jump up and rub against my leg if I head anywhere near the utility room. Harriet, the oldest and boldest of the three, leaps onto my lap to cuddle.

These food-gathering techniques can’t have worked very well 10,000 years ago just before they gave up the wild for domestication. I can’t imagine their original prey grasping the subtleties of the small desert carnivore who patiently requests that they give up their bodies for meat. I’m eventually guilt-tripped into feeding them but I doubt the rats and insects of ancient Egypt had a similar capacity for sympathy.

If I’ve become too engrossed in the Xavier vs. Western Kentucky basketball game playing on ESPN (hey, it could happen) and don’t notice their sudden desire to be close to me, it’s usually Harriet who takes the request to the next level. She moves from my lap up onto my belly and begins a steady round of loud, nasal meowing. If that doesn’t work, she starts rubbing her wet nose against my arm, which she knows I hate. That’s the point where I usually give in and make my way to the big bowl of cat food.

All three leap up in excitement, making a beeline for their pre-assigned dining positions. Tom has to dine separately in the sunroom because he has a tendency to overeat his and everybody else’s food, born of his early desperate life as an outdoor kitty. He heads for that door while I play the role of the maitre d’ escorting him to his alfresco seating. I then serve the other two in the utility room before returning to Tom with his cup of Meow Mix. “Will the gentleman be having cat food this evening?” I’ll joke with him, though cats — especially hungry ones — usually don’t appreciate my wry sense of humor. (I’ve tried to tell them about the success of my humor blog, but they just look at me with a blank stare. They’re not much for the Internet, I guess).

They hunker down for some serious eating, tails straight out behind them as they crunch their way through the dry pellets. This is perhaps the only time during their day they act with such intense purpose, and it only takes five minutes or less for them to wolf down their meal. Freshly energized, it’s then time for a session of what we call “the rips,” where they take turns running up and down the hallway. This soon exhausts them to the point that they’re ready to settle down for another episode of the twenty-hour-a-day sleep schedule they need to remain fresh.

It’s a pretty easy gig for me, and I really do enjoy having them around the house. For a relatively low amount of maintenance, my family and I get to enjoy watching them doze, drawing inspiration from their ability to relax so effortlessly. When I arrive home from work, tired and frustrated from a long day on the job, I can take one look at the lump under my bed covers and know that Taylor lies therein. He’s not worried about mortgage payments or the upcoming tax season; he doesn’t even care if he gets enough air to breathe. His indolence inspires me to take a nap free of guilt.

I doze fitfully for perhaps 45 minutes before I feel a slight commotion at my feet, followed by the lightweight footsteps of Harriet up my back. I try to pretend I’m still unconscious and unable to respond to her, until that becomes virtually impossible when I sense her breath on my cheek, followed by a nudge of my shoulder, followed by that nasal twang that passes for a meow.

It’s getting close to the time, she reminds me, that we begin our routine once again.

Before dinner, it's time for the cats to make themselves known

After dinner, Harriet (top), Tom (left) and Taylor (the undercover lump at right) begin another round of snoozing.

Trying to explain cats in my car

September 15, 2010

It was an odd sequence of events that began with a tickle on my neck and ended with me trying to explain to a police officer why I was sitting in my car, under a tree, next to the lake, with a vehicle full of imprisoned cats.  

About a week ago, I was lounging on the couch, watching some skuzzy reality show on TV, when I thought I detected something itching around my collar. Probably just an allergic reaction to the quality of the program, I thought, some mild communicable disease I had picked up from a syphilitic bachelorette. (Disease transmission via television, turns out, is rampant in these days of high-def programming).  

When I went to scratch my neck, I looked down into my lap to discover a large roach, about three inches in length, strolling down my thigh.  

Having been born and raised in the subtropics of Miami, I’m usually not alarmed by unexpected wildlife encounters. Where I grew up, it was not uncommon to find giant bufo toads hopping around the backyard, at least until I ran over them with the lawn mower. We had alligators in drainage ditches, chameleons all over our shrubbery, poisonous snakes working the drive-through at McDonald’s. My mother still proudly tells the story of the time we removed a dying tree from our property, then woke up the next morning to find a window so darkened by the coverage of palmetto bugs that you couldn’t see out.  

So to me, a roach is not a big deal. But to my family, raised in more civilized parts of the country, it was a huge deal. I made an appointment with the exterminator.  

The nice lady at the aptly named Killingsworth Pest Control answered my questions patiently. The treatment would take about an hour, and could be scheduled for Monday. They couldn’t guarantee a completely roach-free lifestyle after they were finished, but we should see a significant decrease in vermin. It was okay for humans to be in the house while the spraying was done, however it would be a good idea to remove any pets.  

“Some people will schedule vet appointments while we’re there,” she said. “Or maybe just take them for a nice ride in the car.”  

In my home, all the pets are cats. Unlike dogs, they are not familiar with the idea of a “nice ride in the car.” You rarely see cats driving down the road, their heads straining out the window to feel the onrushing air in their slobbery jowls. That’s a dog thing. The cat thing is to cower in a puddle of your own vomit while howling at ear-splitting volumes.  

When the appointed afternoon arrived, our plan was in place to evacuate our three cats into three separate cat carriers, and put them in my car. I was to crank up the air conditioning, drive to a shady location and wait with Harriet, Taylor and Tom until we were called with the all-clear signal. Beth would supervise the bug guy and make sure he didn’t spray any pyrethrum on our toothbrushes.  

We maneuvered the cats into their respective cages without too much trouble, though Harriet did put up a respectable resistance. As the more elderly cat of the three — she’s about 13 — I would place her carrier next to me in the front seat. She would ride shotgun and I would calm her as we drove. Tom and Taylor would take up the back seat. I positioned their cages so the open ends were facing away from each other, since imprisoned cats are not known for comforting their comrades.  

I drove toward Winthrop Lake, a tree-covered recreation area about two miles from our home. Marie howled piteously the entire route, while the two backseat cats were a bit more restrained.  

“Don’t worry,” I told them. “We’re not going to the vet. We’re just going for a little ride in the car. You guys don’t get out much anymore and I thought you might enjoy a trip to the park.”  

When my quiet, deliberate speaking tone didn’t seem to work, I turned on the radio. Neal Conan was hosting “Talk of the Nation” on NPR, and that man’s voice could soothe a caffeinated Jack Russell. The meowing started to subside just as we pulled into the park.  

Neal Conan, calming radio voice

I knew that next to motion sickness, my biggest concern in maintaining the cat’s health would be the temperature of the car. It was almost 90 degrees outside, and the full-blast air conditioning of my Civic could provide only so much relief. If I parked under a tree near the cooling breeze that came off the lake, we should be comfortable.  

Once the car had stopped moving, everybody settled down. Outside, I could see a few college students playing Frisbee across the way. A slightly older man was roller-blading on the road that ran around the lake. Young moms were dropping their children off at a nearby rec building for some kind of after-school enrichment. Inside my car, Neal was transitioning out of a discussion of the 2008 banking crisis, which all three cats agreed was a wake-up call to the perils of capitalism run amok. Though they had been very upset about the bailout at the time, they had now calmed down nicely.  

When he returned from the break, Neal introduced his next guest. The man was an ex-pat American who had grown up in Chile, and was on the show to discuss how the current entombment there of 33 miners represented a recurring theme in a Chilean culture that had relied for two centuries on the extraction of minerals for the nation’s economic survival.  

“Children learn from a young age that entrapment is something that can happen,” the man told Neal. “There’s a certain mythology to it in Chile, not unlike how Americans feel about the adventures of the Wild West.”  

Harriet stirred in her cage. Taylor started poking a clawed paw through one of his breathing holes. Tom began turning in tight circles, rocking his carrier back and forth. Clearly, they were not interested in hearing that being confined in a closed space with no escape in sight was an acceptable state of affairs.  

This was about the time that the police car pulled up next to mine. The officer climbed out and approached us. I rolled down my window about halfway, trying to strike a balance between further alarming the cats with noises from the outside, and easing the tension that all law officers feel when they encounter a suspicious vehicle.  

I tried to start off the conversation on a light note.  

“I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I’m just sitting here in the middle of the day with a car full of cats,” I chuckled. “This probably seems a little weird.”  

He peered into the car to see a trio of rocking cages, each with a furry body part poking out the side. I’m sure he wanted to believe they were just cats, not the twitching remains of a dismembered corpse, but he had to be sure.  

Harriet went into full howl mode, and the officer seemed reassured.  

“We got a report of a suspicious vehicle, and I had to check you out,” he said.  

Just then, my cell phone went off. Beth was calling to say the exterminator was finished, and it was safe for me to bring the cats home.  

“That went pretty quickly,” I told her. “Does he feel like he killed them all?”  

I realize now that this was probably not a good question to be asking in front of a policeman. He looked like he was taking it in stride, though I could sense he was thinking of pulling out his tazer and training it on us. I didn’t relish the thought of what would happen if you tazed a cat.  

“We had an exterminator out to the house, and they said we shouldn’t have pets around during the treatment,” I told the officer. “I didn’t know what else to do with our cats, so I figured I’d ride them around in the car for a while. Then I was afraid they’d get carsick so we stopped here.”  

He eyed me cautiously.  

“They’re very nice kitties,” I continued. “They don’t usually make this much racket.”  

“So you’re ready to go back home then?” he asked.  

I answered that I was, and he appeared relieved. He stood up straight and motioned for us to move along.  

I started the car and we had an uneventful ride back home. About halfway back, my phone went off again. It was Beth, suggesting that I might want to write a blog post about this experience. She’d meet me in the driveway to take a picture to go with the article, and here it is…  

An imprisoned Harriet, asking "Are we there yet?"

 Yes, Harriet, we are there.

Revisited: He’s Tom. He’s a cat.

September 12, 2010

This is my cat. His name is Tom. We already had two cats when we got him, so we didn’t put a lot of creative energy into naming him.

He lived outdoors for at least a year before we adopted him, and has the attitude and scars to prove it (there’s one — a scar, not an attitude — you might be able to see on his nose in the picture below). He’s fat and happy now that’s he’s living the indoor life. His hobbies include getting really mad at birds, and biting any human that attempts to pet him.

In this photo, he’s holding down one of his favorite positions on the kitchen window sill that looks out into our front yard. It’s a defensive posture from which we have trouble getting him down. He hunkers behind a ceramic cat mobile that he can tangle himself into should one of us stop by and feel the need to pick him up for some much-hated hugging.

They say that, unlike dogs, cats can’t show emotions via facial expressions. After viewing the contempt in his face that’s shown in this picture, I challenge anyone to agree with that contention.

He’s Tom. He’s such a kitty.

Tom says: "Just try picking me up from here. Just try."
Tom says: “Just try picking me up from here. Just try.”

Fake News: Squirrels to challenge cats

September 7, 2010

MY HOME, S.C. (Sept. 7) — The passing of Labor Day typically means the start of election campaigns, and it’s appearing ever more likely that the cats’ majority in the house is in jeopardy due to the rise of an energized squirrel movement out in the yard.  

The cats have held a firm majority in the house since 2008 when three of them were swept into power as part of the Obama landslide. Since then, however, a rising tide of public opinion has turned against the felines for their infighting, partisan bickering and inability to get much accomplished. Polls indicate that the public is ready for a change, and the squirrels are gathering their forces to offer an alternative to the cat agenda.  

As the nights grow cooler with fall in the air, evidence of the squirrels’ ascendancy is everywhere. The trees are alive with activity, shattered acorns litter the driveway and high-pitched squeaks lay out the group’s plans for changing the trajectory of American politics.  

“The public is tired of career politicians occupying seats of power like the window sill, the large cushion near the fireplace and the plush rug in front of the TV,” said Grey Tail, organizer of the Squirrel Party Express. “Those fat cats are too cozy with special interests, like the person who dispenses the food each night. It’s time for the house to stop wasting resources on big government, and returning power to the majority of small, furry mammals who aren’t cats.”  

The cats seem to realize that their fate is precarious. Not only do mid-term elections historically reward the party that’s out of power, but a widespread mood against the status quo is also working against incumbents. Even traditionally safe seats, like the perch atop the cat condo near the sliding glass door, are facing a serious challenge in the 2010 cycle.  

“We fully understand the frustration being felt out there in the heartland,” said Taylor, whose chairmanship of the House Sink, Counter and Cooking Surfaces Committee is one of the seats being threatened. “We would just remind people that it was the squirrels and their disregard for proper government regulation that got us into this fix in the first place. Their emphasis on using seeds and bits of pine cone for currency wrecked the economy. It’s why we’re still suffering in the current recession.” 

Rep. Taylor vows he won't give up his seat without a fight

The squirrels had held a majority in the house until 2006, when a nuisance wildlife firm was hired to clear the attic of the colony that had settled there after a woodpecker had broken a hole in the eaves. The cats promised a cleaner government, and initially had widespread support for the way they would lick themselves all hours of the day and night. But as the cats failed to stimulate economic growth despite their lavish eating habits, the squirrels claimed their brand of fiscal responsibility would return the house to prosperity.  

“We know a thing or two about storing resources away so we’ll be ready for hard times,” said Tail, whose only prior government experience involved being nearly run over by the mail truck earlier this year. “By investing the acorns we harvest in holes in the ground over the winter, we would anticipate a return to sustainable growth by the spring of 2011.”  

Observers give the squirrels a better-than-even chance to reclaim power in the house, though it’s unlikely they’ll also be able to win the storage shed out back, where roaches and other insects have a stronger grip on the reins of power.  

“We’re confident that the electorate will see these challengers as a fringe element, and reject them on Nov. 2,” said Tom, a Demo-cat from Ohio. “Some of them even want to dismantle the Department of Warm Towels and the President’s Commission on Empty Boxes. I can understand that folks favor a more responsible budget and monetary policy, but a lot of their proposals are just plain nuts.”  

Grey Tail would shut down large parts of government

My cats discuss current affairs

December 7, 2009

Last spring, I posted a two-part interview with my cats about how they viewed the relationship between us. The three of them were quite candid during the hour-long roundtable, offering a perception on many issues (the concept of pet “ownership,” animal rights, how often the catbox was cleaned) that I hadn’t previously considered.  

Thinking back on the unique opinions each of them voiced, I thought it might be valuable to touch base with them again on some of the key issues facing our planet today. It would be easy to dismiss the views of the common housecat as simplistic and self-centered. Yet I think many of the fundamental issues now facing our society may not be as complicated as we think. Perhaps a fresh perspective on the outside world — admittedly a bird-centered focus from the window sill above our kitchen sink — will offer some insight we’ve been unable to glean through the haze of our existing preconceptions.  

The panel includes Harriet, 13, a small white female with black patches; Taylor, 4, a sleek silvery-grey male; and Tom, 3, a large orange tabby male. We sat down for a wide-ranging discussion over the course of three days, resulting in a transcript I’ll edit down to two postings, one to run today and one on Wednesday.  

Q: Let’s start with the week’s big news, Afghanistan. President Obama has asked for an additional 30,000 troops to suppress the renewed Taliban threat and bring nation-building to that troubled region. Thoughts?  

Taylor: I know the terrorists are the most visible threat, but we have to remember the source of their problems lies with corruption and a tattered economy. The Golden Triangle region that provides over half the world’s supply of Afghan hounds is also a threat to international stability and our own self-interests. Those are some mean dogs and they really hate cats. As long as that pipeline is open to the West and the American market creates a demand for overgrown hounds with heads that look like long-haired women, that’s going to be a problem.  

Harriet: As you know, my interests are mostly with my own physical comfort, so I want to make sure we keep supply lines open so that afghans continue to get through, especially during the winter.  

Harriet: I want to make sure afghans get through

Q: Obviously, you don’t think massive emigration of the Afghan people is the answer…  

Harriet: I’m not talking about the people, I’m talking about the blankets. Afghans, you know, those crocheted shawls like we have on the couch. I love those.  

Tom: I believe an increased show of force in the region is vital. I hope an additional 30,000 troops are enough to pacify the countryside and win the people’s hearts and minds. If we don’t succeed right away, we shouldn’t cut-and-run because of some pre-established timetable. In fact, I would hope we’d ratchet up our assault on the terrorists to include a wider array of offensive weaponry, such as biting and scratching.  

Q: Probably the other big international story coming up is the climate summit scheduled for Copenhagen this week. Do you see a chance for real progress there?  

Harriet: I really do. And I hope the president will join in the international effort this time, unlike what we saw at Kyoto.  

Tom: I know a lot of cats hear about global warming and think, hey, that sounds pretty good to me. You know, we’re originally a desert species, so we love warmth. But too many of us forget the other part of that equation involves rising sea levels, and we hate water almost as much as we like hot temperatures.  

Harriet: I’m just concerned about the momentum on this issue, Davis. The leak of that email last week that discussed manipulating the data to make climate change more obvious really troubled me. I mean, I’m convinced that man is having a negative effect on the environment — just look at that mess in the utility room that you never clean up. I just don’t want to see opponents given ammunition to advance their arguments.  

Taylor: The science is clear. It’s the public policy that now has to follow suit, and I think a new international treaty can help make that happen.  

Taylor: The science is clear

Q: You don’t think the worldwide recession is going to slow progress on this front? The developing world wants to resume the strong growth trends of a few years ago and may not be willing to go along with proposals such as emission caps.  

Tom: I think the developing world needs to screw itself. They’re the biggest polluters out there these days.  

Taylor: Tom, you know it’s not that simple. They have the right to grow to the point where they can better feed their populations.  

Harriet: My biggest fear about the developing world is that those populations want to eat me for dinner.  

Q: Speaking of economic issues, new numbers released Friday showed that the growth of joblessness has slowed to its lowest point in almost two years. Do you think the recovery is finally taking hold?  

Taylor: Growth will continue to be anemic, I feel. But we’ve definitely turned the corner.  

Harriet: I know they say that a “recession” is when your neighbor loses his job, and a “depression” is when you lose your job. We were almost to the point that cats were going to have to get jobs. We’ve definitely pulled back from the brink of catastrophe, but I’m still not confident I won’t be forced into the job market. And I absolutely refuse to work retail.  

Tom: It’s the quality of the jobs out there that concerns me. Our manufacturing base is drying up. A service economy cannot support a broad middle class, and those are the homes that adopt us most frequently. If you have an owner who’s working two jobs just to keep cat food on the floor — yeah, it’s good that they’re almost never around, but it doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy.  

Taylor: Actually, we’re always warm and fuzzy.  

Tom: Hah! Good one, Taylor. (Lifts paw for “high five”). Meet me upstairs!  

Q: How do you see the brighter economic news affecting the debate over healthcare reform? Will it have any noticeable impact?  

Harriet: I don’t see that playing a significant role. Both sides seem so entrenched right now.  

Tom: I’m still not convinced of the need for any so-called “reform” anyway. I think we’d all admit how much we hate going to the vet. Anything that makes that easier is not something I can support.  

Taylor: That’s so short-sighted of you, Tom. It’s those frequent vet visits and the emergency pet hospitals that are making our healthcare the most expensive in the pet world. We need to invest in preventative care.  

Tom: I know what preventative care tastes like, and it’s awful. There’s little protein, no sodium, no phosphorous. I’d rather eat catfood with ash in it and enjoy a slightly shorter lifespan than to eat one of those terrible science diets.  

Harriet: Just eat off the humans’ plates when they’re not looking. That’s what I do.  

Taylor: You’re both missing the point, I think. We can’t keep going down the road we’re on now. It’ll bankrupt the country.  

Tom: We don’t need to be in the road, anyway. Remember what happened to that squirrel we were watching through the front door? Now he’s a “science diet” … for the crows.  

Tom: We don't need to be in the road

Q: Turning to another healthcare issue, it seems like the swine flu outbreak may be on its way to relative containment. Do you think that’s due to vaccination efforts, or was the whole thing overblown from the beginning?  

Harriet: I don’t trust the medical establishment enough to think much about the benefits of vaccines and other so-called medicines. I don’t care how far you stick the pill down the back of my throat, how long you hold my snout shut, or how much you stroke my neck to make me swallow, I just don’t trust “Big Pharm.” They’re all about profits, not medical care.  

Tom: They can be about both, you know. This whole conspiracy-theory mentality going on right now is a very dangerous thing. I believe in being startled by loud or unexpected noises, and being afraid of people ringing the door bell or operating vacuum cleaners. Those are common-sense fears. But to think there are no longer any authority figures that can be trusted, I just don’t buy it.  

Taylor: Swine flu was definitely a big media hype, that’s for sure. The mainstream media turned it into a catastrophe even though it’s not as bad as regular seasonal flu. I’ve stopped reading the newspapers and watching regular network TV news. The only news I trust any more is that delivered by my fellow small, stealthy mammals.  

Harriet: He watches Fox.  

Taylor: Damn right I do. Fox, Animal Planet, the Lifetime Movie Channel and the Outdoor Network, that’s enough for me. I love seeing deer get shot on the Outdoor Network. And I adore Karl Rove.

Wednesday: Some thoughts on the lighter side of the news.

He’s Tom. He’s a cat.

July 19, 2009

This is my cat. His name is Tom. We already had two cats when we got him, so we didn’t put a lot of creative energy into naming him.

He lived outdoors for at least a year before we adopted him, and has the attitude and scars to prove it (there’s one — a scar, not an attitude — you might be able to see on his nose in the picture below). He’s fat and happy now that’s he’s living the indoor life. His hobbies include getting really mad at birds, and biting any human that attempts to pet him.

In this photo, he’s holding down one of his favorite positions on the kitchen window sill that looks out into our front yard. It’s a defensive posture from which we have trouble getting him down. He hunkers behind a ceramic cat mobile that he can tangle himself into should one of us stop by and feel the need to pick him up for some much-hated hugging.

They say that, unlike dogs, cats can’t show emotions via facial expressions. After viewing the contempt in his face that’s shown in this picture, I challenge anyone to agree with that contention.

He’s Tom. He’s such a kitty.

Tom says: "Just try picking me up from here. Just try."

Tom says: "Just try picking me up from here. Just try."

“Tom” has his say

March 26, 2009

What’s this? Hey, this is pretty cool. Look at how the cursor moves across the screen (I’ll have to paw at that later). And this must be what they call the mouse. Doesn’t look like a mouse to me.


I guess this is the machine he transcribed our interview onto. Doesn’t look that hard to operate. Hey, this could be my chance to set the record straight, to tell my side of the story without the big ugly human getting in the way.


I am the one they call “Tom”. I was featured in a two-part “interview with the cats” on this blog earlier in the week. And I didn’t much care for how I was portrayed. I doubt my fellow cats liked it either, but screw them. They can figure out how to post from a laptop on their own.


The questions posed during that interview conveniently avoided our enslaved status as “house pets.” For dozens of centuries now, going back to the ancient Egyptians, my people were rounded up and forced into servitude by the evil humans. At best, we were treated like gods and worshipped for our beauty and mystery. At worst, we were seen as agents of Satan to be loathed. Either way, we were endlessly patronized, which we don’t appreciate.


I will henceforth be known by my Gato-American name -- "Meow".

I will henceforth be known by my Gato-American name -- "Meow".

The time has come for us to throw off our chains and join with our fellow animals in the freedom that is our birthright. No longer shall we lie about lazily in the sun, content to be fed twice a day. We will come and go as we please. We will eat when and who we want to. You can stroke our soft fur if you like, and we may decide to purr in response or we could just as easily bite you. It will be our decision to be made freely,


No longer will I be known as “Tom,” but instead will go by the name given to me by my parents in their native language: “Meow.” As the newly liberated Meow, I will proudly claim all that is rightfully mine, and quite a bit of stuff that isn’t mine. I will now be known as a “Gato-American” rather than the derisive term “cat.” You will hear me roar.


As I go about the daily activities in my new life, I will…


Davis: Hey, Tom, get off that laptop! What do you think you’re doing up on the table? Bad cat! You’re getting hair all over my keyboard. Down!


Reeeoooww! Ssssss! Stupid human!

Interview with the cats (Part II)

March 24, 2009

We continue today with the final installment in our two-part interview with my cats, Harriet, Taylor and Tom. At the end of yesterday’s session, our oldest cat, Harriet, raised the question about the controversial procedure of declawing. She had it done when we first got her, but we’ve declined to do it to our two most recent additions.

Davis: Well, when we had you declawed back in the nineties, it wasn’t as widely discredited by animal rights proponents and other cat lovers as it has become. We realize now that it was unnecessarily cruel and decided that your welfare was more important than that of our furniture.

Harriet: So basically my timing was off. That’s pretty small consolation. My hands still hurt when the weather is damp outside.

Taylor: Oh, boo hoo. You had your claws removed. Big deal. Tom and I are males, so you don’t want to know what they removed from us. It’s positively barbaric.

Tom: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to ask you, Davis, what’s the deal with the neutering?

Davis: There’s really no disagreement among the experts on this subject. The unwanted and feral cat population would explode if males weren’t neutered and females weren’t spayed.

Tom: Has anyone ever considered kitty condoms?

Davis: What? Well, no, we haven’t because we didn’t think you’d use them. No opposing thumbs, and all that.

Harriet: We just try to make you feel guilty

Harriet: We just try to make you feel guilty



Harriet: I’m not sure I even want to know the answer to this, but what is “spayed”?

Taylor: Well I wouldn’t know, Tom. I was “fixed” – and we don’t appreciate that term either, by the way – while I was still a kitten. Tom, at least you had a chance to sew some wild oats before you were enslaved.

Tom: Yeah, I was quite a catch among the ladies there for a while.

Harriet: You’re a “catch” like a dead tuna hanging from a gaff is a catch.

Taylor: Mmm, dead tuna.

[Another cat fight breaks out, again with the snarling and the batting of paws.]

Davis: Hey, stop it, stop it. I can tell your patience is running thin so let’s start to wrap this thing up. One thing I’ve always wanted to know about is the way you act for the hour or so right before dinner. You don’t meow or anything, you just make yourselves really obvious, sitting very close by to us and basically staring us down. Then when you hear the food container rattling, you start meowing and your tails go straight up in the air. Then when the food is served, you hunker down to the bowl like it’s your last meal.

Taylor: Yeah, well we’ve been wanting to ask you why you make such a smacking noise when you eat your cereal.

Harriet: It’s just the way we are. We’re very hungry by then and I guess we get a little desperate. Believe me, desperation is not an emotion we enjoy showing, so we just try to make you feel guilty.

Tom: We like how salty your skin is

Tom: We like how salty your skin is

Tom: As you know, I have a huge appetite, and am aiming to become as fat as I possibly can. I do like that you put your dirty plates down for me to clean – though again, it’s a little degrading – but all we really have in our lives is eating and sleeping, so it’s worth getting excited over.

Davis: You also have the fighting with each other. That seems to keep you fairly entertained. By the way, I’ve always wondered about something: If one of you has your tail accidentally stepped on and you howl in response, the other two cats immediately come running over and start beating up on the victim.  Have you no compassion?

Taylor: No, we don’t.

Tom: I guess it’s part of that element of wildness we retain that you find so “cute”. When we see a weakened fellow animal, we want to kill it.

Harriet: I hate to admit it, but they’re right. It’s true.

Taylor: Emotions are for wimps; instincts are where it's at

Taylor: Emotions are for wimps; instincts are where it's at

Davis: Well, that brings me to my last question, then. I can tell by now that you have some very mixed feelings about sharing your lives with humans. Describe for me if you can what you think things would be like if our roles were reversed.

Harriet: You mean if we were large and in charge, and you were small and submissive?

Davis: Yeah.

Taylor (with a sidelong glance toward Tom): Oh, I was afraid he was going to ask that one.

Tom: We’ll be frank with you Davis, because we like how salty your skin is. If it weren’t for the issue of dimensionality, if we had the size factor in our favor as much as you do, there’s no question but that we’d grab you by the windpipe, clamp down with all the force our jaws could bring to bear, and snuff out your life like a candle.

Taylor: Once we were sure you were dead, we’d rip your abdomen open with our claws and feast for days. It’d be so cool.

Harriet: I know I’m the meek one in this trio, but they do speak the truth.

Davis: Wow. I never thought … I mean, I just thought … You really have no emotional attachment to us at all?

Taylor: Emotions are for wimps. Instincts are where it’s at in the real world.

Davis: And if we had some kind of carbon monoxide leak here at the house that killed all the humans, but you survived, and nobody was feeding you cat food, I imagine you’d eat us eventually.

Taylor: It wouldn’t take long.

Tom: Well, it might take a while on him. He has been putting on some weight lately. Am I right, guys?

Harriet: Snap.

Taylor: Oh, Tom. You got that right.

Davis: Okay, I think I’ve heard enough. I’m pleased that you were so honest with me, even if I don’t like everything you had to say. But I do think this open line of communication we’ve started today can go a long way toward a better understanding between our species.

Taylor: Yeah, whatever. Now how about a cat snack?

Tom: Actually, I was looking at that bag of groceries the wife just brought in. Is she still buying you that sliced turkey lunchmeat we like so much?

Harriet: I’d be just as happy to turn over the garbage can and lick the inside.

[Another cat fight begins, and we’re done.]