Posts Tagged ‘pets’

My cats discuss current affairs, part two

December 9, 2009

This is the second part of a wide-ranging interview I had recently with my three cats. In Monday’s post, Harriet, Taylor and Tom gave us an overview of current news events as they saw them. Sometimes their focus was narrow, understandable from a creature that lives primarily to sleep and eat. Other times, they displayed a keen insight into the big picture, as if watching world events unfold from the top of a giant refrigerator, except without the cereal boxes getting in the way.

Today, we talk about their impressions of modern humanity as it’s displayed in popular culture.

Q: I was hoping to lighten things up a little for the second half of our interview. I want to discuss a few items in the lighter side of the news right now, and get your take. What do you think about the whole Tiger Woods story?

Tom: Well, we obviously have to stick with our fellow feline on this question. We totally understand the whole issue of “tom-catting.” Or at least we would if we hadn’t been surgically maimed.

Taylor: You’re absolutely right, Tom. Humans think they’re so much better at controlling their baser instincts than we are, yet in reality they’re just hypocrites. You can’t blame the guy for turning down opportunities if they present themselves.

Harriet: Is that really how you guys feel? I’m outraged! Women of all species are tired of being victimized by immature males who can’t keep it in their pants, or their fur, or whatever the case may be. The man has a wife and family who have been humiliated by his lack of control. And now the mother-in-law is all upset too.

Tom: Oh, boo-hoo. I can’t believe they brought the mother-in-law in on this. As if Tiger didn’t have enough problems.

Taylor: I think we cats have it right by not recognizing relatives or spouses at all. A mother will protect her kittens for maybe six or seven weeks, and then it’s like — who the hell are these guys? Get out of here.

Tom: Taylor and I are probably brothers, for example,  yet we’d just as soon kill each other as we would send a birthday card.

Harriet: And I could be your mother-in-law.

Tom: If we recognized any type of law, that is.

Tom: The concept of “law” is beneath us

Q: Let’s turn to show biz for a few minutes, if you don’t mind. What was your takeaway on that Adam Lambert controversy, where he kissed his male guitarist and then simulated a sex act on television?

Taylor: It’s okay with me, but I wouldn’t do it on the television. There’s not enough room to get a good angle on each other on top of these new flat screens.

Harriet: Just another sign of the degradation of your culture. I’ve never worn any kind of make-up at all, including eyeliner, and I’m a female.

Tom: Considering that cats lick even casual acquaintances, you can imagine we’re pretty blasé about the whole thing. What offends me about the guy is his attempt to carry a tune while wearing that much hair gel. It’s distracting — I see those pointy things on top of his head and I think he’s a cat.

Q: Are you guys familiar with Oprah Winfrey? What do you think about her show ending?

Harriet: She’s been a giant in the self-help field. People hardly even knew how put one foot in front of another before she came along.

Tom: You know how well I respond to someone telling me what to do. You can imagine what I’d feel about somebody doing that who doesn’t even feed me.

Taylor: As someone “of color” who knows about all the obstacles we face, it’s great to see a strong black woman getting such success.

Tom: What do you mean, “of color”? You’re grey.

Taylor: I’m a very dark grey, and I have felt subtle bigotry from the white community. And the tabby community, I might add.

Tom: Hey, we Tabbo-Americans have our issues too, you know. It’s not easy being orange-and-white-striped.

Harriet: As someone who is mostly white with black splotches, I personally would like to paint some white splotches on Oprah. Maybe she’ll do a show on that before she leaves.

Harriet: Oprah would look good with white splotches

Q: Okay, we seem to be wandering off topic a bit. It’s right what they say about how hard it is to herd cats, I guess.

Harriet, Tom and Taylor (in unison): That’s prejudiced!

Q: Sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I wanted to ask you about the Kennedy Center honors the other night. The president recognized Mel Brooks, Robert DeNiro, Dave Brubeck, Bruce Springsteen, and some opera lady nobody heard of. Do you feel like these are worthy honorees?

Tom: Never heard of any of them.

Harriet: Actually, Grace Bumbry, the “opera lady,” is the only one I even like. Her rendition of the “Vail Song” from Verdi’s Don Carlo is exquisite. She’s the only mezzo-soprano I can name who sounds like a cat with its tail stepped on. And I mean that as the highest compliment.

Taylor: Bruuuuuuuce! And, I might add, Daaaaaave!

Q: I’m going to start wrapping up with a couple of recent and fairly random cultural references, and you just chime in if you have any comment. The proposed excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery…

Tom: I’m against it. I was thinking of getting a fur tuck, and I’m already afraid I won’t be able to afford it.

Taylor: If you’re talking about the bulge that flaps back and forth on your belly when I chase you down the hall, it’s called a “wattle” and it’s fat, not fur.

Harriet: I’d like to have my legs removed and then reattached backwards, just for the hell of it. I wouldn’t expect the government to subsidize that but I’d hate to be penalized, either.

Q: That video on YouTube showing the groom who updated his Facebook status during his wedding…

Taylor: I saw that. It was hilarious for about two seconds, and then really awkward after that.

Tom: Social networking has gotten completely out of control. You can read more about my thoughts on my blog,

Harriet: I’m into tweeting myself. I keep thinking it has something to do with attracting birds.

Q: Speaking of birds, how about that new birding app for the iPhone?

Harriet: Sounds like it would be really worthwhile, that is if I had $19.99. Or an iPhone. Or thumbs.

Tom: I’ve found claws to be an excellent replacement for the opposable thumb. I can snag chicken skin right out of the garbage disposal.

Taylor: I don’t think chickens count as birds, at least for bird-watching purposes.

Q: The college football bowl match-ups…

Tom: I like Texas winning a close one over Alabama, and then one of the mid-majors, TCU or Boise State, sneaking into the top spot in the final poll.

Harriet: I’m looking forward to that Rutgers versus Central Florida contest. So I can take a nap.

Taylor: The only game I’ll probably watch is Florida, just to see Tim Tebow cry.

Taylor: Bowl games tend to be boring

Q: Okay, I think we’re just about done here. Is everybody looking forward to Christmas?

Harriet: Definitely! I love to see the whole family gather around the dinner table to eat the Christmas tree.

Taylor: We celebrate the birth of our Cat Saviour in a much more respectful manner that humans and their commercialism. We watch Garfield cartoons all day.

Tom: Well, I’ve only been here for three Christmases but I really enjoy this particular human custom. The warmth of the fireplace, the holiday carols, the excitement in the eyes of a young child, these are all things I’ve heard that most families enjoy. You guys, however, will doubtless go to a movie (I’d recommend “Up in the Air” starring George Clooney) and eat Chinese food, which means we’ll have the house all to ourselves for hours at a time.

Harriet: I got first dibs vomiting on the kitchen floor!

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.

“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.]


Interview with the cats (Part I)

March 23, 2009

We have three cats, though I guess the subject and object could just as easily be transposed.

When we considered adopting our third, about nine months ago, we went through some serious deliberations about whether or not this would put us over the line and into the territory of Crazy Cat People (CCP). I consulted with some cat-holding coworkers, one of whom was able to give me a complicated formula that would answer our doubts. I can’t remember the exact calculations – they involved square footage of our living space, whether it was a rural or urban setting, what the human-per-cat ratio would be, how matted my hair was, etc. – but in the end we were barely able to get under the wire with three.

Tom, an orange tabby male who had been hanging around our deck for about a month, was thus admitted to the household as a full-fledged member. He joined our two legacy cats in an uneasy partnership that has since worked out just fine.

Harriet, a small white female with several random black patches, has lived with us over ten years now. She first appeared as the apparently homeless kitten in my parents’ back yard who wouldn’t let their teacup shih-tzu urinate in peace. When we first brought her into our house, she hid under our freezer for several days before emerging, and has been generally skittish toward strangers ever since.

Taylor, a solid slate-grey male, also came to us as a kitten, one of a litter that was born under our deck. We resisted adoption at first, since we were about to leave town for a week’s vacation. By the time we returned only two remained, still under the care of their mother, though she was clearly ready for them to move on. We took both Taylor and his brother to the vet and found that the brother was deathly ill. We got Taylor his shots, had him surgically repaired, and brought him home to join Harriet.

Tom was already full-grown when he first showed up, peering in through our sliding-glass door with envy for the indoor life. We started taking him a bowl of food twice a day, and were impressed by how he always took time to purr and rub against our legs before he began to eat, despite the fact he was obviously ravenous. Eventually we lured him into the sunroom, made him undergo the veterinary visit, and the next thing we knew, we were borderline CCP.

This unlikely trio has brought a lot of enjoyment into our lives, though at the expense of probably a hundred dollars a month in food and litter bills, abandoned cat hair on all available surfaces, and so many claw scratches on my forearms that I look like a spastic junkie. While we’ve been immeasurably enriched by their presence, I’ve often wondered what they really think of the whole arrangement.

So recently, I sat down with Harriet, Taylor and Tom for a wide-ranging discussion about the nature of inter-species relationships such as ours. What did this association look like from the cat perspective?

Davis: I want to thank you all for taking the time to sit and talk with me today.

Taylor: Yeah, we managed to pencil you in between “laying in the sun” and “becoming agitated about a squirrel,” but we don’t have all day.

Davis: I appreciate that. I wanted to explore the nature of our relationship beyond just the petting and the purring. We hang out together all the time, but we’ve never really communicated beyond a casual level. I wanted to find out more about how you view this whole arrangement. For example, do you prefer the indoor life to living wild like you did before?

Harriet: Wow, that’s a good question. I’ve been in here since, what, 1996? I barely remember what I had for dinner yesterday, much less what it was like when I was a kitten.

Tom: You had for dinner what they give us for dinner every day. Those crunchy brown pellets they call “cat food.”


Taylor: We don't have all day

Taylor: We don't have all day

Davis: Tom, you seem pretty happy with the cat food when it’s dished out. I didn’t know you had any complaints.

Tom: Well, I do, but we have to take what we’re given. It’s not every day I can jump up on the counter and lick your bread for nourishment.

Davis: Tom, you’ve been an indoor cat for less than a year, so you probably remember what it was like to survive on worms and crickets and half-rotten squirrel carcasses. How do you compare the outdoor life with what you have now?

Tom: I don’t think I appreciate the tone of your question, but I’ll answer it anyway. I have to admit it’s a pretty sweet life sleeping on your bed all day and on the couch all night. My fur is much less flea-bitten in this setting, so I’m really able to get comfortable. It’s the awake time that is something less than I’d like it to be. Very little stimulation, you know. And by the way, well-aged squirrel meat happens to be quite the delicacy among our species, so I’d appreciate a little cultural sensitivity there.

Davis: Point taken. Taylor, your move indoors seemed to go pretty smoothly, and I think you enjoy yourself in here. We really share a nice moment in the evenings when you sit on my chest and we look at each other.

Taylor: Yeah, that’s a real high point in my day, that’s for sure. Of course, that probably gives you some idea of how boring the other times are.

Davis: But I thought we had something of a special relationship. We’ve never said it out loud, but I’ve always thought that you were my cat, Tom is Daniel’s cat and Harriet is Beth’s.

Taylor: This whole concept you humans have of “ownership” is really quite an insult, you know. I think your earlier use of the term “arrangement” is much more accurate. We’re not necessarily thrilled with the situation as it currently stands, but we appreciate that the alternatives aren’t that great for the modern cat. While you may not have succeeded in breeding the hunting skills out of us, you’ve really done a number on our comfort-seeking impulses, which now seem to consume us. We’re not born wanting to sit on humans, you know.

Davis: Well that touches on a question I’ve wondered about for some time. Do you like to get so close to us because you enjoy our company, or is it simply that you like our warmth?

Tom: Watch how far away we stay now that spring is here, and I think you’ll answer your own question.

Tom: My fur is much less flea bitten

Tom: My fur is much less flea bitten



Davis: Tom, let’s let Harriet answer this one. She seems to especially enjoy cuddling up on Beth’s lap regardless of the weather.

Harriet: Well, yeah, I do kind of like that closeness. But mainly I do it now for protection, because Tom tends to be so mean to me. If I thought a heating pad could swat him away as effectively as Beth does, I’d probably be just as happy.

Tom: Hey, I don’t appreciate …

[A brief cat fight ensues, with much snarling and waving of paws but no one is hurt.]

Davis: Alright, alright, let’s everybody calm down.

Harriet: I don't appreciate that I've been declawed

Harriet: I don't appreciate that I've been declawed



Harriet: You know, what I don’t appreciate is that I’ve been declawed and Taylor and Tom have not. If you’re going to rip my fingers out from the second joint, why didn’t you do it to them too? Where’s the fairness in that?

We’ll answer Harriet’s controversial question in part two of our interview, to be published tomorrow.


Some companies giving “peternity leave”

March 8, 2009

Those of you who have multiple cats are probably familiar with the routine. About an hour before their usual dinner time, they start quietly staring at you, maneuvering into your field of vision so they can take up as much of it as possible. As their patience wears thin, they get grumpy, picking small fights with each other like senior citizens late to the early-bird buffet. Finally, the food is served and all is well — they dart for the bowls with their tails held high, then hunker down for the serious business of eating.

When they’re done, there’s a brief period of torpor, when I presume digestion is hard at work. But soon, the protein kicks in and they’re literally off to the races, chasing each other up and down the hall, over the furniture, to the top of the highest-most surfaces they can reach. When the digestion is completed, they head off to the cat box, do their business, then get a fresh injection of energy for another 15 minutes or so of racing until they settle down for the night.

Wouldn’t it be cool if humans had a similar cycle, that we came out of the restroom all jacked up and ready for action? Life at the office would be so much more interesting, I think.

As you may remember if you read yesterday’s post, I’m phoning it in with the blogging this weekend. We’re having some wonderful weather here in the Southeast, and I’m not about to spend two days off of work slaving over my laptop keyboard. So instead, I’m stealing an interesting article from a major metropolitan newspaper and, as you might’ve guessed by now, the subject is pets.

This might serve as a preview for a post I hope to produce some time in the next week, introducing the digital world to my three cats – Harriet, Taylor and Tom. But more about them later. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this feature about “peternity leave”.

At the recent Westminster Kennel Club dog show, type-A dog owners showed off their pampered pooches to a panel of judges.


Some pet owners can actually get company-blessed time off for pet-related matters, in what are dubbed “peternity” leaves, according to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network blog.

Virgin Mobile in Australia recently announced that it now offers peternity leaves for employees with new puppies or kittens under 10 weeks old. Such employees, who must have worked for the company for more than two years, can get five unpaid days off. (Owners of other animals, such as birds, fish or hamsters, can’t take advantage of the policy, alas.) Several U.K. and Canadian companies, including the Bank of Scotland, also offer time off to care for new or sick pets or for pet bereavement.

The trend doesn’t seem to have caught on yet among U.S. businesses, although some companies, such as Google, do allow workers to bring pets to work. (From Google’s Dog Policy, printed in its code of conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”) Most pet owners, however, have to take personal days or lunch breaks to care for a new pet or to deal with a sick or dying animal. And, of course, being able to take any company-sanctioned leave to care for an animal is a luxury in this tough job market.