To All the Cats I’ve Known Before

You’d think I’d be used to typing with a cat on my lap by now, but it does provide some complications. Like their tendency to flex their claws into my knee if I’m not petting them often enough. Which means, less typing. Could mean more thinking, if one takes the time to pet the cat long enough to generate a purr, sort of their version of the ‘Ohmmmm.” Good for meditative states, probably not so much for chasing down a theme.

If someone asks if I’m a dog or cat person, I’d have to say “yes.” I grew up with both, and have owned and loved several dogs over the years. But when First Reader and I married, our living situation was such that dogs were problematic. So we started with cats, and have more or less kept with them, save for the occasional beta fish. There was Early, the calico, so called because that’s when she wanted to play, and wake us up. She liked to sleep in my manuscript boxes. In the attic is a box of such boxes, and I have no doubt, if I opened a few and looked closely, I’d find a few Early hairs.

There was Cobweb, the Persian, who liked to eat the furniture. Fizzgig and Summer (pictured above), American Short and (Calico) Longhair, respectively. Fizzgig was probably as close to “normal” as any of them. Summer was a little nuts, even by cat standards. She was a rescue, as almost all of our cats were, save Cobweb. Summer hated men. I’m sure she had her reasons, but most of the time she was First Reader’s cat, and could barely stand to be in the same room as me. It was only in her later years, when I suspect she was getting a little dotty, that she warmed up to me at all. One day she even climbed into my lap. I had to call First Reader over to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. “Are you seeing this??” By this time she was an only cat. This suited her fine, and we resolved not to change it until she passed on. She was our longest lived cat.

There was also Valentine and Cameo, both gone way too soon. Sweet cats, both.

Now it’s Sheffield and Sterling, two gray and white brothers who forget they are brothers half the time and get salty with each other. Or just play too rough, I guess it depends on how you look at it. I hope they’re with us a good while longer, despite the fact that they take turns crawling into my lap when I’m trying to write.

Mice parts on the rug? I could do without that. No matter. It’s just part of the gig.

 

Disposing of the Bodies–With Empathy

sheffield1One of the joys of living with cats is, every now and then, it will be your job to clean up a crime scene, dispose of (parts of, usually) a body, that sort of thing. They bring their prey home. That’s what cats do. Dogs are predators too, but only under the right circumstances. They’re mostly content to let us handle the food thing. Not cats. They are predators all the time. A well-fed, healthy cat is just a more efficient hunter, that’s all. You know all the time they’re purring in your lap or rubbing against your face they are still thinking “If I was as big as a leopard, I would totally eat you.” And they would.

So what has that got to do with the price of tea in Nepal? Continue reading

Monday. Just…Monday.

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I spent Sunday installing cat doors so the boys could go out and play on the hillside. They choose not to, since it’s cold and windy out but inside they can lie in a warm sunbeam as Bast intended. Still, it’s good to have the option, and I’m sure they’ll use it. Probably in the spring. For the nonce, however, the squirrels are safe.

Something that almost came up before, so I thought I’d mention it and get it out of the way: I stopped doing formal reviews years ago and these days I don’t review that much, and when I do, I don’t review books by people I know personally. That is, friends. The reason is simple: I value the friendship more than the urge to voice an opinion. I make an exception for Parke Godwin mostly because 1) there was little chance of my NOT liking something he’d written. He was and remains one of my favorites and 2) Despite his better than decent career, I still consider him underrated, and anything that gets the word out is a good thing. In contrast to another book I’m reading. By a friend, and a very good writer, but this is early work and while not bad, should have been cut by at least a quarter. Very wordy, and believe me, I know wordy, being guilty of it myself on occasion. (Pause now for the Muse to stop laughing).

Anyway, I won’t review it because there’s little point in criticizing someone for something they used to do. And I value the friendship more than etc. Just so you know.

I was shocked to hear of David Bowie’s passing. He wasn’t that old and I had no idea he was ill. It’s impossible to overemphasize the influence the man had and continued to have on popular music since I was aware of music as a separate thing. “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” was the soundtrack of my college years, and it feels like the passing of an era.

RIP Ratstein

Yoshino-1On top of everything else we’ve had to deal with lately—there’s more, there always is, and lately a LOT more—we’ve had a rat living behind our dishwasher for the past three months. We’re not entirely sure how it got there—it didn’t come through the attic and down the wall. We strongly suspect it was one brought in by our cats to play with, because they’re both strong hunters but only one knows what to do with prey once it’s caught, and he only goes after smaller mice and lizards. Sheffield is the bigger, better hunter, but he hasn’t a clue what to do after catching prey because, to him, everything is a cat toy, so he brings them in to have some fun. So far we’ve removed three chipmunks, a mouse, and a cardinal from the house, but this one eluded us. This wouldn’t have happened in the old days with the late lamented Valentine. He was a killer. If he caught something, he ate it, and at most we—by which I mean me–would now and again be called upon to clean up the crime scene, but never to capture something he had decided to let go. Valentine wasn’t into catch and release.

I grew up in a small town and lived mostly in old drafty Victorian-era houses. Now and again we had to deal with rats and mice. It came with the territory. There wasn’t a great deal to it—bait a snap-trap, every now and then check and remove the bodies. Reset. Repeat. This rat wasn’t playing. Continue reading