28

Cat Forum: Surviving Back to School

Greetings. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. If you live with small (or not so small) human children, you may have noticed that they are not around as much as usual. That’s because they have gone off to “school”.

Humans are a little odd in the way they teach their children (among other things). Instead of teaching them how to survive in the world, they send them to “school” to learn “facts” and “socialization”. And they only do it for part of the year. Very strange.

Anyway, life around the house changes when school begins. We’re going to talk about some of those changes and how they may affect you.

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Getting up Early – Your young human will probably start getting up earlier than usual.

Downside – They will use some loud noise to wake up. It’s called an alarm, and it makes an awful sound to wake the small human. You will not enjoy it. Also, you will lose your warm sleeping companion.

Upside – You get the warm bed to yourself.

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Buses – Your young human may take a “bus” to school. They are yellow. An alligator friend of ours refers to them as a can of people.

Downside – Young humans rarely are ready for the bus. They run around the house looking for things. There may be yelling. And buses make a very loud noise when they stop.

Upside – None

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Backpacks, Books, Shoes – Humans need a lot of stuff to go to school.

Downside – They will probably leave their stuff all over the house. You will either need to walk around it or over it. Often the adult humans will yell at them to put their stuff away. (School seems to cause a lot of yelling.)

Upside – Some of the stuff is really comfy to lay on. In particular, backpacks and books are good for relaxing. The shoes can be used as containers for gift mice.

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Pencils, Pens, Crayons – School also requires a lot of stuff to write with.

Downside – Crayons taste awful. Pens can leak ink onto your paws. Sometimes humans get cranky if you play with them.

Upside – It’s a lot of fun to bat any of them around and watch them roll. If you’re lucky, the small human may play with you.

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Lunch – A lot of small humans take food to school. An adult human usually makes a lunch.

Downside – The humans will spend a lot of time in the kitchen totally ignoring you. Some of the food is really icky, like celery. And they won’t let you give a sniff test to make sure the food is good.

Upside – Once in a while, you may get a piece of the meat that’s going on the sandwich. Don’t be fooled if they offer you peanut butter – it does not taste like butter.

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Gym Clothes – Sometimes the schools make the small humans exercise. They wear special clothes for exercise.

Downside – When these clothes come home, they smell terrible.

Upside – None. Avoid them.

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Baths – Parents make children bathe more often for school.

Downside – Small children don’t always want to bathe. (Disgusting, isn’t it?) There may be yelling (again). If you like to be in the bathroom, you may get dragged into the water.

Upside – Less chance of sticky fingers in your fur.

As you can see, school doesn’t really do much for us cats. In exchange for having a quieter house for a few hours a day, we get more yelling and running around for the rest of the time.

We highly recommend that you find a nice, quiet spot and ignore them all.

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18

Cat Forum: Interview with Purrseidon

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This month we welcome Purrseidon to Cat Forum. She is a very talented kitty and writes her own blog. It’s called Purrseidon, so it’s really easy to remember. She highly recommends her mom’s blog too.

(Remember: Our comments are in italics. Snoops and Kommando)

How did you find out that you like water so much?

I’ve loved playing in puddles and getting baths as long as I can remember, but I guess my staff first noticed when they caught me playing in Saphera’s water bowl.

(For such a sweet cat, that is sooo weird.)

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Tell us what it’s like to live with a dog. Do you and Mr. M ever gang up on her?

Actually, Saphera is sort of my surrogate mom. I was living feral, when my sisfur, Lucy Fur, died and then the humans who were to become my staff saw that a neighbor dog had me by the scruff of the neck and was shaking me. They managed to save me and when they brought me in, Saphera sort of adopted me – she is very motherly. Truth be told, it would be more likely for us to gang up on M, but we don’t do that and if we ever did, I’m not so sure we’d win – M has some amazingly effective moves.

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If you can’t get to the water, what’s your favorite thing to do?

I like to go hiking and climb my oak tree (but only when those horrid squirrels aren’t around). I also like to play tag with Saphera’s best friend, Livie Lou, who is a chihuahua and just a bit smaller than me, but she is very, very speedy. That all said, water is usually pretty easy to get to, but getting the staff to take me to the beach is a lot harder – they have work and school schedules to juggle and then the weather (including rip currents) is a big factor.

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(Kommando: Maybe she was a dog in her first life, then discovered cats are cooler so she changed for the other eight. Snoops: Then why are there still so many dogs around?)

Do you, Mr M and Saphera each have a favorite human?

Mr. M’s favorite person is mom and my purrsonal human is Master Munchkin. Like I told you, Saphera is very motherly, so she loves babies of all sorts… She does not like most adults (though she makes exception for family) and – I hate to admit this failing, but she doesn’t like adult males with dark skin, so Mr. M avoids her, even though he shares her love of babies – sticky fingers and all. (Eww)

Saphera was found running next to the interstate when she was about 6 months old. Her tail had been broken and she was in rough shape. Obviously, I was not around then (I just turned 2 and she is 8), The staff think she was abused and that she has some form of puppy PTSD. 

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What’s it like to live with a writer? Is she away from home a lot?

Mom and Mr. M collaborate on writing family-friendly fantasy and they are basically home-bodies. They finished The Chatterre Trilogy last year and are currently working on a new episode for Xander de Hunter’s Sea Purrtector series … I help with this, too.

During his youth, Xander de Hunter gained fame in Catamundo’s kickboxing tournaments. When, he and his family moved aboard sailing vessel, Whispurring Winds, Xander became Catamondo’s first Sea Purrtector. Latitudes & Cattitudes is a short (free) prequel to the series. It takes place when Xander is still purrticipating in the kickboxing tournaments. M and mom worked on that one and The Red Claw without me, but I started learning to be a muse during Purr-a-noia and by the time we wrote Me-YEOW!, M started muttering about me and my character, Mischief, trying to replace Xander. That is not exactly true, but Mischief does have my water skills, so I think she would make a wonderful Sea Purrtector. 

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Do you get to eat a lot of fresh fish since you live so close to the ocean?

Not as much as I’d like to eat – I love, love, love sea food. Saphera does, too, but M purrfers chicken.

(Dad would love her. Someone to appreciate the fish he catches. Wish he’d fish for deli ham some time.)

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Tell us one thing about each of your family members that you really like.

Mr. M tends to be quiet and keep to himself, but he is very smart and I learn a lot from him. He is also a big help with the blog and I can depend on him to share information about science and/or space at least one day per week.

Saphera is an excellent watchdog, except that she mainly watches so she knows when to hide, thus M is a better purrtector, but Saphera is a great surrogate mom.

Pop is super smart and knows a lot about music, gardening and loads of interesting stuff. 

Mom is really good about keeping on her writing schedule and still serving tasty meals on time.

Ms. Munchkin is also very smart and she’s learning to be a good cook.

Master Munchkin is my favorite person and we spend as much time together as possible. He reads me a bedtime story every day.

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What’s it like writing a blog every few days?

It’s pretty easy compared to writing a novel, but then, I get a lot of help from M and mom. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to thank you for choosing me and taking the time to ask these questions…. Purrhaps, if you are ever near Florida’s Space Coast, you’d like to come to a pool party.

 (We need to look up Florida. I don’t think we can walk there. Maybe a business trip so Cheeseland pays for it.)

 

8

Critter Capers: Letters to St. Nicholas

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Dear Santa Claws

Mom said that if we were good animals, that you would bring us presents on Christmas. I’m not sure when that is, but I think it’s soon. There’s a big tree in the front room and lots of bags upstairs.

But maybe not. Mom said you live where it’s cold this time of year and you don’t look cold in your picture.

Anyway, I have been a good cat. I don’t scratch on the furniture. Well only the love seat, and you can’t even tell. I give mouse presents and cuddle a lot. Even with the other cat. And I always use the litter box.

Would you please bring me

  1. A warming blanket that doesn’t have all those wires that push into my skin. I know I’m furry, but I can still feel them. I can’t cuddle with my human because he wears one of those all the time.
  2. Some smoked turkey in a bag like Mom brings home. I really like it, but they only share a little.
  3. One of those toys I can hold in my front paws and kick with my back paws. The other cat doesn’t like those, so I don’t have to fight her off.
  4. A How to Catch Mice book for the humans. No matter how many times I show them how to hunt, they still want me to make the kill. They need to learn to fend for themselves.
  5. A silencer for the other cat that I can control. She talks a LOT.
  6. A bag of the kitty kibble they buy for the spiny guy. He gets better quality food than I do.
  7. A new scratching post. The ones downstairs are used up. My human keeps saying the he will resurface it, but that never happens. If you can’t bring that, could you please bring him a video of what happens to cats if they can’t sharpen their nails correctly? Or maybe something from YouTube of a bad cat using his human as a scratching post when the post is unusable?

Thank you very much.

Super Snooper (I have enclosed a picture so you know for sure who I am. The humans NEVER take pictures of anything and it shows.)

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Dear Santa

You sure look like a cool cat. I bet you bring all kinds of good stuff.

I have been a good kitty. I make sure my human (Mom) gets up on time for work. It’s not my fault she gets up really early some days and not so early other days. You know cats like routines. I help make sure she gets enough sleep. Twice I have told the humans when the other cat was locked in another room. Maybe it was three times. The first time they ignored my crying. I help Mom find things on this little computer thingy. And I always use the litter box.

Please bring me

  1. One of those fishing pole toys. I used to have a lot of them. The humans got mad when I chewed the strings. How else was I supposed to play with the toy after I captured it? The male humans don’t leave their fish on the hooks.
  2. A warming blanket that the other cat won’t get her smell all over. And that the humans won’t steal from me when they get cold. Something nice and furry would be good.
  3. Some of that meat the humans had the other day. I think they called it a “pot roast”. (That’s kinda weird since it didn’t come out of a pot.) I usually don’t like human food, but that was really yummy.
  4. A How to Speak Siamese for the humans. They keep saying that I talk a lot, but if they would just listen and respond I wouldn’t have to talk so much.
  5. A heater like the spiny guy has if you can’t get #2. It’s some kind of board they put next to his cage. Then they cover his cage with a blanket. He stays really warm. I think the humans could make a blanket tent for us cats (I would share) and attach the board to one of the sides.
  6. A different job for Mom so she can stay home all day and cuddle with us (I would share). Maybe one of those jobs you do at home or something that works with Dad’s schedule so we always have a human to cuddle with.
  7. A cat door to upstairs where the bedrooms are. When it’s cold, Dad keeps the door up there closed. Something about heating a barn. I don’t get it – we live in a house. Anyway, then we could get up and go to sleep up there when we want (I would share). And Mom couldn’t kick me out when I want breakfast on my normal schedule.

Your Friend

Kommando Kitty

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Dear Mr. Claws

I hope that I am not imposing by asking for a few things for Christmas. I have worked on being a better hedgehog all year. I no longer poop on Mom. I don’t hiss at the humans or curl up into a ball every time I see them. I am trying to get my quills to stay soft enough so they don’t need the gloves. I am very appreciative of the wax worms they give me to eat. I cuddle up and sleep on both of them now.

I am requesting:

  1. One of those plastic balls so I can run around the room by myself without worrying about the furballs. Please make sure it is hedgehog-safe.
  2. Soundproofing for my cage. Dad doesn’t seem to understand that I’m nocturnal. He turns on the TV all the time. And loud (hedgehogs have very sensitive ears).
  3. If you can’t soundproof my cage, would you please send him some earphones?
  4. A larger water dish. I am a clean hog and use it for both bathing and drinking. (The bathing is mainly when I stick my snout too far into the bowl.) They don’t remember to check it every day. My home is nice and warm and the water in the air keeps my skin soft. But then I don’t have it to drink.
  5. A timer for Dad. He used to get me out every night at 10p. Now he only gets me out every other night. It would be OK but then he forgets and I don’t get to have my worm snack for several days.
  6. A barrier so the furballs can’t play right next to my cage. They growl and thump and make all kinds of noise. Not only does it wake me up, it gives me nightmares. I guess it would be daymares.
  7. Some extra worms so I can share with Mom and Dad. That way they would know why I like them so much. Maybe we could snack together every night.

Most Sincerely Yours in Gratitude

Horatio, Lord Nelson

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I Don’t Remember any Vacation

A few weeks ago, I realized that my work anniversary was coming up soon, and I still had vacation time left. When I started at the store three years ago, that would have meant a decision between taking the time off and getting the extra money.

However, management has changed hands. Now you either use your vacation by your anniversary date or you lose it. There was no announcement of the change in policy, but it didn’t take many people losing the money for word to get around.

Studies have shown that vacations are good for productivity. I hope that the studies were referring to work productivity. Today is the last day of my vacation, and I honestly don’t remember how I spent most of the time.

I decided to take one of those vacations where you just stay around the house and relax. My husband was working and the kids had school, so I could just hang out.

Except for the newspapers everywhere. And the 10+ magazines laying around. And taking my son to his driving test. And picking up his “new” car. (It’s a ’72 VW Beetle, and it is SO cute!) And the meeting in Detroit. And needing to do church stuff.

And hundreds of e-mails. (I love you guys, but for some reason you never seem to write fewer posts just because I’m really busy. Gotta work on my telepathy.) Don’t tell me to read everything through my Reader. I rotate who comes by email because the Reader is full of other blogs that I look at occasionally. If I promised to read everything in my Reader, I would never look at much of anything.

So here I am on Sunday evening. I read a few of the magazines. I threw away some of the papers (after reading them). You can’t tell the difference. It still looks like we’re waiting to paper the walls with newsprint.

I caught up on all the Internet news services I follow. I’d forgotten just how depressing the news can be when you actually read the full stories. I may just go back to reading the headlines and celebrity gossip.

Could someone send me a note if ISIS makes it to Ankara or Ebola wipes out an entire nation? I don’t need to know if George Clooney and his new wife get pregnant with the world’s current cutest baby ever. Remember to mark it “Urgent”. I’m not sure how long it will take for the e-mailbox to overflow again.

I finished a book. Yay!!! That only leaves about hmmmm twenty-five or so to go. That does not include the ones on Kindle since I read those on breaks at work. I got caught up on the reading for my Monday night class.

If it sounds like I spent all my time on my rear, you are wrong. I also spent a couple of naps with the cats. They were amazingly friendly once they got over the trauma of me not getting up at 2:30a to feed them.

Kommando Kitty has learned that if I’m lying on the sofa using the laptop, she only has to try sending one email before I pick her up. She has also turned on Spotify a couple of times. (She has terrible taste in music.)

I did not get the yard ready for winter. I did not look for another job. I did not do one single thing that I will be able to tell people tomorrow when they ask what I did with my time off. And it’s great.

The really scary part is that I only really have trouble with my sinuses at work. At home, I am generally tissue-free unless there’s some kind of front coming through (you Michiganders out there know what I mean). But this morning I woke up with dry eyes and a semi-runny nose. The aching in my front sinuses is there too. MY BODY KNOWS IT’S GOING BACK TO WORK TOMORROW. And it’s not happy.

I see by the ads that some of the Halloween stuff is already on sale. Anybody in the market for a taco costume for your dog? How about some orange and brown chips for cookies. (I think they’re all chocolate, but it doesn’t come out and say that.)

The Christmas toys have been clogging up the back rooms for a while. The sooner you buy the Halloween stuff, the sooner we can all start complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. Time’s a-wasting.

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The Return of Cat TV

Everyone has their own indicator for when spring starts.The first robin. The first golf game without a winter jacket. The lilacs blooming. For us it’s the start of Cat TV. Cat TV starts on the day that we can first open the windows and pull the screens down. It usually starts in the dining room (the window is easily accessible) and moves to the living room (table in front of the window). Both cats race to the first one open. When they’re both open, they choose whichever has the best picture. During the day it’s a toss-up, but at night the living room is definitely favorite since the lights attract bugs.

Cat TV is undoubtedly a popular time for the cats. Unfortunately, it also coincides with the time of year when we notice that we can’t see through the windows from all the gunk that the storms brought all winter. At least for me, the problem with washing the windows is that once it gets hot, we close all the drapes against the sun. You may remember that we live in an old farmhouse with a boiler for heat. Apparently farmers in the 1920’s did not see a need for central air. Probably something to do with being out in the sun all day making anything feel cooler. Or possibly that AC hadn’t been invented or discovered or however it came to be.

OK, windows have fallen to the bottom of the list. If I want to see the weather, I’ll take a chair and sit outside. We have a lot of trees. The traffic isn’t too bad and goes by at 55 mph (or so). If I’m really motivated, I can sit in the backyard.

Of course, it’s a lot more pleasant to sit in the yard if the grass has been mowed. Our lawnmower broke toward the very end of mowing season last year. We’ve been meaning to get one for awhile, but you know that goes… It will be delivered today. I’m not good with mechanical things – do they come with a machete function? I really should have bought that alpaca. It is amazing how quickly grass will grow when it knows you have no defense.

The other day my husband jokingly suggested that we replace our grass with lemon basil. Apparently it only grows a few inches high, so it wouldn’t require cutting. We may have to try it. If the deer and the rabbits and the rest of the beasties like it, maybe they’ll get full before they make it to the shrubs in the front. Or maybe it would just be a first course for them.  We could try phlox. Every year I cut it back and every year it takes over the sidewalk by the time it’s warm enough to garden.

I remember a humorous story by a Soviet writer (I wish I could remember his name) about the electrification of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s (bet it didn’t include AC either). A government official was going around asking the peasants how much they enjoyed their new light. When he got to one house, he noticed that the light bulbs had been removed. He asked the woman about it. She told him that she didn’t realize how dirty her house was until she got the lights.

I am looking around the house and seeing about twenty things that could be done. And I continue to sit here and write this post. Why does housework have to be so boring and repetitive? That’s the real reason men resisted women moving into the workforce. They knew that some of that stuff would eventually become their responsibility. When my kids were younger, I’d read articles about how to make cleaning up more fun. I’m really glad I didn’t lie to them about that.

I have a pile of books that I want to read sitting on the table behind me. Actually it’s grown to two piles in the time I’ve been trying to get to them. I can hear some voices in the back row: “You need to make time for yourself.” That’s great, but if I make that much time for myself, the dust bunnies are going to find out, get organized, and take over the house.

Thinking about it, I also have magazines, crossword puzzles, and books in the living room. And the bedroom. It’s probably a good thing they don’t do periodic fire safety inspections on houses. It’s truly unfortunate that we don’t entertain much anymore – we always cleaned the house thoroughly before we let anyone in.

And don’t forget about the closets. I need to bring out my summer stuff. Actually it’s more about putting away the winter stuff. When you don’t have AC, it is really unpleasant to be rummaging through heavy knits to find the sundresses. To say nothing of the psychological damage thinking about winter in July could cause.

I really should do that thing about throwing away anything I haven’t worn in the past 12 months. Unfortunately due to wearing a uniform I don’t have to change after work in the winter, I really don’t have any idea what I would wear if I got another job. And if I can’t do the winter clothes, why bother with the summer clothes?

I’m sure there are other things to do, but thankfully, I can’t think of them right now. Guess I’ll go watch Cat TV and see if they come to me.