12

Cat Forum: A Day at the Spa

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Greetings. Snoops and Kommando here. Thanks for joining us here for this month’s Cat Forum. Today we’re looking at the important issue of how you can de-stress after a hard day of supervising the neighborhood, hunting, and looking for the perfect napping spot.

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One of the best ways to relax is to get a massage. Some cats find a human to do this. If you are looking for a human, you need one who uses their whole hand. It feels like extremely good cuddles.

Some humans use their fingertips. They call it acupressure; we call it prodding. However, many cats report that after the prodding, they do feel a lot better.

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We prefer a cat-to-cat massage. No one knows where our stress points are better than another cat. And when they’re done, you don’t need to worry about being dumped on the sofa afterwards. You can just relax and take a nap.

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Some of you say ‘nip is relaxing. We don’t want to recommend it here, because it excites as many kitties as it relaxes. Of course, most kitties do fall asleep after the excitement. So, it probably is relaxing.

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If you do choose to relax with ‘nip, make sure you get it from a reliable trader. Some cats have reported finding oregano and other herbs mixed in. That is definitely not relaxing.

A couple of good, long stretches are good for relaxing. Remember to hold the stretch momentarily to get the most out of it. If you are an active hunter, you may associate stretching with hunting. In that case, we do not recommend trying to relax this way.

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Some kitties like to relax with music. We recommend something in the classical realm, with lots of soothing strings or piano. Do not listen to that current human music with the loud crashes and human yowling. It will cause you more stress than you currently have.

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If the source of your stress is a housemate, there are two ways to deal with it. Our preferred method is to chase them out of the area. Not only will the running help you de-stress, you no longer have to deal with the source of the stress.

The other alternative is to find a quiet space of your own. However, if you’re stressed because someone has invaded your quiet spot, you’ll need to have several back-ups. Pests can usually find you.

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 Last, but not least, is a nice, long nap in a warm spot. We recommend a blanket, a sunny spot, in front of a fire, or in your bed. Do not use a human lap. Just about the time you get settled in, they will decide it’s time for a snack.

Talking about all of this relaxation is making us sleepy. Purrs and snuggles from Cat Forum.

12

Snoops and Kommando: Literary Critics

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Snoops and Kommando here. Mom didn’t notice that there were five Saturdays in August, so she has an extra post to fill. And guess which very talented kitties came to the rescue? That’s right. So here we are. (We get to write more next week since it’s our regular week. Pretty exciting, eh?)

Anyway, we have decided that we would show you just how intelligent cats are. She and the young male human went to a place called Stratford, Ontario on Sunday to see a play called Henry the VIII.

Weird, huh? Seems like they should have seen the first seven Henrys before this one. Apparently, it’s like some of human TV. It really doesn’t matter where you start. It sounded pretty boring (also like most human TV). No cats (or even dogs) in the whole thing.

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But they did bring home one interesting item: Cat Poems, edited by Tynan Kogane. We had high hopes and began reading right away. Humans don’t write many books for cats. We were not impressed.

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Mujer by William Carlos Williams

Oh, Black Persian cat!

was not your life

already cursed with offspring?

we took you for rest to that old

Yankee farm, –so lonely

and with so many field mice

in the long grass—

and you return to us

in this condition–!

Oh, black Persian cat.

So, what’s the deal with this? Cats shouldn’t have kittens? Black Persian cats shouldn’t have kittens? We know there are currently too many kittens. But if no one had kittens, we’d run out of cats.

And what condition is he talking about? Is she pregnant again? Covered with dirt and prickly things? A dead mouse for dinner? We don’t like this poem. Let’s move on.

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She Sights a Bird by Emily Dickinson

She sights a bird – she chuckles—

She flattens—then she crawls—

She runs without the look of feet—

Her eyes increase to Balls—

 

Her jaws stir—twitching—hungry—

Her Teeth can hardly stand—

She leaps, but Robin leaped the first—

Ah, Pussy of the Sand.

 

The hopes so juice ripening—

You almost bathed your Tongue—

When Bliss disclosed a hundred toes—

And fled with every one—

This one starts out pretty good. We’ve all seen birds we want to catch. The cat gets all excited. Then loses the bird. Then something with lots of toes ran away. Who is Bliss? Why does she need one hundred toes? Not only did the poem disappoint us, it ended strange.

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We were going to tell you more poems, but most of them were really long. Or talked about dead cats or about old cats who were getting ready to die. Or were just too weird to even understand.

We decided that what the book needed was some poetry actually written by cats. We came up with a couple of ideas we think they should consider for the next version. They are much easier to understand.

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Mothers Ruin Everything

A mouse wandered out of a hole in the wall.

Two excited kitties raced quickly down the hall.

One came for the kill,

The other, the thrill.

Rats! They lost their prey, who heard his mother call.

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Mothers Ruin Everything – Part 2

The cats saw birds out the window pane.

They tried to get out; it was in vain.

The door they used before

Was shut to the floor.

Mom closed it when it started to rain.

See? Short. To the point. Easy to understand. If they’re going to write a book for cats about poetry, they should write ones that cats can understand them. We’re smart; people just don’t get how to communicate with us.

18

Llama Drama – Part 3

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Where we are: The girls have each been invited to the Homecoming Dance, but not by the boy that she was hoping for. Now none of them will speak to the others. The boy llamas are totally confused about what is happening, so they ask Tiffany’s boyfriend Stewart to find out.

Stewart got the guys together and explained what was going on with the girls.

Brian: Girls are so weird. We were having so much fun at the games that we thought they might like to go to Homecoming.

Joey: Yeah. It wasn’t supposed to be a big thing.

Brian: I guess we should have just gone as a group.

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Joey: What do we do now?

They all looked at Stewart.

Stewart: Don’t ask me. I think the whole thing is stupid. It’s not like you asked them to marry you.

Johnny: That’s true. But I still feel bad.

Brian: Maybe we should get them all together and tell them that we thought it would be more fun if we went as a group instead of couples.

Joey: That might work.

Johnny: I’m in.

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Stewart: Good luck getting them together in one place.

Brian: Hmm. That’s a good point.

The guys tossed around a few ideas, but nothing sounded right.

Joey: Maybe we should each text the girl we asked and have them meet us at the track after school tomorrow. Since they’re not talking, they won’t know everyone else will be there too.

The two other llamas agreed that was the best solution. Each of the girls agreed to meet, excited to get to know their date better.

The guys went to the track together. The first girl to arrive was Lizzy. She looked a little surprised.

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Lizzy: Brian, why are your friends here? I thought we were going to talk.

Brian: We are. Here’s the thing…

Before he could finish what he was saying, Elsa and Rosa arrived from different directions.

Lizzy: Elsa, what are you doing here? Brian, why is she here?

Elsa: What are you doing here, you slimy son of an iguana’s uncle?

Brian (laughing): What kind of an insult is that?

Elsa: You’re right, Brian, it is kind of lame. (Turns to Lizzy) You hippo-brained…

Johnny: That’s not what he meant. He just thought it was funny.

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Rosa: It did sound kind of funny.

Elsa: Who asked you? You’re always butting into things that are none of your business.

Rosa: That’s because all you talk about is your business. We almost never get a chance to talk. Right, Lizzy?

Before Lizzy had a chance to answer, Elsa broke in.

Elsa: There you go again. Trying to get someone else involved in my business. Besides, you’re not even supposed to be here. Johnny asked me here to talk. Alone.

Rosa: Joey asked me here to talk.

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Lizzy: Well, Brian asked me here to talk. And instead of a private talk, I got a herd. What’s going on?

Brian: We feel responsible for you girls fighting and want to do something about it.

Joey: We didn’t realize that you would take the invitations so seriously. I mean, we’ve only gotten together as a group two times.

Johnny: Or had a conversation. We thought it would be better to ask you individually since it’s a dance.

Joey: What we really wanted was to go as a group, like we did to the soccer games.

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The girls looked at them in disbelief.

Lizzy: Brian, are you saying that you invited me so we could be part of a group, not because you like me?

Brian: I like you, Lizzy. As a friend. I think the six of us have a lot of fun together.

Elsa: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. (Looking at Johnny and Joey) Do you two feel the same way?

Johnny: Pretty much. We haven’t known you long enough to know if we really like you.

The girl llamas started to cry. The boy llamas looked down at their hooves.

Brian: We’re really sorry that we hurt your feelings. I guess this means that we won’t be going to Homecoming, right?

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Elsa: You’re an idiot. Of course, we’re not going with you. Personally, I never want to see you again. How about you, girls?

Rosa and Lizzy nodded, wondering if all guys were jerks or if they had just stumbled into a herd of them.

Lizzy: Come on, girls. We have better things to do with our time.

They walked away, talking over each other as they apologized. By the time they got to Lizzy’s house, things were back to normal.

They went to the Homecoming dance as a group, and had a great time. Brian, Johnny, and Joey made other plans for the evening.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

 

9

Llama Drama – Part 2

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Where we are: The Homecoming Dance is coming up and Elsa Llama is hoping from an invitation from Brian. She’s invited him to a soccer game in hopes of getting to show him that she’s interested.

 The soccer game was a lot of fun. Brian brought a couple of his friends, so there was a group of them who went out to eat afterward. They all agreed to do the same thing the next home game.

The girls stayed up most of the night on the phone,

Elsa: Did you see? Brian sat next to me at the salad bar?

Tiffany: It was the only open seat.

Elsa: I meant that we got to spend a lot of time talking. He’s so nice. A little quiet, though.

Rosa: Did you stop talking long enough for to say anything?

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Elsa sent a spitting llama emoji.

Tiffany: What did you think of the other two?

Rosa: Joey was super-cute. But he talks a lot. Maybe he was just nervous. Johnny was really funny. He’d be great to spend time with. I think he was my favorite.

Lizzy: I’m really glad that we get to see them again next week.

Rosa: Maybe we’ll all get dates to the dance. It would be a lot of fun to go as a group.

It seemed like the week would never end. Finally, it was Friday. Everyone met at the field. They spent a lot of time talking and teasing each other. No one even noticed that their team lost for the second week in a row.

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Tiffany and Stewart decided to go home, instead of joining the others at the salad bar. The six young llamas sat talking until they were kicked out at closing time.

By the time they got home, each of the girls had a text. Lizzy’s was from Brian, Elsa’s was from Johnny, and Rosa’s was from Joey. They all had the same question: Will you go to Homecoming with me? They all turned off their phones for the weekend.

Monday morning, they met before school as usual.

Lizzy: Hey, Elsa. Did your new phone break? I didn’t hear from you after we left the salad bar.

Tiffany: I didn’t hear from anyone. Did I miss a big fight?

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Rosa (blushing): Actually, Joey asked me to the dance. I turned off my phone while I tried to decide. I really like Johnny a lot better.

Elsa: You better go with Joey. Johnny asked me.

Rosa: What did you say?

Elsa: I told him I’d have to think about it.

Rosa: What’s to think about? You want to go with Brian. You can’t just hold on to Johnny as a back-up plan.

Elsa: The dance is only a couple of weeks away, and I really want to go.

Lizzy: I think it’s a good idea for you to go with Johnny. Brian wants to go with me.

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Elsa: What? You stole my boyfriend?

Lizzy: He’s not your boyfriend.

Rosa: Besides, you have no trouble going with the guy I like.

Elsa: I can’t help that he prefers me.

Lizzy: So why are you upset that Brian prefers me? It’s the same thing.

Elsa: No, it’s not. You never would have met the other guys if I didn’t want to spend time with Brian. You’re the worst friend a llama could have. I’m never speaking to you again.

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Lizzy: Fine: If you’re going to be that stupid, I don’t want to be your friend either.

Rosa: You’re being selfish, Elsa. You have someone to go with.

Elsa: Stay out of this, Rosa. It’s none of your business.

Rosa: Yes, it is. You did the same thing to me.

Tiffany tried to calm things down, but the girls yelled and spit at each other until class started. They refused to eat lunch together, and wouldn’t talk to each other.

This behavior lasted for several days. The guys were confused. On Friday, everything was great. Now, the girls weren’t even talking to each other. Homecoming didn’t look like much fun anymore. They sent Stewart to find out what was happening.

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Stewart: Hey Tiff. Why are your friends being so goofy? I thought they wanted to go to Homecoming.

Tiffany: They do, but with different guys.

Stewart: They should have turned these guys down.

Tiffany: They want to go with these guys, but with different partners.

Stewart: That’ s dumb. They barely know these guys. They’ve known each other for years.

Tiffany: I know. But they won’t listen.

Next week: Who will the girls choose? The guys or their best friends?

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

 

10

Llama Drama

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Lizzy Llama was standing outside school one day with her friends. They had been back for a couple of weeks, so there was a lot to talk about.

Elsa: Pickles! I hate this phone!

Rosa: What’s wrong with your phone? I thought your parents just got you a new one.

Elsa: It is a new phone. It’s the latest Elkheart.

Tiffany: Ooh! Those are really expensive. What’s wrong with it?

Elsa: The stupid thing keeps saying it doesn’t understand what I’m saying. I mean, seriously? Do you guys think I talk funny?

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The other girls look at her in disbelief.

Lizzy: Uh. Yeah. You talk so fast with that weird alpaca accent, that we can’t understand you half the time.

Elsa: It’s not a weird accent. I just spent a lot of time with alpacas when I was little, and some of it stuck.

Tiffany: OK, it’s not a weird accent. You could talk a little slower and see if that helps.

Rose: You know those phones default to camel, right? Did you check the language setting?

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Elsa: Why does it default to camel?

Rosa: That’s their biggest customer base. Let me see it.

Rosa spoke a few phrases into the phone and handed it back to Elsa.

Rosa: That should fix your problem.

Elsa: Thanks. Stupid phone.

The bell rang, and they didn’t see each other until lunch.

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Tiffany: Did you hear that Jeremy asked Shelley to the Homecoming Dance?

Lizzy: No!

Tiffany: Yep. She told me herself.

Lizzy: Does Rosa know? She has a crush on him.

Rosa stomped up and sat down.

Rosa: Can you believe that idiot Jeremy? Shelley? Seriously? She never says two words. What does he see in her?

Tiffany: Don’t worry, Rosa. Someone better will ask you out. There’s plenty of time.

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Rosa: Easy for you to say. You’ve got a boyfriend. Stewart is such a sweetheart.

Tiffany: Yeah. He’s really a great guy.

Lizzy: Elsa, who do you want to go with?

Elsa: I really like Brian. He talked to me in Biology. He’s really smart.

Lizzy (whispering): He’s looking over here.

Elsa: Don’t look! He’ll think we’re talking about him.

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Rosa: You are talking about him.

Elsa: That’s not the point. What about you, Lizzy?

Lizzy: I can’t think of anyone who might ask me. I think I might just go with some of the other girls.

Rosa: Ooh. If you do that, I’ll go with you. It sounds like fun.

Lizzy: Deal.

A few days later, Elsa came to lunch excited.

Elsa: Guess what? I found out that Brian doesn’t have a girlfriend.

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Tiffany: How’d you do that?

Elsa: I asked him if he was taking his girlfriend to the dance.

Tiffany: Smooth. Very subtle.

Elsa: So what? I don’t want to waste my time on someone who’s not available.

Tiffany: Good point.

Elsa: Maybe I should ask him to hang out with us after school.

Lizzy: I guess. That sounds a little weird.

Elsa: Maybe you’re right. How about inviting him to the soccer game?

Tiffany: That sounds more normal. That way there’ll be a lot of people around.

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Next week: Does the soccer game bring Elsa and Brian closer?

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

12

The Hedgehogs’ Smart Home – Part 2

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Where we are: Harry and Vivian Hedgehog have decided to invest in a smart home. They are extremely happy with Venus, their personal assistant from Euphrates, until merchandise starts arriving at their house that they haven’t ordered. They think that Venus must be ordering things on her own.

In the morning, Vivian called Euphrates about Venus. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, Vivian finally reached a representative who spoke hedgehog. She was pretty sure the work was outsourced; the hedgehog was heavily accented with meerkat. Hopefully, they could understand each other.

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Voice: Thank you for calling Euphrates. My name is Eugenia. How may I help you?

Vivian: We purchased a Venus a few weeks ago, and we think she’s ordering things on her own.

Eugenia: That’s not possible. Our technology has been extensively tested to prevent that problem. Perhaps someone in your family ordered the items and didn’t tell you.

Vivian: The only other hedgehog around is my husband.

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Eugenia: He probably ordered the items and didn’t tell you.

Vivian: No, he did not.

Eugenia: Perhaps one of you just forgot what you ordered.

Vivian: We did not forget. Are you going to help me or not?

Eugenia: I am trying to help you. There’s no need to get angry. What is your customer ID?

Vivian: 100-672-437-925-107-688-04692

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Eugenia: Am I speaking with Vivian or Harry Hedgehog?

Vivian: I’m Vivian Hedgehog.

Eugenia: Please give me your mother’s maiden name to verify your identity.

Vivian: We’re hedgehogs! We all have the same last name.

Eugenia: And what is that name?

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Vivian: Hedgehog! This is ridiculous!

Eugenia: Please calm down Mrs. Hedgehog. You’re not helping the situation. It shows that you ordered a Katsu television and 4 boxes of Comco Badger-be-Gone in the last month.

Vivian: That’s what I’m trying to tell you. We didn’t order those things. I’m returning them both.

Eugenia: I see that there is a refund in process for the television. I’m sorry it didn’t meet your expectations.

Vivian: I didn’t have expectations. I. Did. Not. Order. A. Television.

Eugenia: I don’t see anything here about a return on the Badger-b-Gone.

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Vivian: That’s because we just got it yesterday.

Eugenia: You don’t have to be ashamed about wanting to keep the badgers away. I hear they are quite dangerous to hedgehogs. In fact, I’ve read…

Vivian didn’t get to hear what Eugenia had read because she hung up the phone before Eugenia had a chance to tell her.

Vivian was so upset that she needed to spend 45 minutes on the treadmill to calm down. She made herself a cup of marsh-grass tea and tried to decide on her next step.

She went to the contact information on the Euphrates website and discovered that she could chat online with a technical support representative. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone telling her to calm down.

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“Thank you for contacting Euphrates. My name is Tim. How may I help you?

Vivian: We bought a Venus and she is ordering things on Euphrates that we didn’t tell her to.

Tim: That’s extremely unusual. Let me check your account.

Vivian: Thank you.

She waited while he accessing her information.

Tim: Thank you for waiting. Your account shows that you purchased a television and some Badger-b-Gone. Are these the items in question?

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Vivian: Yes. We didn’t order them. Venus ordered them.

Tim: It also shows that you ordered a Venus Ultra X62957. Is that correct?

Vivian: Yes.

Tim: And that is the machine that is giving you trouble?

Vivian: Yes.

Tim: Normally we don’t see a problem with that model. It is possible that the memory was holding data from testing.

Vivian: Can you fix that?

Tim: I have removed everything from the memory between the date of manufacture and the date of purchase. You should be all set.

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Vivian: Thank you very much!

Tim: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Vivian: No. That was the only problem.

Vivian told Harry about her conversation with Tim. They were both excited that they would be able to enjoy Venus without monitoring everything they said for fear that Venus would might pick up something to order.

It seemed that everything was well for a few days. Then they received a vacuum cleaner from Euphrates.

What was going on?

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Next week – Do the hedgehogs finally get to the real reason Venus keeps ordering things?

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

11

The Hedgehogs’ Smart Home

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Harry and Vivian Hedgehog had just moved into a new home and were excited to start decorating.

Vivian: I’d like to do something a little different. It seems like everyone we know is doing rustic. If I see one more pinecone, I swear I’ll scream.

Harry: One of the guys at work says he has a smart house, and he loves it.

Vivian: What’s a smart house? I don’t want anything that orders me around.

Harry: Bob said he has this thing he talks to, and it does what he wants.

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Vivian: Bob the Squirrel? The one who tried to get everyone to sign up for satellite TV so he’d earn money?

Harry: Yeah. That didn’t work out so well, did it?

Vivian: You would think the goofball would have known that trees interfere with satellites. He lives in a tree.

Harry: He said that was the problem. The squirrels put their dishes on the top of their trees, so it worked great for them.

Vivian: OK. Tell me what a smart home is.

Harry: You buy this speaker thing from Euphrates. Then you get stuff that connects to it.

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Vivian: You mean the house is going to be full of wires and cords? That’s not an improvement over pinecones.

Harry: No. That’s the great part. The speaker is the brains of the whole thing. Her name is Venus, and she talks to the other smart stuff and tells them what we want.

Vivian: Does Venus speak hedgehog, or are we supposed to learn squirrel?

Harry: She speaks a lot of languages: hedgehog, squirrel, rabbit, badger, horse. She even speaks water buffalo.

Vivian:  What kinds of things does she control?

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Harry: There are a lot of things. She works with lights, thermostats, security cameras, doorbells, TVs. She even order things from Euphrates if you tell her to.

Vivian: That sounds pretty good. Let’s do it. Too bad she doesn’t cook or clean.

They went to the Euphrates website and ordered Venus and her accessories. A few days later, everything arrived.

Vivian: This is so exciting! I’m the first one of my friends to try all of this. I can’t wait to tell Eve and Judy how this works.

They hooked everything up and started talking to Venus to see how she worked.

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“Venus, turn on the bedroom lights.”

“Venus, turn the heat up to 70 degrees.”

“Venus, turn on ‘Hector Hedgehog and the Lost Treasure’”

“Venus, let us see outside the burrow.”

“Venus, change the bedroom lights to blue.”

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Venus did everything they told her to do without a glitch. They looked around the outside of the burrow before they went to bed, and everything was calm.

Over the next few days, Harry and Vivian discovered that they really liked having Venus around. There were a few small issues, but nothing that they couldn’t work out.

One day, Harry came home from work to a huge television. He stomped into the burrow.

Harry: Vivian! Why on earth did you order that TV? I thought we’d agreed to no more big purchases.

Vivian: What are you talking about? I didn’t order it; you must have. You’re always talking about how much you want a new TV.

Harry: Venus, who ordered the new television?

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Venus: I ordered the television exactly one week ago. Is there a problem?

Harry (sighing): That wasn’t helpful. I wonder if we did it by mistake. I’ve heard that Venus picks up everything we say.

Vivian: We’ll have to be more careful when we’re talking. And return the TV.

Vivian returned the TV.

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They wanted to show off Venus to their friends, and decided to have a dinner party. Each time there was a knock at the door, Harry would ask Venus “Who is at the door?” The friend and Harry greeted each other before the guest entered the burrow.

Harry and Vivian demonstrated Venus interacting with the other smart products. Their friends agreed that Venus was fantastic. Harry and Vivian were glad they had invested in a smart home.

A few days later, Harry came home to a package. He and Vivian accused each other of ordering whatever it was.

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Vivian: Fine. Open it. We can probably tell who ordered it by what it is.

Harry opened the box and pulled out the contents. They both looked at it, confused.

Harry: Badger-b-Gone? We don’t have badgers here.

Vivian: This is very odd. What’s going on?

They both looked at Venus.

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Next week: Why is Venus ordering things on her own?