23

Feral Purrfessionals: Cats to the Rescue

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We last saw Katie Calico and her friend Elise at the end of their first year at Mid-America Animal Tech. They were studying medicine to be able to help treat feral cats. You can read the story at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. In the last part, Katie received a scholarship to work with Maria Meowski at her clinic for feral cats. Also in that part, Katie’s mother and Elise’s dad (the dean at the school) married each other.

Katie and Elise have graduated from Animal Tech. Elise has continued to work at Maria’s clinic and loves it. She plans to stay there for the foreseeable future. Elise is working as a lab instructor at the school.

 One day, Katie got a call from her stepfather Edgar asking her to come to the school for a meeting. When Katie arrived, she saw that Elise was there, as well as several other graduates.

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Edgar: Thank you all for coming. I received a call from a human doctor asking for our help.

Maria: Why do they want our help?

Elise: They have some kind of sickness going around that’s really contagious.

Susie: What’s that got to do with us? Do they want to make us sick too?

Edgar: Nothing like that. Whatever this is, cats can’t get it. But human doctors and other medical personnel are at significant risk, particularly when people first some into an emergency room or clinic.

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Katie: Why is that?

Edgar: They don’t know whether the person has this sickness or not.

Katie: What type of sickness is it?

Edgar: It’s a virus that attacks their lungs and their breathing.

Maria: That sounds awful.

Edgar: The humans are very concerned. It’s not just the virus itself. If the medical people get it, they won’t be able to help the others.

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Susie: What do they want us to do?

Edgar: A lot of the clinics have stopped seeing walk-in patients. Everyone has to call first.

Elise: But hospitals have to stay open.

Edgar: They want us to be the face of the hospital. There would be a cat at the front desk. Cats would also be doing triage for the emergency room.

Josie: Exactly what does that mean?

Edgar: You would be the ones who greet the people, take their temperature, and type out their symptoms. There would be two cats working as partners.

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Katie: When does this start and how long will it last?

Edgar: They’d like you as soon as possible. They don’t know how long they will need you.

Katie: What about our current jobs? I definitely want to keep working with Maria.

(The other cats nodded.)

Edgar: I’m sure you can get a leave for this situation. I can speak with anyone who has questions.

Josie: I’m not sure I want to do this. Humans have turned a hose on me and chased me away.

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Edgar: No one will be forced to do it. It’s entirely up to you. Is anyone interested?

All of the cats raised their paws, even Josie. They knew it would be an excellent opportunity to learn new skills. Even if they were practicing on humans.

Edgar: Excellent! The humans will be very happy to hear it. I’ll email you your assignments as soon as I know.

The cats left, nervous but excited.

Next week: Will the cats and humans work together effectively?

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

27

Cat Forum: What is a Calico?

Greetings. Snoops and Kommando here. Welcome to another edition of Cat Forum.

Kommando: Hey, Snoops. Why does Mom call you her favorite cali?

Snoops: It’s short for calico. That’s what they call the beautiful coloring of my fur.

Kommando: That’s strange. I looked up cali (with a c) in the dictionary, and they said it was a city in Colombia

Snoops: Hmm. That’s odd.

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Kommando: Yeah. That’s what I thought. So I looked it up with a “k”.

Snoops: What did it say?

Kommando: The Hindu goddess of death and destruction. That seemed a bit extreme, since you’re usually pretty laid back.

Snoops: Thanks. Like I said, it’s just short for Calico.

Kommando: OK, that makes more sense.

Pauses. Then looks up again.

Kommando: Uh, Snoops? This says that calico is a cotton material imported from India or some other type of cotton material

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Snoops: That’s not right. Keep looking.

Kommando: OK, OK. Let’s see. How about a blotched or spotted animal? One that is predominantly white with red and black patches.

Snoops: Good grief. What are you reading?

Kommando: It’s called Merriam-Webster.

Snoops: Well. I don’t know who that it, but they’re crazy.

Kommando: That sounds pretty ugly. Are you sure Mom means it as a compliment?

Snoops: Yes. I’m sure. I think that Miriam lady hates cats.

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Kommando: Maybe. There are some strange people out there.

Snoops: Anyway. We do have three colors. And usually they’re white, black and orange. Some are predominantly white and some are predominantly black.

Kommando: So humans just go in and order a calico in the colors they want?

Snoops. Of course not. We’re not a breed. It’s a coat pattern.

Kommando: Oh. So you’re just a regular cat.

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Snoops: Hmmph. Some people think we’re lucky.

Kommando: Really?

Snoops: Yep. Here and in England, male calico cats are lucky because they’re so rare.

Kommando: OK. So that lets you out. You’re a girl.

Snoops: True. But in Japan, Maneki neko (a cat talisman) is almost always a calico, and they think she brings good fortune and wealth. Not only that, traditionally Japanese sailors brought calicos on voyages to chase away storms and angry ancestral spirits.

Kommando: That’s pretty cool.

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Snoops: And we’re the official state cat of Maryland. That’s kinda weird though. They didn’t pick us because we’re awesome. They picked us because we look like their state bird, the oriole.

Kommando: It says that sometimes humans confuse you guys with tortoiseshells.

Snoops: That’s weird. Torties don’t have white in their coats. Humans just don’t pay attention.

Kommando: That’s true enough.  Well, I guess being three colored is better than being a goddess of destruction.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

20

Advice for Today’s Cat

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Welcome to House of Cats, the home of all things cat. Put your humans in another room and enjoy some time with us. Today we are welcoming Muffy Fluffington, the author of Own Your Human, Don’t Let Your Human Own You. Today Muffy is going to answer some of the most common questions she gets.

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My human says I never do anything, but when I try to help her, she puts me on the floor.

This is a common problem. Humans just don’t understand that they need help with their typing, cooking, and needlework. If they won’t let you do anything else, at least share some fur. Everything is better with fur.

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My food tastes terrible since my human changed it. I think she’s trying to put me on a diet.

Humans do have a funny idea about what we should look like. I think it’s part of the whole body image issue they have with their own kind. They can’t control their own weight, so they want to control ours. In your case, I would force your human to taste some of the food they want you to eat. I can guarantee they won’t like it.

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My human rearranged the furniture. My favorite tree and pillow aren’t near the windows anymore.

This one is easily solved. Pull your blanket over to whatever they have put by the window and sleep there. When they move you, go back as soon as they leave. Before long, you’ll have your sunny window back.

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I have been trying to teach my human to catch mice for three years. Should I give up?

As much as humans complain about mice in the house, most of them never learn how to catch the little guys. I would say that you should give them one more shot. Don’t go after the mice yourself. Once there are a few running around, your human may be more motivated to follow your example.

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My humans just got one of those miniature humans. It never shuts up. How do I get some sleep?

Those baby humans are a problem. Before you know it, the kid will be running after you and trying to give you hugs with sticky hands. For right now, I recommend that you convince your humans to get you one of those snuggle sacks that you can crawl into. That should keep out a lot of the noise. Another option is to use whatever spot you have for when they turn on the cat-sucking cleaning machine.

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My human wants to bathe me. Just because she read that cats should be bathed once in a while.

What an awful idea! You have no option but to make bath time so miserable for her that she gives up. I recommend you start with hissing and growling. If that doesn’t work, move on to squirming. As a last resort, kick your way to freedom. And hide where she can’t reach you.

That’s all the time we have for this week’s House of Cats. Thank you all for tuning in. You can release your humans now.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

25

Show and Tell Surprise

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It had been a long winter at Northland Elementary School. There was a ban on recess until the worst of the snow storms had passed. Being inside was making everyone stir-crazy.

Ms. Beaver: That’s it for math today. Does anyone have any questions?

Pete Seal: Can we go outside after lunch?

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Ms. Beaver: You know we can’t Peter. The school says we can’t go out until the weather gets better.

Annie Fox: What does the weather have to do with anything? We’re northern animals. We live in the snow.

Ms. Beaver: It’s not really the snow. It’s that Brian Brown-Bear ran away during the first heavy snow of the season and no one knew he was gone until everyone got back inside. By the time they found him, he was asleep in his home den.

Jeffrey Otter: So what? Because he went home, no one can go out?

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Ms. Beaver: They’re afraid that someone might get lost or taken by a bad human, and we wouldn’t know in time to do anything.

The children groaned.

Billy Beaver: It’s only February! That means it’s forever until we can go out.

Ms. Beaver: Don’t be dramatic, Billy. It’s only during heavy snowfalls or storms that we can’t go outside.

Suzy Ermine: I’m bored.

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Ms. Beaver: I have an idea. Do you know what show-and-tell is?

The children shook their heads that they did not.

Ms. Beaver: Everybody brings in something special from home and tells the rest of the class about it.

Billy: What kind of stuff?

Ms. Beaver: It can be anything, really. Your favorite toy. Something from a hobby. Something that someone has given to you.

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Billy: Is there stuff we can’t bring?

Ms. Beaver: Anything that might offend or scare the rest of the class. And nothing dangerous.

Pete: No trophy kills, right?

Ms. Beaver: Definitely not.

Annie: When should we bring our things in?

Ms. Beaver: Why don’t we do it tomorrow? It’s still supposed to be storming and it will give us a nice break.

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The children were excited about the idea and talked about their ideas during lunch and after school. On the way home, three of the boys were bragging about who would bring in the best thing to show.

Egbert Bear: I think I’m going to show my collection of eagle feathers.

Joey Hare: Bert! She said no prey.

Egbert: They’re not prey. I pick them up off the ground.

Joey: Oh. I think I’ll bring in the empty nest I found. That’s a lot better than a bunch of feathers.

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Egbert: Is not! You probably don’t even know what kind of nest it is!

Joey: Is too!

Egbert: Is not! What about you, Mike?

Michael Moose had no idea what he was going to bring. He didn’t have anything as good as feathers or a nest. But he didn’t want to tell the guys that.

Mike: It’s a secret. But it’s tons better than either one of those.

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Next week: Will Mike find something special by the next day to show his class?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

21

Cat Forum: Valentine’s Day

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Snoops and Kommando here. Thank you for joining us for another edition of Cat Forum. As you may know, Friday is Valentine’s Day. Yep. Another day for humans to give presents to each other. As cats, we welcome presents any time. This year we’re giving the humans some ideas about special ways they can spend time with us.

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Kommando: I’m going to ask Mom to take us to a cat café.

Snoops: Why do you want that?

Kommando: I want to order a salmon steak.

Snoops: That’s not what a cat café is. They have people come in and look at cats, possibly to adopt them.

Kommando: That’s dumb. French cafes are for French people. Italian cafes are for Italian people. Why can’t cat cafes serve food to cats?

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Snoops: I don’t know. People are strange.

Kommando: That’s for sure. How about if she rents that “Cats” movie? It’s full of cats, right?

Snoops: Sort of. It’s a bunch of people dressed up like cats. And they sing.

Kommando: Do they really look like cats?

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Snoops: I don’t think so. They use human faces.

Kommando: That’s really creepy. What do you think we should do with Mom?

Snoops: I found this site called Elite Daily that has some ideas:

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Game Night – The human is supposed to spend the whole night playing with us. She’s even supposed to buy each of us a new toy.

Watch TV – We’re supposed to cuddle up with Mom and watch that big black screen in the corner of the living room. The people at Daily Elite recommend something called Planet Earth on Netflix. It seems like any show with a lot of animals in it might work.

Cat Treat Baking Party – The human is supposed to make fancy treats for us and then feed them to us. They recommend the human find recipes on YouTube under “Cat Treat Recipes.

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Build a Cat Fort – The human is supposed to get boxes from work or packages that come to the house. Then the night before Valentine’s Day, they secretly build a fort to surprise us with on Valentine’s Day.

Cook a Special Dinner for Two – The human makes a dinner that we like. Then we sit down at a special table and eat it.

Dance Around to Our Favorite Songs – She finds recordings of our favorite songs and then we dance together.

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Kommando: I don’t know. A couple of them sound a little weird.

Snoops: You’re right. I’m not sure any of them would work for us. I can’t see game night really working out. You hog all the toys.

Kommando: I can’t help it if I’m better at it.

Snoops: Whatever. Mom never has the TV on. I’m not sure she knows how to use it.

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Kommando: We could get our fur-less brother to set it up. Dad used to use it.

Snoops: If that’s what they want us to watch, forget it.

Kommando: I think our shows wouldn’t have so many people in them.

Snoops: I don’t see the point in the cat treat baking party or building a fort. They both sound pawsome, but I don’t see where we get to spend time with Mom.

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Kommando: I agree. The dinner for two sounds good. But I want to be with Mom, not at a special dinner.

Snoops: I’m not sure how it’s different from when Mom shares her dinner with us.

Kommando: True. I hate the idea of a dance party. I don’t want Mom dancing around with me in her arms. And I don’t have favorite songs; I don’t like music.

Snoops: So what should we do with Mom on Valentine’s Day?

Kommando: I like the idea of an extra-long nap with her on the bed warmer.

Snoops: Great idea!

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

25

Who’s Our New Neighbor? – Part 3

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Where we are: Calico Corners has welcomed a meerkat construction company from Africa to the neighborhood. They have brought over their lion financial/legal team to finalize the paperwork. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

The lions have hit a few roadblocks that no one in Africa had mentioned. They met with the meerkats to discuss things.

Leonard Lion: Mikki, were you aware that the broker had you buy property that’s not in the desert?

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Mikki: It did seem odd that we had to request that the lawn be taken out. Usually you need to have it added. So, where are we?

Leonard: It’s a place called the Midwest.

Marcel Meerkat: What’s it mid-west of?

Leona Lion: No one really seemed to know.

Mikki: They have nice dirt to burrow in. It may not be a problem to work here.

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Leonard: The dirt isn’t the problem. It’s the weather. It gets really cold here.

Leona: And it snows.

Giselle: It gets cold in the desert at night. But what’s snow?

Mikki: It’s white stuff. It looks pretty, but it’s like fluffy frozen rain.

Maria Meerkat: We can’t live in that! We’ll freeze.

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Giselle: It does explain why the cats here have such thick, fluffy coats.

Maria: And houses.

Mikki: So how long does this snow last?

Leona: It could be up to 4 months.

Mikki: That’s not good.

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The meerkats looked at each other. No one said anything. Finally, Giselle broke the silence.

Giselle: Let’s go talk to the cats.

Everyone gathered, and Mikki explained the situation. Oddly, Cielle didn’t seem surprised.

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Cielle: I’d been wondering what you were going to do in the winter. Then when the lions asked me about the weather, I realized no one had told you about winter.

Tammy: Oh, you poor things! No one told you about the cold?

Leonard: Unfortunately, no.

Mikki: It looks like we’ll have to return to Africa. I hate to say that because we’ve come to love all of you.

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Everyone looked distressed, even the lions.

Cielle: I had an idea, if you’re interested.

Mikki: Definitely.

Cielle: My family has several businesses and there are lots of air ducts and other small passageways to maintain. You could work for us when it’s too cold to construct.

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The meerkats huddled together and chattered excitedly.

Mikki: We would like to take you up on your very kind offer. We can learn to sleep inside for that time.

The lions still looked dejected.

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Leonard: I guess it’s time for us to go.

Tammy: Actually, we’ve been talking. You two are very kind. We were wrong to be afraid of you. You’re welcome to stay if you’d like. If there’s no company job, you can be security. No one else knows how sweet you both are.

The lions looked at Mikki.

Mikki: Of course. There’s plenty of room for all of us in the house.

The cats all clapped and cheered. And they all lived happily ever after in Calico Corners.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

12

Who’s Our New Neighbor? – Part 2

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Where we are: There’s a new family moving into Calico Corners and they sound a little strange. They have a lot of children and requested that the lawn be replaced with extra dirt. You can see Part 1 here.

The family moved in a few weeks later. The next day, several residents went to Cielle Calico’s office. Cielle had been expecting them ever since he learned more about the new residents.

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Cielle: Good morning, all. It’s nice to see everyone so bright and early.

Sammy: Good morning, Cielle. You sold that house to a family of lions.

Tammy: It looks like they brought their own prey. It’s disgusting.

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Frankie: I’m not sending my kids to school with lion cubs. What if the cubs get hungry?

Sammy: What about us? We’ll probably be next after they run out of what they brought.

The cats all began to talk at the same time. There were even some growls.

Cielle: Please calm down everyone! I did not sell the house to lions. You should know me better than that.

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Sammy: So why are they living in the house?

Cielle: That’s just temporary. They’ll only be here for a few weeks to finalize the paperwork for the new business.

Tammy: Who did you sell the house to?

Cielle: Mikki Meerkat, the owner of MM Construction.

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The cats looked confused.

Morrie: What’s a meerkat?

Cielle: They’re the other animals you saw.

Morrie: Those skinny things? They don’t look like any cat I’ve ever seen. They did tunnels and sleep in them.

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Cielle: They’re not cats. They’re more like weasels. They’re very nice. You should go introduce yourselves.

Morrie: Maybe tomorrow. I need to think about this.

The other cats nodded in agreement.

Later that day, Tammy’s two kittens came racing home from school.

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Abby: Mom, guess what happened at school today.

Before Tammy had a chance to answer, Andy broke in:

Andy: We got new students today. But they’re not regular cats. They’re meerkats.

Abby: And meerkats aren’t really cats at all. They’re totally pawsome! They can stand on their back legs and look around.

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Andy: And they make tunnels! Can we invite them over?

Tammy: Not until I meet their parents.

Abby: Can we all go over there now?

Tammy: It’s not polite to just show up at someone’s front door.

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Andy: But, Mom. The parents are really nice. They dropped their kids off at school and stayed to talk to us. They speak pretty good Cat, too.

Abby: Please, Mom?

Tammy: Let me call over there and invite the family for dinner.

Abby and Andy: Thank you!

Andy: By the way, their favorite food is beetles.

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Tammy: Oh. I wonder where you buy those?

Mikki and Giselle Meerkat came over with their three pups. Abby and Andy were right; they were extremely nice and told wonderful stories about living in Africa. The kids had a great time. Tammy promised they would do it again soon.

Tammy spread the word to the other cats about the great time they’d had with the Meerkats. She organized a welcome party for the entire clan. Before long, the Meerkats were part of the group.

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Next week: Did everyone live happily ever after?

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.