Of Cats, Characters and Compassion

The current herd of cats in the Hoyt household consists of four feline masters:

Miranda, 14 year old Cornish Rex Tortoise shell. We acquired her with the proceeds of my first sale. You see, I had looked at our previous clowder (another four, which are now in urns on the mantelpiece. Sometimes it worries me that people will look at it and think we’re crazed cat killers.) and I thought they were all getting oldish (about 12 to 14) and I thought “if we don’t get a kitten, in the next four years all our cats are going to die one after the other, and that is going to leave me extremely depressed.” So I said “we need a kitten” and my husband, being one who doesn’t fully understand foreshadowing in our lives, said, “only if it’s a Cornish Rex.” He thought that in our relatively small town there would be none of this exotic breed. It turned out there was a litter. And I caught on at first sight that it was probably a kitten farm (those cats were cranking out a litter after another) but while I was finding a way to say “we’re not interested after all” Miranda climbed my coat (it was around this time of year) and got in my face and yelled, then settled down and tried to unbutton my coat. And I was lost. I asked, “Does she want to be a writer’s cat?” and she squeaked with glee. We bought her, which felt a little bit like white slavery.

Miranda is a termagant. She rules the household with an iron paw, even though she weighed, at her healthiest and best, about 6 lbs. She’s also affectionate, though only to one person at a time. Right now her “person” is my younger son and she more or less lives on him.

Euclid, 13 years old came into our life six months later. Our oldest cat, Petronius the Arbiter, was kidnapped and put down by a cat-hating neighbor (we never found out who. The vet put the cat down before listening to messages, including the one where we were frantically calling every area vet to ask if they’d seen a black cat with these markings) who kidnapped him from our front porch. While looking for Pete we’d seen this black cat that looked a lot like him except for his face, and we thought he was only momentarily lost (he was in the holding period where they say they’re notifying the owner or something.) After we found Pete dead, we decided to go by to see the cat who looked like him. He was for adoption. We went with him to the get acquainted room. And he was sneezing. We weren’t sure, because we still had three cats. We told the people at the desk he was sneezing, and they said, “Oh, we’ll look into that.” And we went home.

All night, I dreamed of Euclid. I woke up and was on the phone the moment the Humane society opened. They told me he had an upper respiratory virus, and he was scheduled for euthanasia in twenty minutes. I said “Wait, what? he’s our cat and we’re coming to get him. We’ll be there in twenty minutes with a carrier.”

Since the only way to get him was to pretend he was ours and we were claiming him, we heard a lecture about having our cat fixed. But we brought him home, and we gave him amox, and he was fine.

Well, by fine, you should understand that he is the world’s most neurotic cat. To begin with, he’s er… romantically invested in one of the other male cats. No. It’s not dominance behavior. But second, he has alien tail syndrome. When he’s asleep, his tail attacks him. He’s fought his tail for fifteen minutes. And lost.

Three years later, as we were bringing in groceries for my younger son’s birthday, and a snow storm was starting, a little eight week old black and white kitten, D’Artagnan, wandered his way in. My husband and older son, bless their compassionate hearts, went through the streets nearby, knocking on every door, asking if anyone had lost a kitten. They claimed they hadn’t. We think he was the son of our stray in the neighborhood and that night got too cold for him.

He’s… an evil mastermind. His other names are Butterpat, bah lamb, Monsieur de pink nez, Inappropriate Licking Boi (he once licked Robert’s eyeball and his tongue when he yawned) and Slinky McEvil.

Five years ago, when we went to a mini golf course, we found a little cat, skinny, and starved, and covered in grease, and we called him – G-d forgive us – Havelock Vetinary. Havey is… a case of arrested development. He’s stopped developing around 10 weeks of age. So he’s a huge, fuzzy, 16 lbs, baby kitten.

He never believes anyone wishes him ill. Which is a problem because D’Artagnan hates him with a purple passion. At one time, D’Artagnan figured out how to open the glass door bookcase. Havey would immediately get in the bookcase and D’Artagnan would then lock him in. After the third time I let him out, I told Havey “this cat is not your friend. This cat doesn’t mean well.” He looked puzzled. He still didn’t get it.

This cat plays with bugs till they die, and then he brings them to me to fix. He doesn’t eat them. He doesn’t realize they were ever alive.

He can’t believe anyone hates him. If you trip over him, he runs, but then comes back. We’re terrified he’ll get lost, because we’ll never find him again. Someone will take him and abuse him and he won’t even have the sanity to run away.

So, what is this all about, besides bragging about my awesome cats.


I’ve said before – right – that among the very difficult things in this book is that I have to kill possibly the most awesome character in the book.

And people –

All of my cats are at least mildly nuts. We got… birds with broken wings. That was just what happened. They’re not the most pampered, sanest cats ever, except Miranda, who is sane but bossy.

Sometimes the last thing I want to do is go break up a fight in the middle of the night, or let Havey in to cuddle, because he’s scared and crying outside the door.

But we still love them, and they’re still ours.

And my characters… They have the virtues of their flaws. Particularly this one that I will have to kill.

And as I think about it I hope G-d is at least as forgiving as we are, of these creatures who really should know better, but who do weird things, and yet we still love them.

And on a less theological plane, it explains why I still have friends (not a lot) who disagree with me on virtually every political point. But I still like them. And they still like me.

The worst emotion the more deranged SJWs have aroused is pity. It must be terrible to see the world and people and everything through the lens of “they don’t believe yellow socks are the most awesome thing ever, so they must be destroyed.”

That we aren’t like that, that we can say “Oh, yeah, so and so is politically nuts, but I still love his/her books” is a weakness of course. We’re less ruthless in denying employment/publication/exposure to artists/professors/writers we disagree with, which means over time their marginal advantage makes them dominant.

But it is also a strength. It keeps us saner. It keeps us from say being a German person who calls other people Nazis because those other people refuse to “expel people from the human race.”

It allows us to keep thinking of people as people. And that’s important.

Oh, we’ll continue making fun of them. (Anyone else think the author is getting sloppy with the foreshadowing and naming? I mean, naming she-who-makes-scientists-cry Rose Eveleth (Evilest, really?) means He really should attend a workshop now and then, maybe.) And we’ll continue particularly making fun of their ideas.

But we won’t excommunicate people on our side because they’re slightly different. And as has been noted about the members of the ELoE – our opinions are all over the place, and some of us are almost opposites – but at the end of the day none of us wants to kick anyone else out of a professional organization for their IDEAS. (Now, if they, say, went out and killed and cooked hobos, that would be different, but since that professional organization had members in jail who earned their membership while in jail, I still wouldn’t deny them membership.)

Because we recognize people are people. Just like my stupid cats are their own creatures and not cute stuffed animals, whom I can discard when they grow old, or sick, or decide to have wars to the death in the hallway in the middle of the night.

And that allows for some pretty strange bedfellows. Like Havey. Whom I’m going to let in, because he’s lost in the hallway and lamenting, and that’s a terrible thing to happen to a five year old, sixteen pound, twelve week kitten.

253 responses to “Of Cats, Characters and Compassion

  1. Statist Josh


  2. My two cats… well, their mother had four under a door in our back yard in early May, when nights were a little chilly still. I could hear them mewing through a window.

    Three days after they were born, it started to rain. One of the kittens had managed to wander away from the rest far enough thatMommy had to pick the one, or the three.

    We took the kittens and out them in a box with a blanket in our shed.

    The mother came and took two, left the pick of the litter (the one that wandered, who we named Trouble) and the runt.

    They both seem to have… abandonment issues, especially since my ex left. And we fed them since they were three days old… so they are particularly attached to me, especially Trouble.

  3. Amateur. We have 14. 7 of which joined the household in the past year: the youngest four were DEPOSITED on our doorstep, one by one, by the the local mommakat, after their mother was killed by a car.

    Literally, within a day of the cat being hit, we’d hear a scratching at the door, and there was Sasha with ANOTHER kitten. . . .

  4. unhhhhh…Do we have to? Oh, alright, but there’s a limit.

    I’d tolerate cats too, for their mousing, but our girls think they are food.

    • You think cats are mousers? (play sound file of bitter laughter)
      Thanks to a gap under our garage door caused by heaved concrete, we have a mouse problem. I have seen both cats sit and groom themselves as mice practically ran over their paws. The only way we keep the mouse population down is to turn the garage into a heavily-mined death trap, because I, unlike the cats, know how to deal with mice.

      • It kinda depends on the cats. Some of them have the skill-set, and some don’t. We had a cat (Amelia Airhead) who once caught a BAT. In mid-air. We also saw her stalking a (wild) turkey hen, a bird that outweighed her two or three times.

        Then there was the vacation in the old summer house when Marco Polo would leave mouse faces in the (brick floored) entry hall. Ate the rest, just left their faces. He also chased a mouse he was playing with into the living room fireplace, complete with fire. And spent a considerable amount of the rest of that vacation wandering around that room with body language that said as clear as anything “I KNOW I left a mouse around here somewhere!”.

        Those were both Bengals; a dear friend of my Lady’s was breeding them at the time.

        • We had a cat that was a *superlative* hunter. She could catch moles, voles, mice, and even managed to tree raccoons. She looked like a sofa cushion with little stubby legs, but show her prey and she would do a Wonder Woman-like transformation into a sleek killing machine. She did her damndest to teach my sister and myself her elite hunting skills too, considering us her “special needs” kittens.

          And she caught bats. Several of them, always on the first amazing leap. This was when we lived in an old Victorian house that had (it transpired) a hole in a chimney the bats liked. I encountered bat #1 without my contacts or glasses and it was disturbing. My father, coming up to see what was making me yell, made several completely unnecessary comments along the lines of “It’s more frightened of you!” and “Don’t worry, it won’t get caught in your hair.” Fortunately the kitty also came up to investigate the ruckus and caught the bat for me.

          The very next night, I hear yelling from my parent’s bedroom. I go down to see what the hell is going on. Turns out bat #1 had a friend, which was now strafing my parent’s bed as my big strong father shrieked and pulled the covers over his head. I laughed so hard I couldn’t stand straight, but I found the strength to repeat the wise advice he had gifted *me* with the previous night … and then I took pity on him and fetched the cat 🙂

          (N.B. all bats, once caught, were scooped up and released outside, and as far as I know survived to tell their offspring about the Monster that lives in the house.)

          • That is HILARIOUS! Bats bother me, too, but I wouldn’t be caught dead telling someone those things when i knew it would scare the crap out of me, too.

            • William Newman

              From http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/education/ “Most bats don t have rabies. For example, even among bats submitted for rabies testing because they could be captured, were obviously weak or sick, or had been captured by a cat, only about 6% had rabies.”

              • Damn, that’s a high percentage. Way to high to risk.

                • Most of the people in the US who die from rabies got it from bats, in those cases they can tell where it came from at all.

                  • And that 6% includes bats found both in and out of the house. Sane wild critters avoid humans, so odds are bats indoors have a higher incidence of infection.

                    And that’s just *rabies* — most wild critters are extremely verminous. I find wildlife as beautiful as the next woman, and the majority of my acreage is set up as habitat, but for goodness sake keep your distance from the beasties!

              • Geoff Whisler

                This spring, my daughter in law, my young grandson and I were sitting down by the fire pit burning the winter’s deadfalls. Clear blue day about 2 hours or so before the sunset.

                We looked up to see a bat circling around up in the clear blue sky. About 10 minutes later, the daughter in law screams when she looks down to see the bat has landed on her hands, near the baby she’s holding.

                No bite marks but evidently bat bites are tiny and very hard to see. This is not normal bat behavior and according to the e-room, the CDC and the local Health Department this scenario requires rabies shots for both mama and grandson.

                Modern rabies shots are pretty much a non-event as far as vaccines go. Some cramping, maybe some fever, who can tell with a 6 month old? Certainly not the screaming series of painful stomach shots we all hear about.

                in any case, mama and grandson are good to go for Rabies for a long, long time.

          • My father, coming up to see what was making me yell, made several completely unnecessary comments along the lines of “It’s more frightened of you!” and “Don’t worry, it won’t get caught in your hair.”

            Because that’s a great comfort when you’re getting rabies shots because it bit you in terror…..

        • My grandma R had a white cat she got when my aunt moved somewhere with a no pets rule. She had been declawed by my aunt when they lived in a different place. She would catch and kill rabbits for her litters.

          The cat given my sister by the guy who had hit her with a car was also a decent batter. She caught them as they would flit into the porch after bugs in the yard light. That impressed my dad.
          Mine are good at catching the occasional long tailed mouse that makes it into the house, but have not got the kill bit down. Both the older cats have had their catches get away … one into a boot of mine, the other out the back door I was working to seal. That one went out into the horse pasture at speed. The newest hasn’t yet had a chance to try her hand.
          I do get scorpions in the house … all three are rather unimpressed and just watch them or in the case of Isabeau, ignore them as non-existent.

          • Isabeau, are you a Lost Girl fan by any chance? That’s the only other place I’ve heard that name.

            • the movie Ladyhawke … Michelle Pfeiffer’s character.
              Her full name is actually Isabeau the Clumsy.
              Pulled her from a tree where she had fallen from higher up and trapped herself in a cage of suckers from a cut branch (fruitless mulberry trees are noted for suckers)
              She got the name when she chased a mote in a circle and looked like Michelle Pfeiffer when she missed the rabbit in her debut scene

              • Guess it’s been entirely too long since I watched Ladyhawke. Need to fix that.

                • just managed to find my dvd player not long ago. still need to hook it too the tv though. I have the dvd of it somewhere as well.

                  • I loved Ladyhawke. Could use aremake with good effects.

                    • Noooooo!!!

                      I do not want today’s h-town to touch my Beloved LadyHawke.

                      Just…. No dear.

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      But — but — Rutger Hauer is too old to remake it!

                    • *points up thread* What Eamon said. And no Leo McKern. 😦 “Don’t tell me it’s Lent again already!”

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      Yep. Couldn’t be done without him.

                    • I think when they go in and improve the effects, it’s “digitally remastered with improved effects” or some such.

                      Is CGI good enough to do what they were going for?

                    • Short answer: yes.

                    • Christopher M. Chupik

                      I’d settle for a remake with good music.

                    • HEY!

                      … I can’t argue with that… Dangit!

                    • No improvements in the effects could make up for the change in cast. With whom do you replace Leo McKern? Rutgar Hauer? Ok, Mathew Broderick could be replaced with a turnip, but still…..

                    • Now if they considered say… Daniel Craig… Lou Diamond Phillips… Katee Sackoff… Jason Statham… Leelee Sobieski…..

                      Any of them I could get behind.

                    • sabrinachase

                      since I can’t reply to the nested comments below…my *heavily* used quote from that movie: “No offense, but I talk to God all the time and he never mentioned you.” It’s super-effective on the self-righteous ;-D

                      Closely followed by “I’m a monk, not an architect!” (best when shouted down at the crumpled corpse of someone who did not follow the safety instructions)

                    • Christopher at 1506: Hey now, I LIKE the music. When I was commuting frequently from Texas/NM to Flat State, I used to time my tape (yes, tape) so that it would hit the last scene’s fight music as I merged onto I-70. It was very inspirational. *evil smile*

                    • and less astronomical absurdity. IMDB: The moon is shown full every night except the night of the struggle on the ice, where it is shown as half full, and then is full again the next night. This is more of a problem because solar eclipses always happen on a new moon (and there is an eclipse in the film). Also, the Moon is not visible as a black disc (as shown in the film) until the totality phase of a solar eclipse. Before and after totality, only the portion of the Moon that is occulting the Sun is visible. (The Sun’s light is strong enough to drown out any view of the Moon when the Moon is near the Sun; moreover, since solar eclipses can only happen at new moon, there is no lit portion of the Moon to be seen anyway.)

                    • My wife has that habit of over-analyzing movies. 😎

                    • alas I think I’m with most folks up thread who say no, mainly because they’d be sure to ruin it, but the re-master with better effects (and fixing that silly moon issue) would be okay. As long as they left it otherwise alone. For me to be okay with a remake, they’d have to stay rather true to the original.
                      Of course, I doubt I’d even look at the remake so who am I to say?

                      Gee, this might well be the least popular thing you have said on here (~_^)

            • The main female character in Ladyhawke is named Isabeau.

        • One of our daughter’s cats, Yang, also caught a bat mid-air.

          Then sat on the carpet looking at it, wondering what in the world to do with the thing. All the while, the bat was cursing the cat. (Bat goes into the batmobile, a cardboard box via chopsticks, and out on the back porch. Sits under the chair, swearing, before finally flying off.)

          • I’m lucky. Sissy the Locust Killer only kills grasshoppers and any praying mantises unlucky enough to happen by the store. I suspect grasshoppers have some kitty narcotic in them: she KNOWS she’ll throw up in an hour if she eats a locust, but she eats it anyway.

            • yeah, mine are good at getting a certain insurance salesman. Several geckos apiece for Annie and Isabeau. Allie either not gotten one, or ate the thing when she did.

      • Our Fluffy Cat has killed a mouse.

        Harvey style. He drooled the toy to death, and got very confused because it stopped moving.

        Thankfully, my mom– who we loan them to for mouse prevention, occasionally– has a population of mice that have been exposed to great mousers, so just the smell works. Also, Fluffy figured out that bugs are food, and taught his nephew the same. These cats will reach the CEILING going after the toy-that-is-food-with-wings. (But they’re scared of spiders.)

        • cats are weird.

          • it’s right there in the contract. The more of them you know, the weirder they get.
            N.O. Aunt had one who would attack you if you were carrying a cantaloupe. If she wanted some, she bought two, opened the front door to her apartment and rolled the melon across the floor so she could get in the kitchen and cut hers up while he attacked, killed, and ate his.

      • My experience is that dogs are generally better mousers than cats.

        • Professor Badness

          Oh yeah. My Husky/Lhasa Apso was an excellent mouser.

          • wait.. Is that a cross??! um … how?

            • Hopefully with a Husky mother.

              • Heh. My 100-lb German Shepherd/Collie cross was able to get a 15-lb beagle pregnant. She had 5 pups just fine.

                • Good. People will of course attribute any pregnancy issues to the size of the father, and in the only place I know anything– cows– the male does have some influence on offspring’s physical characteristics at birth (it’s usually rated as “ease of calving”) but you’d think that the hormone bath would fix most of the problems.

                  Beagles are a pretty hearty breed, aren’t they? Maybe the horror stories of high difficulty pregnancies are more because the mother is from an extreme end of the spectrum than other things.
                  Now I’m picturing interaction of things that make for a small animal– genetically having a “don’t grow so much” signal vs being small in response to the hormone bath (one of the lion/tiger hybrids, I think it’s tiger mother, is really big because of the difference).

                  If most dogs are small because of the hormone influences more than genetics, but the extremely small dogs are more likely to have “just be small” genes– which makes sense, if they’re selected specifically for being small– then that would make for more Trouble Pregnancies, yes?

                  • That about the hormones could very well be. I know we were worried about the pups being too big, but she didn’t even need help. I came home from school one day and there they were.

            • My husband’s cousin had a guard dog/toy breed cross because their fence was good enough to keep her in, and everything down to a blue heeler out, but they hadn’t figured on some idiot’s chiwawa/lapdog/smaller than a cat dog getting through and being an issue.

              • Was the dog Little Gomez?

                • I got the impression that they never actually SAW the dog, just found a small amount of dog hair in a hole that a cat would have trouble getting through, with dig marks.

                  My husband’s families don’t do a very good job of Telling Stories, and the side that came from is worse than the other!

            • Stilts?

          • and if so Pics please!

        • This was my experience with Fuzzy (the avatar picture). She caught 3 mice and at least 2 squirrels. Not to mention a possum and a sparrow on the wing. She also had a habit of trying to “share the kill with the pack leader.” 😉
          Waking up to a mostly dead cockroach about 2 inches from my nose, and Fuzzy looking so pleased with herself…..

          • My mongrel lab catches weasels and hare (snowshoe). He eats the hare.
            He’s got 5 weasels and a mink to his credit. Sometimes he chases them out and I shoot them, but I give him credit for those too. They’re after the chickens you see.

      • CombatMissionary

        Where I grew up, we’d have timber rats that were as long as your forearm, tail EXCLUDED. Most of our cats had to be good mousers, just to survive. Typically, we found the old wive’s tale to be accurate: if they have big ears and a long tail, they’ll probably be a good mouser. The only real exception to that was our tortiseshell Manx cat. She didn’t just kill mice, she was known to kill rattlesnakes on occasion and drag home the corpse (minus the head, which she’d chew off). She was territorial, too. If a dog came on our land, she’d sneak up on it, then pounce on its back, ripping and tearing, leaving the dog only one option: a swift, howling retreat.
        Of course, she wouldn’t tolerate dirtiness either. She’d come in the house and climb up on the back of the couch, then come sniff my head. If my hair was not up to snuff, she’d pin my head to the couch and bathe my hair (I was about 10 years old at the time). If I started moving, she’d use her claws to hold me down. Of course, my mom would just laugh at me.

        I’m a dog lover (German Shepherds) more than anything, but I’d LOVE to have a cat like that again.

        • It’s good that she chewed off the heads. Apparently rattlesnakes will track their mate down by the smell of their head, which they can track for great distances. (But not through dirt. I worked at a summer camp and the SOP for a “reptile” was to kill it and bury its head. I have a rattle from one that startled me when I was walking down the hill; I didn’t kill it myself but they let me have the trophy.)

          • I’m pretty sure* that’s an old wive’s tale based on how you hardly ever find only one rattler in a place, but it’s not an old wive’s tale that stinging insects that eat a rattler’s head can poison people second-hand, and plus “stepping on the head so it ‘bites’ you” type risks. Both of which my mom either observed or had reliable second-hand accounts of it happening.

            *either that, or we’ve got some polygamous rattlers ’round my folks’ place.

  5. And I was hoping to see the photos of those lovely cats after reading this lovely blog post. Audience demands the cat photos!

    As a side note: I am basing one of my characters on a cat. And I will have cat characters in the story, too. Cats are awesome like that!

  6. Cats do not come in herds. Cows come in herds. So do wrens. But just as lions come in prides, cats come in clutters.

    • Nonsense; cats come in concatenations.

    • Clowders, actually. But when we read the book of Job we worry for the cats as they are our “herd” so…

      • Well, actually, both have been used. I cite The Exaltation of Larks. But not herds. Herds, you see, is an honor. Wrens come in herds because the wren is the king of the birds.

        • Well, then MY CATS are a herd.

        • Cows?

          • I wouldn’t think of herds as an honor and would be surprised any Odds would, as well. Pack, that would be an honor.

          • Look at traditional symbolism– just because we don’t think of them as that impressive doesn’t mean they weren’t symbolically important.

            Seriously, wrens?!

            • The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
              St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
              Although he was little his honour was great,
              Jump up me lads and give him a treat.

              • It turns out there’s an old story about why Regulus wrens have little yellow-striped crests on their heads – a “crown.” Wikipedia being useful.

                The birds were going to determine kingship by who flew the highest, and the eagle won. But then it turned out that a wren had piggybacked on the eagle, and flew up higher than the exhausted eagle. The eagle was apparently the king of good losers, and supported the wren’s kingship of birds. Aristotle and Pliny both knew the story.

                • Also, there is a song ‘think of the wren’ that carolers sing in Ireland when hitting the bars for donations to the poor at Christmas. I may have the title mixed somewhat, it’s been a while since I heard it sung.

                  • There’s also this old traditional. I first heard it from Leslie Fish, but here’s Steeleye Span’s version.

          • Cows. After all, when you raid your neighbors, you don’t try to steal their pigs, or chickens. That’s low-life ruffian stuff. No, the gentlemanly thing to steal is cows.

        • Once, when driving through Kenmore, I found myself in one of the most unbelievably huge gatherings of crows. It was downright Hitchcockian. I suddenly proclaimed “This isn’t a Murder of Crows, it’s a Genocide!”

  7. Athena T. Cat (caliby markings with phantom mask [calico with tabby]) refuses to go Out. First cat I’ve met like that. If you go Out to do something, she’ll stand at the back door, pawing and crying, because she wants you to come In. In is safe. Out is bad. You have to pick her up and carry her outside. She’ll stay in your arms, sniffing the breeze, but she wants to go inside with a wild passion. She was orphaned when a coyote got her dam and littermates when she was about a month old- she managed to hide an the oil pan of a pickup, and one of my mother’s techs heard her crying and fished her out.

    • My oldest cat, Mimi, is like that. The only time she intentionally went out, it was because the front door didn’t close properly and a stray decided to come in. Mimi chased the cat out…then got a little lost and it took a week and a half to get her back in.

      Of course, now my wife is talking about doing something with Mimi because she is pissing all over the place, so life is interesting.

    • If I hold Isabeau and walk out on the front porch she freaks, clawing to get down and stands at the door demanding it open and let her in.
      My aunt in Louisiana had one that also would refuse to go outside . even if the door was left open and hanging he would take a quick look and dash under the couch.

    • The cat my dad found up in the barn– she was cussing him out because it was below zero, the rest of the nest had frozen and she’d climbed ten feet up a hay stack– was agoraphobic. She didn’t even like to be in really big rooms.

  8. Regarding tolerance (that quality that the SJWs laud, but do not have), H. L. Mencken had the happy talent of despising GROUPS while cheerfully getting on with individuals. He could even admire traits of individuals he held generally in contempt; he wrote and published a mooving obituary for Bryan, admiring the man’s great talents as a speaker while simlly ignoring what Mencken (based on what he wrots of someone else) probably thought of as the holes in his head.

    Father Andrew Greeley was a reflexive Liberal Democrat with an advanced case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Nevertheless, he was also a superior storytller and writer and I liked spending time with the people he created.

    I miss him. I don’t miss his POLITICS.

    • I suspect that most of us conservative to libertarian types are far better at separating ideas from people. We don’t assume that one facet of a person’s life (politics, who they get the warm-tinglies for, place of worship [with a few exceptions], execrable taste in music) is the entire person. The personal isn’t the political for us – I have a good friend who I disagree strongly with on some of her lifestyle activities, but we’re still friends. Heck, I admire her willingness to work and sacrifice to make her relationship work (her partner does the same). The VileProgs can’t make that differentiation – everyone is one thing and that thing determines all. What a dull way to see the world.

      • “We don’t assume that one facet of a person’s life (politics, who they get the warm-tinglies for, place of worship [with a few exceptions], execrable taste in music) is the entire person.”

        Which is what happens when everything is politics. Their politics determines everything for them. If you’re a libertarian or conservative, then clearly you can’t possibly be into comics/needlework/underwater basket weaving or whatever they find interesting.

        Luckily, we don’t often encounter this is gun circles. Can’t imagine why.

        • The whole “everything is politics” thing does make it kind of hard to remain friends with them, though.

          I’ve had to do a lot of friend-pruning, over the years, as I’ve grown up and joined the real world. About the only real SJW-type left is the one who introduced me to my wife. And as I’ve said many times before, she gets a lifetime pass. (Saving my life, handing me the lifeline to drag myself out of eternal damnation, or functioning as the best possible substitute for the father I was never allowed to see, would also qualify…if any of the people who’d filled _those_ roles were SJWs to begin with…which fortunately they’re not.) But even with her, one has to be careful…limit the total exposure, and go as far out of one’s conversational way as is necessary to ensure that certain subjects never come up.

          But note carefully that I’m talking about _friends_ (that is, people not related to me by blood or marriage, for whose needs I would nevertheless sacrifice anything up to and including my life), and _SJWs_ (that is, people for whom leftist politics are both the defining purpose of their lives and the assumed framework for all human experience). Extremes, in other words.

          The notion of dropping a commercial and fannish relationship with a previously-beloved author upon discovering something horrible about his political beliefs strikes me as utter madness, for example.

          • I’ve had to do a lot of friend-pruning, over the years, as I’ve grown up and joined the real world.

            Is that where they see you disagree with them, make all sorts of crazy responses that are utterly inconsistent with any sort of friendship, and you take them at their word and walk away instead of agreeing/taking it?

          • Well, I’ve mentioned before that I don’t buy Scalzi books any more. Much of that was his political beliefs. He made it clear he doesn’t want my money, so I oblige him.

            Of course, the difference between me and the SJW is that I’ll still read Scalzi. I just won’t pay for it. Libraries, for example, area great option then.

            Meanwhile, the SJW who finds out an author they like isn’t a SJW like themselves will completely shut the author out. Not just “I won’t give him a dime” but “This person should not even be allowed to be published!” It’s part of why I really get tired of seeing some of these people in the wild. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it and move the hell on.

            • Fuzzy Nation pretty much tore it for me.

            • overgrownhobbit

              Re: Libraries–unless you’re living off the grid? You’re still “paying for it.” you’re just (usually) paying less.


              • Except that Scalzi’s money is limited to that one sale that put the book in the library. That’s it.

                There’s no need to lecture anyone on how there’s no such thing as a free lunch. I’m well aware of what goes on with stuff like this.

              • To be fair, there’s a valid moral difference, if not in the end a financial one, between a purchase one makes by choice and a purchase made by a government institution with money collected by taxation.

          • “The notion of dropping a commercial and fannish relationship with a previously-beloved author upon discovering something horrible about his political beliefs strikes me as utter madness, for example.”

            The thing is, once you know the beliefs, you can often see them in the work and get a bad taste in the mouth.

            • Well, if their work starts to suck, that of course is a different story.

              • It’s not just a decline in work. It’s that the same work can read very different once you’ve been primed to look for things.

    • Eamon J. Cole

      Ah, Greeley! Frequently fascinated by his characters, complex and engaging. Even fascinated by his philosophy, though I think the .gov leg ill-fated.

      Bright mind with a deep understanding of humanity, and a love of people.

      He is missed.

    • A trait shared, in fact, by most old-time Southerners.
      Consider Andrew Jackson, he who defied the Supreme Court to throw the Cherokee off their land and ruthlessly went after the Creek, and also adopted a Creek orphan as his son.

  9. I can pass for sane… but there are moments when my inner self shows.

  10. C4C

  11. Why do you type “G-d” instead of God? Just curious.

    • Because we are prohibited from taking the Lord’s name in falseness, or in frivolity. Granted, this is one of the Jewish commandments that most Christian sects have lost along the way. However, words have power, and how we think and write shapes how we see the world and how we act. To censor one’s self and make an effort not to write the name that shall not be erased or defaced, nor to use it as verbal punctuation (as most swearing seems to be), is to be aware of the respect one should hold for G-d.

      • I’m a writer. I don’t want HIS attention too closely.

        • William O. B'Livion

          Yeah, because he built the whole universe, knows when every sparrow falls, but is UTTERLY CONFUSED by substituting a – for a o.

          • EXACTLY.
            Have you met writers?

          • It’s rude to call someone’s name when you’re not trying to actually get their attention; a lesson I’m trying to get across to my children…..

            • …yeah. It has not escaped my notice that the point at which I am most tempted to call upon G-d to damn the part of my airplane I’m trying to install is actually the point and the thing at which I really don’t want Him to do that.

              Cleaned up my language marvelously once I started to consider the consequences of his answering such utterances.

          • William, in this instance it is the thought that counts.

          • He must be confused. I haven’t been smitten yet. Except with love.


            Oh, is that Him laughing at me? I guess it is.

              • *munches on popcorn in the corner*

              • Consider our spouses. And the events of our courting and marriages.

                At least you didn’t end up failing to outrun a volcanic ash cloud with your fiance the first time you met him. (Someday I will live that down, right? He still compares my driving against that, ah, little event.) Still…

                …it is possible the purpose of my life is to amuse the heck out of Him.

                • This sort of thing is why I regret, kinda, ever moaning about “I’ve run out of ideas!” last July. One and a half novels later, with a bunch of semi-related story ideas doing the popcorn kitten thing and demanding to be written and a sequel to the novel-I-had-no-intention-of-writing tapping its foot impatiently as I sweat over a non-fiction project-on-a-deadline . . . He’s still pointing at me and giggling.

        • I understand now, but you are still thinking it. I think a better route would be to change the sentence to not include “G-d” at all. 🙂

        • But according to Tolkien, all writers are his deputies….

          • Exactly. Do you want the BOSS reading over your shoulder?
            (And weirdly, I’ve thought so. BUT didn’t know Tolkien did too.)

            • It’s one of the central themes of his essay “On Fairy Stories”: the story teller as “Man as sub-Creator”, whose urge to create is one of the proofs that we are made in G-d’s image. I think the essay is published as part of “Leaf By Niggle”.

          • But of course. He created Fiction Zero, and we create all the others. 🙂

      • Thanks for the answer, that’s very clear now. But I don’t agree with it. Typing G-d is just the same as type God because she meant it to be God.

      • CombatMissionary

        If nothing else, I think that actively working to reverence Deity is a good habit. I admire your habit of doing so in all things. “Reverence” and “revere” are the same; to respect, to hold in high regard, etc. I would never speak disrespectfully about my wife because I love, honor and respect her. How much more, then, should I police the way I speak about my Creator?
        Our relationship with the divine begins with small acts, for good and for bad.

      • ‘S OK. When asked His name, He did NOT ascribe the name “God” to himself (at least in most translations of Exodus 3:14). He hasn’t told me why, but I assume it’s too close to the generic little “god” and He’s rather more than that. Thus, I’ve always assumed the modern Christian habit of calling him ‘God’ was by way of respectfully avoiding a more personal name worthy of greater care and less usage.

        • The point, in this case, is not logic. Lovers are not logical. Lovers do silly, generous, stupid things. Lovers make funny in-jokes into habits, because it reminds them of the one they love.

          Devotional practices are the equivalent of love talk. And “G-d” is less ostentatious than “smoochywoochy pumpkin.”

          • CombatMissionary

            “Devotional practices are the equivalent of love talk. And “G-d” is less ostentatious than “smoochywoochy pumpkin.””

            I disagree.

            Humans tend to only think about what’s right in front of our faces at the time, and much religious practice is simply there to KEEP God in our conscious minds on a daily basis so we don’t stop thinking about Him altogether. Following that mindset, I opine that it’s a good way to maintain proper respect for God if it works for you. Our attitude towards something is often deeply affected by how we treat it physically and in our dialogue. Carving out daily means by which to show that respect to God helps us to maintain our emotional and intellectual respect for Him.

            • Thank you Combat.
              Um… for the record I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion. It’s between me and Him. IF He wants me to stop He can use His two by four. He’s done it before.*

              Multiple times. With the nail side.

              • CombatMissionary

                Yup. It’s no skin off my nose either way, but I admire people who unashamedly live their convictions, especially in the little daily observances. Whether I follow the same convictions or not, it serves as a good reminder for me to try to follow mine.

        • Birthday girl

          Not entering the discussion, just … wow, this whole conversation was no part of my upbringing, generic protestant or my education in the Catholic faith. I always thought the capitalized word “G-d” was a title, not a proper name. The proper name was given in Exodus, IIRC, and is probably a dumbed-down version to accomodate human frailty anyway … ?? Anyway, I always thought of the G-word as more akin to “Mom” or “Dad.” Don’t hate me.

          • I think that your comparing it to “Mom” or “Dad” is right on– especially since any parent is familiar with what happens when you’re at a play area and some little voice yells “MOM!” or “DAD!”
            People whose GRANDKIDS are too old to be at one of those turn to look…..

        • Select a ‘safe’ name for people to use. Name becomes so associated with YHWH (or whatever is popular) that it becomes too holy/sacred to use.
          Select new name.
          Lather, rinse, repeat.

          • When I was a kid in yeshiva we used the term HaShem, literally the name, to refer to G-d. Other times people use an attribute: Our Father, The Merciful etc.

            • overgrownhobbit

              If you folk aren’t careful with all this respectful chat about each other’s religious utterances, you might end up with hotbed of charity!

              • This is a religious lunatic site — we just are all over the map religiously from observant Jews, to devout Catholics, Mormons, Protestants, and even Pagans. Eh. We even have atheists. Unless you crawl up theology and start fighting with each other, I don’t care. If you start fighting with each other, I stop this blog, come back there and give you something to yell about 😉

              • Can honestly say I’ve learned more from a bunch of curious folks here than I did in the rather expensive comparative religion class I took.

      • The Other Sean

        “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

        • What if they’re engraved on a board that smacks you in the head?

          What? Ok, they weren’t engraved, but it still hurt.

          • If the letters are engraved, it’s the board not the writing that hurts.

            (There’s a “What a relief!” joke waiting to be made here.)

          • The Other Sean

            Well, maybe then. Or if they’re just hanging there and you run into them, like when riding off into the sunset in that commercial.

        • Gee, I thought it was, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but whips and chains excite me!”

          • Not something I usually associate with the Huns, but hey just don’t hurt anybody and keep it out of the road….

            • Sorry, it was the favorite of a boss I had once.

              • Hey. Where was the trigger warning on that that hurt my brain.


                • You really don’t want to hear his limerick about Beth, then.

                  • It wasn’t the lyrics. It was the irony. I was wondering if this song was pre or post Chris Brown.


                    • She got publicly SJW’ed about “betraying women” for having an S&M song and being a battered SO, if that’s what you mean.

                      Made for quite a tizzy as the battered women/public sexuality folks battled over who was more abused, with the S&M side actually having a point that, er, quirks are not the same as beating your SO.

                      I vaguely remember the S&M folks had drafted the SanFran Leather Parade guys on their side, but I didn’t get much beyond smalltalk level info on it.

                    • Statist Josh


                      Wasn’t getting that involved. It one of those “This song just six words long.” songs, and what limited words there are are supposed to be shocking (triggering). I also thought it was funny to feign mental anguish from just hearing the song or that the irony broke something in my brain as to need a trigger warning.

                      Meany levels.


                    • I actually feel sorry for Celebrities who are into kink, because their fame prevents them from accessing the knowledge (especially about safety) and culture that the kink community has assembled over the decades.

                      That leads to tragedies like David Caradine.

                    • Don’t think she’s the originator, I heard it the in the late eighties.

              • I can see why it’s stuck in your head; here’s another one that will stick with you.

                (I turned it on and my husband started laughing… then came to watch it, because it’s just that awesome.)

  12. Bumbum was found abandoned on Cincinnati’s Central Parkway by my grandmother, who shipped the cat out to her only child’s farm. I was likely a toddler then, because I do not remember a time without that cat, until she passed away when I was 16 or so. She was a barn cat. We fed her and her brood once a day, and in exchange they kept down the mice and rabbits and annoyed the chimney swifts (who in return annoyed the cats). She didn’t mind being petted and getting attention, but she definitely didn’t want to be a house cat.

    She died from an infection she picked up giving birth. A couple years later the rabbits — and likely the mice — moved back into the area.

  13. Your d’Artagnan sounds a lot like my E.T. (IT WAS 1982 WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME) I scooped her up and went searching around the neighborhood to find out who had lost a cat. Finding nobody, I decided to put her back in case someone else came looking for her. She followed me home and stayed with us for 10 years.

    An outdoor cat, a great mouser, a single-human kitty (me), and one of the best pets an oddball like me could have ever found. Still miss her.

  14. He’s fought his tail for fifteen minutes. And lost.

    *sigh* I have days like that….

  15. Pets, are the God(s) way of keep good people sane. I’d even go as far as stating they can really help you keep from taking a lot of things for granted.

    I can still hear my mom and dad laughing their backsides off at over-hearing me and MindyCat (now re-named to Minnie, by my father no less) having a full conversation. Mindy having been a momma cat a few times before I got her, had a full range of this trilling sound and meows. And would talk back to me with a combination of them.

    She’s the queen of my parents house now. (Can’t have pets here where I live in LA.) The chances I’ll be getting her back… AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. Ha. 🙂

  16. *SIGH*
    I’m one of those oddball Odds who doesn’t do snippets and Sarah keeps teasing us with this character she’s killing off. I understand though Sarah. I had to put one of my characters through the pain of watching his father die on a battlefield AFTER said character had failed to get there in time to save him.


    Please, please, please…

    If it’s a big-time character make their death memorable and rewarding. There is nothing worse in fiction than the death of an important character dying in some half-a$$ed manner. The death of Grayson Carlyle comes to mind. (For those not familiar, he was the MC in three Battletech novels, then *SPOILER ALERT* died in bed of Luekemia after having not shown up for several novels.) Please?

  17. That we aren’t like that, that we can say “Oh, yeah, so and so is politically nuts, but I still love his/her books” is a weakness of course. We’re less ruthless in denying employment/publication/exposure to artists/professors/writers we disagree with, which means over time their marginal advantage makes them dominant.

    I prefer to think of it as a “tactical vulnerability.”

    We can’t use the same tactics they do, because of it; we’re more vulnerable to that tactic, as well.
    But we also don’t have the defects of that tactic, up to and including what you peg as lack of sanity, and I might try to be polite and call a lack of introspection. (Or various other ways of saying “Dude…. are you even LISTENING to yourself?”)

    • “I prefer to think of it as a “tactical vulnerability.””
      That’s exactly right.
      Personally, I have less and less stomach for suffering fools gladly, at least on the scale achieved by these particular fools. They are however, still safe provided they don’t intrude but I make no promises if they do.

    • Yep. Tactical. Short term, specific objectives, they have a marginal advantage. Longer term / strategic? We outbreed them, physically and intellectually; we win.

    • It’s a tactical vulnerability only depending on the battlefield you’re fighting on.

  18. Time to brag on our pets, eh?

    We have 2 cats.
    Now, I’m not a cat person. But because I’m the one who feeds them, empties their box, gives them affection on their terms, and protects them from small children who want to hug them and squeeze them and call them George, I’m their favoritest person.
    Lovey is the elder. She’s a striped long-hair that lost her tail in some unknown accident. She was found as a stray by my grandmother, and we inherited the fuzzball. She was obviously a housecat at some point, but has spent several years outside as a farm cat. She’s extremely affectionate, but occasionally feels the urge to bolt and disappear for a few days. (Which my wife does not take at all well.)
    Harpo is the tom. He’s a short-haired calico-wannabe. He’s almost completely nocturnal, and despite the name, did not turn out to be mute. Indeed, the volume at which he talks to himself leads me to believe that he might be deaf. He likes to play, but if you’re looking for affection, a pet rock might be a better source.

    We also have 4 dogs.
    The oldest is Hamlet (because he’s a tragic little thing). He’s a member of the mongrel horde (maltese, bichon frise, mini schnauzer, and who knows what else), but the whole concept of “hybrid vigor” managed to miss him quite badly. He’s got a number of birth defects, starting with a comical overbite, and just as obviously with some non-standard joints in his front legs which cause him to waddle in an amusing fashion. Of course, my wife instantly fell in love with him. He’s extremely gentle and affectionate with the kids, but he’s utterly convinced he’s actually a wolf. Anything not a member of his pack is fair game. I don’t mind so much with mice, sparrows, and starlings. But I take exception when he starts going after the chickens and goats. He’s a vicious little bugger, and absolutely fearless.
    Next is Halas. He’s a St. Bernard. (What more is there to say, really?) He produces drool by the bucket, and during shedding season, several dust bunnies the size of Hamlet every day. He’s a big sweetie who will never outgrow being puppy-dumb. He vaguely realizes he isn’t supposed to be a lapdog, so he’ll sit in front of you and lay his head in your lap instead.
    Lola is a miniature terrier. She has no concept of “stop” or “enough”. She once even managed to piss Halas off. She and Harpo are best of friends and will roughhouse and chase each other at all hours.
    Gopher is a Chessie/Lab mutt. He’s still a pup, but is big enough that he can no longer sit on the kids with impunity. He just doesn’t yet understand this. He is a truly phenomenal mouser, and very protective. (Although I wish he’d stop warning us about the neighbor’s sheep.)

    • Eamon J. Cole

      Gotta watch those sheep. All docile-like. But they’re sneaky. Watch ’em out there, edging closer — closer. Yeah, sure I believe the grass is engrossing.

      Sneaky, I tell ya.

      • The above comment must be read where one can see his icon, for proper appreciation.

      • “Gotta watch those sheep. All docile-like. But they’re sneaky. Watch ‘em out there, edging closer — closer. Yeah, sure I believe the grass is engrossing.”

        This has been immortalized in song…..

        • Eamon J. Cole


        • Somewhere in my storage unit is the Basil, the Killer Sheep stuffed animal that Sib got me after hearing about my dissertation research. (I learned more about sheep biology and nutritional requirements than I ever really wanted to know.)

  19. We have our dog Max. He is thirteen, completely deaf and somewhat arthritic. He was a gift at Christmas so we named him after the Grinch’s dog. He hated bicycles, people minding their own business across the street, and anyone delivering anything. He loves my brother in law but ignores my sister because she gave birth to five grandkids who rank above him in the pecking order despite his seniority. He’s softened a bit in his old age and loves my youngest niece, he always softly licks the top of her fuzzy head. I hope he lives until my brother gets back in September. And I’m think about getting a puppy.

  20. I grew up with English Bulldogs (serially,not in a bunch). Lovely, affectionate, and they make the most endearing grunts and grumbles. They are hard to train, though. They have one track minds and getting them to switch tracks involves hitting them hard enough to get their attention, which is usually a good deal harder than any nice person would want to.

    One of them ran through, THROUGH, a chain link fence. We had just moved to Ames, Iowa, and let the dog out in the (fenced) yard. Cat in the next yard over felt compelled to share his opinion of dogs. Dog charged the cat, which sat still and sassy until the dog hit the fence and pushed the bottom up out of the way through sheer pigheadedness (bulldogs have bad sight, he may not have realized the fence was there). Cat the levitated 6′ straight up, and landed in a tree, running in Cat at about three vulgar adjectives per second.

  21. The Door into Summer made an impression on me. Given that, when I went to my future wife’s house for our first date, I spent ten minutes convincing her cat Maja that I was a good man while waiting for her to get ready. Worked like a charm. I knew I was in when she said that I was the first boyfriend in years that Maja didn’t hate. ;o)

  22. Cat sharing!

    I have two, Percival and Mui (Nimuë.) Percival is apparently a Maine Coon-Siamese hybrid with a comically narrow head and wide body when he’s wet. Fur between his toes and the Le Chat Noir right-angle back. He’s our idiot cat, never learned to cover properly when he uses the letterbox (scratches at the wall until we tell him he’s done.) He’s also the one that does the crazed “attack the walls” thing some cats do.

    Mui is our torte. When we went to get “a” cat from the shelter, she climbed into my lap and started purring, all of four months old. “We need to get this one,” I said. Percival was meanwhile standing on his hind legs, stretching up to get pettings from Evil Rob. “We need to get this one,” he said. So we went to get them both and they said we couldn’t, two unfixed cats of different genders. So we went away, and came back two hours later with a plan—get the male, put a hold on the female, get him fixed and acquire the female the next day. The shelter found us a vet with an opening the next morning and we got our cats.

    Both cats like us both, but Mui is definitely my cat and Percival is his. They’re fourteen now and thinner than they used to be, and Percival has been losing hair. (Part of that was reversed by a change to a GF cat food, but he keeps sneaking dog food when my MiL comes to visit, so it hasn’t resolved.) They’re the first cats that have been *mine*, so it’s going to be sad when we have to let them go.

    Incidentally, Evil Rob says the proper number of cats is three. “Two to play with each other and one just for windows.”

  23. I cried my eyes out when we had to put my cat Shadow down. It was an inexorable exigency; he was over 15 years old, a sufferer of FUS, and becoming increasingly incontinent in a tiny apartment that also had an increasingly self-mobile baby in it, which struck both me and my wife as a recipe for imminent health disaster. But it was still one of the worst days of my life.

    We haven’t had a pet since — not enough room in the place. But I would get another cat in a heartbeat if I could.

  24. Can for the outdoor kitties at work and can and extra hugs for Sissy and Booker at work and Valeria Victrix at home.

  25. Three cats — only one born in a house.

    Norby — silver tabby, male, born feral. Thinks he is a human — who hates cats.

    Phosphor — white Siamese/mackerel tabby mix, male. Born in our backyard; has excellent hunting skills… illustrated by his talent for finding and bringing to the humans any small object he can pick up with his teeth.

    Marlene — “tuxedo”, female. “Girl in a tuxedo” — the name was obvious. Of the dozens of people I’ve mentioned it to, exactly three of them get the reference.

    (Deceased: Angel — calico/Siamese mix. Took no crap from anyone.)

    Then there’s the Outside Cats (Barbecue Cat — so named for her interest in the BBQ; Shy Cat — go fig; and Junior Cat, who we think is a Domestic Lynx).

    And to cap it off: No fewer than *seventeen* kittens trapped, tamed, and shipped off to the local [no-kill] Humane Society. (I’m trying to figure out how to get “victory markers” made which don’t look like “this is how many I’ve hit with my truck”.)

    • ‘ I’m trying to figure out how to get “victory markers” made which don’t look like “this is how many I’ve hit with my truck” ‘

      Figure A giving Cat to Figure B? Maybe with a little heart between Cat and Figure B?

  26. We have four, with the passing of my California Tabby, Potluck, after 21 years.

    Deb’s California cat, Java, is a black hairball of a devil. He always has to have one cat to bully (at present, our rescue Siamese, Samantha) but doesn’t always get his way. When he first met Potluck he tried to bully him but Potluck just reared up and hit him a right-left-right combo so fast Java just say down and stared at him. At present Java likes to bunker down in bathroom sinks, filling the bowl, unless he’s sleeping with us.

    Our next cat was Clara (we had watched the Matt Smith “Snowman” Dr. Who episode). We came home from Christmas dinner & a movie to find her sitting on top of our HVAC, perfectly composed: “Hello. You own me. What’s for dinner?” Hence her name, originally ‘Clara Christmas’, later ‘Clara Christmas Cupcake’ and frequently ‘Dammit Clara’! Perfectly housebroken and weaned, she had to have been left there because she couldn’t possibly have climbed up there at her age.

    She barely filled the palm of my hand and spent the night sleeping on my chest on the couch to make sure I properly bonded. She appears to be a calico/tortoiseshell mix by her colors and marking, but still makes the calico “meeps” instead of meows. Now she’s a total princess, and simply will not believe that bad things can happen to her. Even Java stopped trying to bully her because she just stared at his hisses in complete incomprehension. In spite of the fact that she constantly charges from one end of the house to the other, she is becoming a little tub, with a swag-belly that metronomes back and forth as she trots.

    The next rescue was Samantha, who came with the property but was being pushed off her turf by other cats. Finally one day I just opened the door as she was walking by; she turned and stared at it and then just walked in like she’d always meant to.

    Incredibly gentle for an outside cat, not an aggressive bone in her body. In fact, we have to make sure she gets her share of the food because she will not assert herself for it.

    Our last, and probably final rescue was Clarissa, another pure calico, who showed up on our deck in an extremely emaciated and skittish condition. At first we didn’t want to bring her in because we were concerned about her reactions to the other cats. But we were feeding her, and she started getting over her fear of us. Then one day she just lay down on the doorstep with an “you don’t have to take me in but here I stay” attitude. So, one day, I opened the door…

    That was an adventure. We had to take her to the vet for her shots, of course. She let us put her in the carrier without a fight but when we opened it at the vet’s we launched a calico cruiser missile. She literally ricocheted from one wall the other, knocking over counter stock and generally wigging out.

    So I tried to catch her and hold her to calm her down. She flipped around, buried her teeth in my thumb ’til they met, and glared at me over my hand like “I can keep this up all day.”

    Naturally, she hadn’t had her rabies shot since the vet couldn’t treat her, and we went to the clinic to get my hand attended to they reported the bite to animal regulation. We weren’t going to put her down for my provoking her, so we had to spring for ten days’ rabies’ quarantine and I would up with a tetanus shot and a wad of cotton the size of a tennis ball on my thumb. We also found scratches on my arms and chest I didn’t even realize I had.

    Apparently her time in stir changed her because she came out a much different cat, extremely affectionate to both of us, and the perpetual playmate for Clara, which got her out of the older cats’ hair. They invented the fort game, which Samantha now plays with them as well.

  27. We’ve had a few cats, but much bad luck, losing one to coyotes, one to feline leukemia, and a third to cancer. So we decided no more cats for a good long while.

    Then, early last year, as the weather was starting to get really chilly, the daughter found a pretty little black cat that apparently didn’t belong to anyone. And while we were still not really that interested in letting a cat in… well… I couldn’t let her stick around out there by herself when it was that cold. That’s Jiji. (Kiki’s Delivery Service FTW)

    Took her picture to the neighbors, put the pic up at Craigslist, and nothing, so she’s ours. Took her to the vet, who said “wow, she’s remarkably healthy. She might be pregnant.” Did the ultrasound… they said “well, she’s probably not pregnant.”

    A few weeks later, four kittens. Whom we named Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam. Pip went to a friend’s house, and promptly passed away from some kind of random feline sickness. Frodo went to a co-worker’s place and is now Belle (we named them before we figured out genders), Sam lives across the street with my daughter’s good friend, and Merry is our tortie. She treed a mouse in the bushes out front tonight.

    My daughter is always upset that the cats don’t love her. I try to offer her sympathy as the cats are loving all over me, but for some reason, she’s still upset about it. (Sigh) Teenagers.

    • CombatMissionary

      Up on the mountain when I was a kid, our cats started disappearing, so we ended up crating them each night. A few nights later, hearing the cats swearing at something, mom shone the flashlight through the sliding door. A humongous raccoon was on top of the crate, calmly trying to reach a cat to drag through the wire. As the light hit him, he calmly looked up as if to say, “Yes? Oh, I’m just getting a snack.” First time I’ve ever heard of a raccoon eating cats.

  28. I have this odd trait. I love cats. Most cats at least like me. As long as they’re not mine.

    When my wife and I got together, she had two cats. One ran away from the folks who were care-taking her old house in Michigan (from before we had a place together where we could keep them)…he seemed to like me just fine, although we didn’t have nearly enough time together. The other moved in with us, and he and I got along famously.

    Shortly after the wedding, we acquired another. Petco was having one of their “come see some of the local shelter’s adoptable kitties!” days. Notably, my wife was indecisive about which one she wanted. This little dude, I picked out. The cutest little ball of soft black furry snugglz you’ll ever meet. Who…well…doesn’t much like me.

    He doesn’t, like, _hate_ me or anything…he just never seemed to warm to me. Loves her, ignores me. Figures. I picked him, ergo he’s “mine”, ergo he doesn’t much like me. Meh. I’ve had way worse experiences in the past.

    When she gets back from LTUE, we’re getting another one. And this time, _she_ is going to pick it out. I will just stand back and say “yes”. 🙂

  29. I have two black cats, brother and sister, Max and Minerva. Sometimes they’re difficult to tell apart (Max has coarser fur, and a little lump in his tail, Minerva yelps the first time you touch her if you surprise her, and of course, “cat flaps”). When they were little, they had more gray underfur than black guard hairs, so they looked like inverse puffballs, but they grew out of it.

    I keep my cats indoors, except for the upstairs deck. Too many big dogs in the neighborhood, kids with Airsoft guns, and Coyotes.

    Although a mole-hunter would come in handy around here.

  30. I inherited my dad’s dog Zack, He was a hundred pound bernese mountain dog with a very sweet temper. We also had a fluffy black and white shelter cat named sofia. She sat at the foot of my mom’s bed on her own velour blanket like a tiny queen, all claws and fluff and HUGE green eyes. She was definitely my mom’s cat even though I did the feeding, cleaned the box and gave the appropriate amount of pets.

    Sophia had Zack trained from a young age to respect her. He would be very submissive in her presence and even left the room if she gave him the eye. He would follow her around outside like she was his pack leader until she got annoyed at him taking free sniffs and would chase him around the yard. She liked to pounce at him and bite and cling if he was too slow. It was the funniest thing to see him plodding after her around a corner and then come tearing back with sophie swiping at his heels. 🙂

    Sophie would do the same to any human she didn’t like, and sometimes in play. Her favourite trick was to fall on her side and mew for belly rubs and then wrap her front paws around your wrist when you crouched to give her a pet. you’d end up with bitten fingers and a shredded forearm if you fell for that one. Not to mention her playful face level pounces and swipes from her favourite hiding spots.

    She was a 5 pound terror to man and beast. Her vet and I have the scars to prove it. I miss them both. 🙂

  31. Slinky McEvil: I’m gonna steal that one.

    Our clowder is presently up to five cats. The oldest is variously known as Angel, Ming the Merciless, or Gollum. She really does look a lot like Gollum. She despises the other cats but is very affectionate towards me, unless she has seen me being affectionate towards the other cats, which drives her into a jealous rage. We got her for my daughter as a birthday present, from a family who were apparently shocked, shocked, that their unfixed queen got preggers while running loose in the neighborhood. Angel decided to adopt me after Kira went off to college.

    Angel likes fish.

    The next two were originally supposed to be one cat to replace sweet old Mei Mei that was my wife’s cat that got old and wore out. There were two little Siamese mixes in the same cage from the same litter and Cindy just couldn’t take one and leave the other. They are officially Sakura and Stormy and unofficially Squeakums and Bear or Geekums. Sqeakums has grown into a big dominant bully and shameless manipulator. By “bully” I mean towards the other cats, of course, and by “shameless manipulator” I mean that she parks herself by the kitty treat cabinet when I’m cooking something in the kitchen and bats her eyes at me and squeaks until I give her a treat.

    Stormy/Bear/Geekums is our cat geek. She is almost never nasty towards humans or other cats, and just kind of blows it off if they are nasty to her. You know how cats reflexively twist in the air when they fall so they land on their feet? Not Bear;; she invariably reflexively twists in the air so as to land on her head. The only clumsy cat I’ve ever owned. Just a real geek. Why Bear? Because she walks a little like one. She is the only one of the cats who genuinely enjoys being scooped up and cuddled. (Angel is okay with cuddling, but strictly on her terms, which involve no scooping.) Bear is also the cat who wakes me at four in the morning by softly batting my face with her paw, because it’s the perfect time to hunt rodents and why am I wasting it sleeping?

    Zoe, a.k.a. Monkey or (of late) Damn Cat, is a tuxedo kitty we originally got suckered into fostering for the local shelter and then couldn’t bear to part with. She was very, very young when we got her; she was found in a local park in good enough condition, in spite of being still too young for solid food, to suggest a deliberate abandonment. Kira nursed her into a thoroughly obnoxious little cat (she’s still the smallest) who performs amazing feats of gymnastics (hence Monkey) and who loves having her head rubbed, which she rewards by trying to eat your hand. I understand it’s not uncommon for neurotic cats to behave this way.

    Spartacus is a tuxedo male who was acquired specifically to be an emotional support animal for my daughter (who has been diagnosed with O.C.D.) at college. Spas is a very mellow, unaggressive, dignified cat, perfect for an emotional support animal, who travels by car well, but who the other cats all ganged up on as soon as Kira came home on break. He has learned to scale counters and cabinets in order to have the high ground, where he is marginally safer, but unfortunately is where I keep my kefir while it is fermenting. Zoe is the absolute worst at bullying him, hence her new moniker of Damn Cat. Spas is uncertain about male humans; when Cindy scooped him up to get him away from some bullying, and dropped him into my arms while she lectured the other cats, he kind of rocked back and looked at me with big eyes that said “Who the profane metaphor are you?” Did not offer to claw me or wriggle loose; just sat back and stared at me with those deer in the headlight eyes.

    A few weeks back we were up to eight kitties. The other three were foster kittens from the local shelter, who figured that if they could sucker us once, they could sucker us again. Boy, do they have my wife figured out … Turns out there’s a feral cat colony in one part of town they’ve never been able to completely round up, and every few months they raid the colony to try to keep its population down. This particular raid netted fully eighteen young kittens, and they were desperate for foster homes for them all. They were quite feral when they arrived, all nasty and hissy, but became very sweet little kittens with some attention. My favorite was Scruples, who was the first to decide the hoomans were all right after all, and soon got to where when I went in the kitten room, he made a beeline for my lap while purring like a motor. Very outgoing playful kitten, but kind of bad with the claws. They all were, actually, and I had very scratched-up legs by the time they went back to the shelter. No, we were not permanently having eight cats in the house; besides, it was just before Christmas, and sure enough they were all adopted within a week. I mean, who could resist a face like this?

    Um, yes, I guess I am now a crazy cat person.