Front Line Blogging From Tentistan – a blast from the past Sept 2007

The other day while I was shopping I was struck with a sudden idea: why don’t I buy a toy for the pretty cats?
(I’m convinced this is caused by feline mind-rays. There is no other explanation.  The impulse strikes randomly and has nothing to do with what they’ve been up to lately.  It’s never “they haven’t broken any good china recently” or “they haven’t played slamlom with my prized glass floats” .)

Like many other bad ideas, this one was fairly irresistible, and once it presented itself, I had to follow through.  Being cheap I bought — for $7.50 a little foldable tent.  I thought “Oh, look, they can cuddle in it or something.”

This shows you how dellusional I can be.  Of course, that is NOT how things worked out.  Once I brought the tent into the house and set it down next to my desk (“They can keep me company while I write,” I thought.  HONESTLY.) I realized I had not in fact bought a cat toy.  Oh no.  What I had bought and brought into my house was the world’s smallest and most fiercely independent country.

Tentistan, population one — D’Artagnan

This would be okay, if D’Artagnan’s possession of the crinkly red and yellow vinyl didn’t inflame envy in the hearts of his neighbors.  Unfortunately it does and therefore, the mighty army of the Miranda attacks:

With a leap across the room, Miranda secures the upper hand.  D’Artagnan’s attempts at defensive positioning overturn tentistan.  Miranda then skates it across the floor with two more leaps.

A surrender ultimatum is issued.  The defense burrows in.

The defense replies “you can’t make me” (and possibly adds “neener neener.”

I couldn’t actually capture the action.  The paw is faster than the camera.  There was a brief intense period of Miranda beating D’Artagnan like an old rug, from outside the tent.  I believe military bloggers cal this type of action “Beating his little pasty white b*tt like a drum.”  The pose captured here was “You won’t even fight?  You DISGUST me.”  After which she stalked away.

catnip mice — the war’s innocent collateral damage.


Tentistan, the world’s smallest and most fiercely independent country is at peace, until action repeats in a few minutes.

(Yep, best entertainment I EVER bought for under ten dollars.)

60 responses to “Front Line Blogging From Tentistan – a blast from the past Sept 2007

  1. My day is now offically off to a great start. 🙂

    Thank you.

  2. Great picture!

  3. Being restricted to one cat at a time, alas, does tend to preclude getting to observe the epic battles for Mt. ‘Fridgetop or the Siege of Lap.

    Fun photos 😀

  4. Not being a cat person, I thought that was what shoe boxes were for.

  5. Our cats aren’t big into enclosed spaces, although the older one will lie in wait around the corner for the younger one to come out of the litter box. My kids were overly amused when I described the wind up before the pounce as the “wiggle butt of doom.” I’ve got to be more careful with my language.

  6. My cats refuse to use anything but hand carried, bio-degradable, up-cycled tents.

    (paper shopping bags)

  7. sabrinachase

    I am a confirmed Maru-otaku. One of my very favorite videos of The Round and his friend Hana involved a sort of red knitted cave that Hana had occupied and Maru desired. Hana rolled the cave over during the battle, concealing the opening and essentially disappearing. Maru was so perturbed by this state of affairs he *meowed*. (and the inscrutable Zen master Maru NEVER meows.)

    We all know, deep in our reptile brains, that caves are Important and should be defended to the death.

    • Some time ago The Daughter shared with me videos of Maru and various boxes, much to my delight. So, on being reminded I just spent some happy time with Maru again. Sadly I could not find the Maru you described, but I found this one:

      Light blue tent and Hana & Maru

  8. snelson134

    My dogs have been only puppies, so they’ve had to bring neighbor dogs in for fun. Fuzzy was friends with a Golden Retriever next door, and one day I was BBQing ribs in the back yard. Naturally, Fuzzy got one. She went over to the fence with Ginger on the other side, walked deliberately up and down the fence (with Ginger following and whining), laid down next to the fence, and demonstrated how to pornographically eat a rib (slurp “Ohhhh” slurp “so good” slurp”) with Ginger going nuts.

    Enough to draw the attention of the lady owner, who stuck her head over the fence and looked at me. I just pointed down underneath where she was at Fuzzy. She watched for a few seconds, and said “Fuzzy, you’re going to Hell.” while trying to stifle the giggles. I gave her a rib for Ginger so peace would be restored. 😎

  9. Fish tanks make great cat toys, especially if they have covers the cats can sit on. My first, Diccon, used to try to fish through the tiny gap between the lid and the heater. Needless to say he wasn’t very successful. I think the fish found it amusing since the best he ever did was get about a 1/4 inch of paw in the water. I know I got a lot of entertainment out of watching him.

    • Joe Miller (@joethefatman1)

      Our cat figured out how to lift the back of the cover and fed himself quite well. We figured it out after noticing several fish missing.

      • The first cat we had when I was growing up (as opposed to Diccon who was my first when I moved out) never figured out how to fish, but she was very good at finding the little swordfish if they jumped out of the tank. She nearly ate the Oscar when he decided to make a break for it too. Thankfully (for him) we got there in time so he didn’t suffocate or provide breakfast for Cormac.

    • Beloved Spouse would never agree to my cunning plan to provide exercise for the cats by investing in Habitrail tubing around the living room and occupants of the enclosed environment. The obvious logic, good sense and rationality of my pleadings were never persuasive, proof that my Beloved Spouse can be, in some arenas, maddeningly obtuse and stubborn (traits which doubtless account for the continuance of our relationship these forty years.)

    • I found out (the hard way) that if your cover is glass and your cat is heavy enough, if the circumstances are just right, he can break the glass in half. Twice.

  10. Great wake up story. Mine sometimes will haggle over ownership of the shelf above the DVR … Isabeau is the normal possessor of the warm spot … and Allie is one to hide under a sleeping bag draped over a clothes basket half full … Annie sleeps in the basket though occasionally Allie resides within, and once Isabeau deigned to sleep therein.

  11. Our current pair think that our bed is the perfect sleeping spot, so when I come upstairs at night I usually have to shoo Gideon off my pillow. They have both been known to come over when I’m on the computer to try to convince me that it’s bed time. (It’s more comfortable to sleep on the bed if there is a leg to lean on or toes to attack through the covers.) Of course during the day one of Gideon’s preferred sleeping spots is the back of the armchair with his hind legs hanging down either side looking like an overweight grey leopard. Alice just finds a paperbag or box waiting for recyclying and if possible pushes it into the middle of the walkway so we can trip over her.

  12. That isn’t caused by feline mind-control rays. That’s your subconscious telling you “You haven’t had a belly laugh in too long”. We don’t buy cat toys to amuse them, we buy cat toys so that they will amuse US.

  13. Good timing. I remembered that this one was very charming and funny, but it was long enough ago I only had a vague memory of the significance of “Tentistan.”
    My only cat Valeria Victrix (not counting my unoffficial cats at work) is a lot of fun if you don’t mind getting nipped occasionally. At the sound of the shower- “Oh, no! Daddy is going to immerse himself in water again! I must save him from this madness by biting him on the ankle!” “OW!” Going to work, if I don’t manage to slip down the stairs without her noticing- “Oh, no! Daddy is going away again to leave me all by myself all day! I must persuade him to stay with me by biting him on the ankle!” “OW!”

    • We have a polydactyl cat (named, naturally, Polly) who does loke to nibble, but it doesn’t eve rise to the level of a nip. She has decided that I am a “special needs” kitten, and must be supervised while on the toilet, since I apparently am too dumb to use the sandbox, like a proper cat. She does this by climbing on my back and peering over my shoulder at what I’m reading.

      • This morning I woke up with my arm being extensively groomed by Havelock, who is younger than this post.

        • Our last cat, Mittens, was prone to grooming my arm to the point of seriously abrading the epidermis. I don’t know whether he thought me tasty, in need of help or if he was simply enthusiastically grooming himself and lost track of where he ended and I began.

        • Birthday girl

          Heh I have a cat who loves to lick my arm and hand after I put on hemp hand lotion … he doesn’t do this at any other time …

          • Sigh. I’ve talked to the cats about nip
            Now I’ll need to talk about pot. Great, just great.

            • Randy Wilde

              I don’t suppose you could convince them to just sit down and watch Reefer Madness?

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I sometimes use valerian to get to sleep. Didn’t realize it’s akin to catnip until the fatter and dumber of our two cats jumped up on the bed and tried earnestly to stick his entire face into the bottle. Whose opening was about the size of a men’s wristwatch face.

      • Jeff Gauch

        The cats are not permitted in the bathroom with me, but when I go they stick a paw under the door and wave it around as if to say “Do not be afraid, human, we are here.”

        • That’s more of a, “You cannot hide from us!”

          • Jeff Gauch

            Nah, when I come out they look at me, look around the bathroom, look back at me as if to say “So you’re OK then? Good. We still can’t figure out how to open the food cans.” and wander off.

  14. Had a cat years ago who could be kept entertained for hours by throwing a sheet of newspaper over him. War with the Newsprint started by holing the enemy’s central defenses, which were eventually reduced to shreds,

    His other fave pastime was to be scooped up in a plastic Walmart bag, whirled around several times, then when the human got bored of that, hang the cat-and-bag assembly from a doorknob, so he could swing back and forth every time the door opened.

    Cats are aliens children and this is their playground. There’s no other explanation for it.

  15. I can’t recall ever buying a cat toy that the household felines considered worth their while. Not even a scratching post. Sure, infuse enough catnip in it and they’ll work at it, but that’s the catnip, not the toy. (Which brings to mind the time Beloved Spouse called me at work to announce that, while B.S. was out shopping the cats had found where the nip was secreted and that the kitchen floor was now a litter of catnip dust and disjointed cats.)

    I did know one cay who loved playing with a ping-pong ball in the bathtub. And our cats loved to sit at the foot of the stairs while one of the household humans sat at the top (it was a folded stairwell) and wafted down soap bubbles … but those aren’t cat toys, are they?

    • SheSellsSeashells

      I bought a large and elaborate cat toy (ball in a ring to bat around) once that my two *adored*. Because I spent two weeks ostentatiously keeping it away from them, including accidentally dropping it, then yelling OH NO and diving to rescue it from marauding kitties. When I left it somewhere they could snag it with a paw and drag it to the ground, they were ecstatic.

      • We had that same item (or nearly enough) and the cat never took to it. Clearly your means of enticement were superior to those we employed.

        Thus supporting the theory that it is not the toy but the joy of forbidden fruit that is the primary attractor.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          I agree one hundred percent with this theory. Two solid weeks of “NO, NOT FOR CATS” is not really an effort I care to repeat, though, so I will leave the experimentation to others.

        • There was one cat who I recall meeting one of the ball locked in the ring toys with great enthusiasm. The first time. Yes, the first time he played with it to a point of exhaustion — and frustration. Then never again.

          While everyone who knew the beast concluded that the cat seemed rather dense for a feline, there was always a nagging feeling in the back of my head that sometimes he was maybe, just maybe, a wee bit clever.

          • My cats love and play with catnip sardines, which one of YOU insists on sending them! (Thank you.) D’Artagnan loves them so much he collects them all and sleeps on a pile of them, like a dragon.

  16. I don’t know what it is about pillows and driver’s seats in the car, but dogs and cats both seem to need to claim their master’s spot when master isn’t there. Oh, and my desk chair, too — Ladybug doesn’t get up on it, but Blue, the cat, will.

  17. Miranda looks quite a bit like my cats… except .. smaller.

  18. Christopher M. Chupik

    But what of the root causes of the war, Sarah? You don’t tell us anything about the economic imbalances underlying the conflict or how the tent manufacturer engages in ruthless war-profiteering from the misery of underprivileged felines squabbling over the ever-shrinking resources of their impoverished environment.

  19. Joe in PNG

    My cat is far too dignified as Lady Defender Against the Rodent Menace for mere toys. She feels that playing with anything she hasn’t caught herself is beneath her station.

    • Gideon likes playing with his mice until he breaks them. Once they are immobile, even if still twitching, he has no interest. Of course Eldest Daughter wasn’t too happy with his first mouse when he came, proudly showed it to her, and then shook it so hard she heard its back break. He then refused to eat it. We got rid of the poor thing, and then he looked for it.

      My second cat after I moved out, Chester, caught a frog once after I’d moved back home for a while. He carefully brought it in without even a puncture wound, placed it under my father’s chair at the dining table, and walked off. The frog, not being particularly stupid by frog standards, decided it was time to leave. We caught him and took him back to the marsh. It had to be at least a half an hour later that Chester came back to claim his prize. He was completely dumbfounded that it wasn’t still there.

      He and Diccon also liked to bring in garter snakes, which a friend of mine refers to as self propelled rubber bands. My mother used to find little dissicated corpses in the back of the broom cupboard where they had tried to escape. Of course there was the 4-footer they brought in once. I wish I’d seen them actually carrying it in, instead of just the pile of snake in the kitchen.

      • Some years back we went of vacation on the south shore of Massachusetts (family summer home) in early fall, when the mice were beginning to move in from the fields. We brought our Bengal cat, Marco, and he was a mighty hunter. Ate them, too, all but the faces. Not the heads, the faces. We’d come downstairs to the entry hall (brick floor) and find little mouse faces.

        One evening he found a mouse in the livingroom, and played with it to the point that it prefered to run into the fire to being toyed with anymore. And for the rest of that visit, Marco would wander around the livingroom crying;

        “Where’s my mouse? I KNOW I had a mouse around here SOMEWHERE!”

        • My parents have a large black and white that I acquired as a kitten when I worked at the local girl scout camp one summer. Someone had dumped him, and he was this cute 8 week old ball of fur. Over the years he has become a mighty hunter, and he usually eats the whole mouse if he eats any of it.

          But there was the time when I say the bloodied but seemingly intact corpse on the steps when I went to visit, and when I picked it up to heave it into the bushes, I realized the Skippy had bitten off the back of its skull and sucked out its brains. So he is now the zombie cat.

          Of course there was our black and white Irish cat, Gaston, who would leave us bits of his latest kill on the door step. Bird feet, rat tails, whatever. Though if he only left us a foot and a pin feather, where were the other feathers, and where was the bill?

          I remember baby sister at about 3 toddling over to us waving a rabbit hindquarter in the air and asking if we could fix the broken bunny. The first response that popped into my head was “No dear, we don’t have all the parts”. Thank heavens, that satisfied the child, because I wasn’t sure about explaining those facts of life to a toddler.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            My childhood cat, who was near-as-no-matter to Greebo as you will ever find (he’s just a big softy, really) would leave whole mice in our shoes when he loved us, and mouse feet when we had clearly been misbehaving. I shook out my shoes more conscientiously than any non-desert native should ever have to…

          • Greebo cat used to build mousie hecatombs to our blory in the back door mat. This happened if we’d been away for more than a day. He’d arrange them neatly in a pyramid, and often top the whole with a squirrel tale. Strange cat.

      • Back when I was married, we had a mighty hunter named Pixel (not so much for the Heinlein reference, although that was part of it, but more for the fact that he was a solid gray feral kitten that had wandered into her office and gotten stuck in a process camera).

        One time, he brought in a (somewhat misused) mouse and released it. It promptly ran under the couch, and Vickie was afraid that it would crawl into the couch and die there and she’d have to throw it away because of the smell. She picked up one end of the couch (I wasn’t home) and told Pixel to get the mouse. He eventually moved under the couch and recaught the mouse, staying under the couch despite any exhortations from Vickie.

        She lowered the couch slowly to get him to move, and he did – abandoning the mouse in the process. Vickie had to repeat the process several times before Pixel got the idea that she wanted him to take the mouse with him.

        • Our first Irish cat, a little grey tabby named Jenny, refused to hunt. We had one mouse who lived in the grill portion of the cooker when it wasn’t in the drawer at the bottom. One day we got totally sick of having to remove bread crusts and foil milk bottle tops from the grill every time we used it, and trapped the mouse in the corner under the cooker by removing the drawer. We grabbed Jenny and shoved her into the space. She crawled out, looked at the mouse, looked at us, looked at the mouse, and then with a disgusted “hmmph” went stalking off into the other room.

          We caught the mouse and took care of it.

          A few months later we found her flattened in the road near the graveyard, brought her home, buried her in the back yard, sniffled for a moment of two, and then sighed with relief. If she hadn’t gotten herself killed we would have had to have her put down shortly because she was a vicious little animal, but we couldn’t even give her away as a barn cat since she refused to hunt.

          The next evening, Gaston who was the local stray, was allowed to move in. There were suggestions that he had pushed her.

  20. The Bear – our ~15# long-haired black (fixed)male – has decided that his job is to protect whichever member of the pride is in bed but not asleep. When we get in bed, he will get between us but mostly lies against the alpha female until she(and I) are asleep.
    Then he goes down to the foot of the bed and stays there the rest of the night. Unless I get up in the middle of the night. Then he will come back up between us, and realizing that the alpha female is still asleep, will plop down against me.

    • Havey sits on my feet in bed and walks next to my feet, if I got to the bathroom. We call him Guardian of the Feet. Unfortunately this has resulted in more than one accidental kick to his little hollow head, which in turn makes a “thunk” sound.

      • My old cat “Hindy” (short for Hindenburg because he was a blimp and yes, I know it was a dirigible, not a blimp) would lay on my ankles if I let him in my room while trying to sleep. Since he weighted 32 pounds it put the emphasis on ‘trying’. I miss him, he adopted us when he was a stray in the neighborhood, he ended up living nearly 16 years.

        My previous room mates cat would crawl up and slobber on your shirt if you would lay down and then lick your eye lids when you tried to sleep. His name was Putz and he lived up to it.

  21. I should mention that he’s called Bear because he looks like small black bear. His incisors are so long that they poke into his lower lip when his mouth is closed. And his paws are about two inches across when he stretches them open. His file at the vet’s office makes note of these facts…

    • That sounds very like our Alice. Her paws are at least an inch wide just resting, and her nickname is “Fang Kitty”.

      It’s time to weight her again, though I think we’ll wait until after we shave her for the summer. It’s time because she’s beginning to look like a rasta kitty what will all the matts and incipient dreads on her belly.

    • I’ve seen people who train cats to do tricks and take them to schools and nursing homes to do little shows. Otherwise he may have a budding career as a pick-pocket if you can train him to fetch wallets and change purses. [This is a gedanken experiment. I am opposed to teaching innocent creatures to violate state and local statutes. Really.]