Tag Archives: cats

In fifteen minutes, it will be time to feed the cats

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I have no ideas for a fresh blog post. That’s why I typed the header about the cats. Right now, none of my three cats are anywhere. They lurk. I think they actually have a Narnia-wardrobe somewhere in the house and disappear for voyages on the Dawn Treader with Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Prince Caspian.

Fine, maybe they’ll start writing sage and quasi-luminous posts in exchange for their four squares a day.

[time passes as I wonder how many people reading blogs today know what four squares a day means.]

In ten minutes, it will be time to feed the cats. I’ll probably get to the kitchen on time because I’ve decided that those who don’t know what “four squares a day” means can Google it.

I thought perhaps I’d announce a book sale or an Amazon giveaway. Tomorrow, I think. Watch my twitter account (https://twitter.com/MalcolmCampbell) for notices. That’s where I mention Amaon giveaways because those come and go way too fast for a WordPress post.

The lights just flicked. One thing about being hard of hearing means that I don’t hear rain. The weather radar, which is showing red for this part of the county, indicates it’s raining like hell outside. Who knew?

Maybe that’s why the cats are missing. They’re under a bed or a couch.

[time passes while I go look outside]

I hope the weather radar liars got their pay docked today. It’s not yet raining like hell outside. But now that I wasted time going to look, I’m probably going to be late feeding the cats.

It’s what they’ve come to expect. I don’t know about you, but just looking at the photograph of their dinner makes my mouth water.

Keep watch on that twitter account tomorrow for some great giveaways.

–Malcolm

 

Frankly, I think the hairball express is worse than the karma train

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For one thing, one can never be sure when (or if) the karma train has arrived. The hairball express leaves evidence.

If you’re a cat person–and by that, I don’t mean you’re a cat who turned into a person–you know what that evidence is. If you’re not a cat person, it’s better that you don’t know.

Cat people notice that when the hairball express stops, it’s more likely to be on a rug or a couch than on a tile or linoleum floor. It often stops at night: this means you step in what it’s left for you.

Some people “own” thee cats. This means the hairball express stops more often because the cats get together and set up a schedule so that–basically–the house has full coverage. That means more hairballs in more places at more times, than normal. In this case, less is never more. More is more and when there’s an epidemic, more often becomes the new normal.

That is, one expects to find a mess when they first wake up, whenever important company have come by for dinner, or while one is praying that the hairball express will stop at somebody else’s house. The people we have in mind when we create such prayers are those who keep missing the karma train.

You know who those people are. They have all the money and/or play hideous music on their car radios at midnight with the windows open. There’s more than enough trailer trash scum whose lives cry out for a visit from either the karma train or the hairball express to make things easy for the fates when they decide who’s gonna get it tonight.

I’ve sent countless e-mails to my cats explaining that hairballs are better left in the litter box than on: (a) my living room recliner, (b) the magazine that came in today’s mail, (c) my pillow, or (d) the first edition of the Gutenberg’s Bible that I was planning to take to the Antique’s Roadshow. I can here it now: “Malcolm, with this cat puke on it, the book is worth $37.50. Without the cat puke it would sell, at auction, for $1000000000000000000.”

I’m writing this post because the hairball express has been stopping by our house 4-5 times every 24 hours. This tells me somebody’s put a hex on my house or my cats. I will find you. And when I do, you’ll probably find a cow patty covered with gravy on your dinner plate after you’ve eaten half of it (the patty, not the plate).

Frankly, I think it should be obvious to everyone whether they’re named Frank or something else, that the basic design of cats needs to be tweaked so that there are fewer hairballs. Learning to clean themselves with a sponge rather than a tongue might be a start. Or, perhaps, strong stomach acid that works like Drano so that they don’t swallow a handful of fur and then throw it up on my brand new LL Bean shirt. Bean probably voids my lifetime guarantee on the shirt for such perils as cow patties, meadow muffins, and hairballs.

Look, one reason I signed on to be a cat person rather than a dog person is this: dogs have to do their business outside. That means somebody has to come home or wake up to let the dog out. Cats are supposed to do their business in the litter box. But no amount of training seems to get through to them that hairballs belong in the litter box. My wife and I try to set a good example by never throwing up on furniture or pillows or priceless heirlooms.

All that is lost on the cats. In fact, if you’re a cat person, you already know that–except for expediency–everything is lost on cats.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell promises you that when you read “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” you won’t find any hairballs in the story.

I gotta ask, ‘whose chair is this?’

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Every morning it’s the same.

chairwithkatyAfter the kitties are fed and the dishwasher is emptied, I find something figuratively described as breakfast and pour a cup of Maxwell House coffee which will be good to the last drop. Katy, a big-boned or a fat calico (depending on who’s describing her) follows me around while I do this.

Then I take the “breakfast” and coffee to my den. Katy follows. If I forget something, like my glasses, she follows me back to the kitchen while I retrieve them and returns with me to the den like a dog who’s just passed an AKC utility obedience trial and merits as CDX designation.

However, were the trial judge to follow us into the den, s/he would discard the CDX one nanosecond after Katy occupies 55% or more of my desk chair. Katy stays there until dinner, ebbing and flowing–one might say–to occupy smaller or larger portions of the chair. Sometimes, I feel like I’m about to be evicted and say, “Katy, I gotta ask, whose chair is this?”

She thinks it’s her chair. Well, that figures.

Malcolm

 

Feds close cat boot camp

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from the archives;

Albino County, October 20, 2009–Drill Instructor Boots Anderson slips quietly into barracks #3724 five minutes before Reveille on a cool Texas morning. The humidity is 68%, the pressure is 30.05 inches, the dew point is 56 degrees, and the 100 felines at the Albino County Rat Army Boot Camp are blissfully sleeping in the calm before the storm.

Anderson scowls at the mess, the random hairballs, the shredded up bunks, the tipped over litter boxes, the complete lack of military grade standards of cleanliness and ambiance, “as though a tornado hit the freaking place during the long hours between taps and dawn,” he muses poetically.

catsAnd then it hits. Anderson slings the open, CinchSak (R) 39-gallon lawn and leaf bag of empty cat food cans against the wall. Two hundred eyes pop open, one hundred pairs of ears go back, growls, snarls echo throughout the austere structure. Manx cats comprise company 816, so the denizens can’t turn tail and run, opting for caterwauling instead, the kind that makes Anderson’s skin crawl as though he’s covered in fire ants, the nasty buggers.

“Atten-HUH,” bellows Anderson, though it does little good. He hates himself when he resorts to trickery, but the corps demands it or Manx Company is not going to be wearing cat’s pajamas on graduation day. So, he puts a smile in his voice when he utters the disgusting words, “Food Time! Would my pretty little kitties like an itty bitty ditty bad of treats?”

The cats assemble smartly in the long center aisle between the rows of bunks. Their bearing is is straight and true like those perfectly posed goddess-style cats in art from ancient Egypt.

“So you’re not a lost cause after all, you lousy, good-for-nothing curs, you miserable excuses for ratters, you sloppy-as-dogs critters, you alleyway varmints. You Siamese.” He adds that for good measure, knowing it’s a low thing to say to a Manx.

At this moment (05:25 central), the emergency doors at the far end of the building are kicked open and the Feds, damn their lousy timing, crash into the room with assault rifles, mace, snarling dogs straining on leashes, and enough spotlights to make the cats’ eyes look like his chaotic collection of old marbles before his brother lost them to Dexter Smith in the school yard before the cat got his tongue.

“General Mark Sirius, Homeland Security SWAT Tsar,” shouts the dog-eared fat officer who rolls into the room like like a basset on a acid.

“Are you serious?” yells Anderson.

“If you don’t believe me, read my name tag, you wussie cat lover. We’re shutting down this operation until we sort through the litter and totally understand what kind of shit you people are into in this county.”

“Do you have a warrant?”

“Warrant, why would I need a warrant when I’ve got guns, dogs, mace and the Patriot Act backing me up? Stand down, I say, for Mark Sirius is sitting in the cat bird seat today.”

“It’s a little late for that, General, the cats bugged out when you busted in,” says Anderson.

“What the hell?” Sirius doesn’t look like a cute doggy in the window now. “How did they manage that?”

“Training, General, plus they got those little cat feet; they slipped out like fog.”

“Cats or no cats, we’re shutting you down. For one thing, it just ain’t right, even in Texas. I know what you’re thinking, Anderson. You’re thinking all we do at Homeland Security is make life difficult for honest, everyday people. Not by a long shot. We’ve been studying cats, from cat dancing to catamounts to catacombs.”

“So what,” says Anderson, grinning like a Cheshire cat that’s starting to fade into the woodwork.

“I’ll tell you what, mister smiley face, you organize cats, you gotta a catastrophe. You think you can control them, but you can’t. You whistle and they keep on disobeying your commands, telling secrets, spying, sneaking in under the radar. That’s just anarchy, the kind of cat’s cradle trap our enemies are waiting for us to get our fat paws stuck in while our pants are down.”

Sirius is stoked like a cat on a hot tin roof, but he’s not wagging his tail now because Anderson has faded away into the Texas morning, a morning when the winds are gusting to 23 mph, a morning when the old general should head to the dog house early and hang his head while his masters tell him Sirius is a bad puppy for not putting all those cats in a great big hat and bringing in for questioning.

Anderson laughs from a nearby tree. Once the FEDs leave, it will be back to business as usual. All he has to do is open a can of tuna and the troops will pass in review, soon, if not smartly, the sorry flea-bitten strays.

-30-

Memories of that First Cat

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When I was a kid, I read The Hound of the Baskervilles and immediately became a “dog person.” I imagined becoming a famous writer who would live on an immense estate protected by supernatural and potentially unfriendly deer hounds.

Needles-Stairs-Xmas79My fiancée informed me I was going to become a “cat person.” Other than the expedient fact that she was a cat person, the practicalities of the matter were that large hounds don’t fit well in apartments. They need, if not moors, large yards.

So, about 30 years ago Needles became our cat because (a) a friend’s cat had a litter and the friend didn’t need more cats, and (b) the cat would prove one way or the other if I was “marriage material.” Needles got his name because he had sharp claws and, of all of our cats over the years, his temperament was probably the closest to the hound of the Baskervilles.

I could tell stories, but this is a family blog.

StockingsXMAS79Needles lived a long and adventurous life in Georgia, from Rome to Marietta to Smyrna to Norcross. When he crossed the rainbow bridge he was ancient. His final resting place is the farm where we now live just outside of Rome.

My wife likes to tell people that when Needles first arrived in our lives, I had a “what the hell do I do with that thing” kind of attitude. In my defense, I didn’t know nothing about no cats and didn’t know what they wanted or why they randomly freaked out and clawed the hell out of my arms. They’re possessed, I think, by random malevolences that haunt most neighborhoods.

Needles liked his blanket. He thought that no matter what infraction he committed (such as grabbing my ankle when I walked through a dark room), he was free and clear if he could just get back to that blanket. It was like home plate or a safe house.

Lesa and Needles in 1979

Lesa and Needles.

We had a deck at the Norcross town home that got so hot on sunny afternoons, we couldn’t walk out there in bare feet. Needles could lie out there for hours. Go figure.

By then I had learned that cats sleep 16 hours or more a day and thought (a) what a life, and (b) that at least they couldn’t jump out of dark shadows while they were asleep.

Bottom line, Needles was a hoot and somehow with him I passed the test and my fiancée and I were married in 1987 in a small ceremony in the living room of the friends who gave us our first cat.

My only regret is that saying “release the cats” doesn’t sound as cool as saying “release the hounds.”

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell learned enough from Needles, Black Kitty, Orange Kitty, Marlo, Duncan and Katy to write a novella with a cat as a major character: “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

Sick cat = sleepless night

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KatyInChairOur large calico cat named Katy is, in her estimation, queen of the household, ruling the other two cats.

She spends a lot of the day squeezed in behind me on my large swivel desk chair.

A week or so ago, my wife had a roller pan filled with blue paint for a hallway touch-up project. Katy participated in this project by jumping into the paint and then running throughout the house on the light-colored carpet.

Clean-up consisted of applying many cleaners, potions, traditional spot removers and elbow grease to the blue cat prints that adorned the hall and living room.

The noisier part of clean-up, that included my getting scratched up and listening to howling, consisted of scrubbing the blue paint off her feet in the sink before she licked it off and got sick.

Time went by until a night ago when she either had one heck of a hairball, was finally reacting to the paint she got too before we did, or somehow got into one of the other fix-up the house products such as the spackle. (She seemed more interested in the spackle than necessary.)

She is the hairball queen, but after a little too much throwing up and a refusal to east, we filled her mouth with the gooey anti-hairball product we call gat goop. Katy doesn’t like cat goop and resents people prying open her mouth and putting dollops in there in such a way that she can spit them back out.

The paint looked worse on the carpet than it does in this quick photo

The paint looked worse on the carpet than it does in this quick photo

She did in the dark afterwards behind a rocker after that, always a sign that a cat is either spooked or sick. She was still hiding the next day and turned up her nose at food. I kept checking on her until 3:30 a.m., after which my wife checked on her. A hairball is one thing, a blockage or something acting on her like a poison is another. Can’t ignore that and hope for the best for long.

Finally, yesterday, she at a little food again, became responsive instead of zoned out, and sat in my lap while we were watching “Master Chef.”  (Anything to do with food or that can be turned into food gets her attention.) Today, she’s squeezed in behind me again in my desk chair.

It’s nice to see her back to her old self even though she’s also back to trying to hog food and tell the other two cats (as well as us) what to do.

–Malcolm

With three cats in the house, and many before them, I’ve had plenty of models for writing my novella in progress called “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

The silent pressure of cats

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Duncan, Katy and Marlo

Duncan, Katy and Marlo

Domestic house cats are like often water, opting for slow and silent pressure rather than overt fire and brimstone approach of other pets when food time is approaching (and possibly forgotten by the two-leggeds in the house).

Our three house cats noticeably become more friendly as regular mealtimes approach. They lean against our legs when we walk through the house. They make little murping noises and rub against doorjambs and table legs in our presence.

But mostly, I can tell how close it is to their next meal by how close they are to my desk. When mealtime is 45 minutes away, they’re in the hallways. When it’s 20 minutes away, they’re outside my den door–or just inside it. When mealtime is imminent (or late) they’re right next to my desk. Sometimes I say, “Why are y’all going around in a pack” and they look at me with a variety of expressions of pity and disdain–their way of saying, “the old duffer doesn’t know how to tell time any more” and “Sure, when he wants something to eat, he just goes out to the refrigerator and gets it, but we have to wait because the Creator screwed up and didn’t give us the thumbs we need to open stuff.”

If cats could speak English, I’m sure they’d say, “Raccoons got thumbs and we didn’t. What kind of sense does that make?”

My answer would be, “They wash their food and you don’t. You don’t need thumbs.”

“If we had thumbs, we’d wash our food.”

Far be it from me to question why cats don’t have thumbs. If they did, food time for them would probably be 24/7 because (unlike what some cat books say), cats do overeat if the food is available.

But since it isn’t, I can set my watch by how close they are to my desk. Since they just got fed 25 minutes ago, they’re nowhere to be seen. Once they have their food, they have no use for me any more until 11 p.m. approaches. Then, I’m suddenly their best friend, the best thing since slice bread, or even a minor god (though not a smart god due to their lack of thumbs).

The cats who–as we know–move around on little cat feet like fog know how to use silence to exert pressure. Like the water that slowly erodes rock over time, they erode my concentration over time. I could be in the middle of writing the last line of the great American novel. But I can’t, because I can’t come up with the right words due to the sound of silence all around my desk.

Malcolm

LandBetweenCoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy, paranormal short stories, and the three folktales about animals in “The Land Between the Rivers.”