Monday, September 28, 2009

Books I Would Read If I Could, Part 2

Now while Aunt Michelle's book doesn't have any cats (or other pets) in it, there are some book series we like that do have cats in them that we like a lot.

The Midnight Louie mystery series by Carole Nelson Douglas. Our favorite series! Midnight Louie is a big black tomcat who thinks he's a private eye in the tradition of Sam Spade and Mike Hammer. He prowls the neon casinos, back alleys, and desert sands of Las Vegas, and solves mysteries for his "little doll," crack PR person Temple Barr who is torn between her love for the athletic magician and counter-terrorist Max Kinsella and the former priest-slash-radio talk show host Matt Devine. There are almost as many animal characters as humans, and Ms. Douglas has weaved an intriguing story arc into the individual books' plots.

While the self-contained mysteries often get shuffled into the background in favor of the romantic and personal entanglements, and the wordplay can be a bit much at times, Staffpurrson devours each one of these books as soon as they come out. There have been 22 books so far, the latest of which is "Cat in a Topaz Tango," and word has it that Ms. Douglas will solve the Big Mystery in the 28th book -- if she sticks to the alphabetical titles all the way through U, V, X, Y, and Z. (Still trying to figure out what color she'll find that begins with the letter "X".)

The Eve Dallas mystery series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts). While tough NYPD detective Eve Dallas and her filthy rich and incredibly talented husband Roarke (yes, just Roarke) are supposedly the stars of this series, my favorite character is their fat gray cat, Galahad. He made his presence known in the very first book, Naked in Death, by saving Lieut. Dallas from the murderer, and shows up periodically in the 30-plus books published since then. He was amply rewarded for his heroism with a lush life in Roarke's palatial mansion, cadging bacon from their plates, sleeping on top of Eve's naked bum, and getting along better than Eve does with Roarke's steely-eyed majordomo, Summerset. He may not show up as often as Midnight Louie -- after all, it's the Eve Dallas series, not the Galahad series -- but he's always welcome in my house.

Staffpurrson also used to read The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun, featuring KoKo and YumYum, and the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown, but he feels those have fallen off in quality in recent books. The early ones are still good reads, though. There's also Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion, who was featured in Tarzan and the Golden Lion by Edgar Rice Burroughs and shows up in some of that series' subsequent books. A most noble fellah is he.

Books I Would Read If I Could

See? I told you I would be back shortly.

My Staffpurrson's sister, Michelle Cameron, recently had her first novel published.

The title is "The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz." It's historical fiction, set in the 13th century, and it's about an ancestor of Staffpurrson's family, a renowned rabbi and Talmudic scholar, Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg. Now that may not sound very exciting, but the 1200s were an increasingly dangerous time for Jews in Western Europe. The book has suspense and romance and royal intrigue and desperate measures and death and love that endures. Plus poetry and historical events and figures.

Its greatest fault is that it lacks cats. I don't know why we got left out -- we had a rough time then, too, what with being unfairly associated with witches and all. So I give it only four stars.

Staffpurrson, however, says it deserves five stars because it's really well written -- Cameron is a published poet, so she knows how to craft beautiful sentences -- and very gripping, and the characters are compelling. Some people say Shira herself (about whom nothing is known because women were invisible to medieval chroniclers unless they were Eleanor of Aquitaine) is a bit passive, but she is true to history and she does fight in her own quiet way.

It's available at bookstores everywhere and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-million. And check out the author's Web site at

Aunt Michelle says her next novel will have a sacred Egyptian cat in it, but people need to buy this one to get that one published. So what are you waiting for?

Updates Coming Soon! Honest!

You know about those initial bursts of enthusiasm when you're doing something new, and then they burn out almost immediately?

This was a perfect example of that.

All I can say in my defense is that I find it easier to jabber in 140-character tweets. I'm a cat, after all. I have a short attention -- ooh, shiny!

Where was I? Oh, yes. Short attention span. At any rate, I promise I will post an update today. I've had an eventful summer with some things I'd like to share with you. I hope you find them interesting and informative.

Back shortly. Honest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Five Things I Love

Truth be told, I'm just a plain old cat. No exotic tastes, no peculiar habits, no cross-species love affairs. Merely a simple creature with simple tastes common to the vast majority of felines out there. Well, except for the Twitter addiction and this new blogging kick I'm on.

So the first Five Things I Love are not going to shock or appall anyone. In no particular order:

(1) Sunpuddles. I love to relax and snooze in a nice bright patch of sunshine on the bed or the sofa or the floor. One reason we decided to go with Staffpurrson is that his place has a lovely southern exposure and he likes to keep the blinds partially raised so that we get sunpuddles every sunny day, even when he's not home. And when that sunpuddle hits my fleece blanket on the bed dead-center, it's Nirvana and Utopia and Shangri-La all rolled into one. For at least five minutes.

(2) Staffpurrson's lap. It's an ideal spot. He lets me sit there for extended periods. He likes to stretch his legs out to maximize the floor space. He'll give me head and chin skritches while I'm there. And he minimizes the fidgeting and repositioning so that I don't get lapsick. What more could you ask for? (Well, he could hand-feed me bits of tuna and salmon jerky, but that's a subject for the next round of contract negotiations.)

(3) Water from the tap. Cold, oxygenated, loaded with minerals, fresh from the municipal pipeline, in a nice thin trickle perfect for lapping. That Drinkwell fountain with the 50-ounce reservoir in back? I use it to wash my paws. And don't even mention the ceramic bowl on the cat table in the kitchen that gets "fresh" water twice a day. If it's more than 5 minutes out of the tap, it's not fresh. I wonder if the water in the big white porcelain bowl tastes as good, but Staffpurrson keeps closing the lid and muttering something about "chlorine bleach" and "falling in and drowning." I hope that doesn't happen to him.

(4) The laser pointer. This both satisfies and frustrates me at the same time. I'm not sure how that can be, but it does. I use my laser-tracking vision power to keep it in sight at all times, and once it's less than a foot off the floor, I pounce. And yet... I can never catch it. But one day I will, and the fabric of space-time will tear and we'll all end up in some alternate reality where cats have goatees.

(5) Long stringy things. String is good. So is gift wrap ribbon, the plastic tie handles on garbage bags, rubber bands, twist ties, packing tape torn off shipping boxes, shoelaces, what have you. If a cat toy has a string on it, I don't care if it's the soft, chewiest mouse with the best catnip at the end of it -- I'm going for the string. Staffpurrson should be very glad he doesn't have dreadlocks.

This is not to say that I'm a complete idiot. I have no interest in those plastic covered cables and cords behind the computer desk and entertainment center. I can smell the electrons coursing through there, and I'd prefer that they not course through me. For which Staffpurrson is profoundly grateful.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Five Things I Hate

There are things I like, things I'm entirely indifferent to, and things I hate. Being a naturally vituperative fellow -- I would have made a great food critic, like that Antono Ego in Ratatouille -- I'm going to start with five of the things that I hate.

(1) Crazy cat people who have 28 or 57 or 105 cats in their home, which always seem to be less than 750 square feet -- every inch of which is ankle-deep in cat poop. What is the matter with you people? We cats like to be clean, we like to have our own territory, and we like to have some peace and quiet once in a while. We're not pack animals like dogs and ponies. Lions are the only cats that live in prides, and while you can saddle us with those godawful lion haircuts, we're not descended from Simba or Kimba or Marimba or whomever. So don't stuff 87 of us into a dirty old house, 'mkay? Get an aquarium and some fish. Then we'll do lunch.

(2) The veterinarian. You remember when you were a little kid, and you were just minding your own business, and your mom took you in the car, and you thought you were going to the park or the zoo, and you were all happy and excited, and you wound up in a cold white room on some weird bed-table, and a man in a white coat smiled at you, only it was more like an evil leer, and he promised that "this will just be a pinch" and OW WHAT WAS THAT and WHAT'S SWIRLING AROUND UNDER MY SKIN and MOMMY THAT HURTS, and Mommy just said, "It's OK, baby, it's for your own good"? Do you? It's like that for us at the vet, only for our entire lives. It may be for our own good, but we don't have to like it. By the way, I don't see you going to the doctor for the annual checkup or to the dentist for those semiannual cleanings like you're supposed to, h'mm?

(3) The cat carrier, because the only reason I've ever been stuffed in there is to go to the veterinarian. Not once have I ever been taken to the park or the zoo or even the pet store.

Staffpurrson had to go to War College to design this tactical op. First, he has to trick me into leaving the bedroom, because if I manage to get under the bed, it will take him at least 20 minutes with the mop to get me out from under there. But I'm also a sucker for breakfast, so I usually make it easy for him by following him to the kitchen. Then he runs back and shuts the bedroom door, and I'm toast. Then he chases me around the living room until I finally make a fatal error and literally back myself into a corner, at which point he snatches me up and carries me to the bathroom while my hind legs spin like helicopter rotors. Then he dumps me in the bathtub and closes the shower doors. I immediately go into yowl mode. (Not a full-throated yowl, mind you -- more of a smooth tenor whine.) Staffpurrson, his heart hardened against my tortured ululations, brings the carrier into the bathroom, upends it with the door at the top, and shuts the bathroom door. He opens the shower doors, grabs me under my front paws when I try to make a leap for freedom, and starts to stuff me into the carrier. Naturally I go spread-eagled. But after years of experience, he knows how to maneuver one hind leg inside and then the other, followed by the front legs. Using his hand to keep my head down, he slams that barred door shut, and my yowls subside to a resigned whimper that will continue unabated for about half an hour while he puts me in the car, drives me 10 minutes to the vet, and sits in the waiting room.

Staffpurrson used to have to wear an old leather jacket and work gloves for this op because I'm quite skilled with the hind-leg shivs, but I've mellowed enough in my middle age that he can wear civvies without being gored. I'm ashamed to admit that the last time we did this, I was feeling genuinely poorly and didn't even try to stay out of the carrier -- he just patted my heinie and I walked in. I believe they call that Stockholm Syndrome.

(4) The Dyson vacuum cleaner. I don't mind loud noises that much -- they just get my attention. But vibrations always bother the hell out of me. (I will whine nonstop whenever I'm traveling in a car.) So when I see Staffpurrson haul that Dysonsaurus out from the closet, I'm gone. If he starts in the living room, I hide under the bed. When he approaches the bedroom, I hide in the corner of the bedroom behind the computer desk. And when he finally brings it into the bedroom, I hit the wormhole button and blink into the living room and burrow underneath the canvas slipcover on the sofa. I'm a touch claustrophobic so as a rule, I do not like to burrow under blankets or towels -- but this is the one and only exception. And I will stay there for at least 15 minutes after the Dyson has been turned off and stored in the closet again. I've learned to tolerate the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, because it's low to the ground and doesn't move fast enough to catch me, but that Dyson belongs in the Tenth Circle of Hell.

(5) Serial killers, who almost always start their careers by torturing, mutilating, and killing cats. When you humans catch them, why do you even try to rehabilitate them? Just send them straight to the rendering plant. Believe me, you'll save yourself a lot of grief (and human lives) that way.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Enjoy the Annoy

Now just because Staffpurrson got instant approval in his job interview from Scully, and he's stuck around on his day-to-day contract for 10 years now, that doesn't mean we don't have to keep him constantly on his toes and show him, every day, just who's boss around here. I have a variety of motivational tools that I like to use:

(1) If there's a glass on the table, knock it to the floor. It's best if it's full of orange soda or some other brightly colored liquid that will leave a nice stain on the carpeting.
(2) If there's a newspaper being read, sit down in the middle of it. Interestingly enough, Staffpurrson, who's in the newspaper business, stopped reading newspapers after 45 years and now does it entirely on-line. I'm working on eliminating the magazines now.
(3) If his right hand is working the computer mouse, and the left hand is entirely free, insist on having his right hand provide skritches and belly rubs. If he keeps putting me on his lap and using his left hand, immediately vacate the lap, sit in front of the computer, and bat and nudge the right hand. Do this until you're thrown out of the room and then pretend that was your intent all along.
(4) Eat way too fast and promptly deposit the entire meal onto the carpet or rug. If you occasionally slip up and hit the wood flooring instead, there's always the next meal.
(5) Develop a taste for digital hearing aids that cost $3K and high-quality eyeglasses that cost $600. Staffpurrson has had to learn to put his eyes and ears in his nightstand drawer and make absolutely sure it's closed tight. The 3-4 times over 10 years that he's forgotten -- well, that's why he has insurance.
(6) If Scully is sitting in his lap, getting petted, immediately dash over and start nudging her in the butt. Then when she gets up and leaves, immediately walk off and ignore Staffpurrson. Or start sniffing his face with the nose that was just up Scully's butt.
(7) Eat one brand of kibble or wet food for 5 years and then decide in one day that it's no longer suitable. Make Staffpurrson provide samples of at least 10 new varieties before picking one.
(8) Refuse any treat that has been sitting in its reclosable package for more than 3 days. If it's not absolutely fresh, it's garbage, right?

These are all highly effective techniques. And if I derive no small measure of enjoyment in doing them, well, that's just a win-win for all concerned. OK, perhaps just a win-win for me.

Remember, humans did not domesticate cats. We domesticated them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Places to Go Before I Sleep

In my previous post, you will notice two honey-colored blankets behind me. Recently Staffpurrson stacked one on top of the other, and BING! My second-favorite sleeping spot. The house statistician claims that I spend 62.8% of my sleep time sitting, reclining, or snoozing on these blankets.

They are Columbia Solid Pique Fleece Throws. Staffpurrson bought his from Amazon last December, but they're out of stock now. He says they are currently available at for about $21. I recommend them to any cat that likes a warm and cozy blanket.

The remaining 37.2% of my sleep time is spent in a variety of places:

(1) On Staffpurrson's lap, depending upon Staffpurrson's mood. I may be his boss, but he's bigger than me.
(2) Under the bed, usually in the middle by the wall, where Staffpurrson can't reach me.
(3) On the cotton coverlet on the bed, when I feel the need to cool off rather than warm up.
(4) On the living roof sofa, which has a cooling canvas slipcover.
(5) In the round foam cat bed, lined with an old quilt, on one of the dining room chairs.
(6) In Scully's Amazon tower -- three boxes, stuffed with old clothes and stacked on top of each other -- that's lined with an old cotton towel.

When I'm really, really ticked off at Staffpurrson -- something that has happened only twice in 10 years, both times after dental surgery -- I will back myself into the deepest, darkest corner of the bedroom closet, underneath the winter clothes and behind the dress shoes. That is where I will make my last stand. Until dinnertime, anyway.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Plague Rat Everyone Can Love

I want to show off one of my favorite new toys. It is a Plague Rat, although it is more lovingly referred to among Cats Who Twitter as a Plague Ratsie. It is hand-crafted in England by Sally Pointer using linen, wool, and leather. It has two secret ingredients that drive me stark raving bonkers: catnip (the usual suspect) and valerian root (not so usual), which gives it a uniquely pungent scent. I love to lick it, kick it, bite it, bat it around, and tuck it under my body so that Scully can't get to it. It's delish.

I won mine in a Twitter contest, but us Yanks can buy them at for $6.99. (Just google Plague Rat Cat Toy.) I recommend it highly. Scully would, too, if she could stop biting it long enough to say so. (See below.)

Now pardon me while I go find that sucker and give it a good once-over.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Heaven on Earth

Just one more quick post for my first day, to show you my favorite spot in the entire world. You can't beat this.

Now I'm going to assume this position for my 13th nap of the day.

Who I Live With, Where I Come From

I have a female kitteh for a housemate. Yes, her name is Scully. Yes, that was another one of Staffpurrson's "inspired" ideas. Sigh. She looks sweet, doesn't she? Appearances can be so deceiving.

We were both rescued from a small house in Brooklyn, N.Y., on St. Patrick's Day in 1999. Scully was the one who picked Staffpurrson by jumping up on the kitchen counter, walking right up to him, and yowling very loudly. I was a little more hesitant -- I hid behind four pieces of furniture before the rescue people scooped me out. But once I met Staffpurrson, I knew he was the perfect dupe, er, staff for us. Even if he is part of the Bridge & Tunnel crowd.

"X-Kitteh? What's That?"

I should point out that I am an "X-Kitteh" because I am named after Fox Mulder, the lead character in the "X-Files" TV series.

Why? I have a very large nose, like the actor who played Mulder, and Staffpurrson thinks my coloration is reddish-brown, like a fox's.

Don't blame me if you can't see the resemblance. This was Staffpurrson's idea. That contract I mentioned gives him naming rights. You can bet the next contract will be different.

Greetings and Salutations and Where's My Tribute?

Hi, this is my blog. I know -- astonishing, isn't it? A cat. Blogging.

Truth be told, I'm not actually doing the blogging. My Staffpurrson is. I dictate to him telepathically, even when I'm sleeping. He types it up for me, does all the uploads and stuff, and gets me online.

For this, I grant him the honor and privilege of holding me in his lap, giving me belly rubs and skritches, and cleaning out the LB (litter box). Occasionally he seems less than appreciative, especially if I've horked up some food on the carpeting, but he always comes around in the end. I have him on a day-to-day contract, anyway -- if he gets too uppity, I can always hire someone else.

I'm glad you found my blog, and I hope you'll stick around for my witty bon mots and trenchant commentary on things feline and human.