Cats Working Welcomes “The New Kid”

November 17, 2019

By Max and Roc

Roc: Since we lost Adele on September 12, I’ve made Max’s life hell. I didn’t realize how much I depended on Adele for company, even though I annoyed the shit out of her most of the time. Max was taking the brunt of my frustration and loneliness.

Max: Karen was devastated to lose Adele, who’d been here over a decade before I ever showed up, which was the very day after Adele lost her BFF Yul to kidney failure. I think she wrongly connected dots on those two events and always blamed me for Yul’s departure.

It was hard to live as Adele’s prey. Once she was gone, I finally felt free and loved it. Then Roc started hounding me constantly to wrestle, which we haven’t done since he was tiny and couldn’t beat me.

Roc: Karen put up with our scrapping for about six weeks before she found me a new friend going by the name Kappa, but whom we’ll call “The Kid” for now…

Max: The Kid and one brother were six weeks old and half dead when they were brought from Northern Virginia to the Richmond Animal League. There was no info on what happened to their mother. The Kid was malnourished, dehydrated, underweight, had ear mites, an upper respiratory infection and a heart murmur. The works.

RAL got him better and neutered him before placing him in a couple of foster homes. Then blood started coming out of his butt for no reason they could find.

Karen had hoped for a younger kitten; this one was nearly five months old now and on the verge of becoming a hard-to-place teen. But he was extroverted like Roc, so Karen decided he deserved a shot at a better life.

Karen had the Man Cave upstairs equipped for the slow introduction new cats are supposed to get. But once in the front door, The Kid shot out of his carrier and explored every inch of the house while Roc and I sat there going “WTF?” The Kid even ventured out on the beams!

To impress on you how dangerous this is, here’s our living room. For us big cats, it’s routine to leap from the beams to the kitty perch or the bookcases. It’s an Evil Knievel move for a kitten. (The Kid did fall off the middle beam soon after, but miraculously missed the furniture on the way down and didn’t miss a beat.)

Roc: The Kid and I were hanging out and playing within an hour of his arrival…

Max: With the heat off me, I could watch those two knuckleheads roughhouse from my comfy chair…

Roc: The Kid did spend his first night in the Man Cave just to calm him down. I spent the night camped outside his door to make sure he was OK. Who could resist this face?

Max: The next day, he wasted no time checking out Karen’s desk, where he learned how fascinating a cursor can be…

Roc: He jumped right in helping us keep tabs on the neighborhood from the big kitchen window…

Max: I even let him help me with squirrel patrol on the deck…

Roc: It was nice to have company at meals again…

We were getting along great, but I’ll admit I was surprised when The Kid followed me into the “locker room” to watch me do my “business!”

Max: Halloween night, Karen let him try a little ‘nip. I think he liked it…

Then we all joined him on the kitchen table to get in on the action…

Roc: The Kid soon revealed an intense interest in all things culinary. Karen can’t keep him off the counter. He has no fear whatsoever of the stove, on or off…

The Kid’s first Sunday, Karen made a big pot of chili, which he had to inspect…

He was also desperate to try her homemade beer bread. That’s right. Beer…

Max: The Kid can devour a 5.5 oz. can of Friskies Shreds in about two minutes (which means stealing Roc’s half). Karen hasn’t had a plate of food he hasn’t attacked since he got here. This morning he went after her breakfast…

I know it looks like a puke on a plate, but Karen said it was Potatoes O’Brien with a couple of eggs thrown in and it was delicious.

Roc: After breakfast, The Kid stole Max’s food (Max eccentrically eats in a mine field of Karen’s junk, the coffee table)…

Max: Karen bought The Kid “Da Bee,” a stick toy which was his favorite in his second foster home. He’s already on his second bee after demolishing the first one. This is Karen’s attempt to capture him playing cute with it…

She also tried for a nice portrait of him, but he preferred to look like he’s in Witness Protection…

Roc: He’s claimed the late Cole’s favorite teddy bear. The teddy seems happy to have a kitty again…

Max: The Kid’s got salt-and-pepper fur, a long, lanky physique, a daring and adventurous spirit, and a love of the kitchen, booze and cuisines feline and human, so we’ve named him…

Tony Bourdain


Cats Working Says Good-Bye to Adele

September 16, 2019

By Karen

I’m deeply saddened to report that Adele passed away on Thursday, September 12. She was 19 years and 5 months old, the last of the original Cats Working team who inspired my book, How to Work Like a CAT.

Without missing a beat in her routine until the very end, Adele became yet another victim of chronic renal failure, which she lived with for over two years. In her lifetime, she watched four “brothers” who were her world also succumb to CRF — Rex, Fred, Yul, and Cole.

Adele and Yul

This past spring, Adele also began developing a tumor on her neck. It didn’t hurt or bother her and seemed comparatively the least of her ailments, so she didn’t undergo any aggressive diagnosis or treatment for it.

Cole and Adele

Adele drove the daily agenda around here until her days slowly became more bad than good. When most foods lost their appeal (and we tried them ALL) and her meds weren’t helping, and even sleep didn’t bring much relief, we knew it was time to let her go while she still had her dignity. Her death was very peaceful.

Max and Roc are adjusting like a couple of rebels without causes to the newly quiet house and Adele’s empty favorite spots. They’re facing life for the first time since kittenhood without their etiquette coach and disciplinarian. They are better cats thanks to Adele’s tough love.

Max and Adele shared a bed

I’m missing my Delly so much, feeling the weight of accumulated grief from losing another decades-long companion to a scourge of epidemic proportions that veterinary medicine inexplicably seems to NEVER make any headway against. It’s taken me days to bring myself to write this and I’m in tears as I type.

Roc and Adele


A Cat’s 2019 Preakness Picks

May 17, 2019

By Adele

Stewards who threw the Kentucky Derby to 2nd-place finisher Country House flushed this year’s Triple Crown season down the toilet, but I’m pressing on to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.

Since the Derby, many in the racing community have worked up a righteous lather to justify humiliating Maximum Security by disqualifying his legitimate win. You’d think Max ran the race with switchblades on his shoes and cut every horse who dared get too close.

Adding further insult, Max’s jockey, Luis Saez, got belatedly suspended for 15 racing days for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course.” Yeah, whatever.

A typical suspension is about three days, so Saez is appealing it. But as it stands, the Belmont Stakes on June 8 is conveniently one of the dates he’s forbidden to ride.

Max’s owners have filed a federal lawsuit against the Derby stewards and members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, claiming his disqualification was unconstitutional because the Commission denies due process by claiming stewards’ decisions are final. Apparently, other states, like Louisiana, don’t share this “stewards are gods” stance.

But since neither Max nor Country House are in the Preakness tomorrow, all this human acid reflux is moot.

The Preakness field is only 13 horses. Let’s hope the track dries out (it’s been raining all week), they all keep to themselves and run straight as arrows so those stewards don’t get their panties in a bunch.

War of Will — whom Max allegedly tangled legs with to cause a massive chain reaction, the stewards alleged, that affected nearly every horse EXCEPT Country House — will be in post position 1 under the same jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. He ran 7th in the Derby, but is the second favorite with 4-1 odds. With Max out of the picture, this is War’s chance to show us he can do it.

Also running again is Improbable (new jockey, Mike Smith, 5-2, pp 4). He was one of my picks for the Derby and came in 4th, so I hope he places.

My pick to win is Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno, 8-1, pp 7). He wasn’t in the Derby, but has won his previous six races, so he’s accustomed to being out front. And, he’s trained by Kelly Rubley, who would be the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

Alwaysmining (Photo: Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun)

The only other horses back for more are Bodexpress (new jockey, John Velazquez, 20-1, pp 9, ran 13th in the Derby) and Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel, 15-1, pp 13, ran 9th in the Derby). The rest of the field is fresh horsefaces.

BONUS: Here’s WaPo’s long-time horse racing columnist Andrew Beyer’s take on the Kentucky Derby and why disqualifying Max based on what might have happened rather than what actually went down was dumb.


A Cat’s 2019 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 3, 2019

By Adele

People, between us, I’ve had a good run with the horses and thought last year was my last year. But since I just sailed through my 19th birthday on April 11, I’m happy to be here to kick off another Triple Crown season with the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

(Maybe Karen can forget how much she hates Trump while we watch the “greatest two minutes in sports” together.)

The odds-makers’ favorite was Omaha Beach, who got scratched the other day when his cough turned out to be an entrapped epiglottis. He had minor surgery this morning to remove a loose flap of skin in his throat and should be fine in a few weeks, but he’ll never wear the Triple Crown.

This leaves Omaha’s jockey, Mike Smith, also out of the Run for the Roses. Smith won the Derby last year on Justify and was hoping do make it a double.

Today, Haikal (Jockey Rajiv Maragh, odds 30-1, post position 11) got scratched because he has an abscess on his left front hoof. Since no more horses qualified for the Derby, only 19 will be running, and the 10 horses that were to Haikal’s left will shift over one post position so nobody runs against the rail.

Omaha Beach was trained by Bob Baffert, that guy always in white who looks like my Mini-Me, but Baffert has three other horses to spare, including the humans’ new favorite Game Winner (Joel Rosario, 9-2, pp 16), as well as Improbable (Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1, pp 6) and Roadster (Florent Geroux, 5-1, pp 17). If one of Baffert’s horses wins, it will be his sixth Kentucky Derby and tie him for trainer with the most wins in the race’s 145 years.

A Japanese horse came over this year. Master Fencer (Julien Leparoux, 50-1, pp 15) is considered the fourth best horse in Japan, and the only horse willing to make the long trip.

As for my picks, Improbable does look pretty good. Of five previous races, he won the first three and came in second in the two most recent. It’s time he chalked up a third-place finish.

Spinoff (Manny Franco, 30-1, pp19) is a long shot, but he’s never run slower than third, and he placed behind By My Standards (Gabriel Saez, 15-1, pp 4) in his previous race, so maybe Spin’s got an axe to grind. I’d be happy if he placed.

Maximum Security (Luis Saez, 8-1, pp 8) also looks promising, undefeated with four previous wins under his saddle. He’s my favorite to win.

But I can’t ignore Game Winner. He won the first four of his six previous races, and most recently placed behind Omaha Beach and Roadster. If he’s in the mood to race, he could be a problem.

The way Baffert likes to run his own horses against each other so much seems a bit twisted. I’ll bet he stirs up a lot of shit-talk in the stalls back at the stables.

As always, keeping paws crossed that all the horses cross the finish line safely. And may the best horse win.


A Cat’s Picks for the 2018 Kentucky Derby

May 4, 2018

By Adele

It’s time for another Run for the Roses at the Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

You can watch it on NBC from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. It’s all yak, hats, and juleps until the “most exciting 2 minutes in sports” happens at 6:50.

I had a hard time picking a favorite until I learned that Bolt d’Oro is a half-brother of Rachel Alexandra on his father’s (Medaglia d’Oro) side.

If you’ll remember, I was a Rachel groupie back in the day. Among her 13 career wins, in 2009, she crashed the Preakness and beat all the boys. These days Rachel devotes herself to pedicures and motherhood.

Bolt d’Oro pulled post position 11 and his odds are 8-1. He’s having a jockey switch to Victor Espinoza, and I’ve got paws crossed it doesn’t rattle him and he doesn’t notice his most recent jockey, Javier Castellano, sitting on Audible (pp 5, 8-1).

Bolt has unfinished business to settle with the Derby’s current favorite, Justify (pp 7, 3-1, jockey Mike Smith).

On April 7, Bolt and Justify both ran in the Santa Anita Derby. Justify pulled off a 3-length win and a 114 BRIS for speed.

(BRIS is a point scoring system for Kentucky Derby eligibility that Brisnet.com started six years ago. 114 is the highest score ever.)

Bolt came in second with a BRIS of 110, which also broke the record of 107 set by Audible just few weeks earlier.

So, this Derby is Bolt d’Oro’s big chance to make Justify find out what loser dust tastes like.

Bolt will come out of the gate right beside his half-brother, Enticed (pp 12, 30-1).

But Justify has the job of outrunning THREE half-brothers. Their father was Scat Daddy, who suffered a career-ending tendon injury in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, and sadly died at age 11 in 2015.

Justify’s bros are: Flameaway (pp 4, 30-1), Mendelssohn (pp 14, 5-1), and Combatant (pp 20, 50-1).

The horses I bet my fish flakes on to place and show are any of the half-brothers and offspring of Curlin, 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year. They are: Good Magic (pp 6, 12-1), Solomini (pp 17, 30-1), and Vino Rosso (pp 18, 12-1).

Solomini has been known to bump others (specifically, Instilled Regard, pp 15, 50-1) and got himself kicked back from first to third place in that race, so he may have to watch himself.

Vino Rosso may have the edge because his jockey, John Velazquez, won the 2017 Derby on Always Dreaming.

As always, may the best horses win and may they all cross the finish line safely.


A Cat’s Picks for the 2017 Preakness

May 20, 2017

By Adele

Since Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is running in the Preakness for his second jewel of the Triple Crown today (5 p.m. ET, NBC), this kitty would never pee on his parade and wish him not to win. He’s starting in post position 4 with jockey John Velazquez, and he’s the humans’ favorite with odds of 4-5.

The next horse I’ll be watching is one of my Derby picks, Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 6). Nobody’s talking about him as a serious contender, so he could be plotting to take the lead like a ninja and stun everybody. He’s had a jockey switch, and will under Mike Smith this time. His jockey in the Derby, Javier Castellano, will be aboard Cloud Computing in pp 2.

We haven’t spoken, but I would think Gunnevera is pleased with this development, since Castellano helped him come in 7th in the Derby.

My third pick is Classic Empire (odds 3-1, pp 5) with jockey Julien Leparoux. He was the humans’ favorite in the Derby, but finished 4th. I think he deserves a little glory this time for sticking with it.

Only 10 horses are racing, so the field won’t be too crowded. The weather at Pimlico is supposed to be cool, in the 60s, and cloudy, with no rain and a dry track. Basically, perfect conditions for the horses.

It so happens that my horses will be side by side in the middle of the pack in post positions 4, 5, and 6. The last horse who won from Always Dreaming’s 4 slot was Curlin in 2007.

As always, may the best horse win and may they all cross the finish line safely.


A Cat’s 2017 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 5, 2017

By Adele

It’s that time again! The 143rd Run for the Roses gets underway Saturday, May 6, on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET, with post time at 6:34. This kitty will be cheering for my favorites, although I confess that, during my research, no horse really jumped out and grabbed me from the full field of 20.

Classic Empire is the humans’ favorite (odds 4-1, post position 14) under jockey Julien Leparoux. On February 4, he ran 3rd after his Derby competitors Irish War Cry and Gunnevera, but it was discovered post-race that Classic Empire had a foot abscess, so his loss may have been a fluke.

He does come well-connected. His father is Pioneer of the Nile, who finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and his big brother is American Pharoah, who ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in 2015. Classic has run six previous races and won them all except his one 3rd-place finish, so I can see why hopes are high for him. But you know me. I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Classic last ran on April 15, so he may be a little tired.

Another big human favorite is Irish War Cry (odds 6-1, pp 17). He’s a son of Curlin, who was named Horse of the Year in 2007 AND 2007 (much to Big Brown’s disgust). His jockey is Rajiv Maragh, and he’s won two of his three previous races, but lost by 21 lengths to Gunnevera in the only race he ever blew.

Now, on to MY favorites. I’m not too picky about the order they cross the finish line, but I want their dust to be what the other 17 eat…

Tapwrit (odds 20-1, pp 16) I like just because. He’s trained by Todd Pletcher and won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. But he ran 5th in his most recent race on April 8. His jockey is Jose Ortiz. His father is Tapit, who ran 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. I know this pick seems totally wacko, but just trust me. I have a feeling.

Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 10), who already has a history of messing with many of his Derby competitors, is another one I’m watching. He’s run 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in four of his five previous races, winning most recently on March 4. His jockey is Javier Castellano.

And my solid favorite is Patch (odds 30-1, pp 20) because he’s the serious underdog. Another Pletcher horse, Patch injured and lost his left eye in a mysterious stable accident he’s never explained. He’s running on the far outside, so all the other horses will be on his blind side. Will that give him greater concentration, or will he bump into somebody as his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, tries to maneuver him closer to the rail?

Patch’s father is Union Rags, winner of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Patch has won only one race in his previous three, but came in a close 2nd April 1 at the Louisiana Derby, so there’s hope.

The Kentucky Derby is always the most exciting race of the Triple Crown because ANY horse has a shot at glory, so my tail is fluffed with anticipation. As always, we at Cats Working wish all the horses to be healthy and happy on race day and cross the finish line safely.


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