Max Discovers His Winter Retreat

September 20, 2022

By Karen

Being a confirmed kitty of habit, throughout our brutally hot and humid Virginia summer Max has split his time between his Max Cave upstairs or the rocker down in the living room.

Over a year ago, my sister gave me a bed neither of her cats wanted. I’ve left it everywhere but the bathroom: on the Man Cave floor and sofa, on MY bedroom floor and bed, my closet floor, and most recently on the big living room chair that Tony once claimed, but no dice. NOBODY would even give that bed a try.

I don’t get it. It’s super-cushiony, covered with long soft “fur,” and just the right size. NONE of their other beds are this inviting.

But the bed’s prospects did a complete 180 last week after Max and I shared the trauma of his annual vet checkup.

The practice has a brand-new vet fresh out of school, whom they billed as interested in cats. I requested her, thinking she might be more cat-savvy than our usual vet, who’s always struck me as a dog person.

Big mistake. She was not good. At all. Max didn’t need shots, so she just listened to his heart and lungs and said they sounded good. His blood work last year (age 10) was fine, so she said we could skip it.

I asked if she’d checked his ears, and she replied that she saw some stuff and if he’d been bothered by it. I said no, so she left it there. I guess a $55 visit doesn’t cover a couple of Q-tips.

I’d brought a stool sample, which came up “negative” ($42).

Never again with the poop ripoff. Last time I had a cat with a parasite, it was Rex with a tapeworm back in the ‘80s.

I also brought up Max’s teeth, which have never been cleaned. She said he has “some” tartar and the front desk would give me an “estimate,” which is always “worst case,” just so clients aren’t surprised later.

An estimate? Max could use a scaling, he doesn’t need his transmission rebuilt, FFS.

OMG. The “estimate” was a full page describing teeth cleaning as a full-blown, all-day surgical procedure, complete with X-rays.

If all goes well and it’s just scaling: $950.

The estimate also said the vet recommended “2-4 extractions” (what happened to “some tartar”!!??), which would EACH run $200-$300 EXTRA.

So, “worst case” (4 extractions) would be: $2,150.

Oh, and the vet had only one cat, whom she didn’t name or seem particularly fond of.

Then when Max and I staggered out of that den of extortion, my car’s key fob suddenly wouldn’t open the doors, but the locks went crazy, and I spent 10-15 panicked minutes trying to us into the car.

When we finally got home, Max ran straight to MY BEDROOM (where he hasn’t been in many months) and spent the rest of the day on the desk. He was freaked out, too.

I know this is a long lead-in, but later that night after we’d both calmed down…

Max was sitting on the couch with me, and I decided to try one more time and put that fuzzy new bed at the end of the couch.

VOILA!…

Here’s an aerial shot I took from the balcony the next morning…

Max’s been hanging out there from morning meditation until after I go to bed. During the night, he goes up to the Man Cave for a poop and a nosh.

Max totally relaxes during evening TV time with me nearby. Here’s his stretch we call Starboard (right side, for landlubbers), one leg…

Starboard, double leg…

Port (left), one leg…

Port, double leg…

Roc and Tony have noticed there’s a hot new ticket in the house, but so far, neither have challenged Max for possession…

“It’s about time those two accept who’s man of THIS house!”

Roc’s even happy to bask in the sunny spot on the floor and let Max have his bed…

“Is it wicked of me to pretend Roc is lying there in a coma?”

With one of my crazy little pillows (that keep cats from scratching the couch back), Max sums it up…

“And a home without cats is no home at all.”

PS: Happy ending to the lock subplot: My sister’s amazingly handy boyfriend fixed the locks with a cheap, simple part as my birthday present!


Tony Bourdain (the Cat) Confidential

August 22, 2022

By Karen, with Tony’s permission

Our wild child Tony B. is letting me share more intimate details of his lifestyle with you.

But first, let’s correct misconception about this angelic face. Tony is neither cuddly nor a cuddler. He allows a daily designated time to display affection (keep reading), and that’s it. His demeanor toward me is cordial and mostly respectful, but I sense he’s always aware of maintaining his personal space.

Although fully equipped to shred, he’s not one to flash claws and scratch in anger. But he will bite if you pet him — hard enough to make a point, but not draw blood. It’s probably a hand phobia from his earliest kittenhood when he had lots of medical issues, and we’re still working to overcome that.

Otherwise, he’s extremely sensitive and gentle. If he wants something, he’ll pat my leg with a soft paw, never claws. He totally understands boundaries. If he’s engaged in mischief and I firmly say “Tony, no,” he backs right off and looks concerned that he offended me.

Mornings, Tony seems to know the second I wake up. He has a signature move to signal his arrival, which is to flap his huge bat ears. Only Tony’s ears make that distinctive sound.

Then he leaps onto the bed to knead his favorite blankie, kept there so I can lure him in for a few minutes of “Pet Practice.” When he’s all kneaded out, he’ll settle quietly beside me and let me pet him without biting.

If he lasts five minutes, it’s a win, and it’s the only time we spend affectionately together all day.

He enjoys scoping out the neighbors from the big kitchen window…

“Hmm… hope that little human doesn’t pee on our bushes like the dogs do.”

Being a highly private cat, Tony recently staked out a me-space in my closet that the late Adele preferred in her final months. I put a bed in there fearing he might never return because I had intruded, but he seems to appreciate it…

“At times a kitty needs to get away from it all. And by ‘all,’ I mean Roc.”

The Man Cave Café (a.k.a. bathroom) recently got a new lounge…

“No, I haven’t leaked my butt all over the tub. I’m on a rug, silly!”

Since I used Gerber baby food a few years ago to trick Max into taking meds for a cold, Max gets a spoonful of chicken or turkey for breakfast, the only wet food he’ll touch. Tony never fails to materialize on the counter as soon as he hears the clink of the little spoon I use because he has to lick it clean. It’s his special little treat, and he never asks for more or tries to steal Max’s. He has a highly developed sense of fair play.

When I do my Calm app meditation, once Max vacates, Tony will occasionally drop by. As gentle as he is, he has no qualms about walking all over me, which would include my face if it’s in his path…

“Are we meditating yet?”

On this day, he immediately lost interest in me, sauntered over to Roc napping by the sliding door, who told him to scram. When Tony returned, you can see the second he realized I was filming him, which always makes him self-conscious. You can catch his meow if you listen closely…

The gray kitty perch has become Tony territory (he lets Roc maul the sisal posts), where he hangs out most evenings while we watch TV…

“Nothing like a little nap before bedtime.”

Other times, Tony throws himself on the floor as if he wants his belly rubbed, but I know he’s bluffing…

“Come on, it’s so cute. Rub it. You can trust me.”

Before we all head off to bed, Tony enjoys a snack of graham crackers [Note: HONEY grahams only; cinnamon is very bad for cats]…

“My sweet tooth MUST be fed!”

I think Tony sleeps upstairs with Max on the Man Cave sofa because maybe it feels cooler right by the window during our steamy nights…

“Downward Cat pose always gives me the best dreams.”

Max Discovers the Joys of Meditation

June 28, 2022

By Karen

Of all the cats ever on the Cats Working crew, Max has always been the most soft-spoken and reclusive, preferring the privacy of his Man Cave to shooting his mouth off on the blog or romping around with Roc and Tony.

But lately, Max has gotten quite a bit more sociable, now spending most days hanging out with the guys in the living room. (One reason could be that it feels about 10 degrees cooler downstairs in the summer.)

Evenings after dinner, he’s even been joining Roc and me on the couch to watch some tube.

On my iPad I have this app called Calm. I rely on it to keep my head from exploding from all the terrible things happening these days.

I’ve been devoting about 30 minutes every morning to daily meditations with Calm’s Jay Shetty, Jeff Warren and Tamara Levitt. (Tamara’s voice is so smooth and relaxing, it could melt diamonds.)

Max has noticed my ritual, and you know there’s nothing cats love better than a good ritual. Now, as soon as Max realizes I’ve “assumed the position” on the couch, he shows up for some TLP (tender loving petting).

“I see you’ve got two hands free. What are you waiting for?”
“Yeah, right there, where that pesky collar used to be.”
“The top of my head can never get enough attention.”
“Now help me work this crick out of my neck.”
“Don’t forget to scritch my neck on all sides.”
“Do you really find the sound of these people babbling relaxing?”

I got two clips of Max in action. Here’s the first one…

And more. This is actually the cutest one…

Max confesses he wonders why Tamara tells me to, “Notice the paws at the beginning of the inhale,” and “Notice the paws at the end of the exhale,” because people don’t have paws.

Another thing I’ve started doing lately is, after scooping out the litterboxes, I smooth the litter perfectly flat like a Zen garden. It gives the kitties a tranquil place to do their business, and footprints in the litter let me know they’ve left some new buried treasure for me to scoop.

“Meditation is great! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”

BONUS: I recently came across this thing called ASMR, and these videos are the most relaxing sounds EVER. The Sara Coromo videos are my favorite, but there are sounds for everyone out there. Here’s a short sample…


Happy 3rd Birthday to Our Own Tony B.

June 6, 2022

By Roc (with Max observing)

The world may celebrate D Day today, but here at Cats Working, we celebrate T Day.

Our little bro, Tony Bourdain, is already three years old. Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday Karen surprised us with this scrawny 5-month-old kitten who tore through the place like a Tasmanian Devil. Here he is during the 10 seconds Karen got him to wear a collar…

“Do you think my body will ever catch up with my ears?”

Here he is today (well, yesterday), his own little man-kitty, staking his claim to the bed so Karen couldn’t finish making it, just like I taught him…

“There’s nothing like lying on clean sheets I didn’t have to lick myself.”

He also likes to hang out with our resident trolls…

“Trolls’ names (L-R) are Phillip, Per and Gunnar. Karen says don’t ask her why.”

He’s still being really cautious about trying out Karen’s sisal handiwork on the kitty perch, even after I demonstrated for him how sturdy it is by dangling from the dangles…

“See, Tony? This new stuff feels GREAT on your pads!”

Thanks to this being his special day, Tony and I got bacon for breakfast. Max wasn’t interested. Next in our daily routine is making Karen open the window — in all weather — so Tony and I can make sure the neighborhood wildlife isn’t doing anything perverted in our yard…

“With the plant stand behind me, I feel like a mighty jungle kitty lurking in the underbrush, ready to POUNCE!”

Later, when Karen goes upstairs to start her workday, Tony always beats her to the balcony and leaps onto the perch as if he’s always been there. On this day, he spooked her with this calculating look…

“She’ll wonder all day what dirty tricks I’m plotting.”

Now that the weather is heating up, one of his favorite daytime hangouts is under Karen’s desk. This is not as eccentric as it looks. He’s catching the breeze from the fan Karen runs from Max’s Man Cave to keep the whole upstairs cooled off…

“When I’m down here, why do I always feel like I’m being watched?”

Tonight, Tony is treating us all to a boiled shrimp dinner. Max may join in, or maybe not. You never know with Max and people food. I’ll surely eat my fill — and Tony’s, too, if he turns his head for a second. I love shrimp!

Speaking of shrimps, we wish our crazy Tony a very 3rd Happy B-Day and many more…

“Why do humans always say, ‘Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup’?”

Success Report: DIY Kitty Perch Rescue

May 31, 2022

By Roc

Remember that fantastic gray kitty perch Karen put together for us as an early Christmas present during the pandemic…

Tony sleeps up top evenings, and we’ve kept it looking nice. I can count on one paw the times Max has ever touched it.

Tony and I found one sisal post PERFECT for wonderful claw-grabbing s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s and we’ve been giving it daily workouts — until this happened…

I can’t blame Tony. I’m the only kitty with the size and strength to commit vandalism of this magnitude. I even get a criminal look in my eyes when I’m pondering my next big caper…

Around these parts, they call me “KMD” (Kitty of Massive Destruction).

This development upset Karen because 1) Loss of a popular scratching place put us one step closer to digging in to the furniture, and 2) It looked bad, not that the living room is what you’d call a showplace even on a good day.

The sisal was flimsy, and the post underneath turns out to be crappy cardboard. Which explains how Karen got the thing dirt-cheap. What did she expect for less than three figures? Mahogany?

Out of respect (and aversion to Karen’s screaming), Tony and I have steered clear of that post since the destruction.

After determining it might be fixable, Karen turned to the trusty internet and discovered a cottage industry for restoring sisal kitty scratchers.

She bought 164 ft. of MEEXPAWS 1/4” sisal rope from Amazon, which came nicely coiled, and with a roll of double-stick tape…

Photo: Amazon

But Karen didn’t want to use tape or glue because they might not withstand our assaults, and they’d ruin the cardboard if the post needed fixing again. What to do, what to do?

We don’t own a big staple gun, and Karen was considering nailing it when she found this perfectly brilliant man with a YouTube video, “My cat tree repair without tools or glue”…

We tackled the project this past weekend. I supervised nearby, of course. Karen first removed the original sisal, which had been stapled.

Immediately upon untying the new bale of sisal, all 164 feet unraveled at our feet into a tangled mess, which Karen then had to fling around the post with every row she wrapped.

Sorry, no photos of that because I have no thumbs for the iPhone and if Karen had let go for a second in mid-wrapping, it would have all come undone.

As she used up rope, it got a little easier. Finally, she made it to the bottom and tied it off. Voila!…

The color’s a bit off, but it’s heavier rope, so even BETTER than before.

I say that even though Tony and I have so far refused to be the guinea pigs to test it, even though Karen gave us an hilarious demonstration to refresh our memories on how to scratch a post.

Karen was so pleased with the result, she’s gotten ideas about our other perches. But first, she needed to salvage the remaining sisal, a job not made any easier by Tony romping all over it, biting at it like she was playing. We’ve got this much left…

Karen thinks there’s enough left to give Tony’s favorite blue perch at the top of the stairs a refurb…

We’ll need to get more sisal for the short perch by the living room window that screams for attention…

And then there’s that tall perch next to the couch…

The lower level there where Mickey and the Teds hang out could also use some love…

I’m glad Adele isn’t here to see this because she believed “Every Cat’s an Artist” and called all these perches “art installations.” She’d be spitting mad and fluff-tailed to have her creative endeavors sisaled over.

Speaking of outrage, Karen has been wondering why we all suddenly stopped fighting over Max’s favorite kitty bed near the sliding glass door. She found her answer while taking these photos…

There was a hairball on Max’s favorite cuddle toy, Cattey. By the color, it could belong to anybody, but she’ll never find out who because we’re cats, not rats…

(PS: You’ll be relieved to know that Cattey is fine. The hairball had dried out and came off without leaving a stain. I hope you weren’t eating dinner while you read this.)

UPDATE FROM KAREN: A few hours after Roc posted this story, I went downstairs and caught him giving the new sisal post a going over. He looked at me with his, “Am I in the doghouse?” expression, but the sisal stood up to him hanging on it beautifully. So, it looks like full steam ahead on sprucing up the other perches.


Our Poltergeist Strikes Again… and Again

April 4, 2022

By Karen

Last year, I told you how Roc and I witnessed a book being pushed or pulled out of the bookcase in my bedroom when nobody had touched it.

[OMG… in pulling up the link to that previous post, I just realized the new development I’m about to tell you started within a week or so of the book, in July 2021. It never occurred to me the two incidents might be related.]

It was a Thursday morning that July when the wall switch that powers the garbage disposal went suddenly dead. The disposal itself was fine and relatively new; I just couldn’t turn it on. I wondered if the tiny ants who sometimes invade the kitchen in warm weather might have caused the problem.

I quickly learned how you don’t appreciate your disposal until it’s gone. For the four days I waited for a repairman, I had to scrape uneaten cat food and other yucky bits into the “stinky bag” I always keep in the freezer for onions, banana peels, chicken bones, et cetera, until trash day because rancid garbage makes me gag.

The repairman removed the switch plate and didn’t see any ants. When he touched two wires together, the garbage disposal roared to life. So, it appeared to be a simple loose connection. Who knows how that happened after 39 years?

As a precaution, I had him replace the whole switch, and he showed me how he twined the wires together to be extra-secure.

All was well until last Monday morning. I’d just scraped a pile of Roc and Tony’s rejected cat mush down the disposal when I flipped the switch and it was dead again.

The repair company couldn’t send someone until Friday, so I had to scoop the now-soaking-wet cat mush out of the disposal with my hand and into the stinky bag.

As the week dragged by, I kept flipping the switch to make sure it wasn’t a bad dream, but it was futile.

When the second repairman finally arrived, I flipped the switch for him once and it was dead. Then I flipped it again.

IT WORKED!! WTF??

And it worked every time after that. He checked out the new switch and everything looked fine. And no ants.

I felt like a complete fool, now out $99 for the unnecessary call. The repairman probably thought I’m a pathetic cat lady with more money than brains who calls in bogus issues for somebody to talk to.

Now, I throw anything down the garbage disposal with trepidation. Fool me twice… Or is “something” trying to get my attention using the electricity? This incident brought to mind what happened one night in October 2021.

I told you how the living room lamp mysteriously blew a bulb at a crucial moment while I was watching the Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner. The timing of that gave me chills.

What’s next?

UPDATE – IT JUST HAPPENED AGAIN: I first drafted this post two days ago, so the Phantom of the Garbage Disposal knew I was writing about it.

Yesterday morning, I was tidying up the Man Cave Café (a.k.a. upstairs bathroom). Max was sitting in the Man Cave (bedroom/junkroom) on the end table beside the couch, and Roc was standing at the opposite end of the couch. My back was turned when I heard a thump.

It was this small Amazon box holding my collection of plastic store “poop bags” nicely folded for future use…

As you can see, the box was securely tucked between other boxes. I haven’t touched it since I put it there weeks ago, and the cats were nowhere within striking distance. Now, that box was on the floor. Max and Roc were looking at the spot where it came from, but not spooked at all.

I recreated the moment to show you where/how the box landed, and Tony insisted on assisting me…

I have logistical questions about how the box landed with its top facing up without actually being lifted (or was it?). I put it back in position and pulled it out every which way. It always landed where Tony is standing. So, whatever’s doing this stuff is flexing its muscles. I swear I’m not making any of this up.


Back With an Update

February 21, 2022

By Karen

Never-ending lockdown has made time meaningless to me (whatever happened to 2021?). I realized my dates were off in the previous post about my mother. She actually went into the hospital on Tuesday, January 25, and had surgery on Wednesday, January 26.

Since then, it feels like it’s been six long, stressful months, not one.

The surgery removed part of her colon around a large tumor. Because it had spread to only four lymph nodes, the surgeon held out the possibility that she “may” have gotten it all, although it was labeled stage 3.

Two days post-op in the hospital, my mother couldn’t/wouldn’t do what was expected; namely, walk, use the toilet, take a shower or eat. After several more days, she did sit in a chair and brush her teeth into a cup.

On Friday, February 4, my father went to visit and found the nurses kicking her out without notifying us she was being discharged. I think they’d had enough of her (and Medicare reimbursement was probably exhausted). I dashed over to help and we got her home.

Our biggest family challenge now is my mother’s no-can-do attitude. Before this, she was playing tennis, driving, shopping and generally doing her thing, although eating suspiciously little and losing a lot of weight.

She hates doctors, has never been seriously ill before (I know, amazing at 84, right?), nor ever had surgery that wasn’t elective. If she ever suspected her plumbing was wonky, she wasn’t talking.

Nearly four weeks post-op, she still eats only a few hundred calories a day, if that. She’s afraid she’ll vomit, but she doesn’t. An appetite prescription isn’t helping much.

She’s too weak and unsteady to get around without a walker. She reacts to touches like she’s been hit with a baseball bat. She should be well on the mend, but says she feels worse every day and we just “don’t understand.”

She’s probably a candidate for chemo (maybe even in convenient pill form), but not as long as she’s so weak from starvation.

My father, sister and I are doing all we can, but the best intentions are useless without cooperation.

On a lighter note, things around Cats Working are fine (although the kitchen faucet is dripping and driving me crazy). Tony says, “Hi!” from his favorite perch…

Max was grouchy because I woke him for a photo op from his mid-morning siesta…

And Roc is his usual crazy self…


Just Got to Vent About Our Vet(rinarian)

January 14, 2022

By Karen

I won’t name them, but CW cats and this veterinary practice go back to the 1990s (with one prolonged breakup midway until our defection practice began going downhill). We have seen at least two generations of these vets.

They made life hell during the late Cole’s kidney failure, needlessly costing me hundreds of dollars on prescriptions by limiting the sources to their extortionately priced selves (like $5 a pill vs. 30 pills for $10 online) or one pricey online pharmacy they “partner” with (i.e., probably skim a cut from).

I fought the drug price battle until Cole’s last breath, and recall one day driving to their office THREE times because their dumb-as-doorknobs staff was incapable of producing a correct written prescription and refused to fax it anywhere. I had to snail-mail it to my supplier while the clock ticked down on Cole’s waning life. Their blithe obstruction would have made Mitch McConnell proud.

After Cole died, I went full Karen on the practice administrator over their failure to cooperate. But nothing has changed. The pandemic made it worse. Much worse.

Cole’s prescription issues resurfaced with Adele’s subsequent kidney failure battle, although they did allow me to use Sam’s Club, right down the street. Since they knew I could — and would — drive over and raise hell within minutes of any prescription screwup, that went smoother, although it still cost me much more than it should have.

What I’ll never forget about their treatment of Adele was that they were in a new building (the same move that doomed the alternate practice I mentioned in the opening), and it had a special area for euthanasia. On Adele’s last day alive, they told me to call from the parking lot so we could arrive through a private entrance.

I called, and got a recording that they’d gone to lunch and to call back in a few hours.

THEY had set the appointment to kill one of their patients and just FORGOT it?

So, Adele’s last trip was right past the dogs in their damn lobby.

Max, Roc and Tony haven’t had major issues, so our contacts have been mercifully infrequent.

However, the practice does periodically annoy me with their comical mass emails. They call us “Family” and share new policies to inconvenience us from the tone-deaf perspective that our primary concern is the happiness, safety and well-being of their staff. (Examples on request.)

So, yesterday I took Roc in for his annual checkup, this year a mere courtesy call because he’s fine and doesn’t need any shots.

They let me choose sitting out in the parking lot or accompanying him. I chose the latter. I was double-masked; the vet wore only a blue paper mask, like the one I had on under my triple-ply cloth mask.

As their policy dictates, I sat across the exam room while Roc rested calmly, facing away from me, in his carrier on the exam table, which was inexplicably retracted so it only fit the carrier and the scale.

Full length requires too much extra wiping down between patients perhaps?

Turns out their new “procedure” is to dismantle the carrier, which looks like this, with seven fasteners…

Roc is a most congenial cat and has ridden drama-free in this carrier since he was a kitten. I told the vet to tip it slightly and he’d walk right out. She ignored me, mumbling about “an article saying this is better” — because she knows Roc SO well.

Roc, for the first time ever, felt his safe place taken apart by strangers. Think it bothered him?

Well, when I took out the carrier today for the photo, I set it down beside Roc and he bolted. So, thanks a lot, Vet, for Roc’s new carrier phobia.

During his exam, Roc stood like a thoroughbred while the vet and her assistant pawed him from head to toe. The vet said a cat earlier had put up a fuss.

MY cat didn’t. He was a pro. But you treated him like he was a problem.

Bottom line: These few stories I’ve shared just scratch the surface. We need a new vet.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Ready for some Cats Working Christmas videos? Their big surprises this year (which Tony almost sniffed out prematurely as I was charging them in the bathroom) were Floppy Fish!

Tony and Roc were immediately intrigued (you’ll see Roc’s tail go by when he loses interest)…

Then Tony decided to show Floppy who’s boss while Max looked on…

Roc’s attack strategy is total domination…

Max didn’t quite know what to make of them and seemed more interested in the rest of Christmas (you get to see everyone in their celebratory mess)…

Tony and Roc enjoyed their annual viewing of Video Catnip, and here’s just a snippet. It’s 25 minutes long and they watched it TWICE…

Here’s the gang relaxing after toys, treats, and ‘nip…

BONUS: Tony watched the snow fall in the backyard last week from the Man Cave window…


Cats Call a Time-Out on Christmas

December 29, 2021

By Roc

Karen’s already told you about keeping Christmas low-key, and we cats were fine with that. But we’ve gone even lower.

Tony has become — hmm, how to put this delicately? Let’s say “sociophobic.” He freaks when he sees the mail truck at our mailbox. He growls and dashes for the bedroom if Amazon Prime shows up, even if they’re not delivering here.

Tony’s going through a reclusive phase

So on Christmas Eve, Mr. July 2021 RAL Calendar was a total no-show when Karen had her human family (and sister’s boyfriend) over for lunch. (Max slept through it upstairs in his Max Cave.)

Lunch sounds like no biggie, but around here it means rearranging the whole house. We’re set up for three cats and a human — not four extra humans.

Many blankies must be pulled off the furniture and washed (otherwise, they’d lie in a dirty pile). Chairs must be moved. Then there’s dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom from top to bottom.

We cats help with none of that.

Karen says you never know what a filthy mess your house is until you view it through your mother the real estate agent’s eyes.

I donned my festive Christmas collar to help Karen host our guests in hopes I’d score some pepperoni for my suave affability (I did).

Roc’s singing “Fa-la-la-la-la-la,” not snarling

Trying to keep it simple, Karen served pizza. She wanted a tasty huge one delivered, but the chances were too great that every pizza place she’d call would laugh in her face, saying, “Half the city wants pizza today, lady, so we’re running low on toppings. We’ll get it there in about three hours after we make more dough, if you’re lucky, and it’ll be cold.”

Plan B was a Food Lion supreme ready-made deal we baked ourselves, which worked out fine. Everybody ate it and nobody puked.

Afterward, our guests hadn’t even gotten to the end of the street when Tony and Max strolled in like nothing had happened.

We cats don’t help with cleanup, either, unless it’s pepperoni on the floor, so Karen spent the rest of the day re-wrapping the furniture and getting the house back to normal. She went to bed so dog-tired, she didn’t even watch Love, Actually.

Christmas morning, Karen overslept and barely had her coffee and newspaper before she had to dress and go to her parents’ for presents and a big midday meal, leaving us sitting here alone with our tails up our butts all afternoon.

The peeps went light on presents, so Karen didn’t return with a trunkful of stuff we have no place for. However, she did acquire some kind of felt Amish quilt of rando cats that needs to be “assembled.” Who doesn’t love an unforeseen Christmas project thrust upon them?

We know what somebody’s getting back for Christmas next year!

By now, Christmas was almost over, so we all agreed to save our stockings for New Year’s. Then we can eat treats (for Karen, it’s soybeans), watch Video Catnip as many times as we like, and play with toys all day.

So, that’s the new plan and it feels great. No pressure, and we’re still enjoying Santa Kitty anticipation.

(Well, not Tony. UPS just stopped across the street and he’s literally having a hissy. Tony, I mean, not the UPS guy.)

PS: A few nights ago, Tony thought he smelled catnip in Karen’s bathroom, of all places. While investigating, he accidentally knocked the drinking glass into the sink, upon which Karen sprang out of bed and quickly hid whatever she was up to. Tony only got a peek, but he says it’s large and ‘nippy, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Cats Working hope you and your families have a great New Year’s weekend, and we’ll see you in 2022.


Having Ourselves a Teeny-Tiny Christmas

December 20, 2021

By Karen

Remember last year, when I put up the big tree and decorated it with my whole cat ornament collection?

Well, fuggedaboutit in 2021. I think being incessantly nagged about “getting started on Christmas early” since before Halloween caused attitude backlash, and this is me today…

I’m not feeling the spirit at all, not even a little. This year’s tree is cat-size — with no ornaments, no lights, no garland — and the four presents under it are IT, and none are for me…

It annoyed me no end that I actually had to wrap one, but I was able to get the other three into bags and throw some tissue paper on top. Done.

I dipped into my boxes of house decorations just enough to fish out bows for the banister…

And stockings on the fireplace, which Max is inspecting…

Santa Kitty, being a highly efficient feline, has already stopped by to avoid being rushed on Christmas Eve. When I peeked in my stocking, this is what I found…

Who on Earth wants fucking soybeans for Christmas? But I gave up years ago on wishing for magical gifts and someone special to celebrate with, so why not soybeans? It could have been kitty litter.

I haven’t listened to Christmas carols because the ones that aren’t monotonous are mostly sad. I haven’t watched any Christmas TV specials or Hallmark Christmas rom-coms. I don’t need my nose rubbed in the fact that Christmas is for couples, especially couples with kids.

(Maybe the cats and I will watch Love, Actually on Christmas Eve, since it will be just us. The family, who traditionally came over for Christmas Eve dinner, is doing lunch instead, so no driving after dark.)

Even though I cut my Christmas card list to the bone last year, I’ve sent none.

On the other hand, I’ve only received three. Apparently Trump’s incompetent postmaster general puppet who still festers in the USPS has succeeded in killing “DeJoy” in the card tradition by making postage pricey and delivery iffy.

When I venture out to buy groceries and cat supplies, the parking lots are packed and stores infested with maskless disease-spreaders rummaging among whatever shelves aren’t bare for whatever marked-up, unwanted, unneeded crap they can buy for “loved ones” they otherwise don’t mind killing with COVID denial.

I’ll confess there was a nanosecond I wanted to resuscitate my spirit by switching things up with a white Christmas tree. So, I went to At Home, which is normally Christmas Mecca with trees and trimmings in every color you can imagine.

I found what looked like last-year’s unsold leftovers laid out in heaps, and whole aisles in the Christmas section empty. It was so depressing, I walked out empty-handed and that was that.

The cats are rolling with our minimalist approach and have knocked the tree over only twice. Even though I’m not feeling it, on Christmas morning, don’t worry, they’ll have plenty of toys, catnip, treats and, of course, our annual showing of Video Catnip

Hope your holidays are going better.


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