Thank You to Mysterious (Belated) Secret Santa

January 17, 2023

By Karen

Last weekend, I ordered a 2-pack of wreath bags from Amazon for my front door and mantel wreaths. (Now I’ve got to find a place to put them, since my parents’ attic isn’t the option it once was.)

They arrived yesterday in an unmarked white van. What surprised me was finding two packages on the front step: a box and a plastic bag.

The box contained the two wreath bags…

The plastic bag package blew me over and nearly had me in tears. Clearly, someone had read my previous post about our Christmas holidays and decided to step in. They sent these gorgeous slippers (which happen to match my new nightshirt)…

Now, these aren’t the kind of slippers you wear to knock around the house doing chores. They’re the thick, luxurious, special-occasion kind you wear to curl up on the couch to read a good book, or to pack for lounging around your cabin in comfort on a cruise ship.

They came with this note…

I can’t say I know who sent them, but I have my suspicions. It had to be a person who either knows my address or took the time to find it online. It can’t be that hard; Anthony Bourdain found it in 2008 to FedEx me a letter. The shock of receiving this package was on par with the jolt I got when I saw “Bourdain” in the return address on that FedEx envelope.

In any event, I want to thank him or her profoundly for this mind-boggling gesture of kindness. What makes it even more astounding to me is that I’ve actually ordered lately from Amazon — TWICE — similar slippers for myself…

And both times I’ve given them to my mother because she said she needed new slippers, so I never really had them. (I must divulge that these are thinner and flimsier than their photo. My new gray ones put them to shame.)

So, once again, thank you, whoever you are. I’ll never forget this. And I’ll be grateful you’re in my life somewhere every time I wear them.


A Much-Belated Holiday Recap

January 12, 2023

By Karen

The Christmas tree is still up and on track to stay up until February. It seemed I just couldn’t catch a break through the holidays.

The new white tree was the season’s highlight. The rest of the usual hurtle through the holidays left me cold and I wished many times it would all go away. Especially those bare-faced Christmas shoppers cramming every store parking lot so they could be vile to strangers inside — while shopping for their “loved ones.”

Like the four fucking twats in Target the weekend before Christmas. They chose the busiest time to heap TWO carts with small items they claimed were for “charity.” As an impatient line snaked behind them, they stood like doorstops beside the conveyor so nobody else could follow them, sipping Starbucks, laughing and taking selfies while the cashier struggled to ring up and bag their shit.

To top it off, those bastards took MY cart for their haul. I only realized it when I turned to put a monster package of toilet paper in my cart, only to find it gone. (Blessings on the kind lady behind me who gave me hers.)

At home, it was all cooking and cleaning. I didn’t send cards. I flitted through two stores for gifts and whatever I found, I found. I barely scraped off the price tags and dropped the stuff into gift bags. We all have too much junk anyway.

I REALLY just wasn’t feeling it. Didn’t last year, either.

Christmas falling on Sunday couldn’t have been worse timing. It was just another weekend with more work and stress, and I didn’t get a day off to prepare or recuperate. Did I mention that the temperature was in the teens?

I woke up Monday after Christmas to find this nice long crack in the kitchen picture window…

These windows are barely 13 years old. If Champion Windows is a thing where you live, my experience is that their claims of superiority are bullshit. The windows do NOT deflect heat in summer nor keep in warmth in winter. And they CRACK. The cheap, drafty construction-grade windows the house came with lasted 23 years without cracking.

The window has a lifetime warranty, but Champion says it could take 60-90 days to replace the damn thing. So, maybe by spring.

I worked through Christmas week into the New Year, because freelancers never know when the next job is coming, and clients like to have clean desks so they can take the last of their vacay with a clear conscience.

My sister was sniffling and sneezing Christmas Day. Wednesday morning I woke up with my nose streaming so bad, I had to postpone a dental cleaning. Now can’t get that done until February. A COVID test came up clean, and on Friday I was fine, so go figure. Forty-hour bug?

The cats and I finally had our little Christmas on New Year’s morning. They had a blast playing with a few toys, gobbling treats, getting high on ‘nip, and watching our perennial feature, Video Catnip. Here’s Roc after the stockings were emptied. As you see, it wasn’t much…

He approved of the new scratchy thing that replaces their tatty cardboard sardine can…

Remember last year when Santa left me soybeans (edamame)? This year it was chickpeas, and they’re awful…

I got matching sleep socks to go with my new nightshirt. You’ve got to see the cute cat sayings all over it…

Now, here’s some live action I captured. One of Tony and Roc’s favorite toys is a frog made out of deer hair or something. But they’ve chewed the legs off two of those, so this year Santa Kitty went for a bumblebee. Tony and I had a real tug-o’-war over it. The birds you hear are Video Catnip. The other weird noises are Tony’s new (well, it’s been here but they forgot it) hamster…

I have to hide the bumblebee between play sessions because its yellow fuzz wouldn’t survive an hour. Roc keeps leaping onto the bookcase to find it, because he knows that’s where it must be.

Believing I’ve got the most brilliant cats in the world, I decided to test them with a treat puzzle. It didn’t go as well as expected for Tony, although he initially seemed more adept than Roc. The big sneeze you’ll hear is Max, and he does a quick cameo jumping down from the mantel…

Roc eventually took a turn on the puzzle himself. To the left of the puzzle you can catch a glimpse of what’s left of the frog carcass. Tony couldn’t resist photobombing…

I’ll post video whoever masters the puzzle first and whips aside all obstacles to get to the treats.

Another reason the holidays were a bust is that both of my parents are on banana peels with their health. My mother’s cancer came back in the fall at stage 4. She declined any treatment and is on hospice now. My father developed a new heart issue that required another stent last week, and he spent two separate overnights in the hospital, one of those never in a bed, but in a chair in the emergency room.

It seems local hospitals are now besieged with COVID, flu and RSV cases, thanks in part to people who refuse to mask up in public and protect others and, for all we know, refuse to even get vaccinated for COVID or flu at all.


Tony Takes You On a Tour of Our Tree

December 17, 2022

By Tony (Photos by Karen)

Karen finally got our new white Christmas tree all decked out with her cat ornaments…

And the tree has become my favorite daytime napping spot. It’s like snoozing in an albino forest, but it doesn’t make me and Red Doggy dream of a White Christmas…

Two years ago, Karen showed you our personalized ornaments and told you how in 1983 she began collecting (mostly) unbreakable cat ornaments after Rex destroyed a ton of glass balls. Here’s Rex, looking innocent…

Over the decades, the collection grew so large, it really needed a bigger tree. This year the ornaments have more room to spread out and breathe. The black cat ones really pop, like this little angel kitty, who honors Rex and all the kitties who lived their nine lives with Karen…

But the collection actually kicked off with this white kitty, many years before pure-white Fred and Adele joined the family…

Readers know we lost Adele in 2019 when she was nearly 20 years old. Her passing made room here for me, so I’m really grateful to her, although we never met. Roc told me not to be sad because she would have taken one look at me and whapped me. This furry ornament that honors Adele sits near the top of the tree for a good reason…

Cats LOVE furry ornaments! Karen learned this early with this red and white blob. It IS a cat, believe it or not. It also hangs near the top because it looks like something that needs to be killed and dropped at Karen’s feet. Any of us would be glad to do the job if only we could reach it…

Notice to the left of the furball is a lame cat-shaped life preserver. That’s an official Fancy Feast ornament from 2014 when they had apparently zero imagination, but more on Fancy Feast to come. On with the tour!

Karen thinks we haven’t noticed, but all over the tree she hid a bunch of Jingle Snitches she made one year with bells and ribbon, like this one…

Rest assured, we’ve mapped out where they all are and can play with the tree without tripping them. The tree also carries some warnings to humans, like this one…

Here’s another cute and silly ornament that looks like Adele if she played dress-up, which I’m told NEVER happened…

Since the Fancy Feast mascot is a very spoiled white Persian, their ornaments always look like Adele, like this furry one from 2005…

Since all but two of the Cats Working family have been black (I’m the first 50-50), we have a lot of black ornaments. On the old green tree, this little kitty who looks like Roc was always last to be put away because Karen could NEVER find him. But on the white tree, you can’t miss him…

We also have a few celebrities, like Garfield, dressed up as a bored caroler…

Here’s one that looks like Max…

And here’s one whose face looks like ME!…

I’m sitting nicely next to another VIP, Tweety Bird. Sylvester is here, too, but out of frame.

Here’s another one whose face looks like me, but it’s wearing Max’s usual irked expression. It’s kind of beat up, so it must be one of the oldest ornaments…

Now, THIS kitty wearing a hat and mittens looks most like me, except my legs are all white…

We have many, many Fancy Feast ornaments. Karen thinks her collection is missing only the first two. This was her first one in 1987, looking, of course, like Adele…

Many of the ornaments are intricate (and highly breakable), but in 2013, Fancy Feast utterly cheaped out with this one made of cardboard. They must have felt guilty about it, because they sent us two…

This 2021 Christmas cat cookie ornament is on the tree for the first time because Fancy Feast didn’t send it before Christmas last year. This one came with a cat-shaped cookie cutter, too, although I’m strongly against anybody eating cats, even for fun…

We had no hopes of getting the 2022 ornament in time, but as Karen and I were working on this post, it CAME in this mysterious box. (Did I tell you the packaging has become so elaborate, it’s collectable in itself?) Don’t miss Yours Truly peeking in the background…

Inside the box, the ornament is cradled like a precious heirloom, which I guess now it is. The cat looks more like Fred than Adele. Anybody got a can opener? I bet there’s a treat inside…

And here it is, taking its rightful place on the tree, beside the Fancy Feast 1995 model…

I hope you enjoyed my little tree tour. I’ve shown you only a fraction of what’s hanging on that thing, but these are some of my favorites. Happy, Safe and Healthy Holidays to all our readers. And never forget…


New Christmas Tree, Part Deux: The Lights

December 1, 2022

By Karen

I’ll admit I didn’t thoroughly think through the logistics of putting lights on an 8’ tree — nor foresee that all the lights would be on one continuous string.

I gave away my seven strings of 700 lights with the old tree because they had green cords that simply wouldn’t do with a white tree.

I replaced them with this newfangled 500-light LED string from Amazon because I fell madly in love with the spool and the price was right…

Photo: Amazon

Over the decades, it never mattered how painstakingly I wrapped and stored my lights. Next time, they’d always end up tangled. The spool concept is so DUH!, I’d like to see a federal law mandating Christmas lights on spools forevermore.

But I did have misgivings. Coming down from 700 lights to 500 seemed like a lot of dimming. However, Amazon reviews assured me that 500 LEDs would be plenty on an 8’ tree. Once that quantity was decided, it was final because these strings can’t be plugged together.

In hindsight, I’m thankful I didn’t go for 1,000 because that would have killed me.

When the lights arrived, I thought there had been a screw-up because they all looked white. But it turns out there’s a control button on the plug that makes them glow white, multicolored, blue and green or yellow and red, blinking or solid on demand.

My next surprise was realizing that they were spooled exactly backward. I hang lights from top to bottom with the plug last so it’s near the outlet. But this spool started with the plug. So, I had to unwind and rewind all 165’ by doing laps in the living room…

For less tangling on the rewind, I should have dragged them around the entire house, but then cats would have tried to help and that wouldn’t have ended well for anybody.

The next thing I realized is that having all the lights on one heavy spool really makes it a two-person job. One circles the tree hanging lights and the other follows, feeding more lights.

What to do, what to do? I’ve never had Christmas help in my life. Boyfriends always tended to evaporate around holidays.

(Wait, I take that back. I must have done once. When I was 23, I lived briefly with this guy who gave me a cheap, out-of-season ruffled cotton dress for Christmas, a style he’d never seen on my body. He accessorized it with maroon boots — both left. His mistake meant Santa probably left another lucky woman somewhere in Richmond two right boots. We parted ways soon after.)

The solution to my solitude popped into my head during my morning Calm meditation.

First, I removed the tree top and hung lights on it. Then I hung the spool around my neck with a long scarf. I had to take this photo to show you after I was finished, because once I put the tree top back on, the tree had me on a leash of lights…

I’m letting my hair go gray. Not loving it, but it’s cheaper.

This idea was PERFECT. I was able to climb around and control the flow of lights as needed. When I got near the end and the weight was less, I transferred the spool to my left wrist.

By the bottom, I felt like I didn’t have enough to do the job, but there was no turning back. Redistribution would have been a nightmare.

I waited until nightfall to see the results. Tony seemed happy…

What do you think?…

The tree definitely leans left, which in this house is appropriate.

Max came downstairs to check out my handwork and gave it four paws up…

Next up, the cat ornament collection meets its new home.


Cats Working Goes BIG This Christmas

November 28, 2022

By Karen

According to the label on its box, our lovely 6.5′ spruce Christmas tree turned 25 years old this year. We used it for what turned out to be the last time in 2020 during the pandemic…

Assembling it branch by branch and hanging our full collection of cat ornaments was so much work, we kept the tree up until February. Back in 2011, when Max was a kitten having his first Cat Working Christmas with the late Adele and Cole, he demonstrated how much fun it was to climb that tree.

My ornament collection has only grown since then, and the poor tree felt overloaded, so this year I decided to surprise the cats by switching things up.

(The old tree and its lights and garlands were adopted by a young guy who blew the leaves in my yard last week.)

Our new tree from Wayfair is 8′ of white iridescence, and comes in only four sections. I wish I could have gotten video of myself putting it together because the sections were loose and the branches kept flopping over me like a frantic octopus.

When I saw how the branches are half naked, the potential for a Christmas disaster suddenly loomed large…

Roc, always on the lookout for a way to get into trouble, immediately noticed this detail…

He just had to sample the taste of cold steel (or aluminum?)…

Then he checked to see if the branches would hold his weight. His answer was me screaming, “Roc, NOOOOO!”…

Tony was more circumspect, taking in the new arrival from a safe distance…

(Max took zero interest in this adventure, preferring to nap upstairs in the Man Cave, which is filling with boxes as I get the decorations out. He did come down that evening and inspect my handiwork.)

Finally, I had all four sections nested on top on one another and had managed to avoid losing an eye to the floppy branches…

Even though it’s only 18″ taller than the old tree, this one brushes 3rd beam, a feature with “Disaster” written all over it as soon as Roc and Tony see it from up there. But for now, they were present and ready for the next stage, which we call “The Floof.” This is the most time-consuming process for any artificial tree. The cats were no help, but took turns supervising me. Roc first…

Then Tony. He was particularly good at pointing out where I missed a branch…

After nearly an hour, the floof was complete…

If I can say anything about this tree, it’s that it sheds worse than any cat. I was kicking myself for vacuuming BEFORE I started, because I had to do it all again…

These shiny little spreckles are now everywhere, and I expect to see iridescent poop in the litterboxes through the holidays.

Once assembled, the tree posed two problems. The first was the bare branches up the middle, shown here from a cat’s-eye perspective…

The second was its location. The smaller tree felt more intimate standing in front of Fred Astaire, but this one’s girth makes it overwhelming. So, I moved it. This wasn’t as hard as I feared. After pulling off the top section so it would clear the beam, I dragged it a few feet to a spot where it’s now the living room’s focal point when you walk in the front door. It’s also safely beyond 3rd beam…

But now with daylight behind it, the naked center really shows and could use some filling in. Unfortunately, I gave away my stash of iridescent garland with the old tree. But I did keep our tree skirt with bells, which the cats aren’t happy about. They call it the “Jingle Snitch”…

After buying more garland, I did my best to wrap it around the naked interior. [Note to self next time: Do garland BEFORE Floof.] But it does seem a bit more filled in and nobody’s tried to climb it. What do you think?…

Next step, the lights. I’ve got 500 new LEDs all on one string. But this is all I’ve had the energy for so far. Stay tuned…


Tony B. (the Cat) Conquers 3rd Beam

November 7, 2022

By Tony B. (photos by Karen)

Karen thought you needed a break from all the recent heavy stuff about my namesake, so she sat me at the keyboard for this one.

The guy who designed our house probably didn’t realize he “Catified” the living room with the three big wooden beams that hide the ductwork. From the house’s front to back, we call them 1st, 2nd and 3rd beams.

Karen says every cat has loved 1st and 2nd beams, and they have the scars to prove it. She made them even more irresistible with tall bookcases between them on the floor below, right beside the fireplace mantle. We cats can go upstairs > downstairs without stairs. Max does it all the time, even though the leap down from the mantle makes his teeth rattle.

[SECRET: An alternate, arguably easier, route is to leap from 1st beam to the gray perch, but it takes more precise aim.]

Strolling along 1st and 2nd beam is easy-peasy because you just step off the balcony. The first night Karen brought me home, Roc says I shot out of the carrier and onto 1st beam within minutes. Within a day or so, I did it again, only to slip and fall off.

But falling off 1st or even 2nd beam is a rite of passage here. Every cat has done it, but none have ever hit the furniture nor been injured, even though Karen says we don’t always land on our feet.

3rd beam is another story. You need mega cat guts to go out there because it’s beyond the balcony. It requires a full-body stretch across empty space.

Karen says all my Cats Working predecessors attempted 3rd beam at least once as young cats. Once was usually enough, and then they avoided it for the rest of their lives.

The exception was Yul, an enormous black cat who, according to legend, was a diabolical genius, even after one of his daredevil stunts cost him his tail. He looks like he’s got zero fucks to give, right?…

If reincarnation is a thing, Karen says Roc could be Yul. As soon as he figured out the logistics, Roc claimed 3rd beam as his exclusive turf, and Max and the late Adele were happy to let him have it. He goes out there all the time like it’s nothing…

I’ve been studying Roc’s technique closely…

Last week when I told Max I was going for it before I age out, Max stared at me and muttered something about “a death wish.” Karen freaked when she saw me up there looking serious. And there was no turning back when Roc called me a “chicken”…

Readers, I did it. And it felt GREAT!

What nobody told me is that getting out there is the easy part. The potentially deadly move is the dismount.

Pulling yourself back onto the balcony takes so much upper body strength, Roc separated the wood at the bottom of the banister. Karen glued the wood back, but decided to leave it taped because she knew Roc would just break it again.

I’ll admit it, that first dismount was scary. If I fell, I was definitely hitting something sharp going down. (And be humiliated as the first 3rd beam kitty fail ever.) So, here goes…

I nailed it! It gave me such a rush, I couldn’t wait to do it again…and again…and AGAIN!

BTW, I found this clip of Roc from two years ago — doing a stunt, of course. He’s such a showoff…

Next thing you know, Roc and I pulled off what’s never been done before…

3RD BEAM DOUBLE KITTY

Karen shook her head and said, “I just hope that beam is strong enough.”

Wait, WHAT?

So, I’ve officially conquered our final frontier (if you don’t count behind the washer/dryer). And I didn’t even use up one of my nine lives.


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’?”

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