What’s Been Up at Cats Working

November 19, 2021

By Karen

Virginia FINALLY cooled off and now the leaves are falling like mad. The acorns are crazy, too, so it’s like walking on marbles to go anywhere in the yard.

My house sprung a new quirk in the form of a weird tapping in the living room wall behind the TV. It had some intelligence because it would stop if I walked near it or went out on the deck or into the crawlspace to investigate. But I never saw anything.

The pest control guy I hired also heard it but couldn’t find the source, so he left some chemicals. I haven’t heard it for two days since then, so whatever it was may have moved on or died.

Speaking of the deck, one of my house’s good qualities is how high it is. This is the view from the deck. It feels like living in a treehouse…

Last night I was too tired to cook, so I popped this Lean Cuisine into the microwave…

The instructions were a little weird — 9 minutes at 50% power. I watched TV in the living room while waiting for the microwave to ding, but it just kept running and running and running.

Eventually, I realized something was wrong and this is what I found. These meals never look like what’s on the box, but this was ridiculous…

The timer showed 66 minutes left at 50% power. I must have accidentally punched in 90 instead of 9, so I’m glad it was only at half-power or I might have burned the house down.

But I know you’re dying to for cat news, so enough about me. The other morning, Tony toyed with being a tabby…

“Do these stripes make me look fat?”

He’s also been enjoying some fresh brown paper from Chewy.com delivery. He thinks it’s an invisibility cloak…

“You can’t see me, right?”

Lately, Max has been spending nights on my bed, but his favorite spot is between my legs, which means I can’t move. So, I relocated from the living room a cat bed they’ve all ignored for ages. Max actually slept in it the first night and made it the hottest new ticket in town. The next morning, Roc relinquished his claim on his own favorite bed to Tony so he could grab Max’s spot…

The following morning right after breakfast, guess where I found Tony staked out?…

Tony wouldn’t budge even after Roc showed up. Roc often bullies Max, but he knows better than to mess with the Tonester…

Almost forgot. Back in October for my birthday, my sister gave me this personalized mat. You’ll notice the kitties on it are furatomically correct…


Conversation with Tom Vitale, Conclusion

October 27, 2021

By Karen

Tom Vitale is author of In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain. Days after the interview excerpt with him that follows, I was watching the Roadrunner documentary DVD and had another “Cats Working May be Haunted” moment related to today’s post.

In the same instant the video shifted to Asia the girlfriend, the table lamp blew its bulb. My light bulbs always fail when I first switch lamps on, not after they’ve been burning a few hours. Maybe it was coincidence, but it creeped me out.

Commenters here have discussed Tom’s treatment of Asia in the book, so I had to ask him about…

Anthony Bourdain’s Last Girlfriend

CW: On page 217, you wrote…

“Tony’s ethic of relentlessly pushing the envelope — the very drive responsible for getting us where we were — had reached such a fever pitch, it felt like the pace was becoming unsustainable.”

It seemed you felt this while you were making the 2016 Rome episode with Asia. Why then? Was she trying to direct? What was the dynamic?

TV: A lot of scene ideas, like the boxing and pasta, and the stornellis [Italian street songs] that were so beautiful, were her idea. Those Roman folk songs are dirty and hilariously dark. She made a lot of creative contributions, but she was definitely not directing the episode. But it was very high stakes because Tony wanted to not fuck it up.

I think that period in general was particularly tough. The shoot with President Obama was coming up and completely top-secret. Constant battles with the accounting department were grating. Tony wanted to do fancier, more expensive things just as they were clamping down on the spending.

CW: Were you on the shoot with Tony and Asia in Southern Italy?

TV: I did do that one, yes.

CW: How were they together then? It seemed joyous. He was in love, and they were having fun at the beach, on the boat. Was the vibe good? Putting it in historical perspective, they had come out as a couple, right?

TV: I think we were in Portugal when they became public in February 2017. And Italy was June 2017.

CW: They were in their honeymoon phase.

TV: But it was an incredibly difficult shoot for a host of reasons. Italy is one of the greatest countries to visit, but also the most difficult and stressful from the production standpoint. For example, we set up this whole scene for a big party at a farm, then at the last minute the police shut us down because the location was being used as refugee resettlement area and it didn’t have the right permits. We lost an entire day of shooting due to some stupid bureaucratic miscommunication. Things like that were happening.

On the other side, I don’t think Tony was ever so nice and happy, to me, as he was on that shoot.

CW: Something we’ve debated at Cats Working is how you went to Rome seeking answers and met with Asia. She asked about his will and supposedly missing fortune. In the book, it seems like the first thing out of her mouth, but was it really further into the conversation?

TV: No, she pretty much opened with that.

CW: So, in so many words you conveyed her priority. Some seemed to fault you because they felt you were giving her a pass. Did she ever take any responsibility at all?

TV: I certainly don’t think she wanted Tony to kill himself. That probably screwed up her life in a lot of ways, too. I’m not saying she handled things the right way, by any stretch of imagination. But in my book — I wasn’t in Hong Kong or Florence — I only write about things I saw.

It was really difficult for me in that when Tony got together with her, he became a lot nicer to me. She was always very good to me. I think it’s unquestionable she played some role in his downfall. I guess I was blinded to the fact that something wrong was happening, whether it was her fault or not, because he got nicer to me.

CW: It sounds like she didn’t feel you were any threat, like maybe she did Zach or Helen.

TV: I knew how important pleasing her was to Tony. I moved mountains to make things happen, whatever he wanted, as I always did for Tony.

CW: Maybe she thought you were her ally. Perhaps you can confirm or debunk a rumor that circulated after he died. Did he ever buy her a house in Rome?

TV: No, he didn’t.

CW: In hindsight, that now makes sense. Where your book made my eyes Boing! out like a cartoon was when Tony told you she would be moving to New York in fall 2018.

TV: That was the plan.

CW: We dodged a bullet there, in a twisted way. The mess it would have created for everyone related to both of them. And to promote her “career,” he’d have found ways to get her in our faces every day.

TV: He was in love. He acted like a teenager about it. But he reacted to a lot of things like a teenager. That was part of his magic. He was really a romantic.

CW: He did have a certain boundless child-like enthusiasm. When he found something he really loved, a place a food, a person… That’s what made him inspiring for so many people. He pulled out all the stops.

TV: Back to the topic of giving Asia too much of a pass, in the book I don’t try to judge. It’s up to the reader, in the same way it was to me, to try to derive meaning from those things. It wasn’t always clear.

CW: I think you were even-handed. The Oral Biography seems more damning.

TV: I’m sure everything in the Oral Biography is true. What I include in my book is what I saw directly.

CW: That’s what sets your book apart. The Biography puts several degrees of separation between Tony and the reader. Your book is firsthand. Plus, you’re fair to the point of being too hard on yourself. Tom, the fact that you could go toe-to-toe with Tony for so many years and survive, while creating amazing TV, is proof that you’re much stronger than you probably think you are.

TV: Tony used to talk about how your greatest humiliations are most entertaining or funny for other people to read. I don’t think I 100% consciously set out to do that. But after having been steeped in Tony’s storytelling process for so long, I see the book is definitely a collection of my biggest fuckups and worst moments and failures. He was right, again. Those do make the most interesting stories.

CW: On page 282 you wrote…

“I’ve struggled with persistent questions of whether he actually cared enough about me to give me his best.”

I think if you can’t picture what his best would have looked like — had it been even better than what you got from him — that answers your question. I believe he did give you his best.

TV: He did.

CW: And I think a lot of people would agree.

BONUS: Tom loves cats.

Tom back home after a shoot, sacked out with the late Frida, aka “Mr. Whiskers”

CW: Being Cats Working, I have to ask about the many random shots of cats on your B roll that made it into the shows.

TV: Tony would joke a lot about my cats and my relationship with cats. I adore cats. So, the camera guys knew whenever a cat was around they would film it, and I’d use it in the edit.

CW: Do you have any cats currently?

TV: I do, Lucy and Tabby.

CW: Are they both females?

TV: They are. Both Tabby and Lucy are tabby white, which is half white, half tabby. But I think Lucy, because of her very distinctive meow and incredible elegance, is actually at least half or mostly Siamese. They’re rescue cats.


Tony Leads a Revolution & Other Cat News

August 27, 2021

By Karen

When I named him Tony Bourdain, I should have known Tony the cat would be a rebel. The hill he’s chosen to have me die on is apparently collars. For decades, all of my cats have worn collars without incident. Until Tony…

“Some kitties are born to greatness. I’d rather claw my way to the top,” says Tony the Troublemaker.

You may remember, last year at the beginning of the pandemic, after Tony destroyed his orange collar, he got a blue one

“Does is bring out the pink in my nose?”

It didn’t take him long to scare the crap out of me by working his jaw under it to choke himself. I think he cut his tongue in the struggle because the collar was bloody by the time I heard his screams and snapped it off of him.

That was the end of collars for Tony, until this past April when Max’s birthday wish was for everyone to get new collars.

The ones I found were light and super-soft, but Tony popped out of his almost immediately. Roc and Max, who have both always worn collars, seemed fine with theirs.

But Tony must have been applying peer pressure behind my back, because Roc eventually popped his collar off, repeatedly, until I gave up.

Max held out until about a week ago, when he turned up naked one morning. Several days later, I found his collar at the base of his favorite perch…

Max would have let me put it back on him, but it’s looking shabby now. To go for his annual checkup and shots yesterday, he did agree to wear Tony’s like-new collar to the vet’s. Who do you think wore it better?…

Another Mysterious Incident…

A few weeks ago, I found this mouse in the hall outside my bedroom…

None of current cats have EVER played with it, and I have no idea which toy box it came from. But it’s tatty, so somebody must have loved it once. I just don’t remember who.

After several days undisturbed on the floor, it disappeared and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Then it reappeared and I saw Roc give it a few half-hearted kicks, but nobody has touched it since.

Tony and Roc have favorite toys (yellow sparkle ball, Fuglen the bird, respectively) they carry around, but they never just carry around random stuff, so red mouse is our new mystery.

RAL’s 2022 Calendar Went to the Dogs…

Because the contest got so cut-throat last summer when Tony came in 12th and became Mr. July 2021 on the Richmond Animal League calendar, I’d never get mixed up in this event again. The contest for the 2022 calendar wrapped up last Saturday and I caught the last 30 minutes. It raised a bit less than Tony’s calendar (approx. $66K vs. $80+K), but the competition was no less vicious and only three cats made the final cut.

Another black dog comfortably dominated by $6.5K until the last eight minutes, when a pair of dogs in third place threw in $6.6K and claimed the No. 1 spot.

The top fundraising cat, in fourth place with just over $3K, was a tux named Popeye Hailey…

“Popeye is a chip off the old Maxie in his snazzy collar,” says Max.

Also winning was a black cat named Thackery the Bestest…

“Black cats rock!” says Roc.

A tortie came in 11th place. Next year’s calendar will have nine dogs and only three cats.

The real drama was a cat named Father Christmas we were all rooting for because he looks like Tony’s great-great-great-great-great grandfather…

“The family resemblance is unmistakable,” says Tony.

But in the LAST THREE MINUTES, some stupid dog in a bandana made a last-ditch donation and pushed Father Christmas off the calendar into 13th place by only $21.

FUN FACT: The roughly $2.5K that Tony’s fans contributed last year would have put him in seventh place in this year’s contest.

Roc Dreams He’s a Tabby…

With humidity, the weather here has been feeling like 100+ for weeks on end now and we’re all wiped out. I happened to catch Roc this morning in Max’s favorite perch spot, masquerading in stripes as a tabby…

Max Rediscovers the Upstairs Perch…

Max hasn’t gone near the blue perch since I dragged it to the top of the stairs last November after building them a grand new perch for early Christmas.

This week, he rediscovered it and its fabulous aerial view of the front yard and neighborhood. Tony, who has been claiming exclusive rights, was none too pleased…

“Max, you can borrow it for a little while, but I’ll BE BACK!” says Tony the Terminator.

Cats Working May be Haunted

July 30, 2021

By Karen

Yesterday was a big day here, but as in any suspense tale, I’m going to work backward to describe it.

Last night, after an afternoon under the bed (why in a minute), Tony must have been feeling his 31 days of fame waning as Mr. July on the Richmond Animal League’s calendar.

After dinner, he threw himself down on the living room floor to contemplate his next career move and wonder if he had peaked too soon…

“Could I really be a has-been at 2 years old?”

But with Tony’s looks, brains and charisma, he has nothing to worry about. I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

In the afternoon, a crew I’ve been waiting nearly two months for finally showed up to take down the dead tree in the front yard.

In the spring, I worried when that tree was a few weeks late putting out leaves, and its trunk looked paler than the others. Then when all the new leaves immediately began to die, I had to pull the plug on it or risk it taking out my office and the kitchen in a storm.

I never watch when I lose a tree, but I think it came down in sections because there was never a big crash. A lot of moss in the yard was torn up where I guess the pieces fell.

Nevertheless, it was a noisy business. Roc sat calmly in the living room with me through it all. Max stayed in the Man Cave and Tony went under the bed.

Grinding the stump turned out to be the worst of it. This is now our view from the big kitchen window. The red circle is where the tree was…

Now all is sawdust where once there was moss.

My yard guy isn’t returning my calls about cleaning up. Here’s the mess from the walk, facing the house. This isn’t a situation that’s just going to heal itself over time…

The rocks strewn about were the border of a patch of daffodils and azaleas, now a wasteland.

But the day began in my bedroom with something I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it myself. This bookcase is one of six around the house and stands opposite my bed. It holds mostly New Age books from my 30s, as well as other prized volumes, like the copy of Little Women I got at Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, where she wrote it…

The corner shelf holds some of my vast cats collection.

Notice the arrow pointing to a book I pulled out on the bottom shelf, just to show you where it came from. It was actually on the shelf in line with the rest. Since Roc refused to participate in a reenactment, the black stuffy cat on the floor is his stand-in, and a waterbowl is to its left.

Anyway, I was making the bed and Roc was getting a drink. He turned to walk past the bookcase when that book suddenly flew out and fell on the floor in front of him. Roc jumped back, but then calmly went around it and hunkered down in the opposite corner to watch ME.

Did he know or see who did that?

It was just like the poltergeist activity you see on Paranormal: Caught on Camera.

The cats never bother that bookcase, and I haven’t touched it myself in months. This is the book that flew out…

Why this book? Does the title have any significance?

It happens to be the last book I shelved there, unfinished because I didn’t like it. I felt a little tingly as I put it back.

There’s no way that book moved on its own. No book has EVER fallen off that shelf before. So, what was it? It couldn’t have been the spirit of the tree, because this happened hours before either of us knew it was going down that day.

BONUS: Cats Working reader Glamour Milk uncovered this (possibly) maiden interview with Anthony Bourdain in 1995. He was just 39, pre-thumb ring, pre-Les Halles, beginning his writing career as a novelist with Bone in the Throat)…

On “Connie Martinson Talks Books,” August 1995

He wrote a second novel, Gone Bamboo, before he hit it big with Kitchen Confidential. You have to download the interview here…

https://ccdl.claremont.edu/digital/collection/cmt/search/searchterm/Bourdain%2C%20Anthony/field/creato/mode/exact/conn/and

But it’s well worth it, especially in hindsight, for what he says about loyalty and betrayal.

Many thanks to Glamour Milk for her online sleuthing. Morgan Neville might have been interested in this for Roadrunner, had he uncovered it.

The same link includes another 2002 interview about A Cook’s Tour. Notice Tony’s marked increase in confidence, sophistication and gray hair. Also, the thumb ring.


July 2021 is Tony B. (the Cat) Month

July 2, 2021

By Tony

Thanks to some Cats Working peeps and Karen’s family, friends, and friends of family, I’m the featured pet on the Richmond Animal League’s calendar this month!

It’s weird to know that thousands of people are staring at my picture in their homes right now. I guess this is what 31 days of fame feels like.

If you weren’t around last fall, Karen entered me in RAL’s annual fundraising contest for the 2021 calendar. She had no idea it would turn cutthroat and high stakes in the final days and hours. Overall, the contest raised over $80,000 to help homeless animals.

More context: Max, Roc and I started out as immigrants to RAL from other shelters around Virginia so we’d get good medical care and have a better chance of being adopted. As you can see, it worked! The late Yul, Cole and Adele were also RAL alumni.

As the contest unfolded, the top seven fundraisers were dogs. I was in eighth place as the top cat until the last few hours, when the four cats trailing me threw a ton of money into the pot.

But — as when RAL took me and my brother in as sick, starving kittens — I survived.

Eleven of the winners got to pick their months in descending order of their fundraising contributions. Since I ended up in 12th place, I got the month nobody else claimed.

What were those other animals THINKING? July is an awesome month! It’s right in the middle and has a big national holiday with fireworks.

OK, I HATE fireworks. Lately, Karen’s been having strange men do a bunch of noisy work on the house and it’s given me a phobia where I hide under the bed.

We’ve got one calendar hanging on the fridge, and another one is on the bulletin board above Karen’s computer. That means I can be anywhere during the day, but she’s never out of my sight…

The caption Karen wrote for me says…

Adventurous, fearless, funny, inquisitive, intelligent, affectionate. Meet Tony Bourdain Wormald, who overcame a precarious start in life with RAL’s help to become the feline embodiment of his namesake.

Thanks again to everyone who generously helped me and RAL. We promise never to do that to you again.


Jan. 6 Rioters Peeling Away from Trump

June 4, 2021

By Karen

But first, a trailer for the Anthony Bourdain HBO documentary, Roadrunner, debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival June 11, in theaters July 16…

At 1:59, see a nanosecond of Tony in a red sports car with a brunette whose identity I can only suspect. The more her existence gets erased, the more heinously criminal I believe her involvement in his final days. Call me the suspicious type.

Now, to the present…

The FBI has rounded up roughly 500 Capitol rioters. Those with clean records are getting slapped wrists. But the violent ones caught on camera face felonies and promise to be great entertainment at their trials.

FYI, here’s a Justice Department list of everyone arrested and charged. Another list at Insider.com includes personal details on the perps.

The minute TV cameras stopped rolling, Trump forgot these people exist. Without presidential pardons, desperate defense lawyers are floating, “My client is too stupid to live.”

If we didn’t have such a woke culture, they’d be calling their clients the “R” word.

Defense places all blame on Trump, his enablers and Fox “News” for dishing out a diet of lies to ignorant dupes, and claims they bear as much responsibility as the rioters.

Essentially, defense hopes to thread a needle with an elephant. They can’t go all-out and declare their clients mentally incompetent, because that lets Trump and Fox slither off the hook. Instead, the rioters were relentlessly attacked by incendiary rhetoric and finally succumbed on January 6.

Prosecutors are going to love destroying this argument.

As convicted rioters begin marching off to prison, MAGA cultists who stayed home 1/6 but still believe the Big Lie are left no choice but to wonder where their own willingness to continue eating Trump-Fox garbage may lead.

Rioter Anthony Antonio (the guy who screamed nonsensically about it being 1776), has said: “I kind of sound like an idiot now saying it, but my faith was in him [Trump].”

Antonio’s lawyer Joseph Hurley explained, “You can catch this disease.” Misinformation “is not a defense. It’s not. But it will be brought up to say: This is why he was there. Because he was a dumbass and believed what he heard on Fox News.”

I would add, and because he probably flunked history.

Footnote: Antonio has never voted in a presidential election, so he had no skin in the game.

With a pandemic fresh in their minds, MAGA cultists who hear these dipshits called, by their own lawyers, dumbasses who caught “Big Lie Disease” may realize they’re also infected.

Who needs COVID or masks when you can ingest toxic lies from your TV until your brain mush no longer comprehends that a guy who gets the fewest votes is the LOSER?

The lawyer for “QAnon shaman” Jacob Chansley claims repeated exposure to lies overwhelmed Chansley’s ability to discern reality (and fashion, obviously)…

Photo: Saul Loeb - AFP - GettyImages

Although I despise them, I don’t think all cultists are 100% evil — they’re ignorant. They’ll get the shock of their lives when the trials reveal exactly how Trump and Fox have twisted their sad little minds.

Defections are happening already. On Memorial Day in Florida, Trump falsely claimed “thousands” of boaters waved Trump flags on parade. WTSP in Tampa Bay reported

Just north of the former president’s residence at Mar-a-Lago, “Trump 2024” flags waved in the wind as dozens of boats took to the water.

Two days later, Trump pulled the plug on his 29-day-old From the Desk of blog to “put it out of its misery” (his words) because few were reading.

Trump’s ability to spread poison is waning. His mental faculties are more often discussed than his positions on anything, especially since his delusion that he’ll regain power in August. He’s making no major personal appearances with press allowed. The great showman who lives to feed off crowds like an energy vampire will be babbling remotely via Jumbotron at a Wisconsin rally on June 12.

Rioters’ trials condemning the “Foxitis” contagion and Trump’s growing inability to hide his dementia should thin the cult. Treasonous Republicans still courting Trump’s dwindling base may find themselves like Wile E. Coyote come reelection…

BONUS: Searching YouTube, I came upon this golden oldie cat video that still makes me laugh. In the original version, these cats were meowing at each other. Then someone gave them dialogue…


The Cats Check In & New Bourdain Book

May 21, 2021

By Karen

It’s TGIF here today. I snapped pics of the crew this morning so you can see how they’re doing. After finally shoveling a mammoth editing project out of here, this week I was finally able start reading World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Laurie Woolever, channeling Anthony Bourdain. I’m enjoying it and awed by the research. But the dips into each country are so brief, I want to rewatch the shows she sourced to see the meals and restaurants again.

AND this week I happened upon a second worthwhile Bourdain book coming out on October 12, same day as Woolever’s Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, which now has a cover…

Tom Vitale, Tony’s longtime director and producer, has written In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain. It’s being published by Hachette in hardcover (not Bourdain’s Ecco imprint). At only 6” x 9”, I assume it’s more narrative than the oversized photo books previously published about the shows, which is great. I hope Hachette does better with the cover art and this is just their Amazon placeholder…

Amazon’s also peddling at least three unauthorized Bourdain “biographies.” One is 53 pages, has no named author, and you can get it free with Kindle Unlimited. Another is only 17 pages by a writer — probably fittingly — named Dumm. And the third bio is supposedly 30 pages of “interesting facts.”

A fourth 152-page book is an English translation of “Reflections” on his death “by Suicide????” (question marks are in the actual title, so, believable????). The original is in Spanish and seems to be a dredging of the conspiracy delusions we were fed by certain parties in Italy, if you get my drift.

I’ve decided not to read these because it means buying them, and I don’t want to support them. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me — but would totally piss me off — if I found material lifted from Cats Working. Better for them that I never know.

But back to the cats…

Tony says, “Party this weekend like it’s 2019!” He’s got a birthday coming up. Does he look more grown up these days?
Roc says, “Take it easy by curling up in your favorite perch by a window and soak in some rays on your tush.”
Max says, “Relax in your Man Cave or anywhere else you can get away from the crazy frat boys.”

Medina Spirit on Trump: “He’s Wack”

May 11, 2021

By Tony

Trump, desperate for a social media fix after getting banned everywhere for lying, created his own website, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” (No link. Cats Working is dedicated to stamping out ignorance.)

Trump spews gibberish that people may ♥ or repeat on Facebook or Twitter. We hope journalists don’t scamper after Trump down his new rabbit hole, fouling the media with his garbage.

But on Sunday Trump called Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit a “junky.”

That’s because after the Derby, Medina failed a drug test. It showed too much betamethasone, a steroid horses are given for pain or inflammation. It’s forbidden when they race. Medina’s trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended at Churchill Downs, and the world waits for results from a second test on another portion of Medina’s sample to find out if Medina has to forfeit his Derby win and give up his Triple Crown dream.

Max and Roc helped me “borrow” Karen’s phone and call Medina Spirit to get an opinion straight from the horse’s mouth…

I caught him just before he hit the road to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Tony: Hi, Mr. Spirit? Do you have a few minutes to talk to Cats Working?

Medina Spirit: Cats? Working? Are you kidding? The cats prowling our stable hunt purely for sport. But they’re cool, so sure. Make it quick, though. My trailer’s almost ready to go. Call me Medina.

T: Thanks. You were amazing in the Derby. I’m so sorry they might disqualify you for doing drugs.

M: That’s some crazy shit, right? I can’t believe it myself.

T: Did you realize your people doped you before the race?

M: It comes down to this. When they show up with a big horse needle before a major race, you can either kick their balls off and earn a trip to the glue factory, or you can trust that they’re not SO stupid, they’d kill their own meal ticket, so you take the shot.

T: I get it. Why do you think Baffert would let that happen?

M: We call that guy “Baffling” around the stalls. One day he loves his horseys, the next day, we hear he’s shooting them up and getting suspended. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

T: What do you think about Donald Trump calling you a “junky.”

M: To be honest, I’m more pissed that Baffling keeps calling me a “little horse.” What’s that mean? A Shetland? A Falabella? I’ll tell you, I’ve got one thing I’d like to show Baffert any day that makes his own look downright puny, and that’s my —

T: — Horses put cats to shame in that department, too. Speaking of mushrooms, back to Trump.

M: Oh, yeah. What does Trump mean by “junky”? Was my saddle tatty? Was my jockey wearing rags? I don’t get it.

T: I think he meant “junkie,” like drug addict.

M: Oh, right. That clown never could spell. But he knows junkies. He sees one every time he looks in a mirror. And he’s not seeing an orange horse with a fucked-up mane. What a washed-up wack job. It doesn’t take even a lick of horse sense to see that. Why isn’t he in jail yet? People need to muck out his worthless opinions. When it comes to crime, Trump makes Baffert’s horse-rigging seem trifling.

Hey, look, kid, I gotta run. Literally. In the Preakness on Saturday. Against Mandaloun again. He almost beat my ass in the Derby.

T: OK, Medina. I’ve got paws crossed you win again. I hear Baffert’s watching the race from California, so it’s all on you at Pimlico. Best of luck!


From the Notebook

May 6, 2021

By Karen

First, I must report Tony has had his first culinary mishap. I’d just turned off the stove and was pouring a pot of boiling pasta into a colander in the sink while Tony watched. Here’s an old photo of Tony with the same burner/pot…

In the seconds I was at the sink, the tip of Tony’s tail touched the still-hot burner. When I returned to the stove, I pushed his tail away and smelled burning fur. Tony jumped down in utter confusion.

Later upon inspection, I found 1) No burnt skin, so tragedy averted (as the late Yul’s tail amputations taught me), and 2) more tail got singed than I realized.

Tony eventually noticed it himself and started licking. Today the singed part feels almost smooth again. Whew!

While the cats were picking horses, I’ve been taking notes on the news.

With SCOTUS, Smaller is Better: I stand by my compromise of rightsizing SCOTUS by reducing the number justices. The elegant simplicity is that Biden doesn’t have to nominate anyone who will immediately have Fox trashing their reputation. It also eliminates confirmation hearings, so Senate Republicans can’t spew treason on live TV.

Just cut the court back to seven justices with an impartial LIFO layoff, last in, first out. That rids us of the worst two: Amy “I Hate Women” Barrett and Brett “I Love Beer” Kavanaugh.

Republicans Refuse to Govern, Hate America: Moscow Mitch McConnell just announced, “100% of my focus is on stopping this new administration,” just like he vowed to make Obama a one-term president. McConnell also blabbered, “Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle just can’t resist stretching out the pandemic, using it as a rationale for additional spending far beyond what is best for the country.”

Yeah, it was the Democrats dragging their feet the whole year Trump was dancing in the blood of 500M+ COVID victims and trying to get a crazed mob to murder Congress. Sure, Mitch.

Clearly, Republicans’ mission is to keep Americans destitute or dead and the country’s infrastructure in rubble as long as they’re rich. No matter what Biden does, McConnell says it has no Republican support. So, it’s past time to end the filibuster and make every traitorous, useless Republican roadkill under the steamroller of Democratic progress.

Give Vax Deniers the Right to Die: If Biden won’t mandate vaccinations for feckless morons who are the REAL ones “stretching out the pandemic,” let’s shun them like smokers. If they can’t show proof of vaccination, don’t let them in anywhere without a mask, and throw them out if they refuse to keep their distance. We need to isolate these disease-carrying vermin as a herd so may infect and kill off each other and end the pandemic.

Trump Returns to Social Media — Not: Facebook just banned Trump for another six months, but we all know they’ll eventually let him spread lies and stoke violence again, because Facebook is an intellectual landfill where facts and wisdom go to die.

Law enforcement — anywhere — needs to wrap up “investigating” and arrest Trump on any of his myriad felonies. They’ve got video, audio, paper trail and witnesses in most cases. Imprison Trump as a flight risk until his trials. Cutting Trump off from call-in interviews and social media would bring peace of mind to the world.

So Bill Barr Lied — Now What?: A judge finally admitted it. Former Attorney General Bill Barr’s four-page “summary” of the Mueller report was all lies and he never had the slightest intention of prosecuting Trump for anything — EVER.

As always, criminal behavior of Trump and his cronies was exactly what it seemed when we watched them do it, no investigations or hearings necessary. Bill Barr has been exposed as the Trump-loving, DOJ-sabotaging toady he presented himself as. Will he be disbarred? Charged with perjury? Obstruction of justice? Or allowed to shrug it off, as so many of Trump’s criminal accomplices have done so far?

Bringing Trump and his enablers to justice would force Republicans to face consequences, and force them to Plan B. Whatever Plan B is, it can’t possibly be worse than propping up a demented wannabe dictator with lies so they can make the U.S. an autocracy.


Derby Leaves Cats Kentucky-Fried

May 3, 2021

By Roc, Tony and Max

Roc here… When I was a tiny kitten out west in Abingdon, Virginia, my mom always told us never to trust — or stand under — horses. “Freaks on stilts with rocks for feet” she used to call them. Since we’d never seen a horse, my littermates and I had no idea what she was talking about.

But once I came to Cats Working and learned from Adele about the Triple Crown and sat through all those races with her for years, now I know exactly what Mom meant. You never really know what’s cooking in those tiny horse brains in those ginormous bodies.

And humans think CATS are unpredictable!

Adele must be laughing her ass off in Kitty Heaven over the crappy job we did of picking Kentucky Derby winners. Karen remembers all the way back to when the late Fred used to pick the ponies. She says she doesn’t think he or Adele were ever more off the mark than we were.

Max cutting in… Speaking of Adele, I bet she’s up there on Seattle Slew’s back, whispering in his ear, “Your great-grandson Bourbonic came in 13th. Not your proudest moment, huh?”

Curlin, Bernardini and Afleet Alex, who are all living the studly life in retirement, have probably been hearing horsy guffaws around their stables over their descendents running like their shoes were on backward.

Tony… OK, OK, since I’m the new designated prognosticator here, I should be the one to tell you how it went down. In case you missed the race on May 1, you can watch the whole disgusting spectacle right here in a minute. But let me tell you a few things to watch for.

First, we are grudgingly happy for the winner, Medina Spirit, and congratulate him for his amazing race. But we were all hissing right after the race when his trainer Bob Baffert kept calling him a “little horse.” Hey, Baffert, that “little horse” made you the most successful trainer in Derby history with a seventh win. Show some respect!

On Derby Day, two of our picks were getting a lot of promising attention: Known Agenda and Rock Your World. In the end, Agenda became the relative leader of our pack, coming in ninth.

Rock Your World, who went in with second-best odds of winning, was another story. Directly out of the gate he was crowded out by Essential Quality (14) and Highly Motivated (17) and pushed to the far outside, where he remained. Rock did try to recover, but must have started thinking, “I could be in my stall with a big icy bucket of carrot juice, watching this shit on TV,” because he fell back and crossed the finish line 17th.

But by far the MOST bizarre run was by that whitish horse, Soup and Sandwich. He started from post position 19, surged to the front and maintained a steady second place behind Medina Spirit. Then something weird happened. At about 1:35 on the video, it looks like Soup starts running BACKWARD. He lets ALL the other horses pass until he’s dead last in 19th place. (Only 19 horses ran because King Fury, pp 16, got scratched). See what I mean…

Kitty hope springs eternal, so we’ll try to do better with the Preakness. We haven’t heard of any mishaps from the Derby, so at least all the horses made it in one piece, and we’re thankful for that.


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