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.


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.


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