Chapter 90: COVID Chronicles

June 26, 2020

By Karen

Day 107

Cats at Play & Theft

In the ongoing competition over the couch’s primo spot, last night Roc politely sidled up to Max as close I’ve ever seen them. They even exchanged a few head licks before dozing off…

Roc’s display of what Max must have known was insincere affection apparently grossed Max out, because he soon left and spent the rest of the night up in the Man Cave.

Always on the prowl for fun, Tony has dug out an Easter egg that was a gift from a former Cats Working reader, also named Adele. It arrived many years ago for the original blogging crew, which consisted of the now all-late Fred, Yul and Adele. I can still make out Fred’s name on this egg. I put a little wicker ball inside to make it rattle because Tony loves a mystery. Roc was watching, so Tony did his best to stay cool…

But it was no use. Like a kitten, Tony pounced back on, dribbling the egg until it got trapped one time too many…

Nothing escapes Tony. This morning, with no cats around, I put two slices of sourdough bread in the toaster to cook after I finished cleaning the litter boxes. While I was off doing that, Tony deftly lifted a slice out, a feat of greater dexterity (and cunning) than he’s ever shown before, and was nibbling it when I returned. Lately, he’s had an intense interest in bread of all types.

Then last night, Tony had a grappling session with Rowdy Rat, after Rowdy got a catnip refresh. This particular rat has survived here 30-35 years through a succession of cats who all did their best to kill him. He’s still sold by Cat Claws. Poor Rowdy has managed to keep his tail, but his pink ears (which I’ve reattached several times) are long gone…

Tony, Max and Roc wish everyone a healthy and safe weekend and full bowls!


Chapter 77: COVID Chronicles

June 13, 2020

By Karen

Day 94

I Step Out & Max Shows His Cojones

I stayed up last night until 2 a.m. watching Mister Ed (got all six seasons on DVD), then didn’t get up until 10 a.m. It felt like I’d lost half the day.

I was down to my last stick of butter and running low on eggs. Plus, I’ve got this new meatloaf recipe I want to try and needed some ingredients. My favorite grocery is Aldi because Food Lion’s pricey, but then I procrastinated, putzing around in my nightgown until 2 p.m. and pushing off shopping until tomorrow.

But the car hadn’t been driven for 11 days, so I really needed to dislodge any squirrels who again might be snacking on the fuel line.

It’s sunny and 80s, so I went to my parents’. We sat out on their beautiful deck, bitching about Trump. That was the longest I’ve been outdoors since my father’s birthday on April 25.

On the drive home, the groceries kept gnawing at me. I had my list, and Food Lion was right there, so I stopped in for a few things I knew Aldi wouldn’t have, as well as meatloaf fixings in case I blow off Aldi again.

It’s now Virginia law to wear a mask in enclosed public places, but it’s not enforced. Food Lion had a few bare-faced assholes. They might as well tattoo I ♥ TRUMP across their faces. They couldn’t see my disgust under my mask, and we mutually avoided eye contact. It’s like they know we all know they’re scum.

But I digress. I scored the LAST jar of active yeast. And I got eggs and a pound of butter. Even better, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was 3 for $10, so I got Phish Food, New York Super Fudge Chunk and Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream. They’ll perfectly complement Mister Ed.

This morning, Max stunned me. Remember how I told you Max gains confidence from spending time with me? Well, he boldly claimed Roc’s favorite TV-watching spot on the couch…

He even napped and didn’t stir when Tony ambled by…

You can tell a cat is happy when he looks like a pretzel…

And when he stretches out to claim maximum territory…

Max remained in that spot the entire time I was gone, and he’s still there as I write this. Roc doesn’t seem to have noticed yet. It will be interesting to see what happens after dinner when I turn on the TV.

BONUS: Comedian and song writer Lauren Mayer wrote and performs a new song defending Karens and suggesting a more apt alternative. She doesn’t have Randy Rainbow’s slick production values, but her lyrics are every bit as clever. Check it out…

DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s an article on Raw Story that provides some historical context on how Karen became a four-letter word.


Chapter 69: COVID Chronicles

June 5, 2020

By Karen

Day 86

Hit the TP Jackpot & Max Asserts Himself

I just scored 14 extra rolls of Scott toilet paper (1,100 sheets per roll)! A neighbor bought it in Costco for my parents when the TP rush started, but they prefer something softer and gave me what they had left. Added to my own stock, my butt is covered until well into 2021.

CHIVE UPDATE: Must confess I’m losing interest in the chives. Soil doesn’t seem to be their thing. Both of the runts gave up, and this morning “someone” bent the tallest shoot you see here (Tony, I’m looking at you)…

Tony’s been obsessed with the plastic tray that sits under the pot, and I finally figured it out. It’s a mouse. Droppings were on my plant supplies out in the storage room from a tiny gray mouse who invaded several years ago.

I washed everything good before I used it, but Tony must still smell mouse.

Richmond City Council has voted to remove four more statues on Monument Avenue. Naturally, there’s opposition from Confederate diehards, but they still have other monuments scattered around town, battlefields preserved for their reenactments, and the White House of the Confederacy AND an American Civil War Museum to visit, so any whining about having their “heritage” wiped out is BS.

Max continues asserting his status as man of the house. Last night he stayed downstairs and slept in Tony’s perch by the window, rather than in any of his more comfy beds.

This morning Roc couldn’t resist trying to kick Max out, but I finally got Roc to settle in the second banana perch…

Tony doesn’t get involved, perhaps because he was last cat in. He has nothing to feel possessive about except his Froggy on a stick. Max and Roc’s turf war seems to be baffling him, especially since today it cost him his window perch.

When I came downstairs at lunchtime, Roc had pulled off a silent coup, but Max only ceded a few inches by switching places to the lower perch…

Tony’s still trying to figure out what’s going on.

Max has also been hanging out on the living room floor, another new behavior. When Adele was alive, Max stayed off the floor as much as he could so she wouldn’t chase him.

I think Max’s is benefiting from lately sitting with me and Roc on the couch to watch TV in the evenings. Whenever I spend time physically with Max, it seems to boost his confidence, which is nice to see. Max usually keeps to himself, so I’m thrilled whenever he chooses to be with me.

During the winter I occasionally carried Max into the bedroom to cuddle on cold nights. Tony and Roc needed no invitation. After that, Max would walk around with his tail held proud and mingle as one of the boys.

He’s a strange little guy.


Chapter 64: COVID Chronicles

May 31, 2020

By Karen

Day 81

While Richmond Roils, a Lazy Sunday in the ‘Burbs

Richmond had riots again last night. They tried to burn the stone headquarters of the Daughters of the Confederacy. That building is next to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, which has many large sculptures on the grounds, including this one of red glass by Dale Chihuly that could have been turned into dandy weapons…

Fortunately, I think the protesters spared the outdoor art, but blocks away they sprayed graffiti all over the Confederate statues — Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis — on Monument Avenue…

Monument Avenue is a broad and stately residential street lined with pricey old homes, and these statues sit in the intersections. I can only imagine how terrified the people living there must have been with hordes rampaging through their neighborhood.

There was more looting and burning, and the police sprayed tear gas.

Large protests are underway in the city today as I write this, but what I’ve seen so far has been peaceful. Tonight there’s an 8 p.m. curfew, so we’ll see how that goes.

Today the weather is perfect: mid-70s, sunny, breezy, not humid. All the windows are open and the cats have been scampering around trying to see everything.

But Roc stomped on my last nerve first thing this morning, as he usually does when I’m doing a chore I hate, changing the sheets. Actually, I hate folding sheets even more. He thinks it’s a game…

Last night I ordered some books from Amazon and they’re here already! Max immediately picked out his favorite…

My house is so full of books, I had to stop buying and start downloading instead. However, some books require touching, and these three are like that.

I became aware of cartoonist and cat poet Francesco Marciuliano with his first volume, I Could Pee on This. I also have I Knead My Mommy, which is poems by kittens. He’s written several others.

Today I got his two latest, from 2018 and 2019, respectively: Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising and All Cats Are Introverts (Max’s pick).

Formatted like my book, How to Work Like a CAT (which I kick myself for not milking more, like Marciuliano has done with his idea), these books are quick reads, but full of cat wisdom. I’ll share one example from Claw the System:

Through My Eyes

I want you to think
How it would be
To be as small as I am
To be as frightened as I am
To never understand what one is saying
Yet always being told what I can’t be doing
To have to gaze up
At those who look down
Hence why I tripped you in the hall
So that maybe while you’re on the
floor looking for your tooth
You can final see the world
from my point of view

Max has spent the past few days holed up in the Man Cave. He came downstairs unexpectedly this afternoon and sat in the rocker that no one has gone near in months. I changed his bed blanket in the Man Cave this morning to one that looks like what’s on the rocker, so maybe that attracted him.

The rocker immediately became the hottest ticket in the house. Naturally, Roc the bully couldn’t let Max keep the best seat, and you know what happened…

So Max rejoined me on the couch. I think his look says, “Are you going to start reading me these books or do I have to show you some claw?…

While Roc was sitting at the open window earlier, he saw his friend from the deck. Squirrely is well-camouflaged, so I point out where he was…

I tried many times today to catch Tony looking cute, but he’d see me and keep running toward me. A second ago, he humored me long enough to catch this…

The third book I ordered was Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge, a Norwegian author (but I got the English translation). The little stories are meant to be savored slowly, so I’ll let you know about that one later.

I like silence. Even though I work at home, during the day I never have on the TV or music because background babbling drives me nuts. But sometimes at night when I can’t sleep, I play the ocean on my iPad as white noise, and then drift off imagining I’m on a ship in the middle of nowhere.

These days, the middle of nowhere seems the safest place to be.


Chapter 63: COVID Chronicles

May 30, 2020

By Karen

Day 80

Richmond’s Imploding While Trump Stokes Racism & Wildlife Pays Us a Visit

Downtown Richmond saw some demolition this morning…

That was the 40-year-old, 340-foot Dominion Energy building. Dominion is the electric company. As the cloud enveloped other buildings, it was like watching the Running of the Dust, with dumb gawkers in the nearby streets fleeing on foot to escape suffocation. Good times!

Last night, downtown got violence over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protesters torched at least one bus and a car, and they did some looting.

I live out in the ‘burbs, so I was far from all this action, thankfully. I think people are just fed up with what a shit show life has become on every level and seize any excuse to rage.

Trump had to pour more gasoline on the fire today by proclaiming, “MAGA loves the black people”…

…in essence, he admits MAGA is a whites-only cult. His racism bubbled through all his macho nonsense about how Minneapolis should handle its riots.

He talks tough now, but last night he cowered in the White House like a little girl while 2,000 people protested George Floyd’s murder out front and then marched to the nearby Trump Hotel. He’s lucky that’s still standing, but possibly only because it’s built of stone.

Back in my neighborhood, the tree my neighbors had cut down yesterday left a massive stump, and I’m not seeing any signs of disease on it…

Aha! As I was discreetly taking this photo from my office window, the neighbors came out and studied the stump. Maybe they’re wondering if they got ripped off because the tree only needed a dead limb removed. The day before it — literally — all went down, I did notice one of them talking to a guy who stopped by in an unmarked pickup truck, pointing up at the tree.

That’s how tree scammers operate. “We’re doing some work in your neighborhood and noticed this big fella’s about to crush your house and cars any minute. We can save your life and give you a great price since our equipment is already right here. When can we get started?”

Yesterday, Tony and Roc spied a visitor out on the deck…

I couldn’t get too close because it saw me and scampered off, but I did zoom in…

It’s their old friend Squirrely! Well, probably not THE Squirrely who used to nap on the railing of the old deck, but one of his descendants or cousins.

That’s about as exciting as it’s been around here these days.

When you were a kid, did you ever make gum wrapper chains? This video uses Starburst® wrappers, but it’s the same concept…

I once made a Guinness Book-worthy chain. I was never a gum chewer, but would find wrappers on the ground everywhere. I wonder whatever happened to that chain? Hmm…

I brought it up because last night I got the bright idea of making a chain out of the snack bags I’ve been tying in bows for Tony to play with. I found a few under the furniture and got it started…

It’s meant to be a cat toy. We’ll see if the kitties agree.


Rats Are About to Get Busted

August 25, 2011

By Max

On Friday, August 26, at 10 p.m. ET, Animal Planet is starting a 6-episode series called Rat Busters NYC. It stars two guys named Jimmy and Mike and scores of rats, who were all most likely harmed (murdered) during the filming of the show.

But don’t get me wrong. I may be a kitten, but I’m not soft on vermin. I don’t mind that Animal Planet thinks killing innocent creatures is entertainment. I can’t wait to watch those suckers go down. I’m just upset that Animal Planet hired humans to do the job when so many cats are out of work.

Don't bother pleading for mercy, you rat-bastard!

Jimmy and Mike work for Magic Exterminating. It’s like Ghost Hunters for rodents. They work in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, which is a rat paradise, according to Animal Planet.

Eeewww! Alert for the Bourdain family: The website boasts that rats are found “everywhere — from warehouses and small businesses to apartments and single-family homes, from the Upper East Side to Tribeca and crawling all over Brooklyn and Queens!”

The site also tried to dispel some myths about rats, such as that they can grow as big as cats. False. They said domestic rats usually top out at 2 pounds, and the world’s biggest rats, in Papua, New Guinea, only make it to about 3 pounds, while cats are more in the 8-10-pound range. (I’m 4 ½ lbs.)

But Cats Working documented a rat in China that weighed 6 pounds.

Even so, if a cat and a rat get into a serious smack-down, that rat won’t be around to brag about it to his grandkids.

I mull the option of suffocating him painlessly while digging my claws into his back.

But then Animal Planet dissed cats by saying we’re ineffective ratters because we can’t possibly keep up with the rat population, nor clean out the tiny places they hide.

OK, so where were Jimmy and Mike during the Black Plague? More recently, why didn’t the city of Los Angeles have any doubts cats were up to the job?

What AP forgets is that the mere presence of a cat makes rats think twice about putting down roots. If rats were so brilliant, they’d be the ones with 9 lives.

I'm not letting go 'til you squeak "Uncle!", Cheddar-Breath!

Anyway, I just thought I’d let all my new cat friends know there’s 6 hours of whisker-licking rat-bashing coming that you won’t wanna miss.


Belgium Plots to Wipe Out Housecats

August 25, 2010

By Cole

I wish I were making this up, but it’s true. By 2016, Belgium plans to have every short-haired cat in the country sterilized. They have one cat for every 10 people, and last year 13,000 homeless cats had to be put to sleep, so the Belgian government thinks it has an overpopulation problem.

I agree. They have 90% more humans than cats. If it’s a question of allocation of resources, they’re “fixing” the wrong species.

Belgium’s human population grew 0.776% in 2008 and is trending upward, while they think the cat population increases about 6% annually. But they ignore an important fact…

CATS DON’T LIVE NEARLY AS LONG.

If the proposal is passed, in 2011, they will begin with all cats in shelters, then those belonging to breeders and pet shops. Finally, housecats will have to be registered with the government and face mandatory sterilization.

Pedigreed cats like Persians and Abyssinians will be exempt. So in one generation, Belgium’s cats will consist of nothing but flat-faced, long-haired shedding machines. Not that I have anything against purebreds, but whatever happened to Vive la Difference?

The eradication of kittens should be complete in 5 years. The only thing stopping them from starting immediately is a lack of government funding.

Speaking on behalf of the “ordinary, unwanted” domestic shorthairs at Cats Working, if Belgium follows through on this heinous, incredibly short-sighted plot, may it find itself overrun by vermin. Who knows? Maybe they’ll bring the Black Plague back into vogue. Whatever hardy European mousers are left may be too old to hunt, or even deliberately let the rats thrive to control future human generations. Payback’s a bitch.


Boston Rats Meet the Feline Verminator

May 4, 2009

By Yul

When Harvard University began a “Big Dig” for a new science complex, they sent hordes of rats scurrying to the ‘burbs of Allston and Brighton, where they’re terrorizing everybody but a black cat named Klondike.

The "Verminator" with owner Linda Osgood (Photo - Matthew Healey, Boston Herald)

The "Verminator" with owner Linda Osgood (Photo - Matthew Healey, Boston Herald)

Harvard officials deny they caused the sudden infestation because they tried to gas or trap all the rats on their site before construction began. Then they installed 90 rodent-monitoring stations around the perimeter.

Hello?! That explains everything. The smartest rats escaped alive, and the monitoring stations are keeping them away. You’d think the geniuses at Harvard would recognize Darwinism at work.

The hardy survivors are raiding trash cans in their new ‘hood. The food must be good because one resident joked that the rats are “big enough to put saddles on.”

Circumstances have turned 4-year-old Klondike, who lives in Allston, into the Verminator. He bags anywhere from 1-3 rats a day, leaving their lifeless carcasses in people’s yards as a warning to any rats he hasn’t met yet.

Klondike recently brought a wounded rat into his own house for experimentation while his humans were at work to make sure he was operating at peak efficiency. Borrowing a page from Dick Cheney’s playbook, he tried “enhanced interrogation techniques” on it all day, but gleaned no useful intelligence on enemy activities.

The classic feline approach, “Kill now, Ask questions never,” is still far superior.

I urge all Boston cats to follow Klondike’s example and get to work. They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so it’s up to us to remind the vermin who always wins when it’s Cat vs. Rat.


Vermin are Making News Again

February 25, 2009

By Fred

I warned people about getting too chummy with vermin after that huge rat turned up in Papua, Indonesian New Guinea. Now a 6-pound bamboo rat with a 12-inch tail and inch-long teeth has been found strolling through a residential area of Fuzhou, China, a city with a population of 6 million people.

You know that rat’s got family nearby.

Some man who apparently skipped history class the day they learned about Black Plague decided to grab the thing by the scruff of the neck, stuff it in a bag, and take it home. Here’s the fool holding his catch of the day:

"Mmmm, rat. It's lip-smacking good." (Photo - News.163.com)

"Mmmm, rat. It's lip-smacking good." (Photo - News.163.com)

The question now is, what are his intentions? The Chinese consider rats an excellent source of protein, if you know what I mean. (Cats, too, I hear. They’ll eat anything.)

I suspect that sucker ended up as ratatouille.

Covering the rodent beat right here at home, I discovered the American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association. Really. They have breeds and shows where their best specimens compete, like the world needs high-quality vermin.

People deliberately breed these things, and the ones who aren’t show quality sometimes end up in laboratories participating in gruesome experiments.

It seems to me that this hobby could cause problems with our relations with India. That country is overrun with rodents and people starve because rats beat them to the rice.

While I have nothing against finding new and exotic ways to kill vermin, I draw an ethical line at bringing them into the world solely to doom them. Where’s the sport in that?


Rats Risk Their Lives to be Useful

December 31, 2008

By Fred

The Chinese Year of the Rat, which ends January 25, 2009, proved lucky for vermin. African Giant Pouched rats have two new career paths, although one is kind of kamakazi.

In Mozambique, rats in cute little harnesses and leashes (just like the red one Yul got for his aborted attempt to meet Santa) sniff out vapors from old landmines. Their noses are more sensitive than mechanical devices, and they’re so light on their feet, they don’t trigger explosions.

"Landmines smell just like kimchi!"

"Landmines smell just like kimchi!"

In fact, they’re making dogs, who could do this job, look oafish and inept.

Humans are so excited, they’re considering using rats to find landmines in other parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. I personally have no problem with exposing rats to this sort of danger, but I would caution people against getting carried away.

You may train a rat to walk on a leash, but he’ll never be your friend. Don’t forget who brought you the Black Plague in the Middle Ages.

In Tanzania, rats are detecting less-than-microscopic traces of tuberculosis in human saliva samples. That must make for nice chit-chat at rodent cocktail parties:

“And what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a spit sniffer.”

Rats are much cheaper than sweatshop labor. When a rat finds what he’s looking for, he scratches, and is rewarded with a piece of fruit or a nut.

You may wonder, if the rats are so smart, why haven’t they realized they can just scratch and get the treat because humans can’t immediately tell if the rat’s done the work?

Here’s what rat trainer Bart Weetjens thinks: “That would be human behavior. The rats are more honest.”

If you’re interested in adopting one of these rodents (no, I’m not kidding), here’s the site for you.


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