Archive for the ‘Games Kitties Play’ Category

There are times when the caretaker has a positively brilliant idea, such as setting up a monthly subscription for cat food delivery. And then there are other times. The Disco Tent falls into the category of “other times.” It seemed like such a good idea at the outset. The caretaker had been brainstorming ideas to keep the floor in the cats’ room from looking like the bottom of a snow globe (that is if the snow globe were filled with litter instead of dainty pieces of faux snow). She had seem some expensive pieces of furniture called “hidden litter boxes” with holes into which cats are supposed to saunter, take care of their unsightly business, and then saunter out again, fresh as a daisy. But given the size, age, and temperament of both Buddy and Bear, the caretaker figured that such a plan would result in having to ring up the fire department to use the jaws of life to rescue one or more furry victims from the throes of claustrophobia.

No, there was no point in paying hundreds of dollars for a glorified cat trap, but a suitable alternative seemed to present itself in the form of a small plastic tent intended for children ages 1-6. The caretaker thought she could shove each litter box into a separate tent, so that as litter was kicked about, the sides of the tent would hold it in. To be safe, however, she decide to order only one tent to make sure the plan would work.

Limiting the order was the only good decision the caretaker made in this fiasco. When the tent arrived and was unfolded, it presented three major problems:

  1. The opening in the tent is not large enough for the litter box to gain easy entrance into and egress from the tent.
  2. Even if the litter box could be squeezed into and out of the tent door, the sides of the tent are made of a lovely, breathable mesh material that would provide smaller pieces of litter easy entrance into and egress from the tent.
  3. Although designed for children ages 1-6, the tent is roughly the size of Connecticut. Two of them would fit into the cats’ bedroom only if all other furniture were removed.

In other words, the tent put the caretaker back to square one with regard to litter spillage, while subtracting more than a square yard from her already limited floor space. Even in the kindest terms, this solution would be labeled a colossal failure.

But the caretaker, having spent twelve dollars and ninety-nine cents for this disaster and having no desire to ship it back, was determined to find a way for it to brighten up the household. So she wedged it into the spare bedroom, lined it with a blanket, and tossed in all of the cat toys she had found when she swept under the sofa, et voila, a playhouse. Two of the toys she retrieved are spheres made of pointed strips of multicolored mylar that catch the light and sparkle like a disco ball.

Thus the naissance of Disco Tent.

Although Disco Tent was righteously snubbed by both cats during the first eight hours of its existence at Stratford Palace, it finally became the subject of Buddy’s undauntable curiosity. He would run through its door, sniff the tent interior from east to west and north to south, and then fly out the door as though he had been ejected.  His curiosity, you see, was tempered with a keen distrust that the tent might suddenly transform into a cat carrier and whisk him away to the vet’s office. (Please note that the caretaker has not entirely discarded this option, given the difficulty of getting Buddy to the vet.)

Bear, however, remained oblivious to the tent’s charms for two more days. But Tuesday morning, the caretaker passed by the guest room door and caught a glimpse of Buddy standing beside the tent looking quite forlorn—utterly discontent, one might say. His head hung down, and his face wore an expression that made the caretaker want to weep and giggle at the same time.

“Whatever is the matter, my darling boy?” the caretaker crooned. Buddy lifted only his eyes, simultaneously raising the level of tragedy that emanated from his countenance.

As the caretaker glanced around to find the source of his chagrin, she looked inside the tent and saw the distinctly ringed tail of a saucy tabby. The previously indifferent Bear had taken up residence in the Disco Tent, and her relaxed demeanor indicated that she would not vacate it any time soon.

Buddy’s once sacred space had been violated. He was afraid to enter the tent while Bear occupied it, so he had resigned himself to wait in mournful silence for her to leave.

The caretaker smiled and reassured Buddy that he would again be able to frolic in the Disco Tent after Bear finished her nap and moved on to partake of a post-nap snack.

The caretaker tactfully omitted that this was clearly a first-world problem and therefore did not merit as much sympathy as Buddy thought it deserved. Yet do not chide, gentle reader, for if you had only seen those eyes of woe, you would have wept with Buddy over a loss of even one second in the Disco Tent.

But never think that Buddy is down forever. The caretaker could have sworn she heard him humming “I will survive” a few minutes ago.

Like Buddy’s curiosity, Disco never dies.





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Though Stratford Palace is a mostly serene dwelling (save for vet visits or those hollerdays involving fireworks), it has its own peculiar struggles from time to time. One dare not label them as “life-or-death” because no cats or caretakers are ever harmed in such contretemps. Rather, these struggles are more along the lines of “comfort-or-serious-lack-thereof.” Last night one of those struggles played out between two unlikely combatants: Bear and the caretaker.

Almost every evening, the caretaker stays up long past the hour that Bear would consider a proper bedtime. Truth be told, Bear is amenable to falling asleep at virtually any hour, but there comes a time shortly after dark has fallen that she leaves the caretaker and Buddy to watch the big light-box, and pads down the hallway to the caretaker’s bedroom. Someone, after all, has to be sensible in this household, and that lot falls to Bear more often than the caretaker would like to admit.

Bear in Bed

Bear in Bed

At this point, it is important for our gentle readers to know that Stratford Palace has three bedrooms, as well as multiple cat beds in the living room and dining room, not to mention a blanket-filled box in the hallway. But when darkness falls, Bear deliberately passes up these congenial spots in order to make a cozy nest in the exact center of the caretaker’s bed. Normally, when the caretaker is ready to retire for the evening, she goes to the kitchen and opens a can of gushy fish or fowl, and before the food hits the plate, Bear is underfoot, meowing impatiently. The caretaker then completes her evening ablutions and goes to bed, while Bear assumes her post in the hallway box and waits for the caretaker to fall asleep before sneaking back up onto the bed for the rest of the night.

But last night, there was no waiting. There was no sneaking. There were only the wily machinations of a gifted strategist: Bear. Last night, Bear wolfed down her food and practically ran all the way back to the bed, plopping down smack-dab in the middle of it. Thinking that this was any normal evening, the caretaker completed her ablutions and headed to her room.  But when she arrived, she found an unwelcome surprise. There lay Bear, leaving no room for the caretaker either to the left or the right. To add to the misery, Buddy took that moment to claim a spot at the foot of the bed.

At this point, it is important for our gentle readers to know that all of the beds in Stratford Palace are twin beds or smaller. Despite the presence of royalty in the palace, there is neither queen bed nor king bed. So when a twin bed is already populated by one 12-pound cat and one 14-pound cat, both lying parallel to the sides of the bed, there is not enough square footage left for a small child, much less a large caretaker. Attempts to relocate Bear slightly to the west were met with stubborn resistance. Subsequent attempts to settle down on the east side of Bear without hanging precariously off the side of the bed were also met with failure. With a sigh, the caretaker realized that she had been outfoxed.

If there is, indeed, no rest for the wicked, the only logical conclusion is that Bear is a veritable saint. The caretaker, on the other hand, should probably seek out a confessor as soon as possible.


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Random Scenes

The caretaker has recently been so involved with non-feline projects that she has had no time to record events at Stratford Palace. Until life gets a little less hectic, our gentle readers must content themselves with a few random scenes from the past couple of weeks. They are presented in no particular order, since the caretaker has also been too scatterbrained to keep up with chronology.

Scene the first: Buddy Meets Ellie

Buddy has hopped onto the table to examine the various items thereon. To his great delight, he finds a small stuffed elephant that the caretaker has purchased for her short grandson (the tall one has outgrown plush toys). Ellie has exceptionally soft fur, so Buddy cannot resist becoming better acquainted with her. The caretaker enters the room in time to see him rubbing his face all over hers. He then flips over on his side and hugs her.

Caretaker: Get a room!

Buddy: *Hug*

Buddy and Ellie

Buddy and Ellie

Scene the second: Buddy Plays Chimera

Buddy has hopped onto the table to examine the various items thereon. Having finished his inspection, he lowers his head and glares ominously into the kitchen where the caretaker is preparing her breakfast. She catches a glimpse of him and draws in her breath sharply.

Caretaker: My goodness, Buddy. Aren’t we looking particularly gargoylish this morning!

Buddy: *Glare*

Scene the third: Buddy Defends the World (again)

Buddy has hopped onto the back of the chair in which the caretaker is resting. He suddenly notices that the caretaker’s head is an evil monster that must be defeated. He therefore flops onto his side and begins wildly kicking her in the back of the head. 

Caretaker: “Hey, that hurts! Can you please stop it?”

Buddy: *Kick. Kick kick. Kick*

Scene the fourth: Buddy Gets Underfoot

Buddy is sitting in the doorway monitoring the front yard for suspicious activity. When he notices that the caretaker, who is standing near the table, has begun folding clothes, he draws near to guard her from the evil laundry monster. She takes one step back and bumps into him, nearly falling. Buddy dramatically scurries out of the room screaming bloody murder.

Caretaker: Buddy, are you okay? I didn’t even see you there.


Caretaker: Oh, knock it off. I didn’t hurt you.


And for the rest of the evening, whenever the caretaker walked from room to room, she moved very slowly.

Caretaker: Okay, Buddy. I’m going to my room now. I’ll just walk past you slowly on this side of the hallway. I can see you’re there, and I won’t step on you this time.

Buddy: *Glares at the caretaker’s feet* Marouw!

The End
For Now

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Presenting a story which has some ups and downs but which ends well.

Chapter 1: Woe is She
Venomous Vet

That fateful Saturday started out perfectly, with a hearty breakfast and a post-meal nap. For a little while the house was delightfully peaceful: Buddy was gone. The caretaker had snatched him off his throne while he was sleeping, deposited him in the Big Gray Box (BGB) before he could finish his vehement protest, and walked out the door trying desperately to maintain a firm hold on BGB. Bear had no idea where they went; she simply knew that Buddy was not eating her food, drinking her water, or taking over her favorite napping spot. Even better, he wasn’t lying in wait to pounce on her. There was no felicity in the world superior to this. These were perfect dozing conditions.

And then it happened. Bear’s nap was cut short by the sound of the front door opening again, and she looked up in time to see the caretaker bringing back a Buddy-filled BGB. When its door opened, Buddy came charging out like a speared rhinoceros. But that was only the beginning of Bear’s calamity. The caretaker’s next move was to shove Bear’s furry frame into the BGB, latch the cage door securely, and walk out the front door. After an interminable 10-minute car ride, Bear was sitting on a cold metal table being prodded, pilfered, plundered, pillaged, and poked while the caretaker watched, offering no help whatsoever. Another visit to the metal table two days later had the caretaker taking part in the poking ceremony, which was to be repeated every morning and every night for several months.

But the quick jab of an insulin needle twice daily was of little consequence when compared to the major dietary changes that would now be imposed:

  • No more gravy (inconceivable!)
  • No more meat-flavored cornmeal-laden bits that crunched like bones (impossible!)
  • No more tasty treats (unconscionable!)
  • No corn flakes or wheat biscuits (actually, not a problem at all)

Life as Bear knew it was over. But she wasn’t going out alone. Since there was little chance of keeping them on a separate diet, she would be taking Buddy down with her. There was, at least, some small comfort in that.

Chapter 2: Woe is He
Grains Have Left the Building

Buddy’s visit to the vet had been fairly normal, which is to say he flipped out during the car ride and banged his nose against the cage door, tried to escape when being weighed, fidgeted during the physical exam, barely noticed the rabies shot because he was so distracted by the contents of the vet’s pocket, and violently objected to being returned to the confines of BGB. So when he returned home and switched places with Bear, he relished the hour of solitude in his own personal man-cave. Having shaken off the dust from his recent outing, he convinced himself that all his troubles were over.

Whereas, forthwith, to wit, his troubles were only beginning for his well-known hatred of all healthy food would now be strained to its very limits.

When the caretaker returned with Bear, she brought a cardboard box filled with canned food. That could have been such a monumental event, but this was Special Food for cats who are either afflicted with “the diabetus” already or who just need to lose a bit of weight—say, for example, if a certain white and black cat weighed 14 pounds and should really weigh 12 pounds, according to the vet.

At the next meal time the caretaker opened one of the cans to reveal a substance that was both meaty and smelly, two of the cats’ favorite food descriptions. She then scooped out a little of brown mush onto two plates, set the plates on the floor, and both cats cautiously licked the surface of it a couple of times, as though sampling the most expensive beluga in the world.

Then they each chowed down.

Then Buddy threw up.

Thankfully, the caretaker had already formulated Plan B.

Chapter 3: Woe is We
Gravy, We Hardly Knew Ye

So we come to the concluding chapter in our saga of revenge, illness, diet, suffering, and barf. The loss of gravy was eventually borne with amazing alacrity, but not until the caretaker located a type of healthy food that Buddy could tolerate and that would also alleviate Bear’s condition. The caretaker has learned to administer insulin shots so well that Bear rarely squirms or flinches now. And in the past few months, Bear has gone for regular check-ups that usually end with the caretaker being told to reduce the insulin dosage.

Best of all, the caretaker located a grain-free dry food that crunches well enough to satisfy even the bone-hungriest cat. Bear has regained her shiny coat, her bright eyes, and a guarded sense of playfulness. In fact, only tonight when the caretaker was walking down the hallway holding a sweater fresh out of the washing machine, Bear began to pretend that it was the Great Cardigan of Doom. She jumped from her spot in the hallway and ran aimlessly into the bedroom before darting out again to face the dreaded beast head on. Happily, both of them survived the encounter, as did the caretaker.

And so, gentle readers, even if we have come to the ending of all things, we are still pleased to report that the denizens of Stratford Palace are doing fine.

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With apologies to Rudyard Kipling. Come to think of it, to everyone else, really.

You may talk of fish and fowl;
You may even serve up owl
When breakfast is prepared within your house.
But when the evening falls
Bringing darkness to your halls,
That’s when nothing will suffice but Blue Felt Mouse.

Then it’s mouse, mouse, mouse—
You’d better say your prayers now Mousie Blue
‘Cause when Buddy gets the scent
You will wonder where he went,
And you’ll turn to find he’s chasing after you.

Now in morning’s coldest hours
When the bravest of us cowers
Buddy roams restlessly about.
He bounds from room to room
Wreaking havoc, fear, and doom
On creatures that he spies inside and out.

At each window he stands guard
Searching long and searching hard
For perils that would come invade his house.
But when boredom settles in
He turns all his thoughts within
And seeks to pick a fight with Blue Felt Mouse.

When it’s spied behind the door,
Buddy gives his fiercest roar
And reaches to retrieve the miscreant.
Then he tosses it around
With a leap and with a bound.
Soon it throws him to the floor and makes him pant.

It’s a din, din, din—
The caretaker is wakened by the din.
She runs to the bedroom door,
Turns her eyes down to the floor,
In time to witness Buddy get the win.

With no choice but to succumb
To Buddy’s bellicose aplomb
The Blue Felt Mouse lies lifeless from the fray.
Now sleep is murdered too,
But that is nothing new,
For Buddy wakes the whole house every day.

But when order’s been restored
By the strength of Buddy’s sword,
The champion collects his precious spoils.
Then he lays his burden down
In a box that he has found
And rests himself from all his grueling toils.

Now our king, king, king—
Buddy the king has conquered all.
So until the next alert
Or a crisis to avert,
He’ll stand guard until it’s time to start a brawl.

To the Victor Go the Spoils

To the Victor Go the Spoils


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It is time we lifted the veil on a closely held secret that is eerily similar to the fictional secret “revealed” in Men in Black. In that classic film, Lt. Gerard told the Fresh Prince of Bel Air that although Earth lives under constant threat from alien invaders (one of whom is Monk), nothing bad ever happens, thanks to an elite band of heroes wearing boring suits, white shirts, and Ray-Bans. They then went to work saving the world from a metamorphosed Bobby Goren, whom the cats had always thought was one of the good guys. Come to think of it, the movie was very confusing.

Confusion aside, movie-goers left the theater knowing that Earth is under no threat from aliens.

But our secret, gentle readers, is all too real. We all face an eminent danger of immense proportions. But worry not. Buddy is on the job fighting evil. What is that evil, you ask?

Packaging. Any form of packaging. You thought it was there to protect your purchases. It has actually swallowed up your merchandise while waiting to attack you in the middle of the night. Are you scared yet?

Sometimes it’s the tape on boxes. Sometimes it’s those small plastic grocery bags with handles. Today it was the seemingly harmless white tissue from a gift bag. The caretaker brought in a bag and set it on the table, then went to change clothes. While thus occupied, she heard a kerfuffle in the dining room. Apparently the tissue had attacked our hero and had been wrestled to the floor.

Fighting the Fell Beast

Fighting the Fell Beast

This tooth and nail and tissue battle raged violently for a few minutes, and then upon suspecting that the remaining tissue in the bag was getting ready to attack, Buddy whipped around and unleashed his super power, commonly known as blue laser vision.

Blue Laser Eye: Superpower Superb

Blue Laser Vision: Super Power Superb

At this display of force, order was quickly restored. Due to Buddy’s quick thinking and mad skills, the world is once more safe. The threat averted, he showed his mastery of the defeated tissue by treating it as a pelt and covering his paws with it.

Tissue Master

Tissue Master

Now all he needs is a pair of Ray-Bans and one of those flashy things, and he can consider himself an official employee of MIB. He would love the opportunity to make the caretaker forget some of those things she always nags him about. But he would have to be careful; he certainly wouldn’t want her to forget to buy cat food!

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A few months ago, an announcement was made regarding the addition of palace staff. This arrangement has worked out extremely well for all concerned. Buddy is especially glad to have another source of adoration, and Bear is pleased that an additional can opener is now available. This week, however, the new staff member has added skills to his resume. Upon emptying a rather large box that had contained a shipment of kitchen supplies, he turned the box on its side and set it on the floor so that Buddy could play Cat Fort whenever he wants. With his recovery complete and the return of warmer weather, Buddy has spent many happy hours holding down the fort. And as a side benefit, naps are even better in the safety of a cardboard haven.

Last night when thunderstorms started to rumble, the caretaker lined the box with a comfy blanket so that the fort would be a comfortable refuge for anyone who might be frightened. Buddy insisted that he was not afraid, but he also felt it would be a shame to waste such an inviting bed, so he spent several secluded hours while the storm raged. Then tonight, when storms threatened again, the caretaker decided it was time to produce the fabric mice she had been hiding and use them to distract the jittery king, who jumped a bit higher into the air each time the thunder roared.

The first fabric mouse was received in the hallway and promptly found its way under a closed bedroom door. Buddy immediately flopped onto his side and repeatedly shoved his paws into the crack under the door, but was never able to retrieve the mouse. The second mouse did not get away so quickly. Rather than play with it in the hallway and risk a repeat of his previous tragedy, Buddy brought the mouse out into the living room and set it behind one of the box top flaps. He then proceeded to stalk it with all the gusto of an NRA member hunting a deer. Biding his time and pouncing quickly enabled him to sneak up on it, subdue it, and gather it gently into his mouth. He then approached the box and dropped the mouse on the lid that was serving as the fort’s front door.

Now if anyone in the world has his priorities straight, it is a cat. Naps are all well and good, but when a dainty blanket gets in the way of stalking wild game, something has to give. The blanket was unceremoniously shoved out of the very same box where it had served as a mattress only fifteen minutes earlier.

Fort Cat

Fort raided, mouse held for questioning

The temporary calm captured in the illustration above was shattered soon after the photo was snapped. The box began to shake, rattle, and roll while Buddy and the fabric mouse fought a duel to the imaginary death. To borrow an overused and virtually meaningless media phrase, “details are sketchy” regarding the exact nature of the battle, but thankfully Buddy won the day. He emerged from the box bearing his prize between his teeth, sauntered to the food bowl, and plopped the vanquished foe into the bowl.

Buddy’s motto is “Eat or be eaten.” Bear’s motto is quite similar, but more succinct: “Eat.”

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