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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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The cats are more than a little confused this afternoon. The caretaker came home from work early, fixed herself a glass of tea, sat down, and put her feet up. That’s right. Before doling out cat food and water, before asking the cats if they had a good day, before making sure the litter boxes were clean . . .

She sat down.

And put her feet up.

After the initial shock, each cat decided to deal with this unnatural occurrence in his or her own way. Bear chose to occupy a post halfway between the caretaker and the food bowls, making sure the caretaker had a perfect view of her very unhappy kitty face. She lay on the cold, hard wooden floor for almost an hour staring at the caretaker with THAT LOOK, occasionally turning her eyes longingly toward the food bowls, each glance weighed down with an aura of fading strength. She remained silent throughout this tragic scene, but like many silent film stars she was able to dim the world ever so slightly with her pathos.

Buddy, on the other hand, was a bit more direct in expressing his displeasure. Jumping up on the chair arm and placing his face directly in the caretaker’s face, he assumed his best “woman-your-whole-purpose-for-living-is-to-take-care-of-me” attitude. (He is not very good with punctuation at times like these.)  As he sniffed her lips to find out if she had been eating something she hadn’t shared with him, he was startled by a strange noise at the door. It was a combination of large footsteps and low singing tones. That’s right, a song was being delivered to Buddy’s front door, and the thought pleased him immensely. He extracted his nose from the caretaker’s face and jumped down to wait for the song to enter the house. But as he stared at the door, he only heard a metal box clanging, and then the song began to fade away. He remained there staring at the door until all hope of receiving his very first singing telegram was gone.

Crestfallen, Buddy ambled down the hallway to hide under the cot. These two disappointments following so closely upon each other’s heels provided more data than he was equipped to handle on a Friday afternoon. Perhaps after a wee nap the world will regain its former luster. If not, he shall simply have to get another hooman, one who isn’t so self-centered, one who will feed him mounds of fish with gravy and then order him a singing telegram.

That doesn’t seem too much to ask.

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Lest the previous post leave our gentle readers with the impression that Stratford Palace is a pigsty, Buddy and Bear would like to stress that the caretaker has a cleaning regimen which takes up a substantial portion of every Caturday and is extremely distressing to the cats on many levels.

One of the main problems is the matter of the caretaker’s missing lap. When she is sweeping floors and emptying garbage cans, her lap might as well have an “out of service” sign on it. This situation is much more of a grief to Bear than to Buddy because when the caretaker is home, Bear’s goal is to stay as close to her as possible, but both cats are distressed by the extra noise and commotion they must endure until cleaning is complete.

Buddy’s main concern when he finds the caretaker standing and working instead of sitting quietly is that he assumes that her motives are the same as his: scoping out mayhem to pursue. For example, when she wields a broom to rearrange the various bits and pieces of dirt on the floor, Buddy expects his life to end at any moment by “blunt force trauma.” (He really must stop watching so many crime mysteries.). The missing lap/walking caretaker is also a problem during laundry time, and unfortunately that process has not changed much since the days in the Seafoam Cottage (See “An Open Letter to Hunter Van Pelt.”)

However, there is one particular laundry day that must be chronicled here, as it created the greatest distress Buddy has yet seen at Stratford Palace. Our gentle readers may not be aware that the cats have their own room, complete with a supply cabinet, litter boxes, and a small, quilt-covered cot, pictured below.

Fort Cat

Fort Cat/Cot

Hoomans would, of course, be tiresome and say that a cot’s only appropriate purpose is to be slept upon, but the underside of the cot provides the perfect place for Buddy to play his favorite game, “Hide-and-Go-Sleep.” The caretaker has learned to look here first whenever she is getting ready to leave the house and needs to make sure he is not locked away in a closet.

It is not so much the cot itself that Buddy loves but the quilt that turns it into a cat fort par excellence. It did, that is, until that fateful day of 14 July 2012, which shall forever more be called “Laundry Day” instead of “Bastille Day.” (Except, of course, in France, because the French are selfish and have absolutely no perspective on what constitutes a real problem.)

And what, the gentle reader might ask, made this laundry day so fateful? It was nothing less than the washing of the quilt, preceded by the removal of the quilt, which left the soft underbelly of the cot exposed. There are no words to describe the look of betrayal and alarm that emanated from Buddy’s face when he walked into his room and found his cat fort dismantled. Doctors may get along just fine without borders, but there is no way a cat fort can be useful without walls. He walked under the bed and looked out at the caretaker accusingly, daring her to point out that she could now see him.

Trying to process the loss of both a porch AND a fort, Buddy wandered nervously around the house during the wash cycle, and finally found a place to nap fitfully while the quilt was drying. Then he followed the caretaker to the clothes dryer, watched carefully as she hoisted up the laundered quilt, and then escorted her to his room, hoping against hope that his beloved fort could soon resume its proper form. Like any good manager, he stood to the side and watched her imperiously as she centered the quilt on the cot, smoothed it out, and checked to make sure it hung straight on the side. And like a good manager, he ran forward to point out all the mistakes she had made. As soon as she left the room, he ducked under the bed to make up for lost time and was not seen again for several hours.

Of course, the observant reader will have already noticed the miracle that is described in the previous paragraph. Under normal circumstances Buddy runs frantically away from anything to do with laundry. But on this day, his fear of pelt sorting was eclipsed by his great need to restore order in his fragile universe.

But rest easy, gentle readers, for order HAS been restored. The picture of the cot above was taken after the quilt was washed. God’s in His heaven. Buddy’s under his cot. Bear has been fed. All’s right with the world.

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