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The relationship between Buddy and Bear is what some might call “stormy” or “tempestuous.” The caretaker prefers to call it “blasted annoying.” The gentle reader should not be fooled by the charming snuggle-moment captured in the header photo. While such Hallmark scenes occasionally do grace the Seafoam Cottage, there are just as many wars and rumors of wars, all of which tear at the fabric of the family’s happiness and sometimes even rip the upholstery.

For obvious reasons, the most exasperating time for such wars is the middle of the night, when the caretaker’s only desire is to be slumbering soundly. If Buddy has had plenty of porch time during the evening hours, he is usually tired enough to sleep until morning. But if he has been denied the opportunity to expend his energy hating all that he sees outside his domain, he has no choice but to use up his excess animosity on Bear, who receives very little warning to flee the wrath to come. Last night was one of those times when Buddy suddenly decided that Bear is evil and must be destroyed. Never mind the fact that Bear was doing nothing but enjoying a good nap; Buddy was quite sure she needed a good trouncing.

At bedtime there had been a vague hint that all was not well between the cats, but when a truce was reached, the caretaker drifted off into dreamless sleep, blissfully ignorant of the plans that were forming in the twisted mind of Buddy, Master Thespian. But forsooth, at roughly 2:17 a.m. (very roughly) Buddy decided it was time for him to don the costume of Henry V and for Bear to be the unvictorious Dauphin. With all the best roles in the battle scene taken, the caretaker was relegated to serving as scenery. Without her consent (for it would not have been given), she was suddenly transformed into the Field of Agincourt. Until that very moment, the caretaker had spent no time considering the feelings and emotions of stage settings, but as the battle raged across her midsection and then thundered down her left leg, she began to think herself accurs’d that she WAS there and to sympathize with the Globe and all its counterparts.

As much as the caretaker enjoys all things having to do with Shakespeare, it was never her desire to speak the line “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day” and to mean it almost literally. Who knew that poetry could be so dangerous? So forget the Ides of March. It’s October 25 that should be avoided, as well as any day when Buddy has not had enough exercise. And possibly Wednesdays.

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The spring thaw is a lovely time of awakening for all of God’s creation, including cats (an awakening that does not preclude naps, of course). Buddy has always had a great interest in exploring the land beyond the front door, but the warmer weather and the increase in outdoor wildlife have made him more determined than ever to dash outside at every opportunity.

One fine day recently, the caretaker decided to allow Buddy a special privilege he gets occasionally. He loves to walk through the door into the space that he thought the caretaker called a “screamed-in front porch,” but heretofore he had not understood the name. When the caretaker propped open the front door and allowed him access to the porch, he rushed out with all the force of water through a broken dam. And the dam that had broken was his sense of propriety. Today he was no ordinary domestic house cat. No, the fresh spring air that filled his lungs had turned him into Buddy the Mighty Hunter, Panthera tigris tigris, a fierce white stripeless tiger—in other words, the feline equivalent of Mr. Hyde. And that was when the porch earned its name. Buddy raised his head and emitted a primal scream, which the caretaker first mistook for a louder mroow than usual (which just shows how much SHE knows). Today it would not be enough for Buddy to stroll the confines of the small porch as he had done before. He had caught the savage scents of spring, and nothing would do except a full escape so that the great hunter could fill his hunger for adventure. And birds.

Sensing his transformation, the caretaker latched the screen door because she realized he was strong enough to push it open if he was determined to leave. At this point, he became enraged and began running from the screen door, back into the house to the farthest corner of the bedroom, and then back again at full clip to the porch, hoping conditions had improved. Seeing no change, he repeated the “freight train” maneuver at least three more times, howling all the way. By the third trip, Bear was wide awake and staring at him in disgust. But Bear’s disdain was wasted. He did not see, he did not care. He only wanted to go O-U-T so that he could R-U-N-N-O-F-F.

Fearing that Buddy would figure out he could use his mighty claws to tear through the screen, the caretaker followed him onto the porch and grabbed him by the sides to bring him back inside. It was only then that she remembered why Siegfried and Roy no longer perform tiger tricks. Buddy turned on her, and if she had been holding him closer to her face, she would have required copious amounts of iodine and bandages. When she was far enough in the house, she dropped him and closed the door. He whipped around, delivered three fierce karate chops to her foot, and screamed a few more times in sheer frustration at this abrupt ending to his safari.

Not harmed, but quite surprised, the caretaker took a spot on the couch and sat very still until Buddy could calm down. He paced the room for a few minutes, spitting and cursing, but as soon as his anger subsided, he realized the horror of his alter ego’s actions. The disagreeable Mr. Hyde had attacked the caretaker, who despite her many and great faults is the only person in his life who has opposable thumbs and can therefore fill food bowls, get fresh water, wash bedding, and clean out the litter box.

Uh-oh.

Finding the caretaker still on the couch (and by “still” we mean perfectly still), Buddy put his best paw forward and approached her in abject repentance. Even more gently than normal he sidled up to her and purred out his humblest apologies, looking up with sorrow radiating from his bright golden-green eyes.  He somehow realized that this was the greatest test yet of the caretaker’s capacity for forgiveness, but he needn’t have worried. His genuine confession of mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa was too much for her to spurn. She stroked his ears gently and told him quietly that she was only thinking of his safety because there were many dangers beyond the screen door. She droned on for quite a while, but once Buddy knew that his apology had been accepted, his eyes began to close in peaceful rest, and all he heard was the dulcet tones of a hooman’s inexplicable affection for a forgiven cat.

So Buddy the Terrible Tiger was once again Sweet Buddy Boo, gentle companion to Bear and faithful house cat to the caretaker. The metamorphosis was complete, at least until the next adventure. Beware, feeble universe. Mr. Hyde lies in wait.

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Holler Day

The cats apologize profusely for the long delay since the last post. The caretaker has been something that she calls “bizzy,” and there is no one else available to record their vital communications. Today she is at home in the middle of the week because of something they heard her call a “holler day.” As near as they can surmise, a “holler day” is a day when she sleeps late, sits with the computer on her lap, and hollers at them for doing what cats do.

“Buddy, stop! The candle will burn your paw.”

“Mrroow?”

“Bear, don’t growl at your brother!”

“RRRRRR”

“Buddy, stop chasing your sister!”

“Mrrooo!”

Such conversations are annoying to the cats on several levels. First, the caretaker does not seem to understand that just because she is given the privilege of paying the rent and buying the groceries, she is not the cats’ supervisor. She should think of herself as a steward, with all the reponsibility and none of the authority. She should really be used to that scenario by now. Second, cats do not like to be interrupted when they are in the middle of a project. Buddy in particular shoots eye daggers at the caretaker when she stops him from stalking Bear. How is he ever going to demonstrate his superiority as the male of the species if the caretaker prevents him from making Bear’s life miserable?

And then there is the matter of this “brother” and “sister” malarky. The cats have not studied human relationships (such information is irrelevant unless a relative is providing food), but they do understand that brothers and sisters are listed in the Table of Kindred and Affinities. They are reasonably sure that they are not kindred, and they are quite sure that they feel little or no affinity for each other. Bear spends most of her day wishing a large boulder would break through the ceiling and crush Buddy, preferably far away from the dinner bowl so that her meals will suffer no interruption. Buddy spends his time imagining that Bear’s head has been violently severed from her body. (Caretaker’s note: Buddy is dictating a very graphic description of this daydream, but there is no point in going any further, as it would make our gentle readers feel quite ill.)

So overall, the cats do not approve of holler days. If it were not for the extra opportunities to be scratched behind the ears and receive special snacks, holler days would be utterly intolerable. Perhaps the caretaker will take a nap soon so that the shenanigans can continue uninterrupted, like any other day of the week.

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Murder all Day

A popular website sells a t-shirt with the slogan “Kitten thinks of nothing but murder all day.” Apparently someone believes this to be a joke. It is not. Even when the cats are not sparring, they are considering it. One minute they can be on the couch, heads together, taking turns grooming each other, looking innocent enough to be photographed for a Hallmark card. The next minute, the Hallmark card becomes a Stephen King movie. For no discernable reason, Bear lashes out, claws unsheathed, and Buddy parries with a ninja move consisting of a jump, a twirl, a pounce, and a kick. It is not completely unlike a feline version of a roundhouse kick. Chuck Norris would be proud.

Even when they are not in each other’s face, getting on each other’s nerves, there is murder afoot, er, a-paw. This morning when the caretaker returned from church, Bear followed her into the bedroom, used the clothes in the floor as a rug, and began grooming herself. In a few minutes, Buddy sneaked up, found a strategic location from which to lurk, and began staring at Bear with a look that would frighten a psychopath. Bear either didn’t notice or enjoyed the scene, knowing that if Buddy’s thoughts became actions, the caretaker would intervene.

“Now, Buddy, you don’t have to be jealous. Bear isn’t getting any special treatment or extra food. Why are you looking at her that way?”

Apparently the caretaker believes there has to be a reason for murderous intent. Other than being a cat, that is.

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Twilight at Midnight

The caretaker is a bit confused about Buddy’s propensity for behaving like a vampire. She has no idea where he would have learned the behavior, as she is not a Twilight fan at all, and he has no access to vampires in any medium. Neither she nor Buddy has ever seen the movies, read the books, or uttered the words “Team Edward,” though she did accidently glance at the books while browsing through Barnes and Noble, for which she would like to apologize profusely to all of polite society. She is, in fact, so averse to all things Twilight that she will not even drink wine.

But this evening, a bit past twilight, Buddy has decided that he doesn’t have those canine teeth just for nothing, so he executes the “I vant to drink your blood” routine on an unsuspecting Bear. Poor sweet Bear wants very little from life except food and water and a soft bed, so she sometimes has difficulty dealing with Buddy’s shenanigans. It’s bad enough that he runs through the house screaming like a banshee at 2 a.m. But when she is sleeping quietly, minding her own business, and wakes up to find Buddy’s teeth clamped down on her neck, there is only one possible response: paranoia.

Not wanting to clean up after a bloodbath, and expressing some measure of fondness for the cats, the caretaker breaks up the altercation quickly. Without missing a beat, Buddy pretends to have some perfectly reasonable explanation for why his teeth were, until quite recently, embedded in Bear’s throat.

“Mrroow?”

“Oh, sure, I’ll forgive you, Buddy. It was all a misunderstanding, you say? No problem. You saw your toy on the floor, and then you looked over at Bear, and somehow you got confused and pounced on the wrong one. It could happen to anyone. I get my right side and left side mixed up all the time. I just hope your sister isn’t too very traumatized by your ‘accident’.”

Blisfully immune to both sarcasm and guilt, and denying any sibling ties to Bear, Buddy sets about pouncing on the toy this time. It seems, however, that he is the only one convinced by his tale of mistaken identity. Eventually Bear begins to relax, though she finds a strategic spot that allows her to keep an eye on Buddy while remaining close to the caretaker for protection. But neither Bear nor the caretaker allows herself to drift off to sleep just yet. It is never a good idea to let one’s guard down while danger lurks, which in this case means while Buddy is awake.

Semper vigilans. Stayin’ alive.

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