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Archive for the ‘Insanity’ Category

Gentle readers, Stratford Palace has been a most stressful place over the past few months, and none of its denizens has been more affected than its beloved monarch, His Royal Highness Merlin “Buddy” Blacktail, Emperor of the Front Lawn and Protector of the Storm Door. He feels responsible for the safety and well-being of his remaining subjects, especially after Unca Dan wandered off last year, and he appears to have let everyone down. His failures are recounted thusly:

  • He has lost all control over the caretaker. For the past few months, she has had many extra projects and often comes home late from work. Recently she packed a suitcase and was absent without leave for several days. In fact, if she were not so careful to ensure that the cats were always fed regularly, she would have been fired long ago and replaced with a much more amenable hooman. In fact, it is hard for him to imagine that there could be a less amenable one.
  • He has lost all control over Bear. She has recently been hauled away so often that he’s quite sure she is looking for another home. These adventures involve the caretaker shoving Bear unceremoniously into the little box and then taking her away in the big rolling metal box, whilst Buddy is left all alone in the palace. Then when his feline subject returns, she smells as though she has been in a place that houses dogs, and she’s frightfully grumpy and uncooperative.

(At this point, the caretaker must interject the observation that it is difficult to tell whether Buddy is more upset that Bear has been taken away or that she has been brought back. Nevertheless, an upset of some sort has occurred, so Buddy requests that you pity him for it.)

  • Besides all of these changes he has witnessed in his subjects, he has been forced to deal with excessive intrusion from the outside world. Some of these events the caretaker labels as “thunderstorms,” and some she calls “firewerks.” Buddy just prefers to lump them all into the category “The End of the World” and then to behave accordingly.

And so, gentle readers, the photo below indicates the state of Buddy’s current mental health. He is very often to be found under the cot in his throne room, usually out of sight, but sometimes venturing one eye out from under the bedspread to see if conditions in his world have improved yet.

Not taking appointments

His Royal High-Strung Majesty

Perhaps that one-eyed look of hope means Buddy believes all shall soon be well now that Bear’s daily shots have ceased and her trips to the vet will be less frequent. What he does not know is that the caretaker made an appointment this week for his annual checkup and vaccinations. Please, gentle readers, do not break this news to him just yet, as he may never recover his composure. And let’s face it, he never had much of that in the first place.

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Two Boxen of Catsen

Our gentle readers who have kept abreast of the adventures of Buddy and Bear will remember that the cats live in a home where fun is not only allowed but encouraged. Normal people discard boxes after their shipment has been emptied and put away. Unhampered by normality, the caretaker places boxes in strategic places around the house so that the cats can hide out or lurk or pretend to be guarding a strategic outpost in the never-ending battle between the beautiful land of Felintia and the evil empire of Healthfoodious.

At present, there are two boxes in the living room. One of them is a mundane 4-sided box that once held the fire logs Buddy enjoys watching. The other box, however, is anything but mundane. No, it is a miracle of modern packaging: it has two compartments, a sort of duplex box (duplox?), as it were. Now if you’re thinking that the cats have been willing to inhabit either side of the duplox together in peace and harmony, you have either deceived yourself or you haven’t been paying attention to the previous 93 posts on this blog. Peace and harmony are often in short supply at the Seafoam Cottage. Most of the time the caretaker would be grateful for an uneasy détente instead of constant conflict.

This evening, for example, Buddy gulped down his dinner and then took up residence in the duplox, daring Bear to approach his fort, which he had claimed in the name of cod and country. Unruffled, Bear sidled into the normal box, which is stationed across the room from the duplox. The staring contest that ensued was epic. Briefly epic, that is. Buddy has a short attention span and a wicked desire to take whatever Bear has, so he soon became bored and decided to oust Bear from her box, though it is obviously inferior to his own. (Cats’ decisions do not have to make sense, as human logic goes. It is a pity that humans can be entirely too logical sometimes. It is that failing which keeps them from being truly great.)

When Buddy abandoned his post, Bear took the opportunity to dart by him and claim the duplox for her own. Looking a bit confused, Buddy rushed into the inferior box as though playing a demented game of musical chairs, without the chairs or the music. Again quickly bored, he charged back to regain his position in Fort Duplox, while Bear sought higher ground, specifically the area of the couch just east of the caretaker.

With détente restored, Buddy decided the duplox was boring, so he took up his other post in the window sill, just west of the caretaker. He may not be able to pursue his plot against Bear, now that she has sought sanctuary, but he can jolly well take out his aggressions against any foe that happens to walk by. So beware, all nocturnal creatures—opossums, blossoms, or students with drums; rats, bats, or other cats; raccoons, baboons, or Broadway show tunes—anyone who makes the mistake of wandering past the Seafoam Cottage this night. Beware, take care, and prepare to be looked at very sternly.

It will serve you right.

(Note 1: There would have been photos, but the dramatic events described above took place entirely in the dark.)

(Note 2: The intended next entry was preempted by the dramatic events described above. Barring any other breaking news, our gentle readers will next be regaled by the story of the traveling plant. That is not a typo.)

(Note 3: There is no Note 3.)

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Cabin Fever

Over the past few weeks of winter, most days at the Seafoam Cottage have passed with little more than sleeping, eating, and an occasional viewing of Cat TV, which has much less to offer since Tabby Lee and Mr. Shorty have sought shelter from the cold. But today the cats woke up in Crazyville, where the trains run only one way.

First, the stage must be set for Bear’s foray into madness. Despite the caretaker’s providence of a Drinkwell fountain AND a gravity-operated water dispenser, the cats greatly prefer to drink from the bathtub faucet. Rather than waste water by leaving the faucet dripping, the caretaker provides a small stainless steel bowl filled with fresh water, and oddly enough the cats have accepted this compromise. They seem to enjoy jumping into the bathtub, stealing a drink of water, and then jumping back out. Apparently water tastes better if one has to obtain it surreptitiously.

This fine morning, however, the clandestine mission went terribly awry. As the caretaker scurried about getting dressed to attend the early service at church, she was startled by a huge clatter that arose from the bathroom. Running to see what great tragedy had befallen, she was met by the sight of a soggy Bear, who had somehow misjudged the location of the water dish and jumped directly into it. Confused and frightened, she then apparently jumped straight back out again, so that by the time the caretaker found her, she was sitting perfectly still, dripping on the bathroom rug and failing miserably at pretending nothing was wrong. Anyone who knows cats will understand what a great strain it was for Bear to maintain her composure, but she managed to strike a regal pose that belied her circumstances. The situation was so pathetic that the caretaker couldn’t laugh at her, but instead spoke soothing words and carefully wiped the water from her back. Mercifully, the house was at peace again before the caretaker left.

When she arrived home, the cats were asleep on the couch, snuggled in each other’s arms. But shortly after the cats were awakened by the caretaker’s presence and the eternal hope of impending snacks, the idyllic scene was ended by Buddy’s impromptu production of “Lion and Gazelle,” and as always Bear was cast as the reluctant gazelle. With the caretaker ready to defend Bear from certain destruction, Buddy had to divert his aggression, and he soon spied the perfect victim. While playing on top of a box that the caretaker had brought into the living room, Buddy turned around suddenly and caught sight of a long, black, furry snake-like object trying to sneak up on him. In an instant he formed his battle plan:

* Whirl, pounce! Whirl, pounce! Whirl, pounce! Whirl, pounce! *

Though he spoke not a word, his face developed an expression of sheer frustration, and it was obvious that he was thinking, “What in the wide, wide world of fish is going on here?”

This foe was crafty indeed, for every time Buddy whirled, it darted out of striking distance, moving at exactly the same speed as he did. Unable to best the beast, he jumped down and loped into the bedroom, hoping to escape its hideous clutches. All this time, Bear had calmly observed him from her perch on the sofa table, her smug expression conveying one message: “Who’s the gazelle NOW, Buddy Boy?”

Eventually Buddy lost sight of the monster, so he settled down in the window sill behind the caretaker as she typed away at another dull blog post. He felt this was the one place of safety in the house, and he was corrrect. For if the caretaker is so willing to defend Bear from Buddy, she would certainly be willing to defend Buddy from a sneak attack by his own tail.

At the moment, therefore, peace reigns in the Seafoam Cottage; both Buddy and Bear have settled down to watch Cat TV. They will soon drift off into a cat’s version of religious dreams befitting a Sunday afternoon: Bear will dream of accidental baptisms and Buddy’s nightmares will include snake handling. Meanwhile, the caretaker would appreciate any and all ideas for curing cabin fever, but keep in mind that we’re all out of cowbell here.

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Only Acting

There is a fundamental oddness about Buddy that will always transcend normal feline behavior. If Bear follows the expected pattern of a cat who enjoys eating and sleeping and then eating some more before being scratched behind the ears, then Buddy is definitely the exception to the rule. He lives his life by fits and starts, with considerably more fits than starts. Buddy of Paranoia Eternal is the Jason Bourne of the cat world, behaving as though everything and everyone is out to get him. No noise, for example, is a mere noise. The sound of a passing train is treated as the invasion of a demon horde. The June bug that buzzes around the living room light becomes a fire-breathing dragon. The clatter of the ice-maker dropping its fresh supply of cubes can upset Buddy to the point of hysteria. The caretaker has learned to move slowly and deliberately through the house, and even then, Buddy becomes agitated when she approaches. She finds it most distressing to walk into a room and see her beloved Budster, back raised and tail puffed, moving sideways through the house like a furry white crab being pulled along a trolley cable. She means him no harm, of course, but for no apparent reason he can act as though he is being hunted. Perhaps his conscience weighs heavily on him, or perhaps he just assumes that everyone else has the same ulterior motives that lurk in his mischievous head.

Recently, even his forays onto the porch have been surrounded by a heightened sense of drama. The caretaker’s habit has been to prop open the storm door so that the cats can enter and exit as their leisure. At first, he only stopped at the door opening long enough to make sure the caretaker was setting the door prop. But now he no longer approaches the door directly. Instead, he jumps onto the bookshelf beside the door, glares at the outside world suspiciously, and pretends there is no way out, sometimes even trying to climb up the door frame (pictured below). He then pretends there is no way down from the bookshelf, so he jumps to the nearby table, hops over to the back of the couch, and howls in faux distress. The penultimate act in this demented play begins when he finally finds the floor, walks over to the door, ignores the opening, and mindlessly scratches on the glass to be let out. This act’s last scene can be hastened when either Bear or the caretaker tries to walk outside. That is when Buddy suddenly remembers the fundamental operation of the whole “walking-out-the-door” business and flies by them as though fleeing a burning building.

Buddy pretending there is no way out

Buddy pretending there is no way out

But such antics seem to use up Buddy’s entire store of eccentricity because when it is time to close up the cottage for the night, the caretaker now needs only to go to the door and call his name. From wherever he is keeping watch over the palace lawn, he hops down and walks straight in, just as though he were a tame, sane cat. This closing scene in the evening’s play is, perhaps, the finest demonstration of his thespian skills that could ever be imagined.

Curtain

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About the blog name

If you wandered into this strange little world by accident, you probably began by criticizing the name. The cats are accustomed to that, and for once, they don’t blame you. They’re quite sure you’re saying to yourself, “It would have been so much better to call it ‘Conversations with Crazy Cats’ because that’s alliterative and poetic and rolls trippingly off the tongue.” And the cats would agree with you, at least about the sound of the name. The sense, however, is much better served without the word “crazy” for two reasons.

First, the term “crazy cats” has connotations of jazz. The cats do not approve of jazz, and they certainly don’t want anyone mistaking them for sunglasses-sporting, chain-smoking, saxophone-wielding musicians who wear musty black turtlenecks and torn blue jeans. Cats are very particular about their image, as you would know if you had ever observed their methodical grooming. Of course, that activity is usually followed by a series of revolting retches to bring up a nasty hairball, but such is the price of beauty.

Second, the word “crazy” is informal and pejorative, and cats do not wish to be addressed either informally or pejoratively. Furthermore, crazy is a way of life in the South, where the cats were born, and would therefore not distinguish them from any of their neighbors and certainly not from the local politicians or radio personalities. “Insane,” however, is a clinical diagnosis that can provide the basis for reduced sentencing in criminal cases. Considering their behavior, the cats may need such a remedy, but that, of course, is the only the caretaker’s opinion, as the cats are like politicians and will never admit to any wrongdoing. Cats are all about blameshifting and plausible deniability. And salmon.

So despite your obvious disapproval, “Conversations with Insane Cats” will muddle through, recording the day-to-day musings of two of the craziest most insane house cats you could ever want to meet, as well as the occasional babblings of their secretary and caretaker whom the cats suspect is actually the one who is not quite right in the head.

Welcome to the jungle.

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