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Lest our gentle readers be dashed into depths of distress over the contents of the previous post, the caretaker decided to share with you the scene that met her eyes when she walked down the hall with an armload of clean laundry. Here is photographic proof that Stratford Palace is a tiny corner of the world in which house cats and tigers and sock monkeys can dwell in peace.

At least during naptime.

Peace in our time

Peace in our (nap) time

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.

In our previous post, we informed our gentle readers of the state of feline health at Stratford Palace. Since last October when Bear received a diagnosis of diabetes, the caretaker has had extra care to take. For several months, there were shots to administer twice daily, and extra note to take of Bear’s demeanor to determine whether her blood sugar was too low. Mind you, trying to decide whether Bear is lethargic is a chore in and of itself. Not to mention that both insatiable hunger and aversion to the food that was set in front of her are symptoms of hypoglycemia, as well as the normal state of life with most cats, including Bear.

But the caretaker did her best with the timing of food and shots, and Bear never once drifted into hypoglycemia, which would have required a dose of corn syrup rubbed directly onto the gums followed by a trip to the emergency vet. With time, a good diet, and watchful care, the injection requirement dropped from two daily to one in the evening. and a very low dose at that. The vet, being a very clever doctor, required frequent checkups, the most recent of which occurred this past weekend. Blood drawn, blood tests ordered, and then nothing else to do but wait.

The results were returned today and like the very best of fairy tales, we are able to report a happily-ever-after ending to nine months of treatment. The vet called to tell the caretaker to STOP GIVING INSULIN SHOTS! Bear’s own body has taken over the task of producing enough insulin to regulate her blood sugar, so there is no longer any need to supplement it with shots. In fact, it was a very good thing that the checkup happened when it did; the fructosamine study, combined with the blood glucose test done in the office, indicated that Bear’s blood sugar has been running on the low side for several weeks.

So we post a picture of Miss Sassy sitting on the porch of her favorite box. And we invite you to join us all in a happy dance of victory at new-found health.

Miss Sassy Bear

Miss Sassy Bear, Diabetes Survivor

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.

On the morning of 24 October 2014, a felt mouse was found in the water bowl of Stratford Palace, the second such incident to occur on the premises this year. An anonymous ring-tailed witness confirmed that the drowning victim had recently been involved in an altercation with the king. The matter remains under investigation.

The king, pictured below staring mournfully at his second favorite minion (identified as Blue Felt Mouse), made a valiant attempt to rescue the victim, but was “grossed out by the wetness of Blue’s yarn tail.” Acting on the king’s behalf, the palace caretaker was able to retrieve the mouse’s body and fluff it in the clothes dryer, rendering it somewhat useful again. It is currently hiding behind the door in the caretaker’s room in an attempt to avoid further harm.

The king was overheard to say that because he has viewed Criminal Mimes almost obsessively for the past few years, he knows that it is only a matter of time before the Feline Behavioral Analysis Unit (FBAU) is called to deliver the profile of a cereal killer. He would just like them to know that his profile looks best from the left side.

A Second Victim

A Second Victim

 

Morning Din

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

 

The caretaker will be the first to admit that it has been entirely too long since the cats have been featured on the Internet. Since our last post, they have been courageous in the face of storms and delivery men, sleepy after a hard day of guarding the palace, hungry from hours of full contact napping, disdainful of nutritious food, judgmental of the caretaker’s choice of clothing, and just plain bored with life, the universe, and everything. There is really no excuse why our gentle readers should not have been treated to every single moment of feline awesomeness that has occurred since our last post in May. So without further ado, here is a recap of the major events in the lives of the cats and a few of their friends:

June

A suspicious drowning took place in the Stratford Palace water bowl. Gray Mousie, who was last seen dangling by the tail from the lips of a white and black cat tentatively identified by Bear as “That Goober Head,” was discovered submerged and lifeless around 5 pm on 2 June 2014. Buddy was not available for comment.

Suspicious Drowing

Catnip Mouse Bites Dust in Water Bowl

July

The departure of the Second Can Opener during the first weekend of July plunged the palace into a period of gloom from which it has not quite yet recovered. For several days this indispensable member of the household carried clothing, boxes, and furniture out of the house, and then one night, he simply did not come home. The caretaker was uncharacteristically lax in her response, making no attempt to bar the door against his departure as she always does when Buddy tries to leave. The good news is that Unca Dan has returned for visits and has even provided meals when the caretaker ran away for a few days, but Buddy has not been quite himself without him. For several weeks, he kept watch at the door until it was closed for the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of his beloved sidekick, but no joy.

Searching the Horizon

Searching the Horizon from the Comfort of an Egg Crate Mattress Cover (long story)

August

Lest our gentle readers believe Buddy is the only interesting denizen of the palace, we invite you to observe Bear in her natural habitat, namely, the caretaker’s bed. The caretaker recently purchased a new pillow, and it required a proper breaking-in, the kind that only Bear can provide. Notice how the pink sheets accentuate the color of the inside of Bear’s ear. This is interior design at its finest, if we do say so ourselves.

Not Goldilocks

This Pillow is Just Right, Said Tabby-Locks

September

Speaking of interior design, Buddy quite approves of the new Downton Abbey look for the guest room, so he very often pretends he is a guest in his own palace. Here he can be seen snuggled up in his favorite chair with his new friend, another sort of bear. Gray Mousie II, another new friend, awaits at the foot of the chair for post-nap mayhem to ensue.

My Favorite Chair, My Favorite Bear

My Favorite Chair, My Favorite Bear

October

Finally, we reach our current destination, the month of October, whose cool mornings call for warm blankets. Sometimes lying on a warm blanket is not quite enough to chase away the chill, so Buddy burrows under the blanket and settles down for a warm nap. Lest our gentle readers complain that the photo looks fuzzy, we hasten to remind you that everything in the photo is fuzzy, including the colorful paws.

Cool Morning, Warm Blankie

Cool Morning, Warm Blankie