The Seafaring Cat

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” ~ Tom Stoppard

I’m settled on the window ledge of our car, at the back of a ferryboat, watching Vancouver recede into the distance. We are headed toward Victoria, a place I’d never heard of before today. I am here against my will and am already sure that this type of rollicking adventure is not my cup of tea. As I contemplate the water foaming behind us in the ferry’s wake, I fret a wee bit. What kind of place is Victoria? I know that Miranda’s sister Cassie lives there and that I’ll be living with her for a long time while my providers desert me in order to flit off to Africa. And that is the sum total of the information I have at present. My future is shrouded in a “cloud of unknowing”. (Did I mention that I’m a well-read cat?)

The ferry vibrates a bit, but moves smoothly through the waves. I hear birds calling out to one another and must admit that the sun glinting on the water is picturesque. The steady hum of the boat’s engines lulls me until my eyelids droop. Yes, time for a nap.

“Squawk! Squawk!”

Startled, I leap to my feet and bump my head on the roof. Be still, my racing heart! I notice that a large, white bird has landed on the car trunk. He glares at me through the window. “Squawk!”

small_2393984030Narrowing my eyes, I growl a warning. “This is my territory. Leave or suffer the consequences.” In the heat of the moment, it fails to occur to me that the thick pane of glass between us will make it a bit difficult to carry out that threat. The wretched creature dismisses me with a toss of its head and bends to grasp something with its beak. It looks like a piece of bread. He flaps his wings and takes off, soaring up into the sky.

Wide-awake now, I prowl around the car, checking for an escape route. I’d quite like to chase a bird or two, now that my appetite has been aroused. The only portal to the outside world is one slightly-ajar side window. No hope of compressing my body through that. I do manage to wedge my nose into the crack and soon pick up some intriguing aromas…the pleasant tang of an ocean breeze, the less attractive residue of car exhaust and a faint but compelling hint of food being cooked.

I notice a small human running toward me between the cars. She seems to catch sight of me because she speeds up, yelling, “A kitty! I see a kitty in that car!”

Discretion leads me to withdraw my nose from the crack and retreat to the floor. Two wiggling fingers poke through the window space and an unfamiliar odour tickles my nostrils. The girl withdraws her hand and replaces it with a fat, brown finger of an altogether different sort. I detect the presence of protein, my favourite food group. Throwing caution to the wind, I leap up and approach the delectable tidbit. How odd! Despite its unnatural tubular shape, it looks and smells like meat and there is a spiciness to it that gives me pause.

A deep voice interrupts my musings. “Sandra! Come back here right now!” The girl turns to look at a male human who strides toward us, hand outstretched. “Daddy, look – a kitty. Can I give him my wiener?”

So that’s what the mystery meat is called. The man does not seem to be as enthralled with me as is Sandra and barely glances in my direction. He grasps her hand and starts to pull her away. “Let’s go. I got your colouring book from the car.”

“But Daddy…” They head off, but not before one little hand reaches back and drops the wiener through the window. “Bye, Kitty!”


Well, thank you Sandra. I’m on the floor pronto, nibbling cautiously at the meat. Mmmm… I continue to eat with gusto and, having dispatched the snack with rather more haste than wisdom, retire to the window ledge to clean myself and indulge in another nap.

In due course, my providers return to the car and Miranda opens the door nearest to me. “Cato, have you enjoyed your first ferry trip?” She strokes my head. “It looks like you’ve slept through the whole journey, which is probably for the best.”

That’s what you think. Which is probably for the best.

As I stretch luxuriously, I experience a slight queasy feeling. Miranda picks me up and tries to insert me into the cat carrier but, without warning, my stomach does a little flip flop and I start to gag. Miranda panics, as usual. “Yikes!” She tosses me to the floor and backs away from the car. Gag…gag... At the last possible second, I lean my head over and, with one final heave of my poor innards, expel all traces of my snack. Fortunately for us – though perhaps not the ferry workers – it lands on the ferry deck.

Feeling somewhat mortified, I slink back to my cat carrier and lie down inside. Jacob reaches over and closes the door. “Wow! Cato, I don’t know what you’ve been eating, but thanks for NOT sharing it with us.”

You’re welcome. Groan.

With a slight bump or two, the boat makes landfall and we crawl behind a long line of cars up a ramp and out into the fresh air. Still feeling somewhat unsteady, I peer through the carrier door. Outside the car, a single sea bird swoops to pick up something from the ground. From my lofty perch of sad experience, I want to call out the window, “Scavenger, beware!” Instead, I turn three times, nestle into my blanket and sleep.

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ~ Homer, The Odyssey

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ~ Homer, The Odyssey


Photo credits

Ferry wake:; Seagull:

Little girl:

Cat In Transit

 “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” ~ Rudyard Kipling


It isn’t my idea to travel. One minute I’m happily returning home from my morning constitutional around the property and the next I’m being stuffed unceremoniously into the horrid cat carrier. And on the way out the door, this exchange takes place between my providers:

Miranda: I hate doing this to Cato. I feel like a traitor or something.

 Jacob: It’s better this way. You know what happened last time.

 I imagine he’s referring to the day they planned to take me to the vet, a place where no good thing ever happens.  When I caught sight of the cat carrier sitting in the hallway that morning, I high-tailed it to the basement and hid in a dark recess under the stairs. Result: A nice long nap and one missed vet appointment.

My stomach lurches as Jacob swings my carrier out the door and belts it securely in the back seat of their automobile. Of course I complain bitterly – and for quite a long time – but to no avail. We are off on our journey to who-knows-where. Miranda tries to talk to me in soothing tones but I’m having none of it. “Take me home now! Let me out of here! Cat abuse!”

Eventually, the monotony of traffic sounds lulls me to sleep and I wake up to find that the car is no longer moving. From what I can see through the mesh door of my carrier, we are parked near a large body of water. My nose picks up a tangy, rather pleasing scent and I can hear birds squealing. Where are we?

Miranda opens her window and inhales deeply. “Don’t you love the smell of the ocean?”

Jacob agrees. “I’m glad we’ll be near the coast in Africa. I wonder if the seagulls are different there?”

small__8213118053Africa.  Suddenly all the activity and talk I’ve heard over the last couple of weeks seems to coalesce in my mind and I realize something big is happening. The suitcases ought to have been my first clue. There were three of them sitting open in the spare room for days on end. Miranda would add things to them from time to time and I quite enjoyed napping on some of the more pleasing fabrics.

And then there were the after-dinner discussions about this place called “Africa”.  Here’s an example:

Jacob, rubbing his arm: That last injection was the worst.  It still hurts a bit.

MirandaMine isn’t too bad. They say slight swelling is normal.  It’ll go away soon. She sips her tea.  It’ll all be worth it just to spend six whole weeks there this time. I like the thought of helping to build a children’s shelter.

Jacob: I’m excited about that too. It’s hard to believe we’re leaving tomorrow. My only concern is Cato. How will he cope in Victoria, in a strange house? Does your sister even know how to care for a cat?

MirandaOf course she does – we grew up with cats. Cato seems quite taken with Cassie when she visits us, so I’m sure he’ll be fine once he settles in and marks his new territory. 

The conversation continued, but you get the idea. They are going to take me to a strange land called Victoria and desert me for a very long time. How Africa figures into the picture I have yet to find out. Miranda leans over the seat to stroke my nose through the mesh, but I turn around and present her with my rear aspect.

A muffled voice floats through the window. “All passengers please return to your cars. The ferry to Schwartz Bay is about to commence boarding.”  Ferry – what’s that? The car inches forward and I resign myself to whatever fate awaits me.  A whiff of that tangy odour tickles my nose and I realize that this must be the smell of the ocean. As I lift my head to breathe in the rather pleasant aroma, a strange tingle of excitement stirs in my breast. I turn and peek through the mesh again. A large white boat – the ferry, I presume –  looms in front of us and we travel up a winding ramp toward it. A woman in a bright coloured vest waves us through a cavernous opening and we proceed into a dim and mysterious place.

And so my seafaring journey begins.

The ferry journey

A trip on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, B.C.

To be continued…

Next time:  The Seafaring Cat


Photo credits: Cat in car –;

Cat on suitcase –; Ferry –


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Readers, please accept my apologies. Spring has arrived in Vancouver and I’ve been lollygagging in the coastal sunshine, thus shamefully neglecting this blog. I wouldn’t blame you if you deserted me for some other, more prolific feline writer. Even today’s rather chilly cloud cover hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for what’s happening out in the neighbourhood, but a nagging desire to connect with my faithful readers pulls me back to the computer. Well, that and a shift in the weather pattern.

Never mind…I’m here now and I’d like to talk a little about the title of today’s blog post. Lollygagging…isn’t it a delicious, rolling-merrily-off-the-tongue kind of word?  I first encountered it while reading an essay posted on a U.K. news website. To me, the word sounds very British but some wordsmiths think it originated in the U.S. in the mid-1900’s or thereabouts.  Generally defined, it means loafing around or loitering aimlessly.

Now, please understand that I wouldn’t describe my recent lifestyle as idle or aimless, but to a human it might seem that way. A cat lying motionless in the grass may appear to be lazing around, but that is rarely the truth of the matter. The discerning observer will notice the avid eyes and slightly twitching tail that indicate an intense interest in every movement, every sound and every tell-tale aroma wafting through the air.  Nothing escapes the heightened senses of a cat.

Case in point: a row of flowers has sprung up in our back yard.  I believe they are the result of Miranda’s Autumn planting craze.  She spent one whole weekend burying hundreds of funny-looking brown balls in the ground and now the ones by the garage seem to have sprouted into rivers of brilliant yellow flowers. I had no idea what they were called, but Jacob waxed poetic this morning as he looked at them:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills

When all at once I saw a crowd

A host of golden daffodils*

You mustn’t think that I remembered the whole verse. One word in particular did strike my fancy: daffodils.  What a scrumptious-sounding word to add to my personal lexicon! The minute both providers left for work, I raced up to the computer and investigated. It wasn’t difficult to find the poem, written long ago by a human named William Wordsworth.  Jacob had quoted the opening lines of the poet’s lyrical ode to the flowers which now brighten our own Spring garden.

small_431766281I mention this because I have made a cosy retreat for myself amidst the daffodil foliage. Perhaps the golden blossoms serve to distract the eye, for no one who walks past our house seems to notice a brown-toned cat watching intently from the shadows of the flower stems. And that’s the way I like it. That noisy, slobbering dog who lives down the alley gallops into view and passes by without even yanking on his provider’s leash to leap over the fence and chase me. Periwinkle, my feline nemesis, looks for me in my usual spot under the neighbour’s car. To my delight, she has to admit defeat in her daily quest to annoy me as much as possible before breakfast. Best of all, I’m invisible to those nasty children from two houses over. No longer can they pelt me with pine cones and other projectiles. I am left in peace to survey the world from a different point of view than usual, which is a gift for a thinking cat like me.

I’m hoping that you now understand why I spend more time in the garden than at the computer these days.  You may be pleased to hear that I will discipline myself to sit down and blog from time to time, when I can tear myself away from the flowers that delight, distract and disguise.  I have never thought of myself as a poetic kind of cat, but lollygagging amongst the daffodils seems to cause unusual stirrings in my breast. I find myself in the strange (for me) position of having no words to describe this new experience. Perhaps I should try my hand at a bit of poetry, now that my appetite for waxing lyrical has been honed so well by Wordsworth. My first subject could be the bright blue eggs in the robins’ nest, or the furry caterpillars inching their way across the driveway. I confess to indulging in a little sporting play with the latter from time to time, but please don’t tell Miranda. Some aspects of my feline nature tend to stimulate a certain level of hysteria in some humans and Miranda is no exception.

In the poetic spirit, I will close with a couple of lines from Wordsworth’s poem, Ode: Imitations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood:

To me the meanest flower that blows can give 
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.


The Belled Cat Contemplates


*Daffodils, by William Wordsworth

Photo credits – Amongst the daffodil foliage:

Belled cat:

Cato The Killer Cat

This is how I see me:


This is how some journalists (and now some of their readers) see me:


I know this because I saw shocking headlines like this one exploding forth from my Twitter feed last week (just click on the article title):

Killer Cats Take Down Billions Of Birds

As you might imagine, I was astonished to see such a sensationalistic headline attached to a story about my own species, so I clicked immediately on the source link. The article was a call to action, imploring pet owners to keep their cats indoors to prevent an ongoing bird slaughter of epidemic proportions. Apparently, cats in the United States dispatch 3.7 million birds annually. There were no figures available for Canada, but I imagine the story is much the same here. This journalistic claptrap was full of dire predictions about the possible extinction of some bird species, all due to the nasty predator mentality of cats.

Ahem. There seems to be a slight tinge of hypocrisy attached to this latest brouhaha, does there not? Consider this: are chickens, turkeys and geese not birds? Are they not “taken down” by the human species in numbers that, I dare say, are even greater than 3.7 million per annum? Having grown up on a farm, I recall quite clearly the fate of birds that had the misfortune to live their short lives in an agricultural setting.

Well, perhaps that last statement was a bit harsh. I have no quarrel with humans eating birds. I too find them to be quite a delicious and healthy supplement to my diet. What troubles me is that the humans who write these hyperbolic news stories do not seem to see the big picture. Cats are predatory by nature, as are many other species around the globe. I wonder what it is that humans find so outrageous about our hunting versus that of any other creature, including Homo sapiens. As is my custom, I have spent some time thinking about this conundrum and have come up with a few observations and a question or two.

Sweetness Factor

After reading through a number of on-line “killer cat” articles, I see that some humans – mainly those living in urban and suburban areas – are concerned that cats hunt small and “cute” creatures such as field mice and songbirds. Cows, pigs and chickens are distinctly non-cuddly and, unlike the morning chorus of songbirds, the sounds they make are hardly music to the ears.

I will admit quite freely that cats are predatory creatures and that we hunt creatures smaller and, I dare say, “cuter” than we are.  It is our nature and we experience a deep sense of fulfillment from the process of stalking, catching and proudly carrying home our food. It is a source of great disappointment to us when our providers fail to appreciate these little hunting successes.

Most humans do not personally kill their prey, so they have little understanding of the hunting instinct. Could it be that they are a tad jealous that they have lost their own hunting skills? Perhaps they miss the thrill of the chase? They must find it somewhat boring to bring home those anemic looking, plastic shrouded chunks of meat from the grocery store.

Predatory, you say?

Perhaps some of the humans who read this blog are cringing a bit at my talk of humans being predatory. They may balk at my description of farm animals as “prey”.  Considering this, it might be a good idea to define the word “predatory”.

Definition #1: relying upon other organisms for food. (

Definition #2: living by predation, i.e. a mode of life in which food is primarily obtained by the killing and consuming of animals. (

I imagine that “consuming of animals” refers as much to a 12-ounce prime rib steak as to a small rodent. As such, I fail to see any difference between humans and cats at this very basic level. But then, maybe “prey is in the eye of the beholder”.

I do understand that humans enjoy watching birds and appreciate the sound of their chattering and singing. Although they may shrink back in fear or disgust at the appearance of a small mouse in the vicinity, the idea of a cat toying with and eventually dispatching one of these furry creatures is abhorrent to them. Also, my research has informed me that humans are worried about the possible extinction of some bird and rodent species. However, most of the scientific studies I have read consider the main culprits to be feral (wild) cats and not well-fed domestics.

For Your Consideration…

I would suggest that both humans and cats spend some time thinking this through because there is more to it than meets the eye. For their part, humans must recognize their own predatory instincts and, perhaps, gain some small understanding of the feline species. We do not hunt small creatures out of malice or because we are evil killers. Rather, we are merely obeying the call of our natural, feline instincts.  Hunting is part of us, down to the very marrow of our being.

On the other hand, my fellow felines would be well advised to eat their prey quietly and with no fanfare, as opposed to dropping them at the feet of humans, expecting a positive response. As one who has learned to understand and read human language, I have a unique ability to study people, including their preferences and instincts. I may use this information to good purpose by helping other cats to understand some of the perplexing attitudes humans hold about the thorny issue of killing and eating.

Additionally, you may or may not be happy to hear that this particular “killer cat” has been well and truly belled.  Miranda and Jacob have been reading all the same articles I did and the result is very upsetting. Not only do I have to wear a collar (with a rather tasteless leopard print motif), there are two bells attached which greatly hamper my hunting abilities. The silver lining, though difficult to appreciate at the moment, is that Miranda has taken to buying fresh fish and cooking it exactly to my taste requirements. In time, I may even forgive them for locking the cat flap each day at sundown.


Addendum: I was most interested to read about an establishment in Toronto that is run solely by cats. A journalist visited one evening and I admit to chuckling a few times while reading her report in the Globe and Mail newspaper:

Cats Are Unimpressed With Our Reactions to Their Murderous Ways


One extra (more balanced) article about predator cats:


Photo credits:

As I see me

As the journalists see me

Showing my sense of humour

Back In The Saddle Again

small_243854954It’s been much too long since I sat down to write a blog entry. Last time I spoke about writer’s block and you may be forgiven if you think I’ve been suffering once again from that affliction. Alas, my story is a tad more complicated than that. It’s a tale of home invasion and a certain type of harassment that severely hampered the freedom I enjoy in this household. Would you like to hear it?

About a week ago and without any warning (to me, at least), a rowdy horde descended upon this house and I was kept from the computer for days on end. “A horde?” you say. “That sounds intriguing.” Well, it wasn’t and I think you will agree with me once you hear the details.

The “horde” is a certain segment of Miranda’s extended family. Her sister arrived on one of her periodic visits and this time she had her three rambunctious and ill-behaved offspring in tow. I can say with some authority that most cats see human children as creatures to be avoided. These immature beings are, by nature, impulsive and their incessant curiosity causes them to chase, poke at and pelt unsuspecting felines with bits of cereal and other projectiles. It is most disconcerting.

I have learned from past family visits that I am well advised to lay low and appear only at meal times. Normally, I spend a good chunk of my time on the computer – at least when my providers have gone out somewhere or are asleep at night. Alas, the children slept on cots in Miranda’s office, so computer access was well and truly blocked during their visit. How then, you may wonder, did I spend my time?

small__5600397342Since we have been experiencing what seems like weeks of uninterrupted rain and cold here on the west coast, my outside sojourns have, of late, been brief and to the point. I embark on the usual circuit around my territory, sniffing for signs of intruders and leaving my own distinctive marking in strategic places. Occasionally, I see Periwinkle in the distance – probably hurrying through a similar routine of her own. Sharky is outside most mornings, surveying the neighbourhood from his rooftop lookout. I give him a friendly flick of the tail and receive a nod in return.

Having fulfilled my obligations, I’m off back home to dry off and finish my breakfast. When the horde descended upon us, this routine was somewhat hampered by my need to avoid grubby little hands and careless feet. I learned the art of slipping unobtrusively into the house, grabbing a quick bite and then slinking off to Jacob and Miranda’s bedroom to while away the day in semi-alert slumber. It was very, very tiresome indeed.

My new regime worked well for the first day or two of the visit, until one pesky male child discovered my shadowy sanctuary.  “I found Cato! He’s in Auntie’s room!” he shouted with unseemly triumph. I edged deeper under the bed and he seemed to give up and go off somewhere else. Relaxing with what turned out to be a false sense of security, I was startled to see him return with some sort of glowing stick in hand.

In a loud and piercing voice he proclaimed, “Ha! Luke Skywalker is here to save the day. Come out, mean and horrible space cat. I’m saving this planet from the likes of you!” The stick found its mark on my right flank and, if I may indulge in a little melodrama, I left numerous claw-shaped skid marks on the carpet as I flew out of the room and all the way down to the bowels of the house.


I spend the rest of the day hidden behind some boxes in the basement crawl space…traumatized, resentful and exhausted. Eventually, I fell into a deep sleep that was punctuated by nightmares of being chased by hundreds of sharp-clawed kittens (now that I think about it, kittens and small children do have a lot in common). I have vague memories of Miranda calling my name, but even bad dreams were preferable to facing those children again.

Eventually, hunger pangs trumped my fears and I crept back upstairs to the main floor. Miranda leapt upon me with sloppy expressions of affection. “Cato, darling cat!  Where have you been all day?” Kiss kiss. Hug hug. Ugh. I endured this and, once she put me back down again, sat in front of my food dish to make my preferences known in no uncertain terms.

I must say, the trauma of the day was somewhat alleviated by my dinner of freshly poached salmon. Hunger assuaged, I noticed how quiet it was in the house. Dare I hope the horde had gone back home again? That would be a satisfying end to my tale but, alas, it was not the case. They all trooped in again later that evening, chattering about burgers and fries from “Micky D’s”, whatever that is.

small_457982921In the meantime, there was a small oasis of peace in the early evening. Jacob arrived home and, during the quiet lull after their evening meal, we settled into our usual routine of sitting by the fire in the sitting room. Tummy satisfied and spirits revived by my very satisfactory dinner, I allowed Miranda to scoop me up and stroke my fur awhile. As she chatted to Jacob about mostly boring things, I did eventually discover what was in store for me in the days ahead. At one point, she turned and looked at me. “Cato, I’m betting that those nephews of mine did something to upset you today. That’s why you hid, isn’t it?”

Very perceptive of you, Miranda.  Ooh, yes…I love it when you scratch under my chin…aah…

She continued, “I’ve decided to make life less stressful for you. They’re here for another couple of days…”

No! Whipping my head round, I gave her a very hard stare.  Her brow wrinkled a little. “You know, I could swear you understand what I’m saying sometimes, Cato.”

Of course I do. Best you don’t know that, though. I stretched a little and curled up on the sofa beside her.

Sipping her hot drink, she said, “Jacob, I think we should set up a little ‘Cato hideaway’ in our bedroom. We can put his food and water dishes there and the litter tray will fit nicely in the back of the closet. We’ll keep the door closed and warn the children to keep out. What do you think?” She may have been talking to Jacob, but I purred my approval nonetheless.

Well, it wasn’t very enjoyable, but Miranda’s plan helped me through the next few days. Amazingly, the children obeyed their elders and steered clear of my sanctuary for the remainder of their visit. They left for home yesterday morning and life is blessedly normal again. Miranda has returned to work and I am free to tap away on the computer to my heart’s content.

I am reminded of a song I heard yesterday evening on a television program that Jacob was watching. One scene showed a Stetson-clad cowboy named Gene Autry, who was crooning a simple tune about returning to a favourite activity, presumably after an enforced absence. Though I may not have any desire to sing about it, I can relate to his heartfelt joy at being “back in the saddle again”.


Would you like to hear Autry’s cowboy ditty?  I found a short clip on YouTube:


Photo credits:

Cat at computer:

Cat at window:

Boy with sabre:

Cat sleeping:

Writer’s Block

My paw taps on the computer desk, a staccato accompaniment to my brain’s attempts to unstop a persistent blockage.  All my creativity seems to have evaporated. Instead, thoughts mill around like a crowd of rebels that will not be forced into submission. I can feel my shoulders hunching tensely into the nape of my neck, which just won’t do at all. Giving up on the blog for the moment, I leap down to the chair and settle with folded elbows tucked snugly beneath me.

Recent memories of a less than satisfactory breakfast (hard kibble – again) bump up against hazy recollections of meals back in my home country, England. I was born in a barn on a Devonshire farm and my mother taught my siblings and me to hunt for mice up in the haylofts. I may live a cushy life in a new country now, but still enjoy a good hunting session now and then.

Other thoughts join the fray…a slight tangle with Periwinkle early this morning left both my fur and my feelings a bit ruffled and then, to top that off, I accidentally vomited on my favourite blanket when trying to catch a little late morning shut-eye. Sadly, no one was home to whisk it away and replace it with clean bedding. So now I sit here at the computer, in the rainy gloom of a coastal autumn day, fighting the urge to forget my blog and bury myself under the duvet of Jacob and Miranda’s bed.

However, experience has proven to me that writing out my thoughts is the first step toward clarity of mind so, without further contemplation, I position myself with new determination in front of the keyboard. The first thing that comes to mind is a word I discovered in an article I read the other day. Concatenation. Of course, I looked up the word in an on-line dictionary to find that it is pronounced exactly as written, with the stress on syllable two (oh joy!) For the last couple of days, I have been rolling the word around in my head, enjoying its complicated rhythm and cadence. The definition seems especially relevant to my present state of mind:

Con-cat-e-nation [kon-kat-n-ey-shuh n]: a series of interconnected or interdependent things or events.

“Why relevant to your state of mind?” you may ask. As I have mentioned, my breakfast this morning was as dull and unimaginative as possible. Kibble is fine, but day in and day out, morning after morning, month after month, is enough to insult the palate of any discerning cat. After a bite or two, I turned and marched toward the door to see if I could find better pickings out in the neighbourhood. Emerging from the cat flap, I noticed an appealing symphony of birdsong coming from the direction of the large tree next door. Our neighbour had thoughtfully hung a bird feeder full of seed on one of the branches.

Hunting instincts at full alert, I padded quietly to my spot behind the wheel of the neighbour’s car. Having settled there, I focused intently upon a few incautious birds that were swooping to the ground to pick up stray seeds. I was about ready to strike when who should come blundering around the corner of the house, but Periwinkle. With a distinctive lack of both finesse and brains, she leapt toward the tree. The whole flock of delectable creatures took off in a chattering cloud of alarm.

Periwinkle – the disgraced hunter

Looking surprised and disappointed, Periwinkle turned and headed in my direction. Driven by understandable frustration, I reached out with claws fully extended and swatted at her fluffy tail. She hissed and, to my surprise, reached under the car and pawed right back at me. It seemed politic to turn tail and trot briskly back to the serenity of my own home, where the kibble awaited. The subsequent vomiting was just icing on the proverbial cake.

Exhausted from these disruptions to my morning routine, I curled up on Jacob’s recliner chair. Before drifting off to sleep, I thought about Periwinkle’s attack on my person. It seemed quite out of character. Or was it? I don’t like to think I might be wrong in my character assessments, but had to face the possibility in this case. “Yes,” I admitted sleepily to myself, “I will have to re-think Periwinkle.”

Now, in the process of recording these incidences for your perusal, I remember one more thing from my early farm life. When my mother was showing my siblings and me how to hunt for our supper, she shared a piece of wisdom that has stuck with me over the years. Funny I should recall it now.  “Each creature sees itself as the centre of the universe. We assess everything from that viewpoint.”

She meant that we should try to see things from the point of view of our prey in order to better predict its movements. Right now I apply it to the concatenations of my morning. The wretched kibble got me thinking about hunting, which sent me outdoors earlier than usual, just in time to witness Periwinkle’s hunting mishap, which impacted my own plans considerably. This, in turn, was followed by our exchange of swats, hence the somewhat jarring realization that Periwinkle’s universe is not quite as I’d imagined.

The life of a thinking cat is not a simple one, is it?  On the bright side, my writer’s block has disappeared.


Photo credits: 

Contemplative cat –

Birds –

Periwinkle –

Upside-down cat –

Sharky’s Tail Of Woe

“Kittens believe that all Nature is occupied with their diversion.” ~ F.A. Paradis

And therein lies the problem. To inflict a kitten upon a grown cat is like asking a monk to share a cell with an over-active five year old. Neither creature benefits from the enforced togetherness. My neighbour Sharky is a case in point. In a previous blog post, I told you a little bit about my gingery friend’s Great Trial. The humans in his household decided to adopt a kitten and this has been a source of much angst for Sharky. Since he is, as yet, the only cat with whom I can have a decent conversation, I felt a certain measure of concern upon first hearing about his dilemma. You may ask why a cat such as myself would care about this. Logical answer: it is a feline rights issue. Slightly selfish answer: Sharky is good company.

Sadly, he hasn’t been out and about in the neighbourhood much since the troubles began, but I did run across him recently whilst investigating certain intriguing scents in our mutual back alley. It was trash collection day and you never know what treasures a cat may discover with a little judicious poking and prodding at improperly closed garbage bins. I was finishing my rounds without having found much of interest when I noticed a flash of movement behind the shed next to my house. Creeping cautiously nearer, I peered around the edge of the structure to see Sharky delicately pawing at a carcass of fish bones. He sensed my presence and froze. I sat patiently and waited until he realized I was friend rather than foe. With a certain telling flick of his tail, Sharky beckoned me closer. “Hello, Cato. Want some of this?”

After we’d polished off the remaining morsels of fish, we tucked our paws beneath us and settled in for a little chat. I enquired about his situation with the kitten, who he calls “Rat Tail”. I am quite sure that isn’t her real name, but Sharky tends to be vague about such things. He told me a sad story of harassment and benign neglect. Naturally I commiserated, but what else could I do about his situation? And then he dropped a wonderful bombshell into the conversation. He has learned to use a computer! Ariane leaves her laptop running when she goes out for the day and Sharky, having heard me talking about my own virtual adventures, has figured out how to use it. Oh, joy! Now we can communicate via the World Wide Web.

It seems that Sharky has been keeping a personal journal, which he stores on-line somewhere, out of the reach of Ariane’s prying eyes. I expressed my fervent interest in reading it and, if he was amenable, including some of it in my blog today. His tail trembled with excitement at the thought. So he memorized my e-mail address and has sent me some diary excerpts. I will warn you that they are a bit morose in tone, but surely this is understandable, considering Sharky’s unfortunate situation.

Our hope is that humans who read this blog will gain a better understanding of their feline companions and treat them with more sensitivity.

Without further ado, I present Sharky’s On-line Journal. For human interest, I have added some photos that Sharky found on his provider’s computer.


Recent entries from the journal of Sharky during the Civil War of 2012:

Day 3:  Stupid Rat Tail is in my litter box again. I can never catch her in the act. I know, though. This wasteland smells of death. [Editorial note from Cato: I did warn you about the tone of these writings.]

 Day 8:  Woke up again. Felt something batting my tail. WHEN WILL THIS HORROR END? The humans do not seem to notice. I know she is up to something.

 Day 11:  There are feces on my chair. The skinny human has cleaned it, but I know it is still there. I haven’t had a restful sleep in hours. Rat Tail has somehow managed to gain access to my upstairs sanctuary. I hope the climb down proves too difficult, bringing an end to this pain.

 Day 15:  I gained access to the main floor today. The smelly one seems to be trapped in a room. I am no hero and I fear she may get out and attack me. I am still much quicker on the ladder, but I do not know for how much longer. She is so spry. If only I had trained harder during my kitten years.

 Day 16:  Wet food was left for me and most of it was gone before I could reach it. I believe she is trying to starve me. I do not know what I have done to deserve this. I was as fluffy as I could be! And yet this intruder is here. This is my life now.  I still have the roof as a safe area, but I don’t know for how much longer. There are reflective sheets over the access points. I am cunning enough to get past them. Luckily, the kitten is not. Again…for how much longer? I don’t know.

 Day 20:  It seems the bearded one and Ariane are gone. I have not seen them for over a day. They may have been here when I was asleep, though I do not sleep well any more. I keep waking, startled. I can hear Rat Tail. She is just at the bottom of the stairs. It seems nowhere is safe from her. I am heading back out to the roof. I will clear my head and work on an attack strategy.

 Day 22:  I finally attacked her! It was a short attack; two quick jabs to the head. I kept claws in, hoping not to anger the beast too much. Such ferocity! She seems to come from nowhere. She is dark in colour and I believe she must be made of smoke. However, when my paw connected with her head she did feel dense. I will have to continue to work on a better attack strategy with this new information.

 Day 26:  The bearded one and Ariane are back. I was sleeping, but I heard them come in through the door. Why did they leave me here for so long with no way to open the door and gain access to the outside world? The Rat Tail does not seem to be comfortable leaving the house. She was in my litter tray again. There was litter everywhere. I don’t know why she has to hate me so much and disrespect my space. I may set a trap in the litter for her. I found some things that resembled tools. They appear to be made for the humans. How I hate not having thumbs…


And that is Sharky’s Tail Of Woe.  There is a flicker of hope that things may start to improve.  I think that the photo below hints at an ever-so-slight thawing of relations. Sharky sees it more as an armed truce. Only time will tell. One day, my friend may look back upon these days and smile. As one amusing human once said, “Time heals all wounds, unless you pick at them.” (Shawn Alexander)  

Sharky and “Rat Tail” vie for prime real estate on his provider’s sleeping area.


Photo attributions (Creative Commons): Kitten peeking around corner –  Fish bone graphic –