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Abandon hope all ye who enter here

That’s a still from a mildly amusing Youtube of cats interrupting meetings. You’ve probably seen it; it was making the rounds.

I post it because I don’t have any pictures of my moggies making absolute nuisances of themselves just now. I had to host a Zoom meeting of the managing board, and there’s me trying to look all professional and together, and there’s my cats waving their assholes in the camera.

They’re not usually so clingy. I know what was up. They were *pissed* that I was jabbering away at an inanimate object and ignoring them, the dual centers of the universe.

That’s nothing. You should’ve heard when I was late for Chicken Bedtime.

September 7, 2021 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 3

Of course he’s a ginger

That’s Beano the cat. His owner thought about taking him to the pet service, but decided against since he hates being in a box. So Beano decided to turn up on his own and stroll around the place absorbing blessings.

He’s been to church before. Also, the local pubs. And he’s got himself shut into an empty house, twice.

Yes, the pet service is a Church of England thing. I almost turned up with my favorite chicken one year, but I thought the other animals would probably stress her out too much.

Also, do you know how early morning service is?

August 5, 2021 — 6:35 pm
Comments: 7

Playing tree

When the cats want to come in, they jump up on the windowsill outside the livingroom and importune. When it’s the big cat, there’s an extra step: you open the door and go out and he runs up this elder tree here and puts on a little show. When he’s ready, he steps off this fence post into your arms.

We call this ‘playing tree’.

I’m convinced he’s reliving that awful 18 hours he was stuck high up in a tree as a kitten. I sat under the tree most of the night with him. If I stepped away for a moment, the horrible local brute of a farm cat came and circled the tree trying to get up to him.

It wasn’t the only time that cat came after my boy. He clearly had some kind of grudge. We think maybe they both came out of the same feral cat colony.

Anyway, early the next morning, a plumber turned up at the neighbors and, in the face of great personal danger, managed to crawl up high enough to grab kitty by the scruff and hand him down to me. And I think that’s the origin of playing tree.

Sorry for blurry. This is the only known image of a game of tree.

Good weekend, everyone!

July 16, 2021 — 7:25 pm
Comments: 6

Hot cross bun

It’s Summertime, the season when we wake to find bunny bits strewn across the livingroom floor. It’s 50 shades of disgusting.

We think we can tell which one did for ’em. The old boy, former feral, eats his buns and leaves only fragments. Welly, a young and pampered beast, completely loses interest when prey stops moving. Worst is when one or t’other brings them in alive and drops them on the floor to scamper about in panic.

This little peep was lucky. Uncle B managed to throw a box over him until the boys lost interest. We later released him to wriggle away in the undergrowth looking largely unhurt. Which isn’t to say they won’t find him again.

Interesting. They were definitely hunting together this time.

June 14, 2021 — 8:17 pm
Comments: 8

Important survey

Laser pointers: fun toy or cat torture device?

I got this with loyalty points because I buy so gosh darned much catfood from an online place. It’s much cheaper and so convenient, but I’m getting really tired of the mountains of corrugated cardboard I have to dispose of. Allll the junk we order.

Training tool. Training cats to do what, exactly? Run psychotically around the house screaming in frustration and slamming into things? Mission accomplished.

That’s the image the laser projects, by the way. That little fish with “Training Toy” for a body. In blue.

It’s Friday! w00t!

April 30, 2021 — 7:32 pm
Comments: 10

Happy Good Friday!

I got nothing today, so have a snapshot of the boys. This was Tuesday, though. Today it was horrible and gray.

Good weekend, everyone!

April 2, 2021 — 7:36 pm
Comments: 9

The shame

Larry the Number 10 cat has been put on a diet. Visitors have been slipping him too many treats. He is fourteen, an age when gentlemen cats may incline to podge, and has been in office for a decade.

His official title is Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, which started as a joke title used by journalists but was made official for Larry in 2011. He is a civil servant. He once had a scrap with Palmerston, the Chief Mouser of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, during which Larry lost his collar and Palmerston got a ripped ear. The latter has since retired to the country.

You’d probably need an FOIA to find out how many British government departments have an official cat.

Larry’s predecessor was Freya (whose tenure overlapped Larry’s) and before her Sybil (named after Sybil Fawlty).

Then ensued a ten year gap when Downing Street was catless on account of that evil hag Cherie Blair doing away with Humphrey.

Before Humphrey came Wilberforce (for whom Margaret Thatcher once bought “a tin of sardines in a Moscow supermarket”), Peta (a Manx cat whose real name was Manninagh KateDhu), Peter III and Peter II.

Nelson has no Wikipedia page, but he was the Chief Mouser of WWII and Churchill’s own cat whose tenure overlapped his predecessor Munich Mouser, whose tenure overlapped Peter I (they were deadly rivals). Churchill nicknamed the Munich Mouser after the Munich Agreement between Chamberlain and Hitler. What Chamberlain called him is not recorded.

And finally, Rufus of England (AKA “Treasury Bill”) who also doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, but is the earliest Downing Street Cat on record (served 1924 to 1930). He had an allowance of a penny a day.

Budgetary records, anyway. There are reports of cats in government back to Henry VIII, when Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey brought his cat to work with him.

The Downing Street Cat gets lots of press here because journalists are stuck outside #10 for long, boring stretches of time and hey look, a cat.

You can follow Larry on Twitter.

March 10, 2021 — 7:40 pm
Comments: 8

And speaking of calico…

Photo by Rehman Abubakr

Been meaning to look up why calico cats are always female. Here’s the skinny: calicos are usually white, orange and black (or tabby or gray or…whatevs). About 70% white on average – that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but I thought it was interesting.

The X chromosome carries the gene for either ginger or black (or a variety of non-white colors). One color per X chromosome. So only XX (that is, female) beasts can have both ginger and black.

Except those poor little bastards with Klinefelter syndrome. They have XXY, XXXY or even XXXXY chromosomes. I don’t think it creates much of a problem in cats, but it can produce the occasional a male calico.

The gene for white isn’t on a sex chromosome, but elsewhere in the genome, so any old cat can carry it.

“But wait, Stoaty, you magnificent beast!” I hear you say, “most gingers are male. How that be?”

Male gingers carry the ginger gene on their one X chromosome. Female gingers have to have the ginger gene on both X chromosomes. That makes the ratio is about 3 to 1 male to female, and I believe ginger girls must have ginger daddies.

I think ginger and black without the white is how you get a tortie, but I’ve about come to the end of my genetic education.

If you ever yearn to feel stupid and slow, try looking into the genetics of chicken colors. Here’s a look at the basics.

January 27, 2021 — 7:38 pm
Comments: 10


Sorry for inattentive today (yes, we have a Dead Pool winner – congratulations Mrs Carl). I have been under a cat. Specifically, this one – Ol’ Kneewrecker.

Also, I’ve been on Twitter. It’s as awful as you can imagine at the moment. I’m going back to chickens, books and vidya games for a while. But I did want to mention two things I learned from this election.

There are more of us than there are of them. Like, a lot more. Like, so many more that we broke their ballot-cheating mechanisms and they had to get clumsy and stupid and obvious about the steal. Will see if that has repercussions.

It’s possible to do things differently. Trump made huge inroads into Middle East peace – for example – by ignoring the old wisdom about fixing perpetually dysfunctional Palestine first. He successfully brokered multiple individual deals between nations. He deserves a lot of credit for that, which he will never get. That, and bringing soldiers home from various permanently smoldering trash fires.

I guess, for me, that’s the definition of the “Trumpism” everyone’s talking about – approaching old problems in new ways.

Someone said on Twitter that people need to go back and start running for dog catcher and ward captain, with an eye to higher and higher office. But that’s like sending your nice kid away to college and getting back a blue-haired gender studies graduate with a nose ring. The years-long process of grinding through lower office changes people, makes them into politicians. We need to find other avenues.

Trump is a strange and, in many ways, unlikeable character, but he changed me from “anyone’s better than Hillary” to an enthusiastic supporter. I’m afraid he was lightning in a bottle: a well-known celebrity with go-to-hell money of his own. If we see the same combination in play again, it’ll probably be somebody like Cher.

I’m hoping he opens a giant media company, which zooms to #1 in no time (thanks to the collapse of Fox). Then he can be in their faces 24/7.

January 8, 2021 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 22

I’ve seen the Dreamies and the damage done

This kitty came to us as a stray, you may recall. A tiny kitten walked into our livingroom one hot August night, squeaked and ran out again. I put out a squirrel trap baited with catfood, and here we are.

He was severely underweight. The lady at the shelter estimated that he was a month older than he looked because he’d been undernourished. About four months old.

He grew up fast when we stuffed him full of good supermarket kitty glop, but he remained skinny.

Until there were Dreamies.

Oh, did kitty love his Dreamies. In fact, it became an obsession. In fact, it began to make him a miserable boy.

Eventually, he refused any other food. You’d put stuff in his bowl and he’d hardly glance at it. He would stubbornly refuse to eat anything but Dreamies.

And he got fat.

Fat enough that it I had to fix it. He’d never had dried food before, so I took his big tin of Dreamies and added a handful of Iams. And every few days another. After a couple weeks, there weren’t any Dreamies in the mix at all.

He’s still fat, but he’s not gaining and the vet didn’t seem worried. Sometimes, though, he gets a sad, faraway look in his eye and I know he knows a wonderful light has gone out of his life.

So what do they put in them? Aside from something fatty, I think I know. If you have cats and Dreamies, give them a sniff and see what you think. *I* say they smell like parmesan.

In fact, I was so certain of it, when our elderly cat went off her feed, I bought some parm and sprinkled it over her food. It usually worked.

Right. Remember. Dead Pool Tomorrow. Be here, or be somewhere else!

December 10, 2020 — 7:47 pm
Comments: 8