I struggled with this blog post as much as any that I was asked to write. I’m telling myself that this is why it’s four months late in being delivered. That’s (a little) true, but also the extreme exhaustion of living full time in fifth gear has sapped my creative energy. So, here we are. Picking the December blog back up in April. Yikes.

As you most likely know, I adore cats. I grew up with them. But what to say about them in a simple post? I could literally write a tome on my thoughts on cats. Highly doubt anyone wants that.

I actually started this post twice before. Once was a righteously bitchy rail against people who tell me, “I hate cats.” Because telling someone you hate something that they love is socially acceptable. Sigh. But I didn’t think the negativity served the topic.

Then I started a photo blog that was a day-in-my-life with my three furry friends, demonstrating all of the weird, quirky, and amusing things they did. It was fun, but didn’t really capture the story either.

Then something terrible happened. A friend lost her dog after many, many years together. Like me, she doesn’t have two-legged kids and her pup was her constant companion. The passing has been understandably painful for her and, yet, she did the most amazing thing. She channeled her feelings into the most lovely obituary. Naturally, I wept when I read it.

I’m so lucky to still have my three guys with me. They’ve all had health scares over the years and none of them is a spring chicken anymore. I don’t know that when the time comes, I’ll have the wherewithal to write their stories. So I am going to do it now.

It says what it needs to on the topic of cats. And I hope it serves as a small ode to all of our animal friends.

Shortly after the sous-chef and I moved in together, I began a campaign for a cat. He was more of a dog person, but did see the logic in my argument that cats were a better fit for our lifestyle – more self-sufficient and happy (enough) to stay indoors. So, the big day arrived and we went down to the shelter (someday, see my second tome on the subject of “shelter pets”) to see the cats. In the very first cage, was a little ginger and white kitten that reached out his paw and tapped my arm. I didn’t need to go a step further. That was Manny and he picked me.

Manny is intensely loving and just as intensely jealous. I literally pet the other cats when he’s not looking. He runs around the house at 90 miles an hour for no reason. He does not meow. He either barks or chirps. I’ve explained this identity crisis to him, but he seems not to care. His favorite thing in the whole world is licking plastic. Gross.

He knows how to play hide and seek. And one time he beat me. I swear to god. Usually, I hide behind the door and he comes and finds me. Then I say, “GO,” and he runs to the next room where I follow and find him standing there. Imagine this game with your one year old and it’s pretty much the same deal. Well, one time he hid behind the toilet in a dark bathroom and I legitimately could not find him. Well played, Manny, well played.

He would sell his soul to the devil for a piece of deli meat.

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When Manny was about a year old, we thought we’d “get him” a kitten for company. We worked and traveled a lot and thought it must be lonely for him. We have never more deeply misread a situation. Manny still has not forgiven us for breaking up our awesome threesome.

Nonetheless, off we went to the same shelter where we found this loudmouthed little peep of a kitten. We took him out of the cage and all he did was bite my hands and ankles. We put him back in the cage and he promptly produced a big, stinky poop. It’s funny how most of us don’t change a lick from who we are when we are born. That was Trot. He’s still loud. He’s still aggressive as hell. And he still loves the litter box.

Trot is our unofficial alarm clock. He hangs out in the bedroom each morning looking for the slightest move that indicates that one of us is awake. Then he pounces with this insistent, incredibly piercing, “meow!” He sticks his face right in yours, such that his whiskers usually go right up your nose. Good morning.

He is the alpha. This is HIS house. Anyone that’s been our overnight guest can attest to what an asshole he is. He’ll sleep on your suitcase and hiss at you when you try and get in it. Charming. If one of his brothers is sitting someplace he considers more desirable, he will step on their heads and lie on them until they’re forced to get up and move. Super charming.

The sous-chef always says about Trot, “love hard, play hard.” And love hard he does. He is passionate with his affection and will always let me hold him, or hug him, or kiss him.

He probably needs to be checked into cardboard box rehab, his obsession with them is so great.

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There was never supposed to be three. I am all too aware of the fact that the leap from two cats to three cats moves you into “crazy cat people” territory. Two was a good number – we had some furry friends, they each had a companion. But life is not always that tidy.

My parents went on a long trip. My mom – being my mom – had recently adopted both a puppy and a kitten at the same time. The puppy was a little rough with the kitten and my mom was nervous leaving them together with the pet sitter only checking in occasionally. Would we be willing to take care of the kitten for a few weeks? Of course.

People talk of the phenomenon of love at first sight. Usually it’s a concept reserved for two humans, but I assure you that it can happen with pets too. Nomar looked at me the day my dad dropped him off and I looked back at him. We both just knew. He is my cat alone. And I am his mom. The sous-chef is simply a minor annoyance in this whole situation.

Nomar came from a tough beginning in an abusive home, ripped from his mother cat all too soon. He’s got some emotional wells he needs filling and no amount of love ever seems to do the job. He is just the sweetest cat of all time. Much like the cat in Shrek, he has these big, white-rimmed eyes. It makes him stinking adorable. He gets away with a lot.

His favorite thing in the world is to nestle into my side and “knead” and nuzzle my arm. This cat is 10 years old and he’s still a kitten with his momma. Can you blame me for favoring him?

Sadly, he’s the little beta cat. Manny can’t stand him. Trot sort of tolerates him. Though, Trot’s patience wears thin when Nomar tries to lick his face clean. That’s the sure precursor of a fight.

Nomar is the absolute stereotypical ‘fraidy cat. Doorbell? Under the bed. Vacuum? Under the covers. Loud noises? Pure panic. One time I happened to be holding him when the doorbell rang and I had a welt for days on my neck from him clawing out of my arms. I call him Nervous Nell a lot.

He loses his mind for a toy called a “cat dancer” (basically, a little piece of cardboard on the end of a wire that bounces around and that the cats chase… it doesn’t take much, I tell you). He’s recently learned how to open the cabinet door where we keep it.

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I seriously could go on. Even in writing this, I was thinking… oh, I should talk about how Manny loves to look out the window, how Trot is wicked (scarily!) smart, or how Nomar lords over the cat scratchers. But I’m quite confident that this is more than enough for anyone other than the most ardent cat-lovers out there.

I think the point is simply how unique and special each one is. I’m happy to have had the chance to know them.



Cat Scratchers


The sous-chef’s one and only request for a post this month was, “cat scratchers.” I’m pretty sure he was just trying to be an asshole. In order to be just as much of an asshole back, I decided to actually do it.

This will be a short post.

I am pro cat scratchers. Our cats love them and they totally help save our furniture. We have three kinds in our house; one of our cats really loves the flat ones, one really loves the tall one. One simply tries to sneak in scratching our slipper chairs. Despite what I covered above, he is single-handedly the biggest asshole in the house.

Nomar is a freak for the flat ones, which you can get cheaply at almost any pet store or pet department at a big box store. He not only likes to scratch them, he likes to sleep on them. Which looks entirely uncomfortable, but he loves them. Don’t cheap out and get the narrow ones. Double wides rule in our house.

pPETS-9425329dtSo much so that, we recently upgraded him to the “turret” (a Kittypod), an outrageously expensive elevated scratcher. He spends every waking minute sitting in this thing. I do not regret the money we spent on this for a second.

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Manny, on the other hand, loves the tall scratchers. We learned years ago that, the taller, the better. As in, ours is three feet high. Part of what cats love about scratchers is the stretch they get… so, give them something nice and high to work out all those little cricks. The sisal on ours is totally shredded. Probably time for a new one.

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Last little point on scratchers. Put them right as you walk into a room. Yes, they’re ugly and, yes, I encourage you to hide them in the closet when guests come over. But this will really encourage your kitties to use them… something about coming into the room lights their scratching fire (I’m sure it’s some quirk of evolution). Having them in this spot will preserve the arms of your couch.

After all this, I’ll give you one guess as to what Santa Claws has put under the tree for our boys this Christmas. I hope they’re excited.