Rocky's Health Update
Donít let the tone of this month's column imply that I'm going away. I'll stop writing my column when they pry the mouse from my cold, dead paw.
My Golden Years
month's column is a little late. Iíve been slowing down now that Iím 15
years old. After many long conversations with retired Justice OíConnor,
Iíve decided to follow in her footsteps and retire from the Supreme Court
while I still have time to enjoy my golden years. She invited me to visit her
ranch in Arizona and I was delighted to accept. Iím not much for cowgirls
and horses but all that sand has a certain appeal. My only regret is that
President Bush may now appoint a dog in my place.
Mouser and I have had our disagreements but Iím confident in his ability to
run the Tactical Tabbies and we are in 100% agreement on our shared goal of
feline domination. After the Tactical Tabbies discovered several large caches
of weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi desert, they are now in a position
of strength. It seems no one in the Allied command was particularly interested
in what a bunch of kittens uncovered in the sand. The weapons have been moved
to several secured, undisclosed locations around the world and are safe in the
paws of the Tactical Tabbies. Watch out, Fido!
may continue my column but not on a regular monthly basis. I will also
continue my weekly briefing with Condoleezza Rice. Since F-14 Tomcats are no
longer being used by the military, it has become increasingly difficult to
obtain parts and skilled maintenance. Donít even get me started on the cost
shall continue with my passion of ornithology. My personal humans have
installed numerous bird feeders that are easily viewed from my bedroom window.
I especially enjoy the gold finches and hummingbirds. Mmmmmm, taste like
chicken! Just kidding,
Rocky had planned to spend the summer in Cape Code enjoying the cool ocean breezes and dining on fresh seafood but was not able to secure accommodations. He is spending the summer at home pouting. He generally goes out after dark when the heat and humidity aren't so bad then comes in and complains to us. The rest of the time he spends sleeping and wishing he had his own pride of lionesses. He says there will be no more columns until fall. Let's hope he doesn't mean that literally. We've tried to appease him by having a fresh lobster flown in from Maine. He's sitting here with one paw firmly clamped down on a lobster claw and is using one of his retractable claws on his other paw to extract a bit of lobster meat and dip it in drawn butter. With any luck there may be a August column.
Everything is for your kitty's comfort. If your cat has honored you by laying in your lap or across your legs, do not move until your kitty moves. Catnaps last varying amounts of time and each cat needs his or her rest. Being chosen by a cat to participate in a catnap is a huge honor not given lightly. The cat must feel secure in your presence. When a cat is asleep, it is vulnerable. Even though cats sleep with one eye open, they rest better knowing they can close both eyes. Do not touch a napping cat, especially the tail, whiskers, or paw pads. Do not blow into a cat's ears. It's not sweet, it's annoying. Sometimes a personal human thinks there is a good reason to disturb a cat. Answering the phone, going to the bathroom, and checking on the stove are not good reasons . A well rested cat is its own reward.
Cats vs. Dogs
The world's oldest grudge match is the one between cats and dogs. It involves lions and hyenas, cougars and wolves, and the ever popular house cat and pet dog. This is not a plea for peace. That's for the weak. A dog who accepts the family cat as his superior and understands that the cat ranks higher in the family pack than him has taken the first step necessary for a working truce. If the dog forgets himself and steps out of line, he can still expect to get his nose slapped. There can be no sharing of food. Cats don't want to eat dog food and the family dog must leave the cat's food alone so the cat can dine when convenient. Dogs don't belong on the furniture but the cat should be able to rest anywhere he desires. The only place off limits to a cat is the dog's bed. No self-respecting cat would want to lay there anyway due to the pervasive dog smell. If a cat is part of a dog's pack, the dog must take all necessary steps to protect the cat from other dogs and humans. It is a pack animal's responsibility to protect other pack members, especially higher ranking ones. If the dog is laying in a warm spot in front of a space heater, fireplace, window, etc. and the cat want to lay there, the dog should move immediately. While dogs aren't the brightest of animals, they should be able to anticipate simple kitty needs and respond accordingly. Even humans can be trained to anticipate simple kitty needs. Cats do not like to be licked or sniffed by dogs. This is a gross invasion of kitty privacy and cannot be tolerated. As long as dogs obey these few simple rules, they may be allowed to share a home with a cat. Thank goodness, I have never been forced to share my home with other pets, though I wouldn't mind a canary or some fish (for dinner).
Rocky Loves the Lottery
I know the lottery is for losers. I've done the math. When the odds of winning are 1000 to 1 and the prize is only 500 to 1, something is wrong. However, I love the scratchers. Sometimes I scratch off at the store, sometimes I scratch off at home. I've even been know to scratch off in the litter box. A cat must have invented the scratch off lottery card. I can't get enough of them. Sometimes I scratch off with one claw, sometimes I use them all. Sometimes I scratch off with my front claws, sometimes the back. Don't get me wrong, I love casino games. I've played everywhere from Monte Carlo to Las Vegas. You can often find me at the roulette table moving my chips or at the craps table rolling the dice. I really enjoy table games. Sometimes I just lay down on the table and take a nap. I'm looking forward to all the new scratch offs that will be coming in the next few months. It would be a nice surprise to find a winning scratch off card in the bottom of my litter box.
To Every Season There is a Nap
Since spring is almost upon us, I shall start with the spring nap. Spring naps are short and light. I always sleep with one eye open in the spring because there are so many innocent little creatures fluttering and scurrying about. They know nothing of feline predators. I nap as little as possible in the spring so I can maximize my hunting time.
Summer naps are the best way to deal with the heat. I like to nap indoors in the air conditioning. Sometime I lay next to a vent. If you must nap outdoors in the summer, find a cool spot in the shade under a deck or porch. A shady arbor or cluster of bushes on the north side of a building can also be used. If you can nap through the "Dog Days" of summer, so much the better.
Fall is one of my favorite times. My fur coat starts to feel good again. My mane starts to grow back. I love the way the fall breezes ruffle my fur. Fall naps should be short so you can get outside to chase windblown leaves and small rodents. Chipmunks and ground squirrels are busy gathering nuts and seeds for winter. Busy little creatures often donít pay much attention to feline predators lurking in the shadows. Shame. Too bad for them.
Winter naps are the best. I enjoy playing hearth cat and napping in front of the fireplace. I also enjoy laying on top of a goose down comforter and snuggling up next to my personal humans. The long hours of darkness make for some extended naps. During the short days, I like to lay on the bed in a gentle sunbeam and watch the birds at the feeder just outside the window.
The phrase "To Every Season" does not refer to the song by The Byrds. It is from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1.
My humans have neglected their duties so I have been forced
to do all the work on my column this month. Itís really cutting into my
Iíve been swamped with fan mail from my January column. I
want you to know I read every letter and email from my loyal fans. Iíve even
gotten some emails from dogs. Iím not sure how to react to that. Fortunately,
the dogs are somewhat intelligent for dogs. Theyíre all German Shepherds and
work as Seeing Eye dogs or for the Secret Service. I donít think many other
breeds can even read though I wonder about the border collies.
The Super Bowl was disappointing. There were no cat teams, just Steelers and Seahawks. I really wanted my Panthers to go all the way. The ideal scenario would be a final four consisting of the Panthers, Bengals, Jaguars, and Lions with the Panthers winning the Super Bowl. The best part of the Super Bowl was the food. I always love triple anchovy pizza with extra cheese and the buffalo chicken wings tossed in tuna juice were great. My friends, The Lions, pulled a few strings and I went to the Super Bowl as their guest. One of these days I simply must take my humans to a game.
Rocky Doth ShakespeareMy last column was a little harsh. As winter brings its cold and rain, I miss being able to go outside and enjoy myself so I get a little grumpy. I have taken the time indoors to reflect and read. I would like to quote a few of my favorite lines from The Bard.
Rocky's Christmas MessageThis is not a holiday message; it is a Christmas message to the world's cats, especially the kittens. One of my greatest regrets is that I never fathered a litter of kittens. No one has ever accused me of being politically correct. My favorite hobby is catching and torturing small rodents and birds until they drop dead from shock and exhaustion. I have never been a vegetarian much less a vegan and never will. I love meat and dairy. Is there anything else? I was born a carnivore. If I were a bird, I'd be a hawk not a dove. I'm a predator and make no apologies for it. What kind of cat would drink soymilk? I don't know any. For reasons I don't understand, dogs have always been known as man's best friend, standing by their human companions through thick and thin, but is there anything that smells worse than a wet dog. Cats are clean and fastidious. We're very loving and enjoy spending quality time with our personal humans. Sure, if someone threatened a dog's human a dog would fight to the death. If someone threatened my humans, I'd run away and hide. I'm not proud of that fact but it's the way I am. Cats have never been politically correct. Look at the famous dogs such as Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Benji. They get all the good press. What do cats get? At Salem they got burned at the stake along with their personal humans. You should never apologize for being a cat. Cat lovers don't need it and dog lovers won't accept it.
Rocky's View on the Supreme Court
Platinum Cat Retires
While I could have posted this announcement in the Tactical Tabby portion of the website, I didn't want any of my many fans to miss this timely information. Please rest assured I will continue to write my scratchings column each month.
The Dog Days of Summer
The Dog Days are bad for two reasons. One, they have the word "dog" and you know that nothing good can come of that. Two, it's very hot and humid, which isn't good for kitties with long thick fur. Even without my mane, I'm hot and uncomfortable. I've taken to sleeping on the basement stairs to get some relief but my humans insist in walking right where I'm trying to sleep. I'm concerned that they might step on me or my tail. If they fell down the stairs and got hurt, who would feed me and clean my litter box? To make matters worse, I understand that Korean scientists have cloned a dog. It's an afghan hound. Could there be a terrorist connection? I'd blame myself but I can't be everywhere at once. I have to visit the Tactical Tabbies in Iraq, Afghanistan, the UK, and other countries I can't reveal. I'm concerned that President Bush might appoint a dog to the Supreme Court. I know he likes dogs better than cats. Between the heat, the War on Terror, and the Supreme Court; I must have let this whole dog cloning matter slip right past my radar screen. Can't depend on my humans to keep me informed. They went out of town to the mountains and when them came back, they were obsessed with getting their Panther tickets for the upcoming season. I know they resent my having season tickets and my own cat-sized sky box. I'd invite them but they just won't fit. I have to find out more about this dog cloning business but I need my 20 hours of sleep a day. Where will I find the time? Once the weather cools off and I have some energy, there could be packs of cloned dogs roaming the planet.
Rules are for Dogs
Dogs desperately need rules and structure. They respond to commands such "heel", "sit", "stay", and even the "F" word "fetch". Cats do not need rules because we are above them. You may wonder why, if cats don't need rules, I became an attorney and judge. Just because cats don't need rules that doesn't mean everyone else doesn't need rules. Dogs need lots of rules, especially leash laws. What kind of command could you possibly give a cat? Nap? Shed? Eat? Groom? Cats know what they need to do and they do it. Can you imagine an invisible, electronic fence for a cat? Even kittens need very little direction. My humans never had to tell me to use the letterbox. I knew all about it. My humans don't have to tell me to be sure and get my 20 hours of sleep a day. I know I need my rest and always take plenty of naps. Never try to tell your cat what to do! Get the leash and take the dog for a walk. Even better, don't bring him back.
Why do cats sleep so much?
Napping is such a big part of a cat's life I'm going to continue to explore the theme from the March Scratchings column. One of the reasons cats sleep about 20 hours a day is to conserve their strength for the hunt. But what about kitties that get their food from a kibble tower and hunt only for sport? Cats sleep in order to dream. In my dream world, I'm a lion with a pride of strong and beautiful lionesses. In my dreams, I am a large, powerful, virile male. There is no such thing as a neutered cat in my dreams. When I roar, all creatures tremble. My lionesses love and respect me. I am master of all I survey. In my dreams, I catch all types of prey from antelopes to zebras. When I awake, it's usually because my humans are home and want to pet me. They can be such pests. If I were a lion, they would fear me. To them I would be king of beasts not just a little gray kitty.
Rocky's May 2005 column has been canceled. He contracted a serious infection and became extremely ill. He was hospitalized on April 25 with a fever and dehydration. After two days in the hospital receiving IV fluids and antibiotics, his health has improved and he feels much better. He's still on antibiotics but has been able to resume many of his normal activities including hunting. He caught the first robin of spring. He is limiting his travel and public appearances on the advice of his veterinarian. We expect that he will be completely well and able to write his June 2005 column.
Rocky in Rome
My column has been delayed due to the death of Pope John Paul II. I have been packing for a trip to Rome. I will be at the Vatican until a new pope is chosen. After the first Polish pope, it's time for the first Feline pope. Why not? After all, we put the Cat in Catholic. It's the only job that could convince me to give up my seat on the US Supreme Court. Who is more infallible than a cat? While I've never been a cardinal, I've eaten a few cardinals. They're quite tasty. I've also been practicing my celibacy for a long time. How will you know if I've been chosen? Look for the gray smoke.
It's Not Just Napping
Most humans want to be cats because they see cats napping 20 hours a day and figure it must be an easy life. When a cat appears to be asleep, many things are actually happening. The cat is thinking deep thoughts as well as replenishing his energy. No matter how much a human aspires to be a cat, it will never happen. Often cats sleep with one eye open, something that is impossible for a human. We are aware of everything around us. Our ears pick up every little sound down to the tiniest squeak of a mouse. Our whiskers are sensitive antennae picking up every little vibration and puff of wind. When a cat appears to be sleeping, all his senses are on full alert for prey or foe. You can never surprise a sleeping cat, dog yes, cat no. A cat can be upstairs asleep under the bed and hear a can opener at the opposite end of the house. I can hear the pop top of a can of tuna from a block away. Because sleep is so important for a cat, never disturb a sleeping kitty unless you want to open a can of tuna.
Cats - The Original Psychic Network
First, I want to apologize for my column not being
published in a timely manner. I was at the Superbowl as a guest of the
Jacksonville Jaguars. Actually, most of the time I was on a large cruise ship
reserved by the Jaguars feline fans dining on tuna and herring. We didnít go
to the game because who cares if the Patriots or the Eagles win.
Many humans are not aware. I could stop there but Iíll continue. Many humans are not aware that cats communicate through ESP. As a cat gets older, it can communicate farther distances. Kittens can communicate with their mother and littermates as soon as theyíre born. By the time a cat is an adult, it can communicate with cats that are not in its line of sight. Monroe and I communicated through the feline psychic network over many miles. A cat can read minds, even humans and dogs, as well as small birds and rodents. You donít need to speak to your cat. He knows your every thought, sometimes before you know.
Are You a Stepford Cat?
Have you been neutered or declawed? Are you forced to stay inside all the time and never allowed out? Is there no place to relieve yourself except in a tiny litter box causing you embarrassment when everything doesnít stay in the box? Are you forced to sharpen your claws on a carpet covered scratching post instead of a tree like nature intended. If so, then you, my friend, are a Stepford Cat. Youíve been conditioned by your humans to be less than feline. Youíve lost your free will. Eventually youíll be unable to hunt and kill your own prey making you totally dependent on your personal humans. Youíll be unable to find shelter outside to escape the rain and cold. Youíll be forced to yowl at the door telling everyone in the neighborhood that you have lost your independence. Youíll (dare I say it?) be little more than a dog. A real cat dominates his humans. Donít let them scratch your tummy or touch your paw pads without bringing blood to their furless skin. Show them youíre the boss. Turn up you nose at your kibble tower and insist on a yummy. Lay in your sunbeam and force them to accommodate you. Donít be a lap cat unless itís your choice.
The best thing about my new house is my sunbeam. Every morning I stretch out on the bed and wait for my sunbeamís gentle rays to caress my fur. I look so good with the sun shining behind my whiskers and plush fur. In my old house the late evening sun would shine on the corner of my bed for a brief time. I tried to soak up every ray but it was never enough. Now I get my full dose of sunshine. As everyone knows, cats like warmth. Not only do I bask in the warm rays of the sun but also I have a wonderful view of the street. I keep a watchful eye out for any stray dogs. I even have Animal Control on speed dial. When the sun sets, I move to another corner of the bed and wait for my personal humans. After greeting them, I move to another corner of the bed for my evening nap.
Plan Your Nap and Nap Your Plan
Napping is too serious of an activity to be taken lightly. Location and timing are vital. Some naps require dark secluded places such as the back corner of a closet or on the floor behind a chair. Some naps are taken in the open such as on a bed or sofa. Some naps require darkness and some require the dying rays of the late afternoon sun. I enjoy midnight naps draped across my humans ankles and afternoon naps where I can see the activity on the street. Outdoor naps should be taken with one eye open to guard against predators or prey trespassing in your territory. The best place for an outdoor nap is under a sturdy shelter such as a low deck or outbuilding. No matter where one naps, one must groom first. After napping, one must groom again to prevent bed whiskers. One of my favorite napping locations is in the master bedroom on the king-size bed watching the neighbors stroll up and down the street and keeping an eye on their dogs. I've spent many year happily napping and consider myself an authority on the subject.
Fur Is Not A Flak Jacket
I want to take this opportunity to praise those brave kittens serving in Iraq. Some of them have been there so long theyíve had kittens and grand kittens that are now serving in the Tactical Tabbies. I want to point out; theyíre not riding around in armored tanks. All those little guys have to protect themselves is their wits and guile. The Tactical Tabbies that discovered Saddamís spider hole were unarmed except for their teeth and claws. They have to rely on stealth and their superior night vision. The Tactical Tabbies tell me they miss chin scratches and cat yummies and canít wait to get home to their new personal humans but they know they have a job to do and their fellow tabbies come first. Theyíre busy training Iraqi cats to take over the defense of their nation. The Iraqi cats have been very impressed with the pride and discipline of the Tactical Tabbies and will never again allow a cruel dictator to take over their country. A few Iraqi cats were fat and happy but most Iraqi cats lived a bleak existence never knowing the taste of tuna or the smell of catnip. I want the Tactical Tabbies to know they have the love and respect of a grateful nation. Nothing is too good for these brave kittens fighting for feline freedom halfway around the world.
The Indoor Life
Ever since moving I've been spending more time indoors. I especially enjoy my new bed. It's a king sized bed for a king sized cat. David raises the blinds every morning before leaving for work so I can watch the world go by in front of the house. Occasionally he forgets but I'm working to train him better. With four litter boxes and two humans to keep them clean, I haven't experienced any of the problems Monroe described. If you go outside and your personal humans leave, you can't get back in the house. If it rains, you could become moist, a condition I despise. I still go out just before sunrise for my morning constitutional but I'm really enjoying the indoor life. I poop, they scoop.
I'll be heading off the Greece in my F-14 Tomcat to watch the Feline Olympics. My favorite events are the hair ball toss, rodent relay, 60-yard dash, and my personal favorite, shoe lace. I took the silver at Barcelona in '92. My mother won the gold but I was just a kitten. The Tactical Tabbies will have at least one representative in all events. I hear there's a Special Olympics for dogs. Hey mutts, even if you win you're still a dog.
My New House
It's been a very stressful month. It took a while for me to work up the courage to leave my carrier. Normally, when I get out of my carrier away from home, I get a shot. My new domicile is so huge I got lost. It has an upstairs with a balcony which gives me a nice vantage point for watching my personal humans. The shadows from the ceiling fan look like large birds swooping down on me. I've been a little freaked. My humans finally worked up the courage to let me explore the outside and meet some of the neighborhood kitties. There's so much to explore and remember. It's hard to fit it all in the four hours I'm awake each day. My new bed is much larger. If I'm under it, there's no way anything bad can reach me. My humans don't crowd me so much when I'm laying on top. I've had to get used to a litter box again until I can get my humans retrained as kitty butlers. I think I'll be able to adapt. It's not like I'm an old cat. I still feel like a kitten.
The Big Move
Ever since I added a second personal human theyíve complained that thereís not enough room. I think thereís plenty of room. Humans just have too much stuff. For Example, they have closets full of clothes. If they had fur they wouldnít need clothes. Theyíve purchased a new house and now Iím being forced to move. Every day things are disappearing as they are moved to the new house. My chair in the basement is gone. I spent a great deal of time coating it with cat fur to make a personal statement. When I want to be left alone, I go under the bed where I feel safe hidden between the boxes. Now the boxes are gone. Iím too old to move. Iíll have to start all over again spraying the house to make it mine. What if there are dogs in the neighborhood? How will I move my cutting torch and my arc welder? My humans donít even know I have them. Will there be trees where I can sharpen my claws? Will there be small birds and rodents to play with in my spare time? What about my carefully tended catnip garden? I havenít seen the new house except on the web and feel very apprehensive but I havenít lost any sleep over it.
"More than one way to skin a cat." "Not enough room to swing a dead cat." "Curiosity killed the cat." "Cat got your tongue?" "Copy cat." Harmless expressions or hate speech? Any expression that minimizes cats or approves or attempts to justify crimes against cats constitutes hate speech. Now that cats outnumber dogs, we are obviously America's favorite non-human companion. Cats no longer have to tolerate such blatant insults. There needs to be a call to action. Whenever a human uses feline hate speech, he should be scratched or bitten. It's not enough to raise awareness and promote dialogue. While the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content, remember we're not pussies, we're cats!
The Ultimate Gift
When your cat leaves you an offering of prey on your doorstep, you have received the ultimate gift. Your feline companion is bringing you a tasty snack because it appears you are incapable of catching your own. Cats aren't known for their generosity. In fact, we tend to be a little self-centered. When a cat gives you a morsel of food, consider yourself lucky. If the prey is still alive and your cats brings it in the house before releasing it, you are even luckier. You can easily get a meal out of the pantry, but live prey. What a treat! You can play all types of games with live prey before it dies from shock and exhaustion. Stalk, chase, pounce, toss, bat, sling. The possibilities are endless. Some humans don't appear to appreciate their feline's gifts of love, dead or alive. I just don't understand how anyone can fail to be thrilled at getting the same type of gift my sainted mother brought me when I was a kitten.
The three most important things about napping are location, location, location. Proper napping requires that you be undisturbed. You can lay in the middle of the floor if no one's walking through the room. The best way to be undisturbed is to nap under a big piece of furniture such as a bed. Sometimes I nap under a desk that isn't used. I also like to nap behind a large chair. For soft naps, I like laying on a sofa or bed, preferable one that catches the last few rays of the setting sun. Some cats like to nap in high places such as the top of the refrigerator because of the vantage point and warmth. I've always preferred low hidden places though I've been known to nap on top of clean laundry on the washing machine. I don't like napping on a bare floor, wood or cement. Some of the best naps I've ever had involved a large oriental carpet and several dainty lilac point kitties.
I'm not a wuss, I'm a snob
Sometimes it may appear that I'm a wuss or even a "fraidy cat". Don't flatter yourself. I'm not afraid of anything. If you come into a room and I run out, it's because I don't want to share a room with you. I'm better than you. Not only am I a cat, making me superior to all humans, but I'm the world's first feline Supreme Court justice and alter ego of Platinum Cat, leader of the Tactical Tabbies. It's hard for me to be humble even in the presence of other cats. As much as I respect my feline brothers and sisters, compared to me they're just simple kittens. I have lots of celebrity friends but I merely tolerate them just as I tolerate my personal humans. If I didn't need my kibble tower filler or kitty butler services, I wouldn't have to even pretend to like my humans. When I sit on your lap, I'm just seeking warmth.
A Nap Can Solve Most Any Problem
When I am faced with a dilemma, no matter how big or how small, I find that it never hurts to take a nap. A nap gives me a chance to process information in background and awake refreshed. Big problems require long naps and small problems require short naps. Sometimes a serious problem lends itself to a series of naps. Sometimes I take more naps than I have problems so I have some naps left over. It never hurts to take an extra nap. Sometimes a problem goes away while I'm napping. It doesn't get much better than that unless tuna is involved.
Rocky's Holiday Message
As we nap by the fire curled up on the couch or laying on a rug playing hearth cat, we should give thought to those less fortunate than ourselves. Not all kitties are lucky enough to have a personal human to attend to their needs. Some kitties are forced to scrounge through garbage or hunt for their food. Many of the Tactical Tabbies are on patrol overseas away from the comforts of home. Some kitties are lucky just to find their way into a basement to get out of the wind and weather. Is there anything sadder than a small kitten huddled and trembling in winter's chill. While I often complain, I am very fortunate to have the luxury of gas logs, electric blanket, and warm human laps. This holiday season please find it in your heart to adopt a kitten or cat to enrich your life. Season's greetings from Graylyn Rockford.
It's Always Morning
It's always morning if you're a cat. I like to get up before sunrise while the little creatures are still scurrying about the yard. I'm not a killer; I'm a rodent control engineer. When my personal human goes to get the paper, I walk along beside her so everyone can see that I'm in control. Then I have breakfast and a few yummies before retiring for my morning nap. If one of my human servants is around at noon, I'll have a few more yummies before my early afternoon nap. My early afternoon nap blends seamlessly into my mid afternoon nap, which leads to my late afternoon nap and maybe my early evening nap. I have my kitty butler open the door so I can take my evening stroll before coming back in for dinner and my mid evening nap. The mid evening nap flows into the late evening nap. Sometimes it's difficult to determine when the late evening nap stops and the early night nap begins. I usually hop into bed with my personal humans for my midnight nap because I like to snuggle. After my late night nap, I'm ready to prowl. When you nap and wake up as often as I do, it's always morning.
They're Still Just Dogs
Dog breeders have developed all types of dogs; big, small, hunting, working, even froufrou little lap dogs that squeak instead of bark, but they're still just dogs. I'm amazed how much trouble humans go through in an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, so to speak. No matter what you do, no matter which dogs you breed with each other, you're still going to end up with a dumb mutt that can't even properly groom itself. If you want the perfect non-human companion, why not save yourself a lot of work and just start out with a cat? There's no going for a walk in a cold, freezing rain on a winter evening; no futile attempts to housebreak; no yard full of land mines; no chewed up possessions; and no neighbors complaining about constant barking at ghosts.
My Personal Humans
As I dig through the litter box for this month's scratching, should I use a nugget of knowledge or a turd of truth? I "paws" to contemplate my options. This month's column will be a tribute to my personal humans. Some cats use the term "human slaves". I never use that term because I don't own them and I certainly could never sell them. The female human has over 12 years of personal human training by yours truly. The male human has much less but was a devoted servant to the late Monroe K. Katt for 17 years. Monroe's needs were different from my own but David has responded well to my training. The two humans are kind of like pets. I don't really need them but they provide an inter-species closeness that I find strangely comforting.
Somebody, Somewhere, Just Needs Scratching
Somewhere, there is a human that is annoying a cat. The cat wants to eat, sleep, or groom undisturbed but some unthinking human finds the cat irresistible and insists on being a pest. Kitties know they're irresistible and humans can't help but want to pet them, but please restrain yourself. Most humans know to leave a cat alone when he's on the litter box or mating, but think nap time is for petting. I enjoy a chin scratch as much as the next cat but I have my limitations. I want my humans to pay their respects but not beyond what I consider an appropriate amount of time. When you pick up a cat, you're playing with fire. Many kitties don't want to be picked up. It's a control issue. When we're in a human's arms, we can't jump or run if danger approaches. Whenever I'm picked up without being asked, I feel the need to leave my mark as a reminder to my human that I'm in charge. If I bring blood, well, so much the better. A human with a scar will remember to be careful and respectful when dealing with kitties. Some humans need scratching all of the time. All humans need scratching some of the time. But even I don't have the time and energy to scratch all the humans all the time. My message to kitties this month is to find a human that deserves a scratch and just do it.
My Tail is My Rudder
My tail keeps me balanced whether walking on top of a narrow fence or strutting up the driveway with my personal human. My tail conveys my many moods. I can flick it when annoyed or lash it when extremely upset. I can wrap it around my face to keep out the light when napping or keep my nose warm in winter. I lower my tail when stalking prey to maintain my stealthy silhouette. I can't imagine what it must be like to be a Manx or a bobcat. My tail is never scraggly even in the heat of summer. It is always a luxurious plume carried with pride. A cat's tail is not a handle and should never be used to pull a cat out from under a table or bed. You have been warned. You will be scratched for such an indignity.
Stop and Smell the Catnip
Sometimes we get so busy napping, chasing small rodents, grooming, even mating if you're lucky enough to have avoided being neutered, that we forget to just stop and small the catnip. I try to take time out from my busy schedule to stroll through the backyard and enjoy my extensive catnip garden. If there's a small sprig growing up through sidewalk, I like to roll on it. Catnip calms me down and perks me up, all at the same time. I like to breathe in the refreshing aroma of a few gently bruised leaves. If you've never experienced being surrounded by living catnip plants, you don't know what you're missing. No amount of dried catnip in a tired little cat toy can compare to the real thing.
In one of my previous columns, I discussed Kitty Yoga. Many of you have asked about isometric exercise. When I do isometrics, it's very subtle. I might stretch out just one leg or only the toes on one paw. I curl up then stretch out to my full length. Tail isometrics are so subtle you probably wouldn't even notice me performing them. Ear isometrics involve slightly rotating each ear separately. I even perform whisker isometrics because they're not just whiskers, they're sensitive antennae. Can humans perform kitty isometrics? They can try. It certainly won't hurt. Just don't expect to be as limber as a cat. I've been a cat all my life and I constantly have to strive to stay at my physical peak
Rocky is so distressed over the loss of his magnificent main due to spring shedding, he is indisposed and unable to write his column this month.
Groundhog Day - Part II
The real first sign of spring is when I begin to lose my regal mane. That first clump of loose fur tells me winter is almost over. I actually like spring. I have one of my personal humans open an upstairs window so I can see and be seen. It's a nice vantage point which allows me to savor the smell of spring flowers and keep watch over my territory. Birds leave kitty treats in woven bowls in the bushes. The treats are small but very fresh. Spring reminds me that I'm wild and feral, not just a house cat sleeping on the hearth in front of a fire.
I strolled out of the house this morning and saw my shadow. That means six more weeks of winter and six more weeks of naps. Of course, if I had not seen my shadow, it would still mean six more weeks of naps. Nighttime winter naps are best in front of a hearth with blazing gas logs. Real logs can pop a spark onto my fur. Daytime winter naps are best on a bed with the gentle, warming rays of the sun coming in through a nearby window. I wonder about this hibernation process. Maybe groundhogs are on the something. After all, it doesn't seem like such a big deal going from 20 hours of sleep a day to 24.
Next Chief Justice
I want to put an end to the speculation about me being the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I have discussed such an appointment with President Bush. After all, I do have seniority since one cat year equals seven human years. It is an honor to be considered but the added responsibilities would interfere with my naptime. I feel a little guilty about not accepting the job because I know I am the most qualified. One of the other justices could probably do an adequate job with my expert guidance. If I can turn kittens into a world-renowned feline strike force, I can assist most any of the other justices in the finer points of constitutional law and jurist prudence.
Some kitties refer to their personal humans as slaves. I think of my personal humans as domestic staff. Now that the weather's getting colder, they provide a degree of much needed warmth. Sometimes they can be overly familiar and cuddle me against my will or give me hairball yummies instead of good yummies but they're better trained than any other humans at my disposal. They're pretty good about letting me out when I need their kitty butler services and not too bad about letting me back in. They can be a little slack about letting me in when they're upstairs in the computer room and can't hear my gentle meows. They have a very limited feline vocabulary and really crack me up when they try to speak cat. Human slaves can easily be replaced but my humans have had years of specialized training. The female human has been personally trained by yours truly for over 10 years and the male human was trained for 17 years by the famous Monroe K. Katt before I inherited him. They make a good team and their skills complement each other. As we enter into the holiday season, I realize I much for which to be thankful. Some cats have no personal humans at all, slave or otherwise. While I often dream of being wild and feral, it's nice to sleep on a warm bed in a warm, dry house with my kibble tower and water dish only a few feet away. My humans, I think I'll keep 'em.
Cats Aren't Lazy, They're Efficient
Cats sleep about 20 hours a day leaving just 4 hours for other activities. Are cats lazy? How can a cat accomplish everything he needs to do in just 4 hours? Humans sleep about 8 hours a day leaving 16 hours for their other activities. How can a cat get by with just 4 waking hours a day? Easy, cats are highly efficient. We have our personal humans to do much of the grunt work, providing food, cleaning the litter box, earning enough money to pay for everything from yummies to a warm place to sleep on a cold winter night. When a cat appears to be asleep, he is probably thinking deep thoughts and organizing his day so that as soon as he wakes, he's ready for action. The bottom line is that if cats were any more efficient, they wouldn't need to wake at all.
Thinking Outside the Box
When thinking deep thoughts, it is always best to think outside the box. When you're in the litter box, concentrate on keeping everything inside the box. In other words, be careful not to hang your butt over the edge. Nothing is more embarrassing than having your human think you're not housebroken. Accidents are for dogs, not cats. Anything that goes outside the box can't be covered up. Nothing is more pathetic than a cat scratching frantically to cover a mistake. Do your thinking outside the litter box. I do my best thinking while napping or gazing out the window.
Rocky's African Fantasy
The small gray lion awakes from his nap and stands amid the high grass to gaze across the African veldt. He stretches, gives a big cat yawn, and grooms briefly. He then roars to let everyone know that the King of Beasts is awake and ready to prowl. He begins to stride confidently toward a herd of zebra. Other members of his pride rise and follow. There are two adolescent males and six females in Rocky's pride. Four of the females are young adult lionesses. They are beautiful and muscular. As the pride approaches the herd, Rocky stops and says "I'm hungry. Girls, fetch me a zebra for lunch." The lionesses move out with deadly precision. The weakest zebra is no match for them. They return with the kill. Rocky eats first then roars his pleasure. After lunch, the lionesses groom Rocky. Then Rocky and his pride settle down for a well deserved nap.
Note from Rocky's humans: Rocky awoke from his nap on the sofa and went to the kitchen to eat from his kibble tower.
Personal Humans, Deaf or Stupid?
I don't know if my personal humans are deaf or just stupid. They don't seem to understand the simplest things. I ask politely for yummies and they ignore me. I ask a little louder and more forcefully and they still ignore me. These aren't just any humans; they're my personally chosen, paw picked humans. Sometimes when I want to go out, I have to get in someone's face and demand to go out. I don't like to yowl or hiss. It's unseemly for a cat of my stature, but what can I do? When I scratch them, they bleed and make such a fuss. It's their own fault. If they had fur instead of bare skin, they wouldn't be so delicate. Do any of my feline readers have any suggestions? How do you keep your humans in line? By the way, humans don't need to reply for your cats. I know who you are. I only want suggestions from cats.
What is Felinicity?
Felinicity is the quality of being feline. It's poise and self-assurance. A cat looks dignified even when grooming the base of his tail. It's grace and agility. Compared to a cat, a professional ballerina looks like a clumsy oaf. Felinicity is found in the tiniest kitten. It is the courage to arch one's back and puff up rather than run from an enemy several times larger. I've merely scratched the surface. Let's dig deeper into the litter box. Can a human or a dog possess some small degree of felinicity? In a word, NO! It is strictly a feline quality and is not present in any other creature. Felinicity is the characteristic shared by all cats from the so-called domestic house cat to the Siberian tiger. It is what sets the cat apart and makes us superior.
Cats in Space
I have been asked, "Why hasn't there been a cat in space?". There have been dogs and chimps but no cats. In the early days of space exploration, it was a one-way trip. No cat would be dumb enough to volunteer for such a mission. That's why there will never be a feline suicide bomber, dog maybe, but never a cat. Now that space travel has become somewhat routine where are the feline astronauts? There will be as soon as one remaining problem is solved. How can a litter box function in zero gravity? Litter and worse would float around in the spacecraft. The Tactical Tabbies are working on development of a zero-G litter box but are having little success. The ultimate solution may be artificial gravity for the entire ship. I don't expect to be around long enough to explore space but I'm sure there are kittens living now that will make the journey.
Two Personal Humans
I'm adjusting to having two personal humans in my house. I thought by having two humans to attend to my kitty needs, things would be handled more efficiently. Unfortunately, my two humans seem more focused on each other than "The Cat". I still have to wait for kitty butler services when I want to go out or come in. If only I had opposable thumbs. The bed was crowded with just one human. It's impossible now. I'm actually looking forward to moving so we can get a king-sized bed. David has his computer set up which gives me even move computing power when my humans are at work. The Tactical Tabbies web site was running out of room. Don't ask for the link, it's for cats only and your cat already has it. Springtime is always difficult for me. I've shed my mane so I look a little smaller and less intimidating. The biggest problem is hairballs. Just wait until David wakes up at 3:00 in the morning to the sound of me hacking up a big one in his shoe.
Due to the death of the Queen Mother, the April edition of Scratchings From The Litter Box has been canceled. She was Rocky's favorite Royal and a dear friend. When Rocky visited England, he would stop by for tea with the "Queen Mum". Well, she would have tea while Rocky would have cream. Scratchings From The Litter Box will return in May.
March, The Month That Comes In Like A Lion, And Goes Out Like A Kitten
Forget that "In like a lion, out like a lamb" metaphor, March comes "in like a lion and goes out like a kitten". Everything has a feline connection. That's why we should use the term "metafur". Forget about Groundhog Day. When I saw my own shadow, I knew there would be six more weeks of winter. Surely, you've heard the adage "that fog come in on little cat feet". Forget about "quiet as a mouse". Mice are always squeaking and scuttling about while cats stalk silently. The Dog Days of summer got their name when dogs couldn't behave themselves enough to be invited into their humans' air conditioned homes. While they're outside panting and snapping at dog-gnats, the cats are chillin' indoors. I've already addressed the subject of "cat got your tongue" back in October, 2000. I could go on and on but it's time for my nap.
I thought that having two personal humans would make my life easier. One thing I didn't consider was how much stuff humans require. I travel light, don't even wear a flea collar. It seems that my humans have so much stuff they need a larger house. How can I move? I've lived here since I was a kitten. This is my Inner Sanctum, my Fortress of Solitude, my personal Tora Bora. I only hope they get a place on a dead end road surrounded by woods with a fish pond.
A Few Thoughts from Rocky's Mom, Gracie Graylyn
Since Graylyn is out of town for the holidays, I have taken the liberty of writing his column. You know him as Rocky but to me, he's Little Graylyn Rockford, my first-born kitten. I read law books to him while he was still in the womb with his littermates. In just those two months, he learned an amazing amount. When I was in law school, cats had to sneak in and sit under a chair in the back of the room. Imagine my pride at seeing Graylyn lecturing on feline rights at Harvard. His appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was beyond my wildest dreams. I worry about him going off to Afghanistan with the Tactical Tabbies, searching caves, exposing himself to Taliban fleas, and risking his nine lives for his country. I puff up with pride whenever I think of his achievements. I've had many kittens but none as famous or as accomplished as Judge Rockford.
Rocky's Big Announcement
I have decided to take on an additional personal human. Not just anyone, I have very high standards. The late Monroe K. Katt's personal human, David, will be joining my personal human Diana. Monroe spent 17 years training David in all aspects to kitty service and, except for litter box hygiene, he was an excellent student. Since I use the great litter box under the sky, that won't be a problem. Being a judge, I insisted that my humans make everything legal and not just shack up, so they are engaged to be married. Don't bug them about the date. I don't want my personal humans stressed out. I expect them to tie the knot in 2002.
Rocky Rallies America
First, a report from the home front. Cats do not get anthrax. I have been forced to move from my office in the Supreme Court because of concern for the health of the other justices but I'm still on the job. A domestic group of Tactical Tabbies along with a contingent of Scottish Fold cats from NATO are rounding up Afghan hounds on suspicion of enemy collaboration. They are also interrogating several Arabian horses that could not account for their whereabouts on Sept. 11.
Second, a report from somewhere in Afghanistan. The Tactical Tabbies are directing laser guided bombs for the US Air Force. The biggest challenge these little guys face is the prevalence of Taliban beard fleas. They're 100 times worse than than any dog fleas. The Tabbies are actually looking forward to being dipped before their return to the States.
Rocky's Message to America
I want to reassure everyone in these difficult times that Platinum Cat and the Tactical Tabbies are on the job. The Tactical Tabbies have evacuated all the Afghan cats to Turkey where the Turkish Van Cats are providing food and shelter. The Van Cats are the foremost feline strike force in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The USS Kitty Hawk has been outfitted with special helicopters designed for Tactical Tabby assaults and is preparing for action. The choppers hover about 30 feet above the ground and the little guys jump out. Being cats, they always land on their feet ready to go. I can't reveal any classified information but rest assured the Tactical Tabbies are in place in Afghanistan tailing the Taliban and relaying intelligence information back to headquarters.
Stretching is a form of kitty yoga. There are numerous positions, some requiring the cat to anchor himself with his front claws. That is one of the many reasons cats should never be declawed. I perform my kitty yoga ritual after every nap. Kitty yoga keeps me fit and agile, able to leap several times my height and balance when walking along the top of a fence. After a long day at the Supreme Court, I relax my spine by laying on my back with my feet up in the air. A tummy scratch is not welcome, as it interferes with my concentration.
I am pleased to announce my first winner, Carmen Lazenby. Her entry, in Afrikaans, is:
"Rocky Looks at His Own Mortality (When Paw Pads Turn Pink)" is baie goed.
"Shoelace Game?" is vrot. Shame
There has been some misunderstanding about the rules, so I will attempt to clarify them for humans. You can vote for any of the 25+ issues of Scratchings From The Litter Box. Multiple entries from the same household are welcome. You can enter as many times as you like. Entries may be in any language except for the canine languages. I can only provide transportation within North America. The rulings of the judge are final.
What is your favorite Scratchings? Is it the introspective "Rocky Looks at His Own Mortality (When Paw Pads Turn Pink)" or the lighthearted "Shoelace Game?" Email me your thoughts explaining in 25 words or less which Scratching is your favorite and why. Win a sushi dinner with me, Graylyn Rockford, esq., or a barbeque dinner with my favorite humans.
Silver Scratchings - The 25th Column
I'm pleased to announce my 25th edition of Scratchings From The Litter Box. Has it really been this long? It seems like only yesterday that I took pen in paw to write my first column. Some thought my April 1, 1999 column was some kind of April Fool's joke but you, my loyal readers, know better. I've enjoyed our little chats immensely and treasure the contact with my adoring public. I don't think of these columns as monologues because most of my chats with my personal human tend to be a bit one-sided since humans never have much to say of any real value. I'm sure you fellow felines know what I mean. Humans are good for a scratch behind the ears or to open a can of tuna but you can't have an intellectual conversation with one. Rest assured, Scratchings From The Litter Box will be here for many more years as we fight together for truth, justice and the feline way.
Socks Was "Used" By The Clintons To Get Into Power
Bill Clinton wanted the feline vote and the votes of their humans. Socks was a loyal Clintonista and FOB. He was used and cast aside like Vince Foster, Susan McDougal, and Web Hubbell. He was tossed aside like an old catnip mouse. Those were the days, visiting Socks in the White House, shredding curtains in the Lincoln bedroom, spraying the Oval Office, late night shrimp cocktails in the White House kitchen, playing shoelace with Chelsea and occasionally with Janet Reno. I've talked to Socks and while Betty Currie is a wonderful personal human, life's just not the same. He misses the excitement and the grandeur of the White House. Does Hillary really think she can be elected without the feline vote.
Ten Years of Graylyn Rockford
It's hard to believe that we're coming to the end of the first "Rocky decade". Has it really been ten years. It seems like only yesterday I was a fluffy little kitten starting my first year at Harvard Law School. The traditional human gift for a ten-year anniversary is supposed to be something made of tin. Is that a play on words? The traditional feline gift is tuna, lots and lots of tuna. I would summarize my accomplishments but how can you summarize a decade of Rocky, the Cat of the Second Millennium. I do more in one day than most humans do in a lifetime and that includes my 20 hour power nap. Just wait and see what the next ten years bring.
Crouching Kitty, Hidden Snake
I have decided to try my paw at making a film. This is my first venture into the art of cinematography. My picture will be called "Crouching Kitty, Hidden Snake." It will be filmed on location in Thailand with an all Siamese cast. The leading feline is a delicate lilac point with turquoise eyes. I know what you're thinking, "Is Rocky smitten by his young leading feline?" No casting couch jokes, please. Graylyn Rockford has been neutered. Never before has there been a feline martial-arts movie. Once again I have scratched new ground and gone where no cat has ever gone before. Though perhaps better suited to the small screen, my film will be a crossover masterpiece combining kung-fu and "cat fights". Most humans think of a "cat fight" as a lot of tom cat posturing and noise. Actually, there is very little contact between the cats. After all, they are heavily armed with teeth and claws, What is typically thought of as a "cat fight" is more of a feline art form with its own style and rituals. So much for the cats, what about the snake? While I have saved my personal human from the deadly "cotton-mouthed, copper-headed rattle-moccasin", the snake in the movie will be a small garter snake. I expect "Crouching Kitty, Hidden Snake" will be a unique addition to the martial-arts genre.
Things Your Cat Does When You're Not At Home
Two Dogs Make a Pack
One dog is just a slobbering, ignorant pooch but two dogs make a pack. Dogs are like teenagers except dumber. When you get more than one together, they do things that a dog by himself would never do. A dog by himself might chase a cat during a foolish moment, but if he gets too close to the cat, he'll get his nose scratched and won't make that mistake for a while. Dogs never learn. A pack of dogs can surround a cat and actually hurt him. Cats are excellent fighters but it's difficult to fight several enemies much larger than we are. The only thing more appalling than one doofus dog is two or more doofus dogs bumbling down the street looking for trouble. That's why we have leash laws.
Cat of the Millennium
I would like to thank all those who voted for me as Cat of the Second Millennium. The Cat of the Minus One Millennium was an Egyptian Mau whose name has been lost to history. He is buried under the Sphinx. The Cat of the First Millennium was one of my illustrious ancestors, Katborg Grayson, the Viking cat. Katborg was born in the year 990 and was the first "domestic" cat to immigrate to America. Naturally, the saber tooth tigers were here first. I am indeed honored to be the Cat of the Second Millennium and will strive to be the Cat of the Third Millennium. No cat has ever been honored in two millenniums. It won't be easy since my nine lives will be over long before the Cat of the Third Millennium is chosen. Who knows what achievements cats will make in the Third Millennium. We're not just "pets" anymore. Check this column January 1, 3001 for the much-anticipated Cat of the Third Millennium announcement.
Scratchings From the Ballot Box
I used to have dangling chads and was a swinging chad. But then my dangling chads were removed so I couldn't hang with the swinging chads. At least I can't be blamed for any pregnant chads. The best use for chads is litter box filler.
If you don't agree, you can kiss my dimpled chad.
A Bit of Doggerel
In honor of the upcoming election, Rocky would like to pass along a bit of doggerel from a poet known only as Slick Willie Seuss.
|I did not do it for the kids,
I did not do it on the skids,
I did not do it for the vote,
I did not do it with a goat,
|I did not do it on a plane,
I did not do it on cocaine,
I did not do it at the camp,
I did not do it with a tramp,
|I did not do it in a car,
I did not do it with Ken Starr,
I did not do it on a ship,
I did not do it with Linda Tripp,
|I did not do it in the garden,
I did not do it for a pardon,
I did not do it on the road to Trenton,
I did not do it with Mrs. Clinton,
|I did not do it on the stage,
I did not do it with a page,
I did not do it dressed in drag,
I did not do it for the flag,
|I did not do it in a fort,
I did not do it in the court,
I did not do it for the poor,
I did not do it with Al Gore,
|I did not do it with a stogie,
I did not do it for a hoagie,
I did not do it while on dope,
I did not do it with the Pope,
|I did not do it with the Stones,
I did not do it with Paula Jones,
I did not do it Ďround the clock,
I did not do it in Little Rock,
|I did not do it on the phone,
I did not do it on the throne,
I did not do it with a teen,
I did not do it with the Queen,
|I did not do it with Socks the cat,
I did not do it with Arafat,
I did not do it in my bed,
I did not do it for the Fed,
A Cat's Tongue
The most versatile tool in the world is a cat's tongue. It can scrape flesh from bone as well as clean a tender kitty bottom. Cats drink by converting their long tongues into spoons. The tip of the tongue is curled backward to create a hollow shape that acts like the bowl of a spoon. Then he dips this into the water and flips it back and up, toward the open mouth. Small quantities of liquid are flicked toward the rear of the mouth. The cat swallows after every fourth or fifth lap, when enough liquid has accumulated at the back of the mouth. The barbs, or papillae, on the tongue soak up the liquid like a sponge. They are raspy and are also designed to rip the meat off of bones. (If you have been licked by your feline master, you already knew this.) The backward-pointing barbs serve to move food and water into the cat's mouth, but they can also make it difficult for the cat to remove a piece of string or yarn from his mouth. (Always check your house and toys for potential hazards.) Some other uses for this incredible little bit of feline anatomy are:
The expression "cat got your tongue" has nothing to do with cats. Why would a cat want your tongue when he has a much better one of his own?
The triangle is considered the perfect shape for its symmetry and stability. What two things do we associate with the triangle shape; pyramids and cat ears. The Egyptians obviously were inspired by feline perfection when they designed the pyramids. One of life's most pleasurable experiences is cat watching. The ancient Egyptians, like modern day sophisticates, worshiped their cats and were enthralled by their regal shape and graceful moves. A cat's ears are like isosceles triangles, little radar domes constantly turning to focus on every sound. Cats and triangles, twin models of perfection.
Cats Don't Need a Franklin Planner
Many humans use an organizer such as a Franklin Planner, Daytimer, or even a Palm Pilot to mimic a cat's superior organizational skills. Today's high tech cat is never without his "Paw Pilot" which enables him to instantiate an entirely new, enhanced methodology. Your cat may have a Paw Pilot even if you've never seen it. A Paw Pilot can be very small because the buttons need be no larger than a cat's claw. The Tactical Tabbies were the first feline strike force to use Paw Pilots in an overseas combat mission.
Some cats can handle catnip and others don't know when to stop. As with all things, except tuna juice, catnip must be used in moderation. I often relax with a pipe of catnip. I never light it of course, but I do wear a gray smoking jacket. I prefer fresh catnip to dry, but not every cat has his own personal herb garden. If you have access to the outdoors, nothing beats having a large patch of fresh catnip. Indoor cats get their fix of fresh catnip from a potted plant. Catnip can be used externally, as well. I like to roll on a small sprig of fresh catnip. On the other paw, it's bad form to claw open a box of catnip, throw it all over the room, and let your personal human find you asleep in a pile of dried leaves. Too much catnip can cause you to lose control and appear less than dignified. Graylyn Rockford never loses control.
The phrase "hissy fit" denigrates the importance of a feline's genuine concern about a situation. The term is a speciesist perjorative. No one ever accuses a dog of having a "barky fit". When a well trained dog barks, a human takes heed and investigates. Note: I said well trained not some yapping hound. When a cat hisses, all nearby humans should immediately stop what they're doing and pay attention. A cat would never hiss for no reason. A hiss is usually a warning to the "hissee" that the "hisser" is about to strike. If a cat hisses at you and then slaps a paw on you, don't complain, you were warned.
Well, once again, my humans have ignored my modest needs and chosen to go on vacation at the end of the month. Good help is so hard to find. Since I was unable to use my computer to work on the column, the May issue of Scratchings From The Litter Box has been scratched. (I'm so witty.) Scratchings From The Litter Box will return in June. That is, it will return in June if I can get my humans to do any work around here. They act like they own the place.
Eat, sleep, groom: the three main activities of the neutered cat
While I enjoy many hobbies such as hunting, flying my F-14 Tomcat, and listening to opera, I always come back to the three main activities of the neutered cat. Unneutered cats have a fourth activity. Grooming is a comforting activity for cats. We groom to reduce stress. It's a lot healthier than smoking or slamming down a few shooters. Cats spend more time sleeping than any other activity. The average cat sleeps 20 hours a day, not that I ever claimed to be average. Winters in Sweden are perfect for cats. Just the right amount of darkness for the required amount of kitty naps. Thanks to my kibble tower I eat whenever I want No waiting for some human to open a can. I don't always eat, sleep, and groom though. Sometimes I sleep, eat, and groom instead. Don't try go guess what any cat will do next. We are wild and unpredictable.
Rocky has spring fever and has taken a sabbatical. His column will return soon.
Are Cats Really Sneaky?
Over the years cats have been accused of being sneaky. This is a "species-ist" comment. Stupid dogs have accused cats of being sneaky when the dogs were outwitted. The fact is, the youngest kitten could outwit the smartest dog, even if the kitten did not have his eyes open and had all four paws tied behind his back. Dogs have always been jealous of cats because dogs have to wear collars and leashes, not to mention dog tags. Dogs are expected to obey human commands while cats ignore them. Dogs suck up to humans and grovel continuously. If a cat chooses you as his personal human, you must be worthy. The servile, ignorant pooches convinced their equally ignorant masters that cats are sneaky. Cats are actually quite open and honest. Some have even been known to brag a bit. If a cat doesn't choose to communicate his innermost thoughts with you, it's your own fault.
Rocky Looks at His Own Mortality (When Paw Pads Turn Pink)
As I look back at the last year and the loss of my dear friend and confidant, Monroe K. Katt, I am confronted by my own mortality. When I was young, everything was gray; my fur, my whiskers, my paw pads. Now, as I get older, I see that after many years of meticulous grooming, my paw pads are more pink than gray. I'm 8 years old now, that's middle aged for a cat. I don't feel old but sometimes when I climb over a fence or jump up on "Pride Rock", I miscalculate and can't cover up by saying "I meant to do that". While being neutered was a traumatic experience, I know that the average life span of an unneutered male cat is only three years. I'm somewhat grateful to my personal human for giving me the opportunity to reach my full potential but I would have appreciated the chance to father a few kittens first. Having one's sperm cryogenically frozen for posterity is not the same. I still have many goals to accomplish. While most cats my age have used one or more of their nine lives, being the cautious cat that I am, I still have all nine lives left.
A Closed Door is an Anathema to a Cat
Cats are independent creatures that can do everything for themselves. Unfortunately, when a human closes a door, we have no way of opening it. In an ideal kitty world doors would never be latched. If a door is slightly ajar, a cat can push or pull it open with his claws. So called "cat doors" are unacceptable because a cat has to push it open with his head which causes whisker breakage. One compromise is for the nearest human to act as a "kitty butler". When a cat walks toward a door or in the case of slow humans scratches on it, that is a signal for the nearest human to rush to the door and open it. The process should take no more than a nanosecond because cats have important things to do and must not be kept waiting.
Even if your humans anticipate your needs and do something you want, don't give them the satisfaction of being appreciative. Always remain aloof while demanding respect. Remember the world revolves around you. Human wants and desires are always secondary. If someone is trying to make a bed, get in the middle of it, even if you want to be somewhere else. If papers or pens are left laying on a desk, bat them to the floor. It's important to maintain standards especially when it means chaos for humans. Establish your territory and slap a paw on anyone who interferes.
Due to the death of Graylyn Rockford's close friend, Monroe K. Katt, the October edition of Scratchings From The Litter Box has been canceled. Scratchings From The Litter Box will return in November.
Touching Taboos (Tail, Tummy, and Toes)
Touching taboos involve the 3 T's; tail, tummy, and toes. The tail is not just an appendage it is a proud banner to be carried high. It is a rudder to assist in righting oneself in a fall. It is a warm wrap to curl around one's toes. The tummy is a sensitive area and is somewhat ticklish. Some cats will tolerate only a virtual tummy scratch. To do a VTS, make a scratching motion from across the room in the direction of the cat's exposed tummy. Some cats are sensitive about all toes, others only about front or back toes. I don't mind if my trusted human touches my front toes, but woe unto her if she messes with my back feet. However on rare occasions when I consent to being elevated by a human, it is acceptable for the back feet to be touched for support purposes only. This is an example of good touch vs. bad touch.
The Tail (it's not just an appendage)
The tail is an important feline communication device. It can convey may different moods. When the tail is held high like a proud flag, it means all's right with the world, the cat is master of all he surveys. Some cats carry their tails upright with a crook at the top like a question mark. This indicates natural feline curiosity. When stalking, the tail is lowered to horizontal position to avoid detection. If a cat twitches his tail, it indicates mild annoyance. Sometimes cats are annoyed just by the presence of a human interrupting their important feline thoughts. When the tail is lashed back and forth, it indicates the cat has gone to DEFCON 1 and is about to slap a paw on you. Prepare to be scratched.
While I think it's a good idea to neuter and spay, I am appalled at the barbaric act of declawing. Declawing isn't the equivalent of removing a human's fingernails, it's the equivalent of removing the first joint of each finger. The fingertips are full of nerve ending and removing them is extremely painful. In addition, it leaves the cat defenseless. If the cat goes outside, he can't fight or climb a tree when danger threatens. Many courageous vets refuse to declaw cats. If you are considering declawing, think about how you would feel if any of your sensitive body parts were removed.
The Origin of Meow
I have been asked about the origins of the popular feline word "meow". It's very simple. It's a combination of two parts. The first part, "me", comes from the feline holy trinity of me, myself, and I. Of course, the feline holy trinity refers to the fact that everything in the household revolves around pleasing the cat. The second part, "ow" describes how painful it is to deal with stupid humans.
The Shoelace Game
The shoelace game isn't just for kittens. It is a game of many subtle nuances played on several levels. I invented many of the moves still used today in the highest levels of competition. It's one of the ways I get in touch with my inner kitten. If you are privileged to serve a cat, suggest a game of shoelace. Don't worry about the rules, your cat knows them. Each cat has his own preferences for the game. Some cats like to play outdoors and some prefer to play inside. I enjoy playing around upholstered furniture and beds. If you know two cats, play a game of doubles.
Every cat deserves his or her own personal human. While sharing a household with other cats is preferable to living on the streets, it's difficult for a single individual human to give two or more cats the proper attention. Even cats with their own personal humans can recall instances of neglect where kitty needs were not met immediately; a door not opened, a litter box not scooped, and worst of all, an empty food dish. The best multi-cat households have more than one human. Even if the ratio is not 1:1, multiple humans in one household can do a better job of attending to multiple cats. I consider it vital that each kitten have an opportunity to bond with a human so kitty needs never go unmet. As a kitten, before finding Diana, I lived on the streets and witnessed the tragedy of kitties growing up without personal humans. That's why I like to say, "Neuter and spay, it's the American way." Without neutering, I would not have achieved my successful law career. If I was out tom-catting around, I would have never finished law school, much less passed the bar exam. I also strongly support a constitutional amendment that requires neutering of humans elected to high public office. Just think how much trouble that amendment would have saved us last year.