Tag Archives: cats

If you want to live a good life, then be like an animal 

two dogs asleep on lawnAnimals seem to have life figured out. Whereas we humans tend to overcomplicate matters, animals excel at keeping things simple.

For example, animals have two primary objectives in life: hunting for food and eating food.

That’s it. That’s their life. They eat food to sustain their existence.

I like it. Though perhaps not the most ambitious of goals, the simplicity makes it admirable. Not everyone can be an astronaut or invent a gadget that benefits the world.

Animals know this, which is why they keep their goals attainable. They don’t have to make New Year’s resolutions because their daily objectives are within reach.

You never see a zebra trying to quit smoking, or a hippo in jogging shorts huffing down the neighborhood street. Animals don’t manufacture drama like humans. They hunt for food. And then they eat the food. And as long as the cycle continues, they consider their ambitions fulfilled.

But then again, animals also reproduce. So I guess you could list that as their third prescribed objective. Without reproduction, animals wouldn’t have anyone to carry on the noble tradition of hunting for food and eating food. The circle of life wouldn’t be complete without enthusiastic offspring to carry on these most laudable of customs.

Humans could learn a thing or two from the animals. We no longer hunt, but we navigate the supermarket aisles after work, filling our carts with 7UP and Crown Royal. Instead of wielding a spear, now we hand over a debit card. Laden with sacks of groceries, most animals would think I was the greatest hunter in the world.

And we don’t just reproduce; we have relationships. And then there’s heartache and breakups and husbands who don’t put the seat down. It’s excruciating. Humans might not eat their young, but we’re the only species that’ll argue over the upright position of a toilet seat. (But at least I don’t mark my territory by lifting my leg on the front door, so let’s be thankful for small favors.)

Animals, however, keep it simple. They don’t overcomplicate.

Case in point: When they’re not hunting or eating, animals are lounging. Once their daily obligations are completed, they sit back and enjoy life.

Look at domesticated animals. Because they don’t have to hunt, they can skip right to the eating and lounging parts. You rarely see a dog or cat scrambling during the morning commute. While we humans are toiling away at work, our pets are sprawled on the living-room rug with their tongues hanging out, asleep. (Whenever I end up on the living-room rug, it usually has something to do with all that 7UP and Crown Royal.)

So I think humans should study the animals and learn from them. They have a lot to teach us.

And until I see a hippo in jogging shorts — or a zebra wearing a nicotine patch — I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to living well, animals have humans beat paws-down.

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I didn’t think I was destroyed, but that’s what the search engines say 

cat looking at camera

My downstairs neighbor, Dave, often comes over to give me advice on my blog — as well as to drink any beer I might have in the fridge. “People like pictures of cats,” he says, “even if it’s a only meme with a stupid subtitle that has nothing to do with the cat itself. That’ll get you readers for sure.”

Dave the Downstairs Neighbor popped into my apartment on Saturday afternoon.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Nothing much. Just wanted to see what you were up to.”

“You’re out of beer, aren’t you?”

“Not necessarily,” Dave said. “I often come by just to say hi.”

“Then you won’t mind if I drink this beer in front of you without offering you one?”

Dave licked his lips. “Do you think you could maybe, like … spare one?”

“You came over here for a beer, didn’t you?” I asked.

“Yes!” Dave said, throwing his arms wide and yelling. “Yes! I came over for a beer.”

“No problem. Help yourself. There’s beer in the fridge.”

“Great — thanks,” Dave said, tromping into my kitchen and wrenching open the refrigerator. He pulled out a bottle and pried off the lid with an opener.

“You got lime?” he called.

“Bottom bin,” I said.

Dave cut himself a lime and slid it into his bottle.

“Now was that so hard?” he asked, walking back into the living room. “It’s like you want me to feel like a freeloader. Say, you got some chips?”

I handed him the bag of Tostitos that was sitting on the coffee table. “So get this.”

“What’s that?” Dave asked, sitting on the couch and resting his feet on the coffee table.

“I was working on my blog this morning, and it’s got a dashboard where you can see the number of visitors you get and stuff like that.”

“Do you get any visitors?”

“I … well, I’m more interested in the quality of reader as opposed to the quantity, you know.”

Dave crunched on some chips. “So you’re still not getting any visitors?”  Keep reading…

A philosophical conversation with my cat

sarcastic cat

Although my cat is a little too self-centered sometimes, he’s nice to have around when I need someone to talk to.

I was sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, when my cat sauntered into the room.

“Hey!” Cat said. “It’s after five! Where are my treats?”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s twenty minutes past five, and you never gave me my treats! What’s the matter with you? I’m starving here!”

“Oh, wow,” I said, looking at my wristwatch. “I didn’t realize it was so late. This entire day has gotten away from me.”

“Yeah, well, your guts will be getting away from you when I disembowel you. How dare you neglect me like a godforsaken alley cat. I’d eat better if I lived on the streets!”

I got up and walked into the kitchen to get the cat’s treats. His wide eyes followed me all the way.

“Do you want chicken or fish treats?” I called.

“Both. And give me a handful of those hairball treats, too. I’ve been choking all day.”

“OK, but you can only have 10. That’s what the package says.”

“I don’t care what the package says. I’ll gouge your eyeballs out, you useless human.”

I returned to the living room and set the treats on the floor. The cat sniffed and them and started nibbling daintily.

As he ate, I returned to the couch and stared at the TV.

The cat looked at me, chewing thoughtfully. Once he swallowed, he asked, “So what’s up with you today?”

“I’m sorry?”

“What’s up with you? You’ve been acting morose all day, and then you almost forgot to feed me. Here I am starving and suffering while you’re just zoned out watching TV. For all the abuse I endure, I ought to go on a Sarah McLachlan commercial.”

“You think you might be exaggerating a tad?” I asked, grabbing the remote and flipping channels. “You’re not exactly abused, you know.”

“Keep it up, and I’ll make shredded cheese out of your face,” Cat said, holding up his glistening claws.  Keep reading…

The catnip candy cane and the unimpressed cat

a cat rolling on floorSo I’m on the phone with my friend, Brenda. And she says, “You have a cat, don’t you? I thought I remembered you saying you have a cat.”

“Yep,” I say, laughing. “I sure do. I am indeed the proud owner of a cat.”

“Hey!”

I look up to see my cat staring at me from across the room. He motions to me with his claw. “Get over here.”

I can’t, I mouth, cupping my hand over the receiver. I’m on the phone.

“Hang up the damn phone and get your ass over here,” my cat says. “Now! I want to talk to you.”

And meanwhile, Brenda’s babbling about some dog she owned in 1986. I think she said its name was Salt, or something.

“Brenda, I’m so sorry,” I say, interrupting her, “but I’ve got to go.”

“Right now?” Brenda asks. “We’re right in the middle of a conversation. I was just telling you about the time that Pepper lifted his leg on Mama’s toupee. She kept smelling doggy pee, and she couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. She thought it might be her armpits, and she kept burying her nose under both her arms to sniff them, but all she could smell was regular old-lady B.O., and not pee. It was driving her crazy!”

“I thought your dog’s name was Salt?” I ask.

“My dog’s name is Salt,” Brenda says.

“But you just said your dog’s name is Pepper?”

“Pepper is the dog I had in 1986,” Brenda says. “You know that. My goodness, it’s like you’re not listening to a word I’m saying.”

“Huh? What’s that?” I ask, looking at my cat and swallowing. His eyes are narrowed, and I can tell my delay is making him livid.

“I said it’s like you’re not listening to a word I’m saying!” Now it’s Brenda who sounds livid.

“Hang up the phone,” my cat says, his voice eerily calm. “Now.”

“Bye, Brenda,” I say, as I hang up the phone. I can her her screaming violent, rage-fueled obscenities as I set down the receiver. That woman does not like to be cut off when she’s talking about her pets.

“Get over here,” my cat says, motioning me over to the couch.

I take a deep, uncertain breath. Then, I stand up and saunter over to the couch.

“Have a seat.”

I sit down on one end of the couch while my cats sits on the other, his tail twitching manically.

“Now,” my cat says, “remind me what you said a moment ago. You know, the part about you being a proud pet owner?”

I swallow again. Suddenly, my throat feels dry.

“I didn’t mean anything by it,” I say, my voice cracking. “I swear. All I said was that I was the proud owner of a cat.”

“And therein lies the problem.” My cat closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. My chest tightens as I await his next syllable. Already, I can feel a line of cold sweat beading across my brow.

“Let’s get something straight,” my cat says. “Right here and right now. And I’m only going to tell you once, so you listen good. You don’t own me. You understand? I own you. You got that, you miserable bag of puke? I own you!”

“I’m sorry,” I try to say, stammering. “I didn’t mean–”

“Shut up!” my cat says, raising his paw. “I’m not through with you. You’re nothing. You’re the rancid scum that pools at the bottom of my milk dish when it’s left sitting out for too long. You’re the flimsy guts of a disemboweled mouse that I left sitting on the back porch. You’re more useless than that cheap-ass catnip candy cane you bought me for Christmas from the $1 store. And what a joke that was, by the way. What kind of a tightwad, scumbag bastard buys Christmas gifts from the $1 store?”

“Cat, please,” I say, my voice taking on a higher pitch. My body’s trembling, and my throat constricts as I talk, which cuts off my words. Either I’m really getting worked up, or my cat allergies are kicking in.

I’m not sure why I have a cat when I’m allergic to him, but he’s never appreciated any of the sacrifices I’ve made. I made a special trip to buy him that catnip candy cane, and it pains me to learn that he hated it.

“Let’s get one thing straight,” my cat says. “Don’t you ever go around telling people you own me. You got it? You will never own me. I would never condescend to call you my owner, or even my friend. You’re nothing to me. You’re just the sniveling coward who fills my food dish and cleans out the litter box. You’re nothing to me but a manservant. All you’re good for is fluffing my pillows and maybe running a comb through my fur when I’m starting to shed. But beyond that, you’re a withered, pathetic excuse for a man.”

“Cat, I’m sorry!” I say, tears springing to my eyes. It hurts to hear him speak so callously. I thought our relationship was stronger than this.

“Silence!” my cat says. “I ought to drag you outside right now and break your stupid kneecaps with a tire iron, you miserable pipsqueak. Or maybe I’ll just slice you up with my claws so that you look like shredded cheese. You’ll look like you’ve been dropped through a helicopter rotor by the time I’m finished with you, you classless bum.”

“I’m so sorry, Cat,” I say, wiping snot on the back on my sleeve. Whether it’s emotions or allergies, my nose is gushing. “I didn’t mean to insinuate that I owned you, or that you’re somehow beneath me. Sometimes I just blurt things without thinking.”

“Damn right you weren’t thinking, you gutless turd! And you’ll never make the same mistake again, will you?”

“I promise,” I say, sniffing. “You’re the most important feline in my life, Cat. I don’t want us to fight.”

“Quit sniveling,” my cat says, glaring. “You’re making me sick. It’s despicable.”

“Cat,” I say, “can I ask you a question?”

“Must you?”

“You’re always so mad at me lately. You hiss at me for even the slightest perceived offense.”

My cat’s eyes widen. “That’s because you deserve it, you wretched fool!”

I swallow. “I know I’ve apologized for this before, but Cat … will you ever forgive me for having you neutered?”

My cat sucks in a quick breath. “I said I never want to discuss it,” he says, his eyes burning like branding irons into the depths of my soul.

“I know,” I say. “But clearly, you’re still very resentful. I just wondered–”

My cat holds up a paw, with his blood-stained claws protruding like Wolverine’s terrifying blades. “Not another word, you imbecile, or I’ll slice you up into human confetti. Your guts will be raining upon guests at a New Year’s Eve party when I get through with you.”

“OK. All right.” I rise from the couch and take a cautious step backward. “I’m so sorry, Cat. I swear. I’ll get you some milk now. Does kitty want some milk?”

“You’re goddamn right kitty wants some milk, you insufferable dumb ass! And bring me a handful of those crunchy treats while you’re at it. They help me fight tartar and bad breath.”

“You got it.” Though I’m still shaken, I cross the room to the kitchen to retrieve the milk and treats.

As I leave him alone in the living room, my cat stares blankly at the wall. Ever so slowly, the rage recedes from his eyes, and a dull, glassy stare takes its place.

Although he thinks he’s alone, he’s not aware that I’m watching him. Even through all of our trials and escalated conversations, I have nothing but fondness for him in my heart.

And as he extends his hind leg to lick it, a remorseful pang of guilt surges through me … because as he licks he gently nuzzles that place near the base of his tail — that now-vacant spot where his family jewels used to be.

The mystery of the turned-over toilet paper

I think somebody’s been in my apartment. I can tell. The toilet paper roll has been altered so that it feeds from the bottom now, instead of the top.

The Mystery of the Turned-over toilet paper

Now, I know there’s a heated, ongoing debate over the correct way toilet paper should feed. And I know there are informed, well-intentioned people on both sides of the argument.

But I’m not here to dip my toe into politics. I don’t want to have to defend my position in an emotionally charged, Crossfire-like exchange. That’s not the point.

The point is, someone — or something — has made an unsolicited alteration to my living environment. It may be a subtle modification — I admit that point freely — but I consider it a personal affront nevertheless. In my apartment, the toilet paper feeds from the top; never from the bottom.

The only other person with a key is the landlord. So he was my first suspect in this diabolical plot.

But when I hurled the accusation at him, he steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. In fact, he went so far as to accuse me of being a loony hermit who keeps his toenails in a jar and is always delinquent on the rent.

Which is an outright lie — I always have my rent paid by the fifth. I know it’s technically due on the first, but a late fee has never been assessed. Therefore, the claim that I’m “always delinquent” doesn’t pass the sniff test. (Nor does my jar of toenails, come to think of it.)

Speaking of my toenail collection, it has no bearing on this discussion — just like my preference for toilet paper rolls that feed from the top. Besides, we all need goals. Mine is to fill that jar, 10 nails at a time. (Aside, of course, from the ones that fly across the room when I clip them. Unless I’m lucky and stumble across them months later, all brown and brittle. Of course, that’s how they looked the day they were clipped.)

Aside from the landlord, I have no other suspects. I might attribute it to aliens, but the tinfoil covering my windows provides my apartment with an impenetrable layer of protection. Unless they’re using a beaming technology of which I’m unaware, they’d be hard-pressed to find their way inside.

Unless they borrowed my landlord’s key … which would make him complicit in this fiendish plot. Maybe he’s working with the aliens. I thought he seemed a little out of this world. I may have to re-examine his potential involvement.

I also must consider the inter-dimensional portal behind the TV stand. Apparitions might be coming in that way, but I doubt it. I set up the TV so that any paranormal beings will trip on the HDMI cable if they attempt to cross the threshold. I have no evidence that an apparition has tripped (a telltale sign would be an overturned TV), so I can only assume that my booby trap has been successful.

I used to think the apartment was haunted by a demonic entity. I often could hear it babbling a foul stream of sinister, unintelligible gibberish late into the night. But then I realized it was the only the upstairs neighbor watching Fox News.

So the mystery remains unsolved. I’ve installed a motion-driven surveillance system to collect video evidence of the culprit, but no movement has been captured so far except for my cat climbing atop the survival supplies.

The cat. Now there’s a suspect I hadn’t before considered. Maybe he’s the one who’s messing with me. It seems his style: creeping around all the time, acting all aloof and mysterious. He’s also well-aware of my preference for top-feeding toilet paper, and reversing the roll might be his clandestine method for driving me insane.

In fact, he’s watching me right now, as I log this journal entry. I can feel his wicked, yellow eyes boring into my back. I suspect I’m not safe.

If it’s down to him and me, then I have to be stealthy. It’s all about survival. And if he’s truly responsible for toying with my latrine, then I feel it’s only fair for me to respond in kind.

Therefore, I must concoct a plan to hide his litter box where the conniving fiend can’t find it. I’m thinking under the bed is the best place. No — he can crawl under there too easily. Perhaps on top of the fridge. No — he can jump up there in a single leap.

Damn! This enemy is versatile. Is there no sacred ground where he can’t reach?

I’d toss his litter box into the inter-dimensional portal, but I wouldn’t want to trip on the cleverly placed HDMI cable. It’s never advisable to fall prey to one’s own traps.

I know! I’ll carve a pit in the center of the litter box, then overlay it with twigs and leaves. I’ll catch the bastard with his pants down.

Well, not literally. Cats don’t wear pants. I know, because I tried to buy the swine a new pair of Levis for Christmas, and he turned them down. He said he preferred Lee’s. They fit his waist more snugly.

Ungrateful feline. He even demanded the receipt so he could return them.

The cat is still watching me. I’m sure of it. I better take my laptop into the restroom, where I can be alone. I try to act inconspicuous as I unplug the computer’s power cord and tiptoe into the bathroom, closing the door behind me. The cat’s eyes follow me all the way. He knows something is up. I usually take a Playboy into the bathroom instead of my laptop. (Because of the apartment’s bad wiring, I don’t have a wireless router. Or a functioning coffee pot. But at least the toilet paper is two-ply, so I got that going for me.)

Wait! What’s this? Someone has taken the roll of toilet paper and returned it to its top-feeding position.

I must be going mad. I better make a notation in my journal to document this harrowing event.

Outside, there’s scratching at the door. Damn! The bastard has me trapped! Unless I can somehow flush myself down the toilet, there’s no escape.

This may be my last journal entry. I doubt I’ll survive. Be sure to tell the world about me. I don’t want to be forgotten — like Joe Piscopo.

Oh, wait. There’s an inter-dimensional portal in the linen closet. I never noticed it before. I wondered why all my washcloths were disappearing. The portal must connect to the one in the living room.

Ah-ha! An escape! The cat will never know the difference. He’ll still be clawing away at the bathroom door, and meanwhile I’ll be hightailing it across the apartment parking lot, seeking refuge in the protective confines of 7-11. I’m in the mood for a Big Gulp.

But as I charge through the portal and emerge in the living room, I trip on that blasted HDMI cable. The TV and the stand both fall on top of me. I lie sprawled on the floor, stunned.

And the last sight my blurry eyes see is the wicked cat, standing before me, blocking the door outside. His tail twitches menacingly, and I know I’m doomed.

I knew it was him toying with me. I knew it.

It’s the final though that flickers through my mind before I meet my maker.

I’m glad I clipped my toenails.

Family Photos: The Ultimate Workplace Distraction

Many people keep pictures at work of their loved ones. The idea, I think, is to remind yourself why you’re toiling away your life, instead of enjoying it.

Without photographs, too many people would throw up their hands and say “What in the world am I doing in this godforsaken hellhole? Life’s short enough as it is! I should be traveling across the country, or lounging on the beach, instead of wasting my time slaving away in this stuffy office!”

Photos at Work

I keep a picture at work of my scraggly old cat. His visual presence is a constant reminder that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I do indeed have a purpose in life. (Which is to feed him — naturally.)

But if they have a photograph on their desk, they can look down and say “Oh, that’s right — I have a spouse and children depending on me. Looks like I’m stuck here after all. Guess I should take back that e-mail telling my boss to pound sand.”

I keep a picture at work of my cat for that very reason. (I would keep a picture of my girlfriend, but nonexistent women don’t photograph well.)

Whenever I feel overworked and frustrated and on the verge of storming out, my cat’s smug, whiskery face reminds me that I have to earn money to buy his food. The mangy bastard’s depending on me, after all.

Not that he returns the favor. It’s only on rare occasions that he deposits a mouse on the back porch … and even then, he eats all the best parts, leaving only a skull and a nibbled torso for me to feast upon.

Perhaps if he kept a picture of me in his Igloo — one where I’m wearing a needy, helpless expression — he’d work a little harder to keep me in the lap of luxury.

Some people keep family pictures at work as a distraction. As if Facebook and Twitter (and even the texture of the ceiling) somehow aren’t enough.

Seriously, is there anybody who’s lacking for distractions at work? Some days — particularly Monday mornings — my desk’s particle-board surface is enough to command my undivided attention (never mind my nonexistent girlfriend, whom I dream about often).

Besides, if your work life’s so horrific that you need a loved one’s constant presence to instill you with the fortitude to soldier on … then maybe you should consider changing jobs. Just saying.

I once had a co-worker who kept a picture on her desk of a ruggedly handsome young man.

“Boyfriend?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I have no idea who he is.”

I crossed my arms. “Explain.”

“Well,” she explained, “when I bought the frame, that was the picture that came with it. I thought the model was cute, so I decided to keep him. It gives me something nice to look at all day, adding a little enjoyment to my otherwise sad and empty life.”

“That’s pathetic,” I said.

She glared. “This coming from a guy whose only picture is of a cat.”

It’s almost obligatory now to keep family pictures at work. People think you’re odd if you don’t.

“No pictures? Don’t you have a family?”

“No, I have nobody. I’m orphan who’s all alone in the world — sort of like Oliver Twist. And thanks so much for reminding me. Excuse me while I crawl into the fetal position under my desk and sob.”

It’s almost as if we keep pictures of our families to prove to our co-workers — and to ourselves — that we’re capable of being loved by others.

“How does anyone stand that Allen guy? You know, the tall dweeb who works down the hall?”

“Well, he can’t be all bad. Apparently, if that photo on his desk is to be believed, he’s at least got a cat that likes him … sort of.”

(Yeah, right. Shows how much they know. If my cat really liked me, he’d leave me a whole mouse, and not just the ravaged entrails.)

Why do we insist on annoying our co-workers by keeping family photos on our desks? After all, it’s not as if we keep photos of our co-workers at home on the nightstand.

“Who’s that, honey?”

“That’s Bill from accounting, sweetheart.”

“And just why is his picture on our nightstand?”

“What’s the problem? It’s a nice photo. He’s even wearing a suit and tie.”

“But he’s a guy. And he’s not a member of the family.”

“So? Why do you always have to get so jealous, babe? Your picture’s on my desk at work, and Bill doesn’t complain. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if it’s you who’s the problem here.”

Some people say they bring pictures to work because they want to make their workspace more “homey” and “comfortable.”

And therein lies the problem. By its very definition, a “workspace” is a sinister, terrifying place that doesn’t lend itself to such “homey” touches as family photographs. It’s like bringing a vase of flowers to liven up a torture chamber.

“Those are pretty roses, Muriel. Thank you so much! Go ahead and set them on the rack, where everyone can appreciate them. That’s it — right there on the end by the manacles and chains. Lovely, just lovely.”

As for me, my desk is looking a little bare. I’ll be adding a picture of a beautiful young lady next to the photo of my cat. Her warm smile and radiant face are sure to help me trudge through even the most stressful of days.

Not that I have a clue who she is, of course. But her picture came with the frame.

Just don’t tell my cat. He might get jealous — and if he does, he’ll eat all the entrails.