Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Mailbag

Okeedoke, folks. Let's see what the mail brought this week.

My cat is a 4 year old, who has grey-to-black mottled patches over approximately 40% of his body. This includes both ears, though his face remains mostly white.
Now, I admit hew is an excellent bird catcher and mouser, his record being 4 birds in one day.
Although mature, he is a smallish cat who looks like an adolecent in size.
Normally, I would say he is just aloof, but having extensive experience with cats throughout my life, I know the differene between aloofness, indifference, and plain boring. I am afraid my cat is simply the latter.
--Justin Evans

Justin-- (for those of you who are wondering if this is a question, Justin had asked last week about a cat without a personality and has now provided the requested details)
Okay, my initial reaction is that being such an excellent mouser and birder shows a pretty good amount of personality. But I'm guessing you're concerned about his lack of cat-itude. Often, cats with low levels of cat-tude have been a little too domesticated. However, an over-domesticated cat would likely show little to no interest in prey. It's got to be something else. Or does it? There exists in Zen teaching a pair of statements that may shed some light onto your beast's personality:

Enlightened Folk are Without Personality;
Individuated Folk are Unique Unto Themselves

Hmm. Seems to me that maybe your cat follows Zen teachings. Quite likely in fact. Maybe he'd like some Buddhas around the house and whatnot. Not that it would increase his displays of personality, but it might please him. Soothe him.
Best,
Bailey

Dear Schubert,
How do you feel when people get you and Charley confused, despite your striking physical differences?
Sincerely,
One of the crowd


Dear One of the Crowd,
I feel sorry for them. For they have forever fallen out of my favor.
Warm Regards,
Bailey

Schubert,
Who peed in the basement?
Anonymous

Anonymous--
It was one of the boys. The penultimate time the perp will have peed in our house if it happens again.
--B

Is there a Whiskermas Advent Calendar that I may purchase?
--Penultimatina


Penultimatina--
Yes. It's a litter box and each day you reach in with a scoop and pull out...well let's just say it's not chocolate.
--Bailey

Bailey, do you think my ten year old cat, King George Jesus, would tolerate (or even enjoy) a second cat in the household? If so, would you say: male or female? younger or more mature cat? I'm thinking a calm adult female might be nice company for him. What do you think? Thank you. As always I value your generous advice.
--litbyfire


Dear litbyfire:
He's got a majestic enough name, no doubt. He should have developed a commensurate level of self-confidence such that a new pet shouldn't rattle him too badly. Your instinct is right on regards your choice of pet. In older cats, male-female pairings are most harmonious. He'll be fine, I'd wager.
Signed,
Bailey

Reader questions answered each Thursday. Please direct all questions to the reply section of this post.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Feeling tired?

Do you ever have one of those days that it's hard to get out of bed? You look outside and maybe the skies are grey and there's ozone from lightning buzzing through your open window and it's just the perfect sleeping weather. You want nothing more than to curl up in bed in your most silky pyjamas. So you ignore the phone and the doorbell and take time to just be.

Yeah. Bet you wish you were a cat now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bienvenue!

Last night, my people brought another cat home. His name is Murray, which is short for Murgatroid. He's a cow cat. Nice enough guy I guess.

I know, I know. I'm supposed to be all up in arms over this, but honestly, I really don't care. When I met him he lowered his eyes, so he knows who's boss. That's all that matters, really.

(Note: that picture was taken at his old house. He's not still forced to wear that demeaning collar.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we can get to the business of preparing to celebrate the holiday for which we've been waiting with (cat food scented) bated breath.

Yes, I write, of course, of Whiskermas. To be sure, much of the world celebrates Christmas this time of year. Schubert cats, as well as those cats who've not been so domesticated as to totally lose touch with Cat culture, celebrate Whiskermas. There are a few important differences.


1. Santa Claus is for Christmas. Whiskermas celebrates a visit from Sarnta. Sarnta more closely resembles Père Fouettard, the "Boogeyman" who accompanies Père Noël (Santa Claus) in France. In tradional French celebrations, Père Fouettard follows Père Noël and delivers beatings to bad children. Sarnta is not quite as cruel as Père Fouettard, but does have an edge, if you will. Sarnta is not nearly as forgiving as Santa.

2. Typically, houses are decorated with a Christmas Tree for Christmas. For Whiskermas, trees may be used, with the following caveat: Cats can, will, and do climb trees. Any Whiskermas decoration serves both form and function. If you plan to celebrate Whiskermas in your home, provide adequate access to any decorations (especially ball ornaments) you put around the house.

3. Christmas brings families together to share a meal and exchange gifts. Whiskermas celebrations do involve meals and gifts, but not so much Cat fellowhip. We are cats the day before Whiskermas, the day after, and especially the day of. Please don't mistake our celebration as an occasion that will be free to Cat-itude.

Lest you think I just made Whiskermas up, here's a link to another enlightened beast.

As a final courtesy, should you insist on including your cat in YOUR holiday, please bear in mind the information shared in this link.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Just two questions this week. Hope everyone's Thanksgiving was nice.

Dear Schubert Cat
What can one do to keep an eagle's wing from falling off?
Aside from NOT writing a poem called "One-Wing Eagle," that is?
My dear teaching eagle keeps losing his wing.
Signed,
In a Tailspin

Dear Tailspin--
I'll tell you what NOT to do. Don't break off the other wing. Eagles are majestic creatures even with just one wing. There's even something bad-ass about a one wing eagle. Like he's saying to the world, "Here I am, world. I've only got one wing, but I can still beat your buns."
Signed,
Bailey

Dear Schubert:
What do you do with a cat who lacks personality?
I know it's a rare thing to find a cat who lacks personal style and personality, but I have one. It's not that he's even a jerk. There's nothing there.
Please help me.
Justin

Justin--
What's this cat's name? Also, describe him. I will provide an adequate response upon receipt of this information.
--Bailey

That's it for this week. Take care.

Reader questions answered each Thursday. Please direct all questions to the reply section of this post.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Enough Being Cryptic

Two things:

1 - Here's a picture of Charley:

2 - As you can see, Charley is a black cat. In other words, a Schubert Cat is a black cat.

Keep in mind, though, that not all Schuberts were created equal. Nor are they to be treated equally.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Day Two: Another Clue

A picture of Charley is forthcoming. In the meantime, here are the lyrics to a song one of my people composed in my honour. It's got kind of a slow, Sunday afternoon groove.

On Bailey, A True Schubert Cat
Have you ever seen a kitten so beautiful
with eyes as green as glass?
Who bundles around on four egg-shaped hands
and charms you with her sass?

Have you ever stroked a kitten so soft and silky
it's like she's wearing mink?
She clicks across the floor and scratches the wall.
Buys her pardon with a wink.

Bailey, they broke the mold.
Bailey, I love to hold
you.

She prominently features tassled ears
Antlers and t-shirt
If you haven't figured it out by now,
this song's about Schubert.

I'd clone her, but I don't know if I'd get it right.
So, my friends, you're out of luck.
The best you can hope for is to have a chance
to meet her, to be awestruck.

Bailey, you're my best friend.
Bailey, I love it when
you hold me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What is a Schubert Cat?

It has been asked, "What is a Schubert Cat?"

To answer:

Ceci n'est pas un Schubert Cat.

At least that's how Magritte would reply.

Does this help? More info to follow.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Thing

I'm moving away from quotes and again calling attention to a picture.


Not only do cats have more self-resepect than to allow costuming, if there were ever a situation wherein we would consent to such a travesty, we would have removed the two extra legs on the costume. Ten legged spider. HA! Nice try, dog.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Mailbag

Welcome, friends, to another Thursday mailbag.

Bailey,
You are most wise. I could use your counsel twice a week. Or once. Whatever you want, Bailey. There I go not asserting myself like you said. I'll try harder.
--Voogaman


Voogaman--
All any of us can do is try. Unless you're Yoda. Then it's "Do or do not, there is no try." But, c'mon we're cats and no cat is so nerdy as to live by Jedi teachings.

Don't believe me?


Seriously. You think a cat would let this happen? No. No cat is nerdy enough to dress this way, let him or herself be dressed this way, or follow the teachings of a freakin' puppet.
--Bailey

Dear Bailey,
I have been trying to get a message to Lemon but his account isn't accepting my comments. Can you intervene? You know how women love those bad cats. Since I saw him with the paper towel roll I am in a swoon. Frankly I suspect some bitch got there before me and is blocking my notes to him.

Oh yeah, keep mail to once a week. It is something I look forward to and would not want to see diluted. You know how Dr. Phil went downhill when he left Oprah and had to be on everyday...
--litbyfire

Dear litbyfire--
Lemon seems to have addressed your difficulty in reaching him. Or at least in getting messages to him. I'm sure you realize that bad boys can never be reached.
--Bailey

I have a question for Bailey. My mom wants to adopt the cats that play in our backyard sometimes. One's name is Mama, and her baby one is Drats. Mom said they don't have a mom, so we should share our love with them. Well, I don't want to. I already have to share my mom with that dog. Question is, how I can get my mom to forget about those other cats? I'm the best one!
--Lemon

Lemon--
This is an easy one. You've got to give your mom the impression that you are VIOLENTLY opposed to those cats. Every time you see them outside, hurl yourself at the window and hiss, spit, growl, make a smell, whatever it takes. She'll be afraid of bringing them inside if you're convincing enough.

We went through this in Chicago. My people were interested in this neighbor cat they named Samson. It didn't take much to let them know we wouldn't take it. Charley deserves most of the credit. She nearly knocked the screen out of the window a few times by lunging at Samson. It was awesome!
Signed,
Bailey

Bailey,
Why do black cats hop around like lowland gorillas when they want to be intimidating?
Signed,
Curious in Akron

Dear Curious in Akron,
Because it works. But if you're wondering where we got the idea, it goes back a ways to some alley cats in the Great Depression.

There wasn't much entertainment in those days, and a Schubert cat named Franz had snuck into a theater and seen "King Kong." Thrilled by the spectacle, he found his friends and began acting out some of the action sequences, hopping about like a gorilla. While he was putting on his revue, a couple of ruffians had entered the alley, and upon seeing what they could only assume was an actual silverback gorilla, they literally pooped their pants.

Word got around and other cats tried to employ "La Dance de Gorille" (as it became known), but only Schubert cats got the desired effect.
Regards,
Bailey

Bailey,
Would you rather a few bites of steak snuck to you under the table? or a cupcake made entirely of Fancy Feast fed to you out in the open?
--Stephanie King

Stephanie--
I'm thinking cupcake. I'm not big on sneaky eating. My life is an open book.
Best,
Bailey

So it looks like the Mailbag will remain on Thursday. Thanks again for all the great questions.

Reader questions answered each Thursday. Please direct all questions to the reply section of this post.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oh, go toad!

Something I was thinking of this morning, half asleep before one of my people came and forced medicine down my throat:

The French word for toad is 'crapaud,' which for those of you who are not fluent in French, would be pronounced "kra-poe," which would mean it rhymes with 'chapeau,' the French word for hat. Of course, one can't help noticing the "crap" at the beginning of 'crapaud.' Also, since it sounds so much like 'chapeau,' it's logical, at least to me, to mix the two together, so that 'crapaud' can mean crap hat. Naturally, it follows that the idea of a crap hat refers however indirectly to the saying "Oh, go sh!t in your hat!"

So where is all of this going?

Funny you should ask. For as many times as I've had occasion to encourage using a hat as a litter pan, I often find myself in mixed company. Toad strikes me as a wonderful codeword to use in place of the profane suggestion.

So then next time that guy surprises me while I'm sleeping to give me some medicine, he'll be told that he can "Go toad!"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Search of Lost Time

This morning, as I leaned down over the abyss, lowering my head to one of the two bowls of food provided in my home each morning, my thoughts turned to the worries of the day and to my hopes for tomorrow. And I hunkered down to eat, knowing that mometarily I would also drink some water and then catch a nap. I plucked a morsel of chow from the bowl.

And suddenly the memory returned. The taste was that of the little crumb of chow which on Sunday mornings at Cambridge (because on those mornings she did not go out to work or school), when I went to say good morning to her in her bed, my Mary used to give me, pouring a cupful of chow from the bag she kept on top of the refrigerator, sometimes dipping it first in some warm water to release the exquisite odors locked in the dried food. The sight of the chow had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the interval, even smelled them, that its image had dissociated itself from those Cambridge days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the forms of things, including that of the little glubules of chicken-flavored feed, so richly sensual under its severe, coarse exterior crunch, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness.

And having been transformed in my own sense of time, in many ways feeling as if transported to those days at Cambridge, those days when she and I kept our own counsel and shared meals and sips as sisters, I felt as if alone in the house. Alone except for my Mary. And not having felt as an only cat for so many years, the feeling shook me presently and I knew something between longing and resignation. But even those feelings passed quickly in the warmth of recollection. Spaghetti dinners and knocking plants to the floor.

And just as suddenly, one of my roommates showed up and started eating from the bowl next to mine. And the other two, the tabbies, lingered behind us, impatient and needy. One of them meowed a single blaring note. Had I not already been shaken from my dream, that would surely have done it.

So I left the food area. Took a nap.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Weekend

I'm a little tired from the weekend. The people were gone all weekend, so I had to police my roommates. Nothing much happened, really. Okay, there were two things: a plot to open a cabinet and get out some wet food and an attempt to have a party with some of the neighborhood cats. It was easy to prevent both because in the case of the former, none of my roommates can figure out how to open a can. Similarly in the latter case, none of those geniuses could work the door lock. So we just had ten cats standing at the back door with party favors ("kind" catnip, milk, and a couple of laser pointers) for an hour or two until they gave up.

It's not that I don't like to have fun, but I was put in charge and would have been blamed for any messes or mishaps.

I did have a moment of weakness of my own, attempting to order pay-per-view late Saturday night. Thanksfully, when I called the cable company, there wasn't a prompt for an operator who spoke Catese.

Sometimes we police ourselves, and other times, we are policed by circumstance.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday

I'll forego this Friday's quote to discuss the following picture of a cat named Murray.


One can only hope that whoever took this picture emailed it as his or her dying act. There are certain things that should never be done to a cat.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Mailbag

Once again, a nice turnout. I've been thinking of adding a second day for answering mail. In your reply/question for next time, indicate by a simple "oui" or "non" if you feel a second Mailbag is necessary.

Okay, enough democracy. Let's get to the mail.

Bailey, do you have brothers and sisters? If so, how do you get in a good nap without them stealing your place as you're laying there?
--the voogman

Voogman--
There is no evidence of my having blood siblings. My earliest recollection is being alone in a cage at the pound. What's most likely is that I emerged into the world alone, which would explain my profusion of superior cat qualities -- silky fur, tassled ears, egg-shaped hands, beautiful bone structure, and plenty of cat-itude. That is to say that the qualities that would otherwise have been spread throughout a litter of, say 4 or 5 cats, were all combined in me.

I do have three roommates: Seamus, a bitchy red tabby Maine Coon; Charley, a Schubert cat like me, but of decidedly inferior stock; and Henri, a Mackerel Tabby with plenty of nice qualities physically (nice coat, and so on), but in dire need of an attitude adjustment. Henri's only a year and a half old, so she gets a pass in some ways, but she needs to grow up. All of them defer to me in all matters and give me adequate space to eat and sleep without trouble. It sounds like your problem isn't so much with the other cat, but with your inability to command and demand respect. Look inward first. No one bothers a sleeping cat if consequences are imminent.

Bailey, what do you do to relax? I am getting rather stressed out at work. Any advice?
--Penultimatina

Cher Penultimatina--
It's been estimated that cats sleep 2/3 of their lives, which obviously does wonders for stress levels. Unfortunately, you don't have that kind of sleep situation available to you. I have found that short breaks are quite helpful in maintaining focus and sanity when working on large projects. For example, when I take the mid-afternoon shift watching out for neighborhood cats who wander through our yard, I stand and stretch periodically and take little breaks to get a sip or a nibble of chow.
Love, Bailey

What kind of music do you listen to?
--Woody

Dear Woody--
My favorite song is "The Desert Search for Techno Allah" by Mr. Bungle. Also, I enjoy Edith Piaf.
Signed, Bailey

Bailey, Are you gellin'?
--Stephanie King

Stephanie--
I'm not tellin'.
--Bailey

Bailey,What is the meaning of life?
--lkd

lkd--
Be proud of who you are. Unless you're a dog. In that case, you're SOL and just make sure you apologize a lot.

Dear Bailey,
My cat Romulus bites like a sniper: no reason and from out of nowhere and usually when I'm on the phone or sleeping. I'm in pain. Any advise?
Gina

Dear Gina--
Romulus might require a hobby of some kind. A better hobby than biting I mean. Encourage him to take up model ship building.

My attorneys have advised me against offering advice for the pain, however.
Sincerely, Bailey

Dear Bailey,
Why does Henri attack the walls, and will she ever stop?
Best,
A Concerned Citizen

Dear Citizen--
Henri will stop when she's relegated to a cage. Sometimes the truth is harsh.
Regards, Bailey

Reader questions answered each Thursday. Please direct all questions to the reply section of this post.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Age

According to this chart, I'm about 50, which means I look pretty good for my age. A little further research at CatAge, indicates that I'm only 43.5 in the "real age" sense -- when age is looked at in conjunction with other variables such as diet and so on. A word of warning to those of you who might visit CatAge, it takes some time to fill out and if you're a Schubert cat like me, you'll be disappointed that the pull-down menu doesn't give the option to select Schubert as a breed. Either way, 50 or 43.5, I'm aging beautifully and I don't mind saying so.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

One more time...

So I've been added again to KittenWar, this time with some backup. This is a picture of me sitting with Seamus when we were both kittens. Seamus was pretty cute back then, no? Not long after this picture, he broke that vase behind us and it's pretty much been downhill from there. I asked him if he had any words of wisdom to pass along and he just shouted something bitchy and skittered away. He's like that.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Schubert's World of Bil-Wau Endorses...


Typically I stay out of politics. It's not just because cats are completely unrepresented in all levels of government. Nor is it because cats have been categorically denied voting rights. Okay, maybe these issues account for my lack of involvement a little bit. Some places, Ancient Egypt for example had it right, treating cats as gods. While other cultures didn't treat cats as gods, cats have been held in high regard throughout history. Muslim theology maintains that the prophet Muhammad once found a cat sleeping on his robe; instead of waking it, he cut a hole through his robe so as not to disturb the animal. Also, all good Hindus were expected to take care of at least one cat during their lives. By contrast, the Islamic culture generally regards dogs as somewhat unhygienic animals. Ha!

"So what?" you ask. I'll tell you so what. There's no reason why this country should be so backward in its regard for superior creatures. Would it be too much to grant cats suffrage? We are good citizens overall. We don't defile public property on a regular basis, like some residents. We take better care of ourselves than most of the voting population, so as not to tax public resources. Nevertheless, our voices go largely unheard.

There are, however, some good people working for our rights. The League of Humane Voters endorses candidates who are on our side. And the best part of their logo (right)? Not a dog in sight.

Anyway, make sure you vote on Tuesday, because you can.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday

Today's Friday quote will be at the end of this post. In browsing KittenWar!, I've taken note of some magnificent beasts. As a service to all, I present the following selection.
Hershey Kisses
Harry


Chester


Bob

Me (Bailey)

If I can get sappy for a moment, how can a world that features such sweetness also feature so much anger?

In other news, Vincenzo and I were featured on the 10/30/06 issue of The New Yorker.


And finally, today's quote:

"Dancing is silent poetry."
- Simonides (556-468bc)

Some might say the same thing about cats.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday Mailbag

Lots of questions this week. Here we go.


Who should I acknowledge in my book, Bailey?
--Penultimatina

Cher Penultimatina--
I think it's only fair that, since all of the book was written after I moved in, I receive a level of acknowledgement commensurate with the degree to which I inspired the work. But then who else should be acknowledged? Should Seamus? Charlie? Henri? The only sensible answer to all three is "Pas du tout!"
Love, Bailey

Bailey, I like to demand food by pulling magnets off the fridge. What do you do to get attention?
--Lemon

Dear Lemon--
All I really have to do to get attention is just be me.
Best,
Bailey

Bailey, do your human friends tease you about your "stretch-arm" laying too? I can see from your picture that you lay with your arms straight out like I do. Why doesn't everyone sleep with stretch-arm style?
--The Voogaman

Voogaman--
Typically, my human friends know better than to tease me about anything. Every now and again I fall for that prank where someone says, "You've got something on your shirt," and points to my chest and then when I look down s/he brings his/her hand up and pokes me in the face. But usually that's only done one time.

As for your other question. I'd say that stretch-arm style is obviously evidence of our being more highly evolved. Those who do not sleep in this manner needn't feel badly, however. They've still got lots to smile about. Okay, not really, but sometimes I try to be nice.
Regards,
Bailey

Bailey, should I buy my cat a sweater for fall? (He has no hair)
--Stephanie King

Ms. King:
No. He may not have hair, but he's a cat, so he should still have some pride.
Sincerely,
Bailey

Bailey, my cat is asleep on the newly printed copies of my manuscript, getting ready to go in the mail (the manuscript, not the cat.) Should I consider this a curse or a blessing?
--litbyfire

Dear litbyfire--
It should be considered an honor. One word of advice , though: you want to make sure you keep your cats away from any stamps you have around. I'm sure you know that cats are known primarily for sleeping and also for use of hands, but two lesser known features are stamp-eating and stampeding.
Yours in Cat,
Bailey

Again, thanks for all the great questions and keep them coming!

Reader questions answered each Thursday. Please direct all questions to the reply section of this post.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deep Thoughts

There is one place your cat can sit, but you cannot.

Your lap.