Thursday, January 14, 2016

Felis Catus

The dining room, our oasis of light. In the morning anyway. When it's sunny.
I am not really motivated or inspired to write much lately. It's not that I have writer's block, it's not that I have nothing "important" to say. I have just decided that I will take it easy for a while.

There is much in the world that ticks me off and which I could rant and rave about, I just don't feel like it at this time.

I have given serious consideration to appointing Joe Biden to lead a study as to why I feel this way but this is no moonshot. There's no need to make a big deal out of it. So Joe can concentrate on doing whatever it is he does all day long.

Instead, I am going to write about my cats. Anya and Sasha. They get mentioned from time to time here at The Chant, today it's all about them.

Sasha. The Alpha Cat.

Anya. The Beta Cat.
The girls, as The Missus Herself and I usually refer to them, are 12 years old. Which makes them (in HYE*) 65. At least according to the Cat Year Calculator. Yes, that's a real thing, you can see it here. I am, according to the CYC**, 11.3 in "cat years" or CYE***. 

For those who are wondering if I have some sort of anti-canine bias, no, not at all. The Dog Year Calculator is here. Yes, that would be the DYC****. For those not inclined to jump to those links, the way cat and dog HYE are calculated are different. For instance in DYE*****, I am 12.3. So, if I were a dog I would be older than if I were a cat. Or something. Hey, SCIENCE!

For the record, three branches of our far flung tribe have dogs. My maternal grandparents had dogs. I have known (and been friends with) many dogs in my time. However, it is the domesticated house cat with whom I have shared domiciles with, off and on, for over 50 years. (Human years that is.)

My first experience with cats was when I was right about three years old. I can't remember the exact date and the year (1958) is also a guesstimate. Hey, I was three years old. Anyhoo, Mom and Dad had just bought our first house, which my maternal grandfather was convinced would "ruin" my parents as it cost $15,000. I mean what were they, rich? (Yes, that was a crap ton of money in 1958. Probably about a gazillion dollars in 2016 money.)

We had a house, so Mom and Dad decided we should have a cat. Off to the shelter we went and back we came with this wee kitten who was all black, not a spec of any other color on that boy, to whom I gave the moniker "Tommy." Why? Well, my bestest friend in the entire universe back in the old neighborhood was yclept Tommy. As the odds of my ever seeing him again were slim and none, I named the cat after him. (Mind you, this was before "play dates" were invented. You played with the kids in your neighborhood. You moved, you got new friends. It's just the way things were. I didn't question any of that, after all, I was only three.)

Tommy grew into a large beast of a cat, fifteen pounds of muscle and fur. He was almost dog-like in his affection for my brothers and I. He would follow us to school and up into the woods when we ventured into that backyard wilderness. He wasn't blatant about it, no, he was very good at tailing people. You wouldn't notice him until he announced his presence.

In the woods he would do that by leaping out of the shrubbery and scaring the living crap out of you. At school he would jump onto the window ledge outside my classroom. Somehow he knew which room I was in. I never figured that out, he couldn't answer the phone (lack of thumbs), he never got mail, and this was before Google Maps was invented.

Nevertheless, he would leap onto the ledge (it was a one story school, Tommy wasn't from Krypton) and the entire class would erupt with delight. I got to walk him home, the teacher got to spend that time trying to get my classmates to settle back down. Third graders, it was a lot like herding cats. Harder actually, I mean it was a room full of third graders.

Tommy lived until my senior year in high school. It was a shock when he died. But Mom and Dad almost immediately went out and got a new kitten (believe me, it eases the pain considerably). This little guy was black and white with long fur. One blue eye, one green eye. He was a real character.

He and his brother were the offspring of the cat of my high school physics teacher, Dr. Noble. A character in her own right, the kittens, whom she had named The Brown Slob and The Black Slob based on the darker components of their coats, otherwise they both would have both been called The White Slob, confusing though perhaps less racist, were also characters.

As my Dad put it, the cats had the run of the house. The mother cat was lying in the sink next to the dirty dishes, The Black Slob was emitting attitude from atop the refrigerator and The Brown Slob was apparently de-threading the carpet in the living room. Dad later said that the place had all the charm and organization of a "Gypsy encampment." (Which is how he put it, though I've never seen a camp of the Romany, I wouldn't think they would be any more disorganized than any other group of nomads.)

Once again, I got to "name that cat." Being a bit of a Civil War buff, The Black Slob became Ulysses Samson Cat. Ostensibly after U.S. Grant, the commander of the Union forces from March of 1864 until the end of that unpleasantness. Of course, he was later the President. The man, not the cat. Was President, I mean, oh, never mind...

Note that the general's name was actually Ulysses Simpson Grant, though he had been born Hiram Ulysses Grant. Where the "Simpson" came from I have no idea, for what it's worth, his friends called him Sam. Perhaps that's how I garbled the cat's middle name to Samson.

At any rate, we simply called him Uly.

He and I were best buds until I went into the Air Force. There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I asked the recruiter if I could bring my cat with me. Besides which, then Mom and Dad would have to get a new cat. I guess one of the rules of home ownership is one must needs be have a pet. A cat or a dog. Echidnas and weasels don't count. (No, Scott I'm not sure if badgers count either.)

So for a long period of time I did not have a cat, 1975 to 1993 to be precise. As I was young, somewhat feckless, footloose, and fancy free, it was probably better not to have a cat. Also, as I lived in the barracks during a big chunk of that period, having a cat was pretty much not allowed.

After I married The Missus Herself, 38 years ago Tuesday, we lived mostly in apartments. It wasn't until we got to Germany that I broached the cat topic. We were there on a three year tour, which would take us nicely to retirement at 20. So I thought.

TMH: "Honey******, a friend of mine said that if we extend our tour another three years then the government will fly us back to the States on vacation."

Moi: "Why do we want to fly back to the States on vacation? I could retire and we would then go back to the States anyway."

TMH: "No, we'll fly to Korea instead."

Moi: "They won't pay for that, it's a much longer trip to Korea!"

TMH: "They'll give us the equivalent of the ticket cost to the States and back, we can make up the difference."

Moi: "How do you they'll do that?"

TMH: "I asked the Colonel."

Moi: "You asked the Colonel?"

TMH: "Yes, Matt's Dad (The Naviguessor's best friend in our village. Son of the Colonel.) said they would do that."

Moi: "How do you know I want to stay in Germany another three years?"

TMH: "So you can get your Master's Degree."

Moi: "Who says I want to get..."

Okay, I'll admit it, I can be slow on the uptake but I figured it out. Didn't need to hit me over the head with a 2 x 4, I'm smart, I can handle things...

Hhmm, that's very much like the look The Missus Herself gave me. When she offered to "take me fishing" I consented to the extension, the trip to Korea, and the pursuit of a post-graduate degree.

On one condition.

TMH: "What condition?"

Moi: "We get a cat."

TMH: "Huh? What? A cat?"

Moi: "Sure, why not?"

TMH: "They shed fur all over everything. No."

Moi: "I guess we're not going to Korea then." (Well, I would have said that if I wasn't holding my breath like a five year old trying to get his way. Okay, it wasn't pretty... But.)

TMH: "Alright, we can get a cat."

Turns out we got two, a pair of brothers, Pat and Tiger, of whom I have written in these spaces before and will no doubt write again.

After "the boys," as we called them, Sasha and Anya came along.

So since 1958 I have lived with one or more cats.

I have spent most of my days living in a cat house...


A home, with cats. That's what I meant. Really!

(I'm not saying I've never been in the other kind of cat house, not saying I have either. Let's just leave it at that, m'kay?)

So yeah, I'm a cat person.

No, not that kind of cat person.

* HYE = Human Year Equivalents
** CYC = Cat Year Calculator
*** CYE = Cat Year Equivalents
**** DYC = Dog Year Calculator 
***** DYE = Dog Year Equivalents
****** Actually she would have referred to me as 여보, "yeobo," the Korean equivalent of Honey or darling. No, it's not the Korean word for poopy-head as some might surmise.


  1. Super fun post, Sarge. Very enjoyable!

    Congrats, BTW, on 38 years.

    $123,184 and change. According to the BLS CPI calculator.

    I have a cow dog who is to working cattle as Fredo was to operating an organized crime operation. She's an ace at frisbee, catch, and chasing rabbits though. I lover her dearly. She's 31 human years old. I think.

    I like other people's cats. That way I don't have to deal directly with cat litter and hairballs.

    Now, what are those things sticking out of the bottom of the crazy cat lady's housecoat?

    You can, as they say, take the sailor out of the navy. But you cannot take the sailor out of the sailor.

    1. Okay, ~$124,000, not a gazillion. Still a lot of money.

      The things sticking out the bottom of the house coat? Remember this is an action figure (no, really) those are the crazy cat lady's knee joints. Or HKEs, Human Knee Equivalents.

      I wonder how many of those have been sold.

    2. I don't know how many have been sold, but I know what my wife is getting for her birthday!

    3. Provided of course that you survive, that will be a story to tell!

  2. I'll watch the cats, just drop them off in Cary, NC. :) Will give my two spoiled cats someone new to play with. :)

    1. Hahaha!

      Be careful what you ask for Ron. Sasha is very bossy.

  3. I too am a cat person. I like their attitude.

    "Dogs have masters---cats have staff"

    1. Same here, love the attitude.

      Your last statement is oh so true!

  4. "There is much in the world that ticks me off and which I could rant and rave about, I just don't feel like it at this time.
    Instead, I am going to write about my cats."

    Cats don't disappoint because we don't have high expectations.
    That said, it's too bad they can't talk so they could relate their adventures... that is, the cats who venture outside at any and all hours of the day and night.

    1. I would bet that Sebastian has some stories to tell!

  5. Sounds like TMH is a pretty smart Cookie! We've had cats longer than we've had dogs but
    we now have both as well as chickens, ducks and geese. The geese are so spoiled we can't
    go outside without them screaming for attention. I guess the dogs and cats are the same
    way, just not as vocal. Couldn't imagine life without them! I hope your cats make it as
    long as our last black cat Fruitcake". She shared our lives for 22 years.

    1. That is a very long life for a feline. And yes, I hope the girls make it that far, at least.

      TMH is way smarter than me. Kids have all done well because they take after her as far as smarts go.

      Looks too, for that matter.

  6. Have had, but suffered thru, cat ownership. (Do you really own a cat, or dog for that matter, or do they own you?) I'm deathly allergic to cats. Something about being able to breath without a positive pressure mask and see thru watering, itching eyes demands that I avoid at all costs. I'm good for about 30 minutes before everything begins to close up. What makes it all the more difficult is that cats like me. Within minutes of setting down any cat in the house will be in my lap, padding away. Must be a Leo thing.

    1. Yeah, one shares living quarters, one does not "own" a cat or dog. (Though they might own you in many ways.)

      Too bad about the allergy thing, I think you're right about the Leo thing. :)

  7. My family - both sides, and that I married into - are partial to cats. We like 'em deep fried and... No, really, I had cats growing up, always found them to be admirable company and able to take care of their own needs so much more readily than dogs. MY WIFE, however, is allergic to cats, so none for the past 25 years. She knows that if she should predecease me, the first thing I'll do after the funeral is get a cat.

    Good tales. You might like my similar reminiscing about a couple of them who shared my home -

  8. I have had 8 Katts, as we Norskies put it, 7 toms, and a calico tabby. I find toms to be much easier to live with, Thomasina, the calico was so crabby that was most commonly called Bear.

    One weekend while I was in college, I was home, and laying on my bed, reading, when my sister walked into my room, with her hands behind her, and said, "which hand?" When I said right, she handed me the smallest Siamese I had ever seen. He was small enough to ride in my shirt pocket. Martha was walking home from work, heard a noise from a dumpster, and found a shoe box containing the catlet in it. The kitten was named Tristan, and he eventually grew to be a 27lb draft cat, a cat you could plow with. When he purred, he sounded like a idling diesel.He was the most gentle cat I have ever know, asking of life only a warm place to lie in the sun, and 12 square meals a day.

    1. I think Tristan and I would have understood each other very well.

      When we got Anya and Sasha I was a bit reluctant at first, my only experience with female cats prior to then had been not so good. But Anya is as gentle as can be. As for Sasha, the key is to not piss her off. Odd she doesn't like any of the kids or most of our friends. She likes the next door neighbor lady and her son, can't abide the daughter. She is also absolutely devoted to The Missus Herself and me. I like that.

      She also gets along just fine with our pastor. My Dad was deathly afraid of Sasha. With good reason. A story I will tell someday. POCIR.

  9. Hmmm, if this is you writing at a loss for words, I shudder to think what you'll turn out when you feel inspired by the muse. :)

    1. I've noticed that at times when I mention I have nothing to write about, I will then go on to write a long post.

      Hhmm, I need to think about that. I'll probably report back here. (I think the Muse steps out for a coffee and while I'm bemoaning that I have nothing to write about, she sneaks back in when I'm not looking.)

    2. “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

      Mark Twain

      Our Priest has the same issue.

    3. Heh. I've known a few long winded member of the clergy in my day.

      One was famous for saying, "Long story short..." when he meant the exact opposite.

      Reminds me also of a Dutch colleague who described NATO training classes as "ten minutes of material crammed into three whole days..."


  10. Cats are OK, but I much prefer dogs, especially with both the teenangster and me being ruthlessly allergic to felines. She heard about a hypo-allergenic cat that has a different coat. I'm taking no chances- she can wait until she's on her own to add to her family.

    1. Yes, you've mentioned the teenangster's love of cats. And her allergies.

      I did not know that cat dander was also your kryptonite. Though it's not odd really, a tuna nervous around cats...

      ...thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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