Pandemonium! Bloody Pandemonium! What incredible two months we have just had! We hardly know where to start. It started with a hurricane that devastated New Orleans. People had to flee, many coming here to Houston. But they had to leave their pets behind, so there was not a flood of Louisiana kitties coming to Houston as the guests of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And right on the heels of that storm, there was another storm named Hurricane Rita that the government said was coming straight to Houston. Everyone thought that Houston and all the surrounding area would have to be evacuated. The government made announcements about the coming danger and told everyone to flee for their lives. Over two and a half million people got into their cars and left at the same time, creating the most unbelievable chaos. We don’t even want to talk about how bad it was. Thankfully, Mum and Old Muldoon never do anything that the government says, so we were not all caught up in the mad scene.
Mum did have her own plan, and it was entirely more sensible than the government plan. First, as you would certainly expect, she and Old Muldoon were never going to flee any danger and just leave us kitties here to face the storm without any help. Mum decided that we would either all leave together or we would all stay here and face the storm together. Mum is simply not the kind of person who would ever think of leaving any loved ones behind and fleeing any danger. No matter what any danger might ever be, Mum and Old Muldoon can handle it. She did, however, go out and buy pet carriers for every kitty here just in case the storm turned out to really and truly come here to Houston and we did all have to scram out of here in a hurry. Everything she and Old Muldoon were going to take with them had to fit in one small box so that there would be enough room in Mum’s big SUV for all the kitty carriers. The only personal possessions Mum would take would be old family pictures. YEA MUM! Of course, Mum was not going to have us travel without proper food, water and kitty cat toys. If we really had to get out of here, she and Old Muldoon would have been cramped in the little bit of space left after all the cat supplies were loaded into the car. To be on the safe side, everything that could be loaded into the car in advance of a hasty departure was loaded two days ahead of the day we thought that we might have to evacuate. The last minute things were staged in the dinning room.
The decision to stay here and not flee from the storm was made at the very last minute. The storm changed its direction and Houston would be spared, just as Old Muldoon had predicted it would. Mum had been asking him why he thought he knew more about where the storm would go than the government knew. He told her that the safest assumption was that the government is almost always wrong about everything, so if the government said the storm was going to hit Houston, we were almost certainly in no danger. He said you don’t have to be a weather expert to figure that out. And, since his knowledge of how governments work is excellent, he was right and the government was wrong. YEA OLD MULDOON! Because of him, we were spared having to leave our home and flee to another part of the state. We never suffered even the slightest inconvenience, because nothing happened here. Mum suggested that Old Muldoon establish a web site where he could publish his opinions and predictions so that people could avoid being misled by the government by having a place to look to find out what is really happening in the world. Old Muldoon said that he would never do that because the government would then attack him for exposing the reality that the government is really only something like a circus with lots of clowns. He said that he likes it here where we can all live quietly and happily, and that the only important thing is that we know what is really happening, even if nobody else understands. Every morning we join him in prayers of thanksgiving for the blessing of knowing everything all the time.
Breakfast For The Kitties
And in the midst of all that uproar, a stray cat who shows up at our front door every day at mealtimes decided to have four baby kittens, all precious and cute and cuddly looking. This particular stray cat, who Mum calls Mama Kitty, already had a litter of kittens a while back, all but one of which have gone away. The one who stayed on, and who Mum calls Little Kitty, also shows up for meals every day. And, as you would expect, Mum provides two fresh meals a day of canned soft food and regular dry hard food, for a perfectly balanced cat diet, and fresh water at least twice a day. Just so you know, during the hot months, Mum puts ice in the water so that the strays can get a cold drink of fresh water. Old Muldoon jokes about that, suggesting that perhaps he should prepare afternoon tea and cakes for the strays. Mum is not amused.
Of course Mama Kitty would have to bring her new brood around to the front door every day to show them off to Mum. And of course Mum went out and bought kitty toys and special cute little Asian design dishes for the new kittens to use as soon as they were weaned and eating kitty food. The area right in front of the front door, the small front garden area with the iron fence and gate, all protected by flowering trees and vines, is now the new stray kitten nursery, complete with sleeping box that is changed and replenished with fresh bedding regularly by Mum.
We are into late September, and Mum’s birthday, The Feast of Saint Belinda, is coming up in mid October. Old Muldoon isn’t going to let the coincidence of timing and the arrival of these new kittens go uncelebrated. And so he proclaims that the new kittens are a birthday present to Mum from Jesus, because Mum is so kind and loving. According to Old Muldoon, The Lord does sometimes take notice of exceptional acts of love and kindness and brings to people who possess such incredibly wonderful qualities of soul other beings (in this case kittens) who need care and nurturing. Therefore, so he says, it is perfectly understandable and obvious that Jesus brought these new kittens to Mum’s front door for her special tender care.
While Old Muldoon is always telling stories, and very seldom are they true, occasionally he will mix in something that at least sounds plausible, and this rare adventure in approaching the truth is stunning in its impact. Accordingly, an explanation of the presence of the new kittens that celebrates Mum’s kindness is instantly believed by one and all. And if Jesus did in fact send them to our door for that reason, it would be terrible not to accept and to care for them as a precious birthday gift. As you can very well imagine, they seem now to be permanent fixtures, new members of our family.
All this means that we who already live here must now accommodate Mum’s attention being further divided amongst even more kitties. So now, in addition to Booger, Bubba, Sweetie Pie, Ace, Blue and Rainbow, Mum’s time and attention are also shared by Mama Kitty, Little Kitty and the four new kittens. In addition to this cadre, there are the Cardinals who now visit every day at the statue of Saint Belinda that stands by the oak tree where the birds are fed, and an itinerant possum named StewMeat. Her PetSmart frequent customer card has worn out twice this year already. Old Muldoon suggested that she just go out and buy her own PetSmart store. The savings in what she buys at retail from them would eventually pay for the store. Mum told him to forgetaboutit.
About the same time as Mum’s birthday, Mama Kitty got to the end of nursing the new kittens, and Mum started them on kitty food, canned and dry, from the kitty food gourmet section of PetSmart. Old Muldoon almost suggested – in fact did suggest sort of under his breath – that they could make do rather well on alley cat chow just like all other alley cats, but when he thought about Mum’s reaction to his saying something like that, even in jest, he decided to keep it to himself. Old Muldoon has tenure here, but if he were ever to interfere in any cat benefit, Mum would whack him. No one – and we mean no one – would ever risk getting on Mum’s whack list.
Anyway, Mama Kitty seemed kind of tired and worn out taking care of the four new kittens, so Mum decided to adopt two of them into the inside kitty family. There ensued a great process of new kitty intake measures. First, there has to be a room assigned only to the new kittens so that they are separated from the rest of us inside kitties until Doc Martin is certain that they are not carrying any illnesses that could make us very sick. That room has to be set up for them with a kitty place to sleep and appropriate bedding, a feeding station and a litter box that only they will use until they are introduced into the indoor population. That accomplished, the selection of which two to bring inside is discussed for days. All this time Mum is out front with kitty toys playing with the new kittens to gain their trust, so that they come to understand that Mum would never hurt them and is only trying to make their lives pleasant. This involves at least an hour every day, sometimes more, which is time that is usually spent with us. We don’t like that, but we manage not to be spoilt sports about it. At the same time, we are all thinking of names for the new kitties that we can suggest for Mum’s consideration.
Finally, Mum gained the confidence of two of the kittens, and she brought them inside and put them into the lavishly laid out quarantine room. The next day, off they went to Doc Martin for examinations, tests and shots.
We learnt a lot from listening to Mum and Old Muldoon talk about the visit to Doc Martin’s. It seems that one should really wait until kittens are at least twelve weeks old to adopt them. Only at that age can certain devastating illnesses, like feline leukemia, be screened out or identified as being something that the new kittens actually have. That and a few other disorders will not only shorten and damage the lives of a kitty, but will also spread to other kitties in the house. Apparently these kittens have to be kept quarantined until these awful illnesses can be ruled out. Only then, and only if they do not have any of these devastating illnesses, can they safely be introduced to the other kitties in the house. Even then, new kittens have to be quarantined until they get their shots and are “wormed” – YUK – Terrible thought – WORMED. The worms actually come out of them in their stool – DOUBLE YUK! Old Muldoon said he doubts that anyone here will ever eat Spaghetti O’s again after seeing the round worms in the kittens’ stool.
The new kittens’ quarantine room is Mum’s office, so that they get to spend every day with her while she works. They absolutely love that, and are quickly becoming attached to Mum now that they can jump onto her chair. We will be very happy when this quarantine is over, because we all like to hang out in Mum’s office all day while she is working. That’s going to be one cat filled room once the quarantine period is over. We have about three more weeks to wait. Time passes very slowly when you are anticipating something exciting about to happen. We sure do hope that they’re OK.
There are, of course, still several kitties at the front door waiting to be fed every morning and evening. Those are very interesting events. The outdoor kitties look in the front windows every day and see the indoor kitties at play and at rest, living in what must seem incredibly luxurious circumstances while they have to sleep out in the cold, live out in the heat in summer, watch for other feral cats with aggressive tendencies, get soaked whenever it rains and risk getting run over or whacked by a stray doggie if they roam off the property. To them the front door threshold is somewhat like the Rio Grande River, a border between poverty and comparative luxury.
Every time Mum opens the front door to feed them, they try to get into the house. She and Old Muldoon are still trying to devise a strategy to keep them from infiltrating. The risks of strays entering the health controlled indoor environment and giving all of us some illness is too great to accept. While this is very serious, it also presents a hysterically funny scenario at feeding time. Every now and then, a kitty will succeed in getting in through the door despite everything Mum and Old Muldoon can do to try to block the open entryway with parts of their anatomy. They are extremely awkward, and the kitties are extremely agile and very fast. So far, the only successful infiltrator is the little black kitten who is brave and readily takes any initiative that opportunity presents to him. He scoots in and the fun starts. He runs around very fast while Old Muldoon tries mightily to “head him off” and run him back to the front door, or to catch him and put him back out the front door. While Old Muldoon, redfaced, huffing and puffing, chases the kitten, Mum is yelling instruction at him, most of which he is simply not capable of following. This slapstick comedy routine is always funny beyond description. Eventually, Old Muldoon outwits the little kitten and hand carries him, scratching and hissing, back to the front door, where Mum is loudly instructing him to put the kitten out, which he would do without further coaching. Sometimes, Mum forgets that her standing in the doorway is what is preventing him from ousting the intruder, and some degree of consternation/frustration is expressed. We have recently learnt several new words while watching this wildly funny scene.
The next item on the new kitten agenda was to select appropriate names for them. At first Old Muldoon wanted to wait to be sure that they were going to be in good health and could stay inside. He thinks that the naming process represents an enhanced level of emotional investment, and he was hesitant to get himself so involved that if they turned out to be unable to stay with us he would be devastated. Mum, on the other hand, is a braver and more believing soul, and observed that their mother had recently had an earlier litter by the same stray Democrat alley cat, all of whom turned out to be quite healthy, and one of whom still comes around twice a day for meals. And so, as always, Mum’s view prevailed and the search for just the right names began. <
Old Muldoon immediately came up with two names (one male and one female) that he thought would be in keeping with their enjoyment of red neck humor – you know – Jeff Foxworthy and that bunch. He liked Dwayne and Thelma. He even told Doc Martin that those were going to be the names. Mum immediately vetoed Dwayne and Thelma. Old Muldoon immediately rolled over and gave up. Mum then decided that the charcoal grey male kitten would be named Cowboy, and the little tabby kitten would be named Little Girl. And so we now all have to accustom ourselves to referring to them as Cowboy and Little Girl.
The two outside kittens had to be named also, and Mum decided that their names will be Zorro, for the black male kitten, and Precious for the other female tabby kitten. Her will be done, as it says in her Bible. God is great and we are all happy. Old Muldoon will just have to await another litter before he can start with his Mafia cat names. He also thought that Vito and Lucrezia would be appropriate when the Sopranos came back on television for their new season. He sees a certain affinity between hairy females and Italian names. Actually he has numerous other observations to share, but somehow they don’t seem to belong in a story like this one.
The things that Doc Martin is telling Mum and Old Muldoon to do to protect us and to aid in a smooth integration of these two new kitties into the inside the house family are really quite elaborate. Whenever Mum and Old Muldoon come out of the quarantine room, they wash their hands and arms so that any possibility of new kitty germs being on their hands is washed off before they touch us or touch our food. They have to watch us for coughing or sneezing, which could signal contagion or just emotional insecurity on our part over the new kitties coming into the family and getting attention that we would normally be getting. Old Muldoon has several comments about this too. He thinks that worrying about cats’ emotional and jealousy issues is silly and just some nut case preoccupation with projecting human emotional reaction patterns onto the cats. Being an old red neck, Muldoon hasn’t yet accepted that “cats are people”. Mum says that he hasn’t even accepted a great deal of people as people. According to Mum, Old Muldoon holds that to be a person, one has to be hard working and not preoccupied with telling other folks what to do or how to run their lives. Work hard and leave other folks alone and you might have a shot at being a person. All others need not apply.
When the new kitties are introduced into the household cat “population” each is to have its own litter box so that territoriality issues about going potty are minimized. Old Muldoon says that if each has its own litter box that would increase territoriality issues, as then there would be so many boxes that each cat would go pee in to establish itself as the commander of that litter box (at least until another cat followed behind and peed into every litter box). According to Old Muldoon, all the cats will constantly be drinking water so that they have enough pee to constantly go around peeing into every litter box. He said that he may start peeing into the cats’ litter boxes just to join in the fun. Mum said that if she ever catches him using a cat litter box she will whack him. Apparently, according to Doc Martin, there is an Ohio State University Ph.D. thesis recently published on the subject of territorial urination as a manifestation of feline anxiety when new kitties are introduced into a cat family, and that study is what forms the basis of his recommendation of litter boxes everywhere.
Focusing upon matters that are critical to our nation’s essential and vital interests – as least as essential and vital as anyone would allow Ohio State University to come near – there is an Internet resource authored by a Dr. C.A. Tony Buffington of the Ohio State University Vet School that instructs us to ask our kitties and they will tell us what to do. Of course you have to have either a Ph.D. degree or a DVM degree or have a lot of good old common sense in order to know what to ask your kitty and just how to ask it. I mean, come on now, you can’t speak to a kitty like you would to some old dog or pig. There’s not a lawyer alive who could successfully cross examine a cat. There is an organization located at WWW.NSSVET.ORG that is the nutrition support service of the Ohio State University Vet School, and Ask Your Kitty is one of their blurbs.
Old Muldoon feels like the fact that the study was done at Ohio State University says all he needs to know. He is an alumnus of the University of Michigan, and all Michigan Alums have very low opinions about anything and everything to do with Ohio State University. He notes that there is no corroborating work coming out of Texas A&M University, and that if the Ohio State material was worth anything, there would be a Texas A&M Vet School endorsement of it. Texas A&M is a real institution of higher learning, not just some rust belt low brow enclave of beer guzzling Midwesterners. He thinks some Ohio State bozos published a phony Ph.D. thesis about cat pee protocols and feline mental/emotional health as a prank after losing a football game and being drunk out of their minds. Old Muldoon suggested that we spread cat litter everywhere throughout the house so that the whole house becomes one big litter box, leaving a bare spot in front of the stove so he has a place to stand when he is cooking. Mum was not amused. He suggested we hire a Chinese person to come in and figure out just where in each room a litter box should be placed so that feung shuei principles are taken into account in the hope that the proper sight orientation will make cats more relaxed as they use the litter boxes to go potty, minimizing their anxiety. He has made several other suggestions that we don’t want to repeat here, because they all are insulting to some race or culture. He also thinks that various priests, rabbis and mullahs should be hired to come in and bless the litter boxes. Nothing escapes his sarcasm.
There are now sufficient numbers of us that we are starting to have such things as majority and minority positions on various household cat issues. Our discussions take on the flavors of political orientation. It would appear that if you take into your home a sufficient number of cats, they become a society unto themselves, and they eventually seek to legislate and make rules and establish priorities of interests that are not uniform to the group. Accordingly, a natural political tension develops. With only three cats inside, and the rest being all outside cats, our interests rarely conflicted. Oh, there were moments in which inside cats resented having to wait for their second course at meals until the outside cats received their first course. Some were more vocal about it than others. But now, with a burgeoning inside cat population, the issues are no longer just inside versus outside cats. We think it will be interesting to observe as time goes on how these political and social issues are resolved, and whether we as cats will tend to mimic the politics of people.
One illustration of the politics of a “many cats” society is now playing out right here. The new kittens are now about twelve weeks old, and they have started to explore. One morning, this past Friday to be exact, Mum was awakened early by the alarming jumping off the bed by the three of us who would in the normal course lazily remained curled up until she got out of bed. The cause of this alert was that there framed in the window looking onto the back garden was Zorro. He had discovered the back yard, and, of course, so had Mama Kitty, Little Kitty and Precious. Now, instead of Blue and Ace and the morning visits each day by Rainbow just at breakfast time, there were suddenly four more kitties all congregated in the back garden. Mum was afraid that territoriality would result in big kitties attacking little kittens to protect their “rights” to the back garden, and she ordered Old Muldoon to go out into the back garden and stay there indefinitely to bring governance to the scene. Normally, Old Muldoon would just be brewing fresh coffee to coincide with Mum’s awakening, but in deference to the command he quickly pushed the button on the coffee machine and went out back to” supervise”. Now that is a ridiculous word to use. Mum has a difficult time supervising kitties, but Old Muldoon has a hard enough time just trying to supervise himself, frequently needing suggestions and directions from Mum just to get through a normal day.
Out he went and sat in their midst in a garden chair, speaking to them in a friendly Irish manner that suggested a willingness to let folks do as they might like so long as he didn’t have to intervene to stifle excessive hissing, scratching and feline confrontation. He thought it would be a good idea to feed the front door four out there in the back yard. Mum thought that a bad idea, but went along with it to reinforce Old Muldoon’s obedience by letting him have his way about that morning’s breakfast being served in the back garden. Mum sometimes teaches her best lessons by letting Old Muldoon have his way so that he can actually see how off the mark he is, rather than being scolded or instructed. That morning was no exception. After a half hour of cat supervision, Old Muldoon exclaimed that there were now so many cats in the back garden to manage that he understood what it must be like to be Siegfried and Roy.
It is his estimation of the situation that with winter/fall coming on, Mama Kitty is looking for secure and warmer, more protected quarters for her and her brood, and has discovered the garage to be to her brood what Houston is to all those FEMA refugees from New Orleans. He claims his theory is borne out be the fact that Mama Kitty and her group are now in the back yard every morning. He hopes that the process of getting used to each other will be a short one so that he may come back inside and enjoy his breakfast and newspaper. Mum is not amused and blames it all on him for wanting them fed in the back garden on the first day they showed up back there. Stoic that he is, he silently absorbs the criticism, beating his chest symbolically in a mea culpa gesture, a form of communication that Mum does not appreciate.
It is likely that we will have to endure about a week of this commotion before all settles down and the Front Door Four (as Old Muldoon now calls them) are accepted into the back garden constituency. He suggests cafeteria style food service out there, a line of kitty dishes with food for each and every hungry mouth. He has not yet told Mum that Zorro thinks that the bird seed pile is really kitty litter and goes poo there every morning. We think he secretly dreads the day when Mum first sees Zorro anointing the bird seed she puts out for all the avian visitors at her shrine.
After a few days of the Front Door Four no longer being willing to go to the front door for meals, Mum softened. Now the evening meals are served en plaine aire out in the back garden, but Old Muldoon has to sit out there in a garden chair and referee the situation. In honor of his new situation, as it were, he has bought himself a shirt that is colored with real Texas dirt. It is called a Texas Dirt Shirt and he is extremely proud of it. In fact Mum can’t get him to take it off so that it might be run through the wash. He intends to wear it until it rots off him. Mum is going to buy him another one so that the one he constantly wears does not become vermin infested and so that the vermin don’t come in with him and his Texas dirt shirt and infest the upholstery in our home. Mum is certain that no other living human being would ever put on a garment intending to wear it without respite until he dies or it rots off, whichever comes first.
Finally the test results are all back from Doc Martin’s lab and everyone is just fine. We can now start meeting and greeting each other. Amongst us cats, that consists of a day or two of hissing and pouting and resisting sharing our home with the newcomers. By day after tomorrow one of us will break down and start playing with the new kittens and then the rest of us won’t be able to resist. It always happens that way. Oh well! Such is life!
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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