I have to admit, as cute as Buddy was as a kitten, I don’t miss the “war on sleep” phase.
A woman who adopted a kitten set up a camera to film what happens while she sleeps, like the main characters of the surprisingly scary 2007 film Paranormal Activity, except instead of doors opening and slamming shut by themselves, TVs turning on randomly and other freaky ghost stuff, she got footage of her new kitty gleefully waking her, mostly by belly-flopping on her snoozing human:
I know the experience all too well, and I’d imagine most people who have had a kitten know it too.
Buddy was absolutely ruthless as a baby! He’d scurry into a corner or hide under my desk, wait until I was snoring or just on the cusp of sleep, then climb up and screech the kitten equivalent of “Geronimo!” as he kamikaze’d himself onto my stomach.
Not a fun way to wake up. At all.
Bud would celebrate with delighted trilling, then pad back into the shadows to wait for his next opportunity. Oftentimes I’d hear squeaky little kitten chirps and imagine him laughing as he planned his next attack. He had entirely too much fun torturing me at night.
But fear not, Jenna, it gets better! I’m happy to report the Budster is much sweeter and more considerate as an adult cat. He still wakes me up, but often not to the level of fully awake, and instead of a cat landing a triple lutz, double axle on my stomach, I’m treated to super-soft fur against my face and the calming vibration of the little dude’s purrs.
It might take the better part of a year, but your kitten will chill out, adjust to your sleep schedule and realize a peaceful snooze is more satisfying than nighty games of Harass the Human.
The feline tendency to sit on your face and screech into your ear if your cat’s hungry or really wants your attention? Unfortunately that never goes away…
STAR COMMANDER BUDDY’S LOG, STARDATE 12142022, Aboard the USS Fowl Play
Lt. Commander Freddie Ferocious has command of the bridge while I’ve retired to my ready room for the important task of answering video messages from kittens in Mrs. Meowmore’s Kittengarden class.
Myles, a three-month-old tuxedo who wants to be a catstronaut when he grows up, has asked me how catstronauts eat and use the litter box in zero gravity.
“Well, Myles,” I tell him, “as you may have guessed, regular litter is no good without gravity! You can’t bury your business, obviously, and you run the risk of free-floating poops and granules of litter escaping into the ship’s habitable areas, so a litter box is out of the question. That is why we have a sealed Litter Chamber and a special suction device. It takes some getting used to, especially since it tends to pull on your fur while you’re doing your business!”
Sophia, a five-month-old Calico, asks us what we eat in space.
“This morning at 0100 hours I was informed that our food replicators are malfunctioning, which means the entire crew has had to make do with freeze-dried kibble and pate MREs. No wonder we’re all so cranky! I have ordered the engineering department to devote all available resources and catpower toward the repair of the replicators. This simply cannot be allowed to go unresolved, for a cranky crew can easily become a mewtinous one, and I don’t want to have to start spacing kitties out of the airlock. Er, I mean throwing ’em in the brig! Chief Engineer Meowdi LaForge tells me the replicators should be back online by breakfast.”
Simba, three and a half months, asks: “Dear Commander Buddy, how far are you from the place you’re traveling to, and what will you do when you get there? Is it true there might be monsters? That would be scary!”
“Thanks for writing, Simba! It’s 10.47 light years to the Epsilon Eridani star system, which is a long ride! Fortunately the USS Fowl Play is a pretty big, comfortable ship, with lots of stuff to do to keep her running, and some pretty cool options for entertainment and R&R when we’re off duty. We’re less than two light years away from our destination now, which means the Fowl Play has already flipped and is engaged in a prolonged deceleration burn. We have to do that, see, so we don’t sail right on past Epsilon Eridani!
“Where did you hear about the thing with the monsters? It’s not true, okay? I don’t know what anyone told you, probably that jealous jerk Commander Calvin, but I totally did not run screaming from a monster during the expedition to Luyten 726-8, okay? That’s fake news!
“What happened was, I saw the monster and issued a blood-curdling battle cry, but then I hit the wrong button on my Planetary CatRover, which caused it to spin around and run in the other direction. I was trying to inspire my team, not abandon them. I would have turned around and battled the monster too, except by the time I realized my mistake I was already more than half way back to the lander and the others had scared the monster away with their laser pointers.”
That’s my rover on the left, and the Scary Monster on the right. As you can see, I’m very brave for facing the Scary Monster:
Buddy’s Planetary Rover
The Evil Monster, whom Buddy was totally not scared of.
Five-month-old Pepper asks: “Star Commander Buddy, do you think smart aliens are out there? What do they look like? Will they be nice when you meet them?”
“Hi, Pepper! Those are good questions. Well we should remember that we cats are not only a super intelligent species, but we are intimidating too! We have sharp teeth and claws, some of us can roar, and we look really strong and tough! So maybe the aliens will be scared of us!
“I think there will be smart aliens even though we haven’t found other intelligent life on Earth. I mean, there’s humans, but they’re simple-minded creatures, aren’t they? That’s why they’re our servants! LOL! Maybe the aliens will only have fur on their heads like humans. Maybe they’ll look like dogs. Gross, I know! Or maybe they’ll look like a cross between elephants, manta rays and aardvarks.
“We just don’t know, which is why we’re trying to find out. Picture it: Star Commander Buddy, fearlessly leading the first expedition to make contact with smart aliens. It’ll be pretty cool to be in the history books. Tell ya what, Pepper. If we find smart aliens, you and the rest of Mrs. Meowmore’s class will be the first to know. After NASA, of course. We’ll send you pictures. Deal?”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex, have gone on a months-long media blitz blaming the UK’s royal family for allegedly being unwelcoming, saying some really mean stuff, and in the case of Prince William, beating poor Harry up.
The self-exiled sort-of royals have appeared in Netflix specials, their own podcasts on Spotify, interviews with major media figures, and most recently released Harry’s ghostwritten autobiography, Spare, in which the prince claims he was “bred” to provide “spare parts” for “Willie” in case the vaunted heir to the British throne needed an extra lung, kidney or todger. (Harry mentions the royal member 15 times in the book, according to reporters who keep track of such important things.)
The prince — who is current fifth-in-line to the throne — has other grievances, mostly against the UK press, Piers Morgan, the Skokie Illinois Barbershop Quartet, and his step-mother, Camilla. So far he hasn’t directed his ire at the Earl of Budderset.
What do cats think about the royal drama?
“Probably my stuffed bumblebee! But I like my bouncy ball and the birdie wand thingie my mom uses when we play too. Oh! Also, those little plastic rings from bottles! So much fun to bat around.” – Maisie, 2, bird-watcher
“I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and I think we need more treats, a Seventh Snack if you will, to bridge the considerable gap between Sixth Snack and Fourth Meal.” – Custard, 6, food critic
“HEY CHECK IT OUT! HEY! WHEN I PLOP ONTO THE COUCH CUSHION IT LEAVES A ME-SHAPED FOSSIL!” – Fiona, 7 months, kitten paleontologist
“There is one last door that Must Be Opened: The refrigerator door. You know how much I hate closed doors, and that one needs to stay open, okay? What if I want to take a nap with the cold cuts or use a nice block of feta for a pillow?” – Felix, 9, debate coach
“I think humanity is a thin layer of bacteria on a ball of mud hurling through the void, existing to speed the entropic death of this planet. That said, until we felines develop opposable thumbs, you humans are a necessary evil. You may feed me now.” – Mr. Fluffy, 13, retired
“So I told that mountain lion, I says, ‘Look here, puma! I ain’t intimidated by your size or your growl. As long as this heavy glass door stands between us, I’m gonna talk all the trash I want, and you can’t do nuthin’!'” – Doris, 6, abrasive meower
A mountain lion got more than it bargained for when it found itself face to face with a ferocious furball last week.
The puma was taking a breather near a home on Jan. 5 when it turned, realizing there was a pair of eyes watching it. Those eyes belonged to the resident cat, a 13-year-old moggie who was not pleased to see a wild intruder in its territory.
The puma initially squared off on the other side of a sliding glass door as if saying “You want some of this?” but seemed shocked when the domestic cat, rather than backing down, launched into a series of feints and yowls.
The puma flinched a few times, then decided to vacate the premises.
Clearly, the wild cat found itself wondering about the identity of the tabby.
“Is that Buddy the Cat? Oh crap! If it’s him, I’m in trouble! They say he has huge meowscles and is a master of 36 styles of Kung Fu!”
Bridget Moynahan joins the search for Bridget Moynahan
Blue Bloods actress Bridget Moynahan gave a boost to the search for a missing cat bearing her name.
The 51-year-old actress lent her star power to the search by posting about it on Instagram, where she has 345,000 followers.
The missing kitty belongs to the owner of a Manhattan bodega, and spends her days napping on the shelves and being admired by customers.
There are an estimated 10,000 bodegas in New York City, where traditional grocery stores don’t really fit into an urban lifestyle where most people don’t own cars and can’t load up two weeks’ worth of groceries in a minivan.
To keep mice and rats at bay, most of New York’s bodegas have cats. They’re technically illegal, but because having a cat in the store carries the same $300 penalty as having rodents, bodega owners opt for the former. The cats are beloved by New Yorkers, and the city is mostly content to overlook their presence unless there are major health violations.
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About a year after John Graham and his wife, Kathleen Birch, adopted Bella the Cat, they noticed she had an acquaintance — a genial neighborhood stray with a white-cream coat and black fur running from his back to his tail like a cloak.
Although she’s territorial like any member of her species and spends much of her time patrolling Grove Park — a quiet London neighborhood tucked into a winding loop of the Thames — Bella expressed no animosity toward the apparent intruder, and in fact seemed to be on quite friendly terms with him.
Graham and Birch, who like to joke that Bella is a clandestine agent of MI5 — Britain’s version of the FBI — dubbed the stray Bertie, and decided he was her field liaison.
“We think Bertie is her Mi5 contact and visits to get updates [before] returning to HQ to report on her field actions and mission status,” Graham quips.
After checking with the neighbors and bringing Bertie to the veterinarian, who said the stray was not chipped, Graham and Birch believe Bertie was likely abandoned by his previous family and eked out a living zig-zagging between homes in Grove Park, depending on the goodwill of neighbors and his own considerable charm for food. So they had Bertie chipped with their contact details about eight months ago, and now field agent and handler have been united under one safe house roof as they continue in His Majesty’s service.
Bertie and Bella even have their own WhatsApp group comprised of their humans and neighbors, who post to let each other know of the feline duo’s comings and goings.
Both cats are a source of great joy for Graham and Birch, who were looking to adopt again two years ago after the passing of their beloved Bets, who had been with them since kittenhood and lived to the ripe old age of 21.
After contacting a charity they support in Twickenham, the couple went out to meet a cat named Puss Puss at a foster’s home about three miles away.
“We walked in and sat down, and within literally a few seconds, she came out from under a table. My wife immediately fell in love with her as Puss Puss – now called Bella — rolled over and showed her belly with the loudest purrs ever,” Graham recalled. “She walked over to me and looked up with the most beautiful green eyes, allowing pets and scritches instantly. I was totally smitten. Her secret service training on overcoming any resistance was obvious here.”
Not much is known about Bella’s past, which Graham jokes is classified, but the fosters said Bella likely came from a hoarding situation. She bears some emotional scars from those times, making it clear she didn’t like to be picked up and wouldn’t tolerate head rubs. Graham said he thinks Bella may have been struck on the head by the abusive person or people who had custody of her originally, but with patience “she has grown to trust us and love us the way we love her.”
True to her training, Bella came striding out of her carrier that first day without need for coaxing and set about surveying her new headquarters, exploring while noting promising hideouts and lounging spots.
“She immediately checked out the perimeter as do all good Mi5 agents, looked around and began a sniffing and snooping journey for about an hour,” Graham said, “Then sitting in front of us on a low stool, she started shouting loudly, her default way of demanding food. This prompted me into action, offering her different dishes attempting to find her favourite. It turns out that she basically will eat anything.”
Indeed, Bella’s love of food is one of the few things that cause a bit of tension between her and her doting humans. She’s restricted to carefully measured wet food plus veterinarian-suggested “weight management crunchies” and, like many cats, is not shy about notifying her servants when the yums are low or the auto-feeder isn’t dispensing them. (In those instances, Bella hops up onto the bed and approaches the sleeping Graham: “I will get the gentle paw followed by the sharp claw to ensure I get the message to come and feed her immediately.”)
Adopting a cat is always a guessing game. Will the cat relax and open up once she realizes she’s safe and has a home? Was he reserved when we met him because he’s been living in a shelter with unfamiliar sights and smells? Will she take to her new home immediately, or will she dive under a couch and remain there for weeks, emerging only to grab a bite from her bowl when no one’s around?
Those questions were immediately settled for Graham and Birch, and Bella’s outgoing personality is one of the things they love most about her, along with her supreme confidence.
“She has it in absolute truckloads,” Graham notes, “and there is pretty much no fear on her part about adventuring anywhere in or out of the house.”
While keeping cats indoors is the norm in the US, as many as nine in 10 caretakers in the UK allow their felines to spend time outdoors unsupervised, encouraging them to establish their territories, explore their gardens (backyards to us Americans) and familiarize themselves with their neighborhoods.
Many US shelters and rescues won’t allow potential adopters to take a cat home if they indicate they’re willing to let the kitty outside, and some even require adopters to sign contracts stating they’ll keep their four-legged friends indoors. UK cat rescues often take the opposite stance. They advise pet parents on how to gradually introduce their cats to the outdoors, offer tips on how to manage their outside time and recommend various pet flap configurations.
The difference is partly cultural and partly practical. While extolling the benefits of allowing cats to roam, UK cat lovers point out that domestic felines rarely stray far from their homes, on average venturing only between 40 and 200 meters (about 130 to 650 feet). They’re curious, which drives them to explore, but also territorial, which keeps them on a figurative leash.
There’s also a marked difference in wild threats to domestic cats. In the US, cats are vulnerable to pumas (also known as mountain lions and cougars), coyotes and a wide variety of birds of prey, from eagles, harriers and hawks to condors, osprey and even some larger species of owl. The UK does not have pumas, despite local legends to the contrary, nor does it have coyotes. Foxes, the smaller cousins of coyotes, and some birds of prey do pose a threat, but not to the extent that the wildlife of the Americas does.
For Graham, allowing his cats outside fosters their independent streak and allows them — or Bella, at least — to exercise their hunting impulses. Bertie isn’t known for his predatory prowess, but Bella is a pro at catching mice.
The local neighborhood is quiet, traffic is strictly limited to 20 mph, and the neighbors know each other well, often using their WhatsApp groups to track their kids in addition to cats.
In fact, if Bella could speak, Graham reckons she’d thank him for providing a home in a tranquil locale — and for never closing doors in their home.
What else would she say?
Graham says it’s obvious: “Glad that you understand the difference between my requests and my orders – you took a while.” She’d also likely chide the couple on their ineptitude as hunters, declaring Graham and Birch “are both rubbish at catching mice and rats despite how many times I show you how to do it.”
For Graham, the managing director of a London brand agency, and Birch, a skin care therapist, sharing their home with cats feels natural, and they cherish the unpredictable nature and playfulness of their feline friends. Cognizant of the fact that black cats are less likely to find homes, they prefer adopting melanistic house panthers like Bets, their previous cat, and Bella.
“I totally love all animals but as residents in our house, cats fit perfectly being clean, highly intelligent and able to manipulate any situation with an expression or display of love,” Graham says. “My favourite thing about Bella is when she surprisingly sits on my lap and the mystery when she hides in unlikely places causing me to rush around desperately trying to find her, not coming out even when I am shaking a treat bag.”
Bella will allow the game to drag out “until she decides to appear with her ‘I win’ look and swagger.”
Feline love is often hard-won, but that makes it worth it. In discussing Bella, it’s clear Graham lives for the moments when the independent-minded kitty decides to let him know how much he means to her by sleeping at the food of the bed, playing her hide-and-seek games and climbing into his lap.
Bella and Bertie may not be regular lap cats, but that’s okay with Graham and Birch.
“So there you have it,” Graham said. “Two cats that come and go as they please with occasional signs of affection, but get nothing apart from permanent love and affection from us.”
Bella is serious about her food. Credit: John Graham
Bella’s favorite toy, fittingly, is a mouse. Credit: John Graham
Spending time outdoors is important to Bella.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.