Category: human servants

The Return Of The King’s Servant

My cat played it cool when I walked through the door today, acting as if he was indifferent to the fact that I’d been gone since Thursday afternoon.

I knew otherwise, of course — not only did Buddy attack his cat sitter, he also puked on two different carpets, leaving me a pair of surprises as a welcome-home gift.

As usual, the little guy couldn’t keep up the charade. After a few minutes he forgot he was supposed to be mad at me and climbed up to head bunt and reestablish his scent on me.

I enjoyed my time in the Catskills despite the heat and the pandemic. It was pretty clear some of the local businesses were hurting, especially those relying on vacationers coming through in the summer season.

For those of you unfamiliar with the region, the Catskills is an area of New York State about 120 miles north of New York City.

Most people who don’t live here think of New York as the city and its surrounding environs like Long Island and Westchester, but the vast majority of the state is rural and known for agriculture and recreation: The National Baseball Hall of Fame, Howe Caverns, Niagara Falls, the Adirondack mountains, Lake George, dozens of ski resorts, rivers for kayaking and fishing, and many other things for people who want to get away.

The Catskills does have a feline etymology, for those of you wondering. “Kill” is the Dutch word for river or creek, and the suffix is found in the names of local towns and rivers: Fishkill, Spackenkill, and Peekskill among them.

The “cat” in Catskill comes from catamount, a somewhat archaic word for a cougar, also known as a puma, mountain lion or panther. Although they’re very rare in the area these days, mountain lions were abundant in the forested valleys and mountains of the Catskill region.

Thus Catskill translates to “cat creek.”

This hotel on Route 28 has a section dubbed The Catamount, with carved wooden mountain lions keeping watch over the guests:


Belleayre Mountain is a ski resort that offers scenic gondola rides in the summer. Here’s the view from the gondola:


And from the mountain top:



I saw this sign in Woodstock. We hope little Spooky finds her way home:


A sign declares “HIPPIES WELCOME” in Woodstock, but not today — the shop is closed because of COVID-19:


This is the interior of Candlestock, a candle shop in Woodstock, NY. As the sign says, the “drip mountain” was started 51 years ago and has grown into a monstrosity of wax:


This dog was well-behaved and polite and waited for us to get up from our chairs before he swooped in for potential crumbs beneath the table. He’s got a unique coat and look, and he’s missing his tail. Does anyone know what kind of dog this is?


A shop called Modern Mythology on Woodstock’s main stretch:


Here’s my seven-year-old niece exploring the edge of Esopus Creek:


A stretch of rural road that I thought looked pretty cool:


Fabulous Furniture on Route 28 is adorned with metal sculptures of aliens, rocket ships and UFOs, all built by the store’s owner, Steve Heller:



Heller also builds custom cars:



Got $500 To Waste? Your Cat Could Win KingPet’s Contest!

Buddy has been declared the handsomest cat ever after winning the KingPet cat contest!

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t enter him in the contest. Didn’t upload his photo, didn’t make a profile for him. I’m merely declaring him the winner because the people behind KingPet wasted 2.5 minutes of my life by enticing me with a Youtube ad to visit their “pet contest” site.

What is KingPet? Here’s how the site’s owners describe it:


KingPet is a Free Photo Competition for dogs, cats and all sorts of other animals! Participate and vote to win up many gifts each month!

You mean we can win up many gifts each month?!? Why haven’t I been told about this before? Many gifts! I’m in!

That bit of mangled English is just the first indication that something shady’s going on here. On the front page I saw a photo of an adorable kitten with zero votes, so I upvoted the little one and was immediately taken to a page that gave up the goods.

My first vote was free, according to the generous people who run KingPet, but if I wanted to keep voting past a certain point I’d have to buy vote packages ranging from $3.99 for 150 votes all the way up to $189.99 for 20,000 votes.

KingPet vote packages.


Now you can see where this is going:

  1. Join the site and enter Fluffy in the contest.
  2. Get upset because no one’s voting for Fluffy, without realizing that because you haven’t paid any money, Fluffy’s photo is just sitting on the KingPet server, not being displayed to anyone.
  3. Indignant that lesser pets (!) are coasting to the grand prize of “winning up many gifts,” you exhaust your free supply of votes on Fluffy, reasoning that everyone else probably upvotes their own cats and dogs. (Of course they do.)
  4. That failed to move the needle! Okay, let’s make a purchase — just a small one! — to get Fluffy moving up the charts. You can by 150 votes for $3.99, but 2,000 votes for only $12.99! Who wouldn’t do that? You’re saving money!
  5. Now things are moving! Fluffy’s up from 2,612nd to 579th! Now you’re trading votes with other people who have been sucked into the competition, making IOUs until your next vote purchase and running up the charges on your credit card.
  6. OH SHIT. Look at how adorable Little Princess is! She’s ranked 4th, her profile says she was found crying in a gutter, and she’s probably going to die soon because she needs risky veterinary surgery to fix a condition you’ve never heard of, but are totally sure exists. How are you going to compete with this sob story? Might as well give up now, which is a shame because you’ve already purchased $92 worth of votes this month.
  7. Wait a second. Mr. Socks was also found in the gutter as a crying kitten and needs life-saving veterinary surgery? And Oreo just wants to win this contest until he’s put down? If you didn’t know better, you’d swear there was a trend: All the top pets are suffering from dangerous or untreatable conditions, have been photographed professionally, and belong to heartbroken humans who just want to win to have a great memory of their pet before it’s time to lead them to the Rainbow Bridge. Pass the tissues!
  8. Okay, screw this! You’ve purchased the $189.99 vote package, you’re locked and loaded, and you need a new profile for Fluffy to compete in the sympathy vote category: “I found Fluffy when he was four weeks old. His fur was matted, he was covered with fleas, and he was crying as dogs bullied him and a bigger cat took away the only morsel of food he could find. The doctors tell me Fluffy has only weeks to live after he was diagnosed with COVAIDS-19. Fluffy told me his dying wish is to be declared King Pet. Vote for Fluffy to make his dying wish come true!”

What happens from there? A review on SiteJabber fills us in on the endgame, courtesy of a user named Rozina B:

“I shared the link on social media and to my family and friends, i told them to keep voting 10 times a day. My brother bought votes for my kitten and she ended up in 1st place.
Everything went down hill after that. The second place person bought votes and became 1st again. They were trying to get money for their poorly pet but they were using their own money to buy votes so it made no sense, plus i dont like people trying to get sympathy votes there is a vast amount of people with luxury cats that they apparently found and was about to die etc all for votes basically. I then bought votes and we both ended up in this race to win, i bought votes they bought votes and it continued to the last minute of the competition till they gave up. I just wanted to be 1st for once as the 2nd place person had already won 1st place with their other cat. It was unfair. I must have spent a good £500 or more and they must have too.”

Five hundred pounds is the equivalent of $615 USD at the moment, for my fellow ‘Mericans reading at home.

So KingPet has the top five or 10 vote-getters, who have already opened their wallets, in a credit card arms race to boost their cats to the top of the list, along with an indeterminate number of other users spending lesser amounts to climb the charts. (It’s also possible that the “2nd place person” in the SiteJabber review was an account operated by the site’s owners, leapfrogging the others in the votes so they’d feel compelled to spend even more money.)

And that’s just for the cats. The same thing is happening simultaneously with dog owners determined to win a meaningless contest.

Widdle Jimmy only has two months to live. His dying wish is to win the KingPet contest. Won’t you buy 3,000 votes for him?

For what it’s worth, KingPet’s Facebook page is followed by almost 800,000 people, and a thread promoting the contest has 21,000+ auto-generated comments from people who entered the contest via Facebook.

The site’s About page says it’s part of a New York-based company called Playground Inc that runs half a dozen online contest sites with a combined 2 million users.

Here are some of the other reviews of KingPet courtesy of SiteJabber:

Not fair.People have to buy 10,000 votes to put their pet at the top, seriously? What’s the matter you don’t have enough confidence in your pets beauty that’s real nice. You have to buy votes or trade votes with people?can’t this contest just be one on sheer honesty and your pets beauty?

total scam on King Pet contests … im in the cat contest was leading all along and someone who won the prior contest come out of NOWHERE and buys up 30,000 votes every time a freind would buy more the 1st place cat suddenly buys 10000 more … either they are very rich or this is a total scam and rigged you decide ive spent more than enough !!!!

You people are running a scam. My mother is an elderly lady that is spending her lifes savings on your scam website. I have reported you to the Department of Justice for elder abuse. I have documents to back up my claims.

Notice also that many reviews complain that KingPet allegedly failed to reward prizes or cash to contest winners.

To be clear, I’m not saying KingPet is illegal, and I’m not saying it’s a scam. The FTC and courts would make that determination if enough people complain to trigger an investigation. (And from the site’s reputation scores and reviews on external sites, it certainly looks like there are lots of complaints.)

What I am saying, however, is that KingPet is a waste of time and money that employs a strategy of pitting users against each other to generate revenue. KingPet isn’t providing any value by selling meaningless votes for a contest that allegedly hands out prizes only sometimes. It exists to enrich its owners, preying on the insecurities and obsessions of the people who get caught up in it.

Buddy the Cat: Dashingly Handsome!
The only cat capable of winning without buying a single vote. Obviously.

The good news is there’s a great way to feel good about your pet, it doesn’t cost any money, and it will mean a great deal more to your kitten or cat than an email saying he/she won an online contest: Spend time with the little one! Set aside time to play, surprise them with a random treat or a bit of catnip, and give them a little extra affection.

If you still feel you need recognition, print out a certificate declaring your cat or dog the winner of a pet contest. It’ll be just as “official” as KingPet and you’ll save yourself at least $500.

And so, in the spirit of all things Buddy, I once again declare Buddy the King of all Pets, or the King Pet, if you will. And it cost me nothing!

Can You Find The Cat In This Photo? VI

Today’s “Can you find the kitty?” comes to us courtesy of Kate Hinds, a cat servant and planning editor at WNYC public radio.

Hinds snapped a shot of her living room, showing a large bookshelf, a TV, lots and lots of books, plants, knick-knacks…and a sneaky little cat.

This one’s a bit more difficult than it looks. Can you locate the hiding kitteh?

Credit: Kate Hinds


This Might Be The World’s Worst Cat Study

A Brazilian research team wanted to find out if cats experience separation anxiety when their owners aren’t home, so they visited the homes of 200 cat servants, wired them up with cameras and microphones, and conducted a rigorous study in which they first established a behavioral baseline, then compared the cats’ normal behavior with their actions when their humans weren’t home.

Just kidding.

In what might be the laziest, most assumptive attempt at conducting animal behavioral research thus far in 2020, the team from Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora handed out questionnaires to 130 cat owners that asked, among other things, about the body language and behavior of their cats when they weren’t at home to witness it.

Did these cat caretakers have Palantirs that allowed them to spy, Sauruman-style, on their kitties at home? Nah.

The information comes third-hand. I’m not joking:

“Since there weren’t any cameras observing the cats, the owners answered based on evidence from reports by other residents, neighbors or any signs the cat left in the home, such as feces, urine or broken objects, [study author Aline Cristina] Sant’Anna said.”

My neighbor’s friend’s Uber driver, who parked outside for 16 minutes, said my cat looked angry when he briefly appeared in the window, so I’m gonna go ahead and write in this here questionnaire that Mr. Socks has terrible separation anxiety. Yep.


But suppose the data was reliable, instead of fuzzy third-hand accounts from cat owners who quizzed their apparently nosy neighbors about what their cats do in their down time. How do we know a smashed vase is separation anxiety, and not the result of a cat with the zoomies just knocking stuff over?

How do we know a cat who misses the litter box doesn’t have a UTI, or refused to use a dirty box?

But it gets better, dear reader. This team of superstar scientists decided the reason some cats were supposedly depressed or destructive is because they live with male caretakers instead of women:

Cats with behavior problems also tended to live in households without any female adults or more than one female adult; households with owners ages 18 to 35 years old; single pet households; and households with no toys.

“Maybe, for different reasons, the animals raised in households with no female adults or more than one female adult were less likely to develop secure and mentally healthy types of attachments with their owners in the sampled population,” [study author Aline Cristina] Sant’Anna said.

Or maybe the authors are getting paid to make wild, unsupported assumptions and combine them with worthless data.

The CNN version of the story doubles down by quoting a self-appointed expert who expounds on the cats-and-females theory:

Additionally, female cat owners tended to be more affectionate and doting, said Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant for more than 20 years.

Cats might be a little more distressed in the absence of their owners if they are younger adults who are busy and not focused on the fact that they have a pet, the researchers theorized.

“They’re happy to have a pet, but they’re going out, being social, [going on] dates and having parties,” added Johnson.


For those who aren’t keeping score, we now have an academic and a certified behaviorist telling us cats who live with men or adults younger than 35 are more likely to be depressed because they, like, totally heard we don’t scoop the litter boxes as frequently or something.

That’s because all men refuse to be affectionate with their cats, and people under 35 are party animals who snort cocaine off the posteriors of strippers when they should be feeding Fluffy, according to our experts.

Johnson’s credentials include working at a hospital for cats and running her own “cat behavior house call and toy business.”

It’s worth noting that there are dozens of organizations that certify people as cat behaviorists. Sometimes the difference between a certified behaviorist and one without certification is the former simply paid dues to a member group that issues the certificates.

The Rock and His Cat
“Where’s the jabroni who claimed men aren’t affectionate with their cats?”

By now my opinion on this study is abundantly clear. The methods and conclusions wouldn’t pass muster in most undergraduate classes, let alone a research paper published in an academic journal. (The researchers published their work to PLOS ONE, an open access journal.)

What I don’t understand is, why bother? According to the study, 13.5 percent of the cats demonstrated at least one behavior consistent with separation anxiety, but for reasons I elaborated on earlier, the data is worthless. I’m not a fan of questionnaire studies in the first place, let alone questionnaire studies asking people what other people told them about difficult-to-interpret animal body language.

And lastly, I’m not a fan of this idea that there’s a certain “type” of person who is the best kind of cat owner.

We should be dispelling crazy cat lady stereotypes, not perpetuating them. Maybe men are in the minority when it comes to adopting cats, but nothing other than unfounded assumption suggests we men aren’t loving and affectionate with our little buddies, just like there’s nothing but anecdotal evidence to suggest caretakers younger than 35 neglect their pets.

The past few years have seen an authentic boom in research into feline cognition, behavior and emotion, and for that I’m grateful. But we can do better than this.

Image sources: [1] [2] [3]

Dear Buddy: Why Are Our Humans Home All The Time?

Dear Buddy,

There’s a dire situation we need to urgently bring to your attention: Our humans are not leaving the house! We meowed to the other cats on our block, and their humans aren’t leaving their homes either. Abe the Abyssinian from across town wandered into our neighborhood and said the same thing is happening in his neck of the woods.


Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice to have a little extra service now and then, but this is really putting a cramp on our lifestyles. We can’t sit on the Warm Pads because our humans are always at home using them. Our beds, which we generously allow our people to use every night, are now constantly claimed by these suddenly-lazy humans.

Worst of all, we can’t steal food because our humans are right here.

Do you know why this is happening?

– Perturbed in Pensacola

Credit: Instagram/marugadesuyo

Dear Perturbed,

I hadn’t noticed, but then again my human is a loser who works from home and doesn’t have a social life, so I queried some feline amigos, and sure enough their humans are staying indoors too.

Usually this only happens when it’s really cold and snowing, but it’s pretty nice outside, sunny and getting warmer.

I strongly suspect this has to do with the Corona Virus, the one spreading through beer, as I learned through my own investigation last week. (Detective work comes naturally to me.)

Perhaps we can solve this by bringing the infected beer to them! Think about it: They’re doing something called quarreltineering to avoid Corona, but if they open up the fridge and find Coronas right there, they’re no longer safe at home!

That means they will go back outside and we can have our naps and steal food in peace.

I really should sell these ideas instead of giving them away for free. I’d be rich!

Your friend,

Budlock Holmes