“I’m sorry we doubted you, Mr. Quaid. Now how can we help you?”
That’s how we imagine the initial call went when Dennis Quaid — the actor — saw photos of Dennis Quiad — the cat — and called the shelter, whose staff were initially suspicious, adoption manager Danielle Ulmer said.
“I was like there is no way this is real, like, someone is pranking us,” Ulmer told WSLS, the local ABC affiliate.
Quaid is co-founder of the podcast company Audio Up, which produces a cast called The Pet Show. Jimmy Jellinek, who hosts the show, worked with the shelter to set up a Zoom call so Quaid could meet his feline counterpart — and the shelter could see they weren’t dealing with an elaborate prank.
“It took us a while for them to actually believe us,” Jellinek said.
Jellinek is expected to fly to Virginia this weekend to pick up Dennis Quaid the Cat and bring him to his forever home in Los Angeles.
“It was really off the wall, but I just couldn’t resist. I had to,” Quaid told WSLS. “I’m out to save all the Dennis Quaids of the world.”
Back in 1 AB (that’s After Bud, for those of you who don’t use the Buddesian Calendar) my mom got me a copy of A Streetcat Named Bob, which told the story of a recovering heroin addict and the cat who literally walked into his life.
James Bowen was in a rehab program and was living for the first time in his own apartment when the injured but insistent orange tabby showed up at his door. Though dirt poor, Bowen scraped together enough money from busking — playing his guitar in public for tips — to bring Bob to the veterinarian and buy the basics he’d need to care for the cat.
After adjusting to life inside the apartment with James, Bob decided one day he’d accompany his human to work, which for James meant standing outside major metro hubs and hawking a magazine called The Big Issue. For our readers who aren’t familiar with the magazine, The Big Issue exclusively employs the homeless and the struggling as magazine vendors, offering them an opportunity for employment when they might not otherwise be able to secure it.
Bob turned out to be an unflappable cat, calmly riding on James’ shoulders as they took the bus to James’ assigned vendor location. Whether perched on James shoulder or standing next to him, Bob became a fixture by James’ side, handling the crowds and the interested passersby with a calm not usually associated with cats.
Soon word spread of the magazine salesman with “The Big Issue cat.” A local newspaper ran a story about James and Bob, then a few Youtubers visited the duo on the street, uploading videos of man and cat selling magazines and busking for extra money.
One of James and Bob’s biggest breaks came when Sir Paul McCartney heard their story and visited them in person as they were hawking magazines in London.
From there, as the Legend of Bob grew, a shrewd literary agent saw potential in the story of the recovering addict and the cat, and inked Bowen to a book deal. The rest is history: The book propelled James and his feline friend to stardom, leading to a handful of additional books, a cartoon and a 2016 movie about the duo.
“He taught me that I had to buckle up…because he was following me around and stuff like that, I had to take responsibility for him,” Bowen recalled in a 2016 interview. “I didn’t know it then, but the love that he was giving me was helping me to change my ways.”
For many people, the story of James and Bob represented not only the unconditional love between cat and human, but also hope and the promise of second chances in life.
Bud is no Bob — he’d run screaming at a book signing with hundreds lined up to greet him — and I’m no James, but my mom thought I’d enjoy the book because I was also going through a tough time when I adopted Buddy — though nothing as dramatic as James’ situation — and like James I found a measure of peace in taking care of my cat, which allowed me to look outward and gave me a responsibility that took my mind off my own problems.
After finishing the book I pulled up a few of the early videos of James and Bob on Youtube and, among the streetside interviews and other clips, I found a vid of James and Bob appearing on a British morning television show.
For the most part the interview went the way you’d expect those things to go: James and Bob were there to promote their book, James gave Bob a treat in exchange for a high-five, and the questions were rote.
All except one, when the male anchor turned to James and asked him if he’s thought about what he’ll do when Bob dies.
As his female co-anchor stared daggers at the man, James swallowed, hesitated, and said he doesn’t like to dwell on that thought, that he prefers to focus on the moment, being grateful for having Bob in his life and appreciating him.
At the time the eventuality of Bob’s death seemed remote. No one was sure how old Bob really was, but veterinarians estimated he was eight or nine years old.
Now, at age 14, Bob has passed away.
Bob’s fans are legion: They lined up in their hundreds and thousands for his book tours, they sent thousands of scarves as gifts to the orange tabby and they made him the most celebrated cat in the UK.
Now they’re flooding The Big Issue with condolences and letters about Bob, and we hope James takes comfort from the fact that his little buddy touched so many lives.
Bowen, understandably, is devastated.
“There’s never been a cat like him. And never will again,” he said. “I feel like the light has gone out in my life. I will never forget him.”
For the rest of us, it’s a reminder that our cats are only with us a short while, and that there will come a day when we wish they’re still around to annoy us by jumping on our keyboards or rousing us from sleep with urgent meows for breakfast.
Appreciate them. Love them. And pay attention to them, which is all they really want from us.
Russell Crowe was training for the 2005 movie Cinderella Man, in which he plays boxer James J. Braddock, when he “took the bunch of blokes who had been beating me up for their pay check” — his trainers and fellow actors playing boxers in the movie — on a mountain bike ride in rural Australia.
After cresting a “particularly punishing hill” and stopping for a sip of water, Crowe wrote, he heard plaintive mews coming from the trees off the rural Australian trail.
“Underneath the swirl of sounds I heard something out of place. Was that a meow? I started to look around me. I heard it again. I took a few steps of the track into the rain forest. Thick with ferns and vines. One more step and then I saw it. A kitten…”
The baby cat was abandoned, and Crowe says he thinks the cat might have been dumped by a driver who passed the bicyclists a few minutes earlier.
“I looked back down the track and the boys were gaining on me,” he wrote. “I put the kitten in my backpack and rode on.”
After returning to camp, Crowe took the kitten out of his pack, showed it to his friends and told them he was going to give it to his mother, who had been talking about adopting a cat.
“There’s something reassuring in a bunch of big sweaty boxers going crazy over a kitten,” Crowe wrote. “We flew down the hill in a tight group and arrived back at my farm together where I presented my mother with this tiny baby kitten. She was floored. So happy.”
That was in 2003. Cinders lived for 17 years and died on June 9. Crowe shared the story of finding and adopting the beloved cat in a Twitter thread.
Crowe, who was living with his mother while training for the movie, said he was originally opposed to getting a cat because felines are “the notorious enemy of bird life.”
When he found Cinders, he wrote, he felt “this was the universe telling me to respect my mother and give her what she wanted.”
“She had never grown to be fully trusting of humans, but, she loved my mum and my mum loved her.”
Rabbit the stray seemed to know which humans would help him out.
The street-savvy cat would wait in front of a convenience store, sitting patiently on the sidewalk until he saw a person who would give him a smile or a pat on the head. Then, with Kitty Mind Control Mode enabled, he’d lead his new human minion into the store, guide them to the pet food aisle, and point to his favorite food.
When I saw this, my reaction was sadness: From his familiarity with people to his preference for store-bought cat food, Rabbit was clearly someone’s pet, either lost or abandoned. He’d faced hardship. He was skinny, his snow white fur was dirty, and there was only a stump where his tail should have been.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.
Tania Lizbeth Santos Coy Tova, a 33-year-old teacher who lives in Mexico, had encountered Rabbit a few times before. She decided to ask about the cat.
“Every time he came to the store, we greeted each other and did the same, he guided me to the shelf and chose the food he wanted,” she said.
The managers of the store explained to Tania that the stray always did the same thing with customers. He understood specific hours and waited until a kind passerby would take pity on him and purchase some food.
Santos Coy Tova wanted to see if Rabbit had a home, so she and a friend followed the friendly cat after encountering him one day. When Santos Coy Tova saw the little guy return to an abandoned house, she decided he’d be coming home with her.
For those of us interested in animal intelligence — and feline smarts in particular — this story is fascinating.
Rabbit knew where cat food was purchased, was good enough at reading human body and facial language to reliably find friendly people who were willing to help, and he knew which package his favorite food came in. In addition, he knew that pointing to the package would draw a person’s attention to it.
He wouldn’t have been able to pull that off without the ability to plan ahead and think in the abstract. He also understood the food had to be purchased, or at least that a human had to get it for him. In the video he doesn’t just leap up at the package and take it, he points and looks back toward his person. That also shows he possesses theory of mind, that he understands humans and other animals have a subjective point of view.
This isn’t happening in a research lab environment, true, but it never could have. These are a unique set of circumstances showing cats understand more than they let on — a lot more.
Join us, dear readers, as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of Pain In The Bud!
We’ve reached a modest 700 million readers in our first year and plan to do even better in our second year, replacing Google and Facebook at the very top of the traffic rankings and becoming the number one internet destination for people looking to waste their time.
Critics and readers alike are united in their effusive praise for Pain In The Bud:
“Absolute idiots. It’s difficult to tell which one has fewer brain cells, the human or the cat.” – Time
“Doesn’t even qualify as decent bathroom reading material.” – Rolling Stone
“Outstanding! Easily the best blog on the Internet!” – The Buddy Review
“An indictment of the American education system. I feel dumber for having read it.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Why should you care about the exploits of Buddy the Cat? You shouldn’t. His catnip-addled mind is limited to producing tedious fart jokes and dispensing mind-numbingly ridiculous advice to readers misguided enough to seek out his opinion.” – Wall Street Journal
“An extraordinary blog focused on an exceptional cat whose wit is sharper than Valyrian steel. Endlessly entertaining.” – The Buddesian Times
“A catnip junkie and the human who enables him. Gives all cats a bad rep.” – Veterinary Association of America
“An unfiltered look into the depraved depths of the feline psyche. The blog mostly works as a celebration of legendary stupidity.” – Psychology Today
“Has there ever been a cat more handsome and interesting than Buddy? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.” – The Chronicle of Higher Buddy
Meanwhile, we’re celebrating Buddy’s adoptaversary! Well, celebrating is probably not the right word since we’re stuck indoors in the middle of a pandemic, in the area with the most infections if you don’t count Wuhan’s fake statistics.
Still, celebrate we will. No matter how dark these times are, there’s always turkey and catnip!
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.