Only one of those kaiju — Japanese for “strange beast,” aka the giant monsters of the kaiju genre of film — is so powerful he wades through the city nonchalantly, completely indifferent to the carnage around him.
Back in August there was a story about a bored animal behaviorist and fellow New Yorker who built a talking board for her cat, a la Koko the Gorilla.
Kristiina Wilson told People magazine she was inspired to start the project during the initial Coronavirus lockdown, fashioning a makeshift talking board for her beloved foster fail.
Wilson used large buttons, coded by color and symbol, with each button triggering a recording of a different word when pressed: “Lady” for her, “Snuggle,” “Outside,” “Kittynip” and, of course, “Eat.”
She taught the little guy to use the board using “associative concept learning,” which in this case means pressing a particular button when she has the cat’s attention, and then performing the related action and pressing the button again.
“Whenever you’re responding to them, you also repeat the modeling,” Wilson said. “So if he asks for catnip and then I give him catnip, I hit ‘catnip’ again while I’m giving it to him to reinforce what that button is for.”
Her cat is a quick learner, Wilson told People. “He’s like a person dressed in a cat’s body. He’s been screaming at me since he was born and being very clear about his needs and wants.”
Hmmm. Sounds like someone else I know, someone who never hesitates to loudly inform me when he considers the service subpar or the meals tardy.
I decided to give it a try with Buddy, modifying the system to his most frequent demands. When pressed, the buttons say “Big Buddy,” “Food,” “Snack,” “Mattress,” “Nip” and “Mighty Hunter!” (Mattress, as regular readers of this blog have probably already figured out, means Bud wants to take a nap on top of me. Mighty Hunter is his favorite wand toy game. It should be called Inept Hunter, but we must keep up appearances so as not to offend delicate egos.)
I began training Buddy on his new talking board. On the first day he had great fun with it, slapping the buttons randomly and jumping on them to see how many he could activate at once.
On the second day, he understood that pushing the “Big Buddy” button would draw a response from me.
On the third day, I woke up to find three of the buttons relabeled and reset with new digital voice recordings: “Servant,” “TURKEY NOW,” and “SNACK NOW.”
Perhaps most frighteningly, Bud was learning to combine the commands: “Servant…TURKEY NOW! TURKEY NOW! … Servant,” the speakers intoned as he hammered on the buttons with his paws.
But by the fourth day things had become truly horrifying. I walked into the living room and saw the humble talking board replaced by a complex ad hoc apparatus, with more than 150 symbols and a developing syntax.
“Good morning… servant… breakfast… immediately… then… massage… mattress…nap!” a synthesized Stephen Hawking said.
Buddy had tapped the message out with the speed and skill of a court stenographer, then sat there silently, looking up at me with his big green eyes.
“Little shit…is too clever…for…his own…good,” I said, mimicking the sound board.
“Big Buddy…better…watch…when asleep,” Buddy responded, pawing each button. “Sometimes…dark … I … can’t tell… where … is …litter box.”
He made a “mrrrrphh!” sound as if for emphasis, then tapped a single key three times: “Breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast.”
I have now realized my most grievous error: Within two days Bud had wired his apparatus into the fiber optic router, and a few days after that he’d completed work on a prosthetic opposable thumb.
The arms race was escalating, and my lead was evaporating.
I considered bringing in a dog, but Buddy would just outsmart it: The little terrorist probably has an automated missile launcher at this point, and if not, dogs can be easily bribed with food.
No, I needed something nuclear. Something that would inspire cold terror in my cat and prompt him to think about further escalating the cold war between us.
Buddy the Cat, publisher and editor-in-chief of the all-new Modern Box Magazine, seeks cats of considerable taste for the ultimate feline lifestyle publication. The editorial department seeks cats for the following positions: Investigative Eater, Box Reviewer, Keyboard Warmer, Leisure Editor. Must have at least three years’ experience sleeping, eating and lounging in a human home.
NEW YORK — History’s first all-feline hockey team got off to an ignominious start Tuesday when it was forced to forfeit its first game due to the entire team ending up in the penalty box.
The unfortunate sequence of events began in the first period when Duster Hoggins, captain of the Ice Cats, earned a whistle from the referees for trying to bite one of the opposing team’s forwards.
The members of the Ice Cats’ bench — who had been napping or quietly looking on with detached disinterest — suddenly perked up as the referees announced the penalty.
“Did he say penalty box?” rookie backup defenseman Mittens asked his teammates.
After the referees escorted Duster to the penalty box, mayhem broke loose: The formerly calm felines began a relentless assault on the opposing team by scratching, biting and even throwing themselves at the other team’s players.
A great cheer erupted from the Ice Cats’ bench when Little Panther, their center, was whistled for ignoring the puck and making a beeline for the opposing goaltender, whom he repeatedly struck with his stick.
“Penalty box! Penalty box!” the cats chanted, banging their sticks on the ground as they encouraged their teammates.
A broadly grinning Little Panther high-foured Duster and the two other cats who were already inside when he was escorted to the penalty box.
“Stop it, you idiots!” Ice Cats Coach John Tortorella screamed.
The feline teammates briefly paused, looking at each other for a moment before resuming their cheer: “Penalty box! Penalty box!”
The game was called just 4:52 into the first quarter after the penalty box was crowded with players and the Ice Cats could no longer field a team.
“This is a great sport!” Duster told reporters after the game. “If we’d known the goal was to reach the penalty box, we would have taken to hockey with much more zeal.”
“The goal isn’t to reach the penalty box, you morons!” a visibly angry Tortorella said, cutting into the interview. “We lost today because of your stupidity.”
The Ice Cats are scheduled to take on the New York Islanders on Thursday at the Barclays Center, where Duster vowed his squad would “dominate the penalty box like no other team in history.”
WASHINGTON — Emboldened by new research that shows UV light and heat have a dramatic effect on the novel Coronavirus, President Buddy unveiled a new plan on Thursday to move the planet closer to the sun.
Leaning against his podium/scratcher, the president pointed a paw toward a large monitor showing an animation of Earth moving closer to the sun on the ecliptic.
“My advisors tell me sunlight is very powerful and does a tremendous job of destroying the virus, so I said, ‘Why can’t we increase the amount of sunlight, like with a brighter bulb or something?’” President Buddy told reporters. “I was surprised to learn that we can’t make the sun brighter, but what we can do is move our planet closer to the sun to soak up more of those terrific UV rays!”
The plan drew immediate condemnation from CHOW — Cat Health Organization Worldwide — as well as from the international community, with fellow heads of state maintaining President Buddy could not unilaterally move the entire planet without first consulting with other world leaders.
“This aggression will not stand!” Siamese Chairman Xinnie the Pooh declared during his own press conference.
Asked about pushback from global leaders, President Buddy shrugged and yawned.
“Who’s the leader of the free cats? Oh, that’s right. I am! I say this is a terrific plan, the number one plan, and it’s going to be fantastic, believe me.”
The president’s science advisors said the plan was to move the Earth approximately .5 AU closer to its home star, soaking up “all that tremendous UV” to eradicate the Coronavirus.
Dr. Deborah Purrx, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, tried to reassure nervous reporters that all life on the planet would not be wiped out in a great wave of all-consuming fire.
“The President feels the whole country would be more like Florida,” Dr. Purrx said, pausing to lap at a water bowl next to the podium. “The weather’s pretty good in Florida, isn’t it? I mean, that’s where kitties go to retire.”
Stocks in companies that manufacture air conditioners soared after the announcement, with some pawlitical rivals accusing senatorial cats of snatching up those stocks ahead of time before the plan was announced to the public.
“That’s ridiculous,” Sen. Widdle Tiger said in response to criticism after he purchased $4 million in air conditioner manufacturing stocks. “What we should be outraged about is…oh look, someone’s giving out free Temptations!”
Reached later on Thursday at a nursery where he was sniffing the fur of kittens and telling stories about his days as a boxer, former Vice Purrsident Joe Bitin’ — President Buddy’s presumptive opponent in the general election — blasted the president’s plan as “stupid and dangerous.”
“I used to deal with bullies like the president all the time,” Bitin’ said, leaning in to take a deep huff of a six-week-old kitten’s fur. “But this ain’t 1962, it’s 1988, and we don’t put up with bullies anymore.”
The former vice purrsident looked momentarily confused as an aide whispered into his ear, then nodded.
“I misspoke, folks,” Bitin’ said. “That reminds me of the time I ate Coco Puffs in Lincoln, Nebraska back in 1983. Look at these beautiful kittens. Wow. Was it Coco Puffs or Corn Pops? Or maybe Rice Krispies…”
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.