NEW YORK — It took only six seconds for Jenna, Mikey’s new human, to open the bathroom door when guilted with mournful meows on Wednesday, the newly-homed cat reported.
The 28-year-old human woman entered the bathroom without her recently-adopted feline at approximately 6:22 pm on Wednesday.
“I said to myself, ‘Mikey, we gotta nip this in the bud right away. We can’t have her thinking she can use the bathroom without us, can we?'” the white moggie said.
Mikey launched into a routine that involved scratching the frame, reaching under the door and meowing frantically — “the classics,” he said.
Six seconds later the bathroom door opened, revealing a concerned Jenna.
“Oh my poor baby, are you okay?” she asked, extending a hand as Mikey padded into the bathroom. “I was worried! It sounded like someone was strangling you!”
Mikey said he milked his new human’s sympathy for all he could get.
“I flopped onto my back, gave out a little ‘Muurrrp!’ and looked at her with my big, sad eyes,” he told reporters. “A few minutes later she was in the kitchen, showering me with snacks. Easy peasy!”
Mikey, who spent almost three months in a local shelter as younger cats were adopted during kitten season, said he’s proceeding cautiously in his new home and plans to use his keen feline powers of observation to develop a meticulous catalogue of which buttons to push at specific times “to yield maximum snackage and massages.”
“I haven’t used my solicitation purr yet,” he said. “So far my human’s been pliable and gives me what I want, when I want it. The other night she spent four hours laying in a very uncomfortable-looking position to avoid disturbing me while I napped on her shoulder. I want to see how far I can take it before bringing out the big guns.”
Patience has paid off, Mikey said.
“Her boyfriend came over the other night,” he said. “I could have hissed, peed in his shoes, chased him off. After all, there can only be one man of the house. But he brought a gift for me, one of those track towers with the ball you swat around, you know? I have to admit, I was impressed that he knew enough to pay tribute to me. That guy’s alright.”
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.”
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.