NEW YORK — Buddy the Cat’s human servant returned home Friday to discover the buzz of craftsmen and smell of fresh paint after the silver tabby commissioned a fresco to celebrate his recent victory over a menacing rodent.
Amid the commotion was Luigi Tettamanzi, 62, one of Italy’s foremost Renaissance revivalists. The artist crouched on one knee, applying fine brush strokes to render the beginnings of a sun beam illuminating a powerful feline form in mid-leap with claws extended.
The fresh plaster had already been painted with a luminous sky blue, and broad strokes outlined the suggestion of mountains and forests in the background.
“You see, yes, I use bright and dramatic colors on the arriccio, paint you very heroic, ah?” Tettamanzi told the famously egotistical feline as they conferred during a break. “Not to worry, my friend. I make sure is okay with you before I apply intonaco, yes.”
At Buddy’s instruction, Tettamanzi had begun to render the mouse as a savage and menacing beast several hundred times its actual size. The painting shows a trail of death and destruction behind the mouse, with terrified onlookers pointing at the majestic feline leaping to engage the monstrous rodent. His outstretched paw connects with the enemy, the strike represented with a brilliant flash of energy in chaotic brush strokes.
A cartouche above the painting identifies it as “The Battle of the Rodential Interloper: Year 7 A.B. Resulting In Glorious Buddesian Victory.”
For several long moments, Big Buddy could only stare, dumbfounded.
“Buuuuud!” the human finally said, incredulity in his voice. “What the hell are you doing?”
The tabby looked up from some concept drawings he was reviewing with Tettamanzi.
“Commemorating my victory, of course,” Buddy replied. “The painting represents my heroic actions that day, when I saved many humans from a sinister and vicious rodent-beast.”
The human sighed.
“No, you did not!” he said. “You slept through the whole thing. You didn’t even know the mouse was here until you woke up from your nap an hour later.”
“Fake news!” Buddy said, turning back to Tettamanzi to confer on palette choices and urge the artist to make him look more muscular.
As of press time the fresco had been extended to a second wall, with a new panel depicting a powerfully built Buddy atop a throne adorned with lion motifs, and humans bending the knee before him as he magnanimously accepts oaths of loyalty.
Jinx the cat was so grateful to UK couple Martin Rosinski and Michelle Bowyer for giving her a home that she decided to bring them a gift.
“The first time I was working at home, I heard Michelle making a commotion because Jinx had come in with a mouse and dumped it on the carpet in front of her as a ‘thank you’. That’s their way of expressing love. You can’t tell her off, so we thanked her a lot for it and took it away from her,” Rosinski said.
“Then this started happening more and more often to the point where we would be woken up at 2 a.m. as Jinx would meow loudly and announce, ‘Hey I have a gift. If we didn’t get to her fast enough she would decide to eat it herself, which would involve piles of mouse parts being smeared into the carpet. This was happening at 2 a.m., then again at 4 a.m. on many nights and we’d not get any sleep having to deal with this. Her record was four in one night – that night was a frenzy of three mice and one bird. It was something that was a real cause of stress.”
The solution is pretty simple, right? Keep Jinx inside.
The former stray won’t like it at first. There will be an adjustment period when the meowing will be seriously annoying. But it’s better than allowing your cat to play Predator at night and waking up to find your cat sitting on your chest, proudly presenting a twitching mouse to you.
Rosinski and Bowyer didn’t take Jinx inside.
Instead they created a bespoke intelligent cat flap that allows Jinx to come and go as she pleases, but won’t open if she’s carrying prey. They both have backgrounds in tech: he’s a researcher who also tinkers with software and hardware, and she’s a web developer.
Their system, OnlyCat, uses a camera and an algorithm to determine if Jinx is carrying something in her mouth. If she is, the cat flap won’t grant her access, and Bowyer and Rosinski will get a text informing them Jinx has been up to her hi-jinx again, along with a photo of her entry attempt.
The OnlyCat prototype has prevented Jinx from bringing in 42 prey animals since June of 2021, the couple said. OnlyCat may prevent her from bringing her prey inside, but it hasn’t dissuaded her from killing.
“Two months ago I think something clicked and she realized, ‘I can’t bring these home. It’s just not going to work,’” Rosinski told the UK’s South West News Service. “She still catches them outside but she’s learned that there’s no point even trying to bring them home, which is a relief.”
The couple developed the OnlyCat into a full product, which launches on Aug. 16 at £499. (A little more than $600 USD.) Their site says the retail version of the flap has worked 100 percent of the time in tests, and the developers believe “99%+ accuracy should be achievable for everyone.”
Hamm’s version, which he created for his cat Metric in 2019, initiates a 15-minute lockout timer if Metric tries to enter while carrying a kill, and automatically sends a donation to the National Audubon Society, which protects birds and their habitats. The algorithm was trained using tens of thousands of images of cats approaching normally, and with prey in their mouths. So far, Hamm hasn’t developed a retail version of his AI-enabled cat flap.
We don’t think there’s any one way to raise cats, and it’s obvious there are different cat cultures in various countries.
Nevertheless, seven out of 10 cat owners in the UK allow their cats to roam free, and anecdotes like the ones about Jinx, with her multiple kills a night habit, draw the ire of birders and conservationists.
Maybe it’s time for more people to reconsider allowing their cats to roam free. Like putting a cat on a diet or trying to break a bad habit, there’ll be loud and annoying protests in meow, and it’ll get worse before it gets better, but eventually cats always adjust to changes if given long enough.
As domesticated animals they don’t have a natural habitat anymore, and they don’t actually need to be outside. It’s entirely possible to keep things fun and interesting for the furry little guys, and that’s on us. All that’s required is our time, attention and affection. Interactive play time. Toys that can keep a cat occupied by herself. Catnip. Condos and tunnels. Window perches. Cat TV on Youtube. Simple things to play with, like plastic bottle rings, crinkled tin foil and cardboard boxes.
We don’t think anyone should be required to keep their cats indoors, and that’s the point. We have an opportunity to meet conservationists halfway and make a real effort to reduce feline impact on small wildlife. If we don’t, eventually we’ll be forced to comply by laws that’ll be draconian compared to the voluntary measures we could have taken to prevent the government from getting involved.
NEW YORK — Buddy the Cat didn’t even lift a paw when a mouse invaded his domicile on Tuesday.
The gray tabby cat, who often brags of his “huge meowscles” and martial prowess, did not stir from his nap and remained asleep for the duration of the encounter, witnesses said.
“He was completely, utterly useless,” his human, Big Buddy, said. “Aren’t cats supposed to be the bane of rodents? Don’t they have super sensitive hearing that can home in on the high frequency squeaks of mice?”
Buddy, who only stirred after the mouse was removed from the premises, stood up and yawned, then asked what all the commotion was about.
“Oh,” he said. “Well that mouse was really lucky I was napping, otherwise I’d do something totally badass.”
As of press time, human concern was centered on acquiring mouse traps at the store, but Buddy insisted that wouldn’t be necessary.
“I will roar and the mouses won’t come near here again,” he said, bellowing in his Elmo-like voice. “There. Problem solved.”
Update: In honor of Buddy’s glorious and momentous victory, we’ve created the following artwork:
We’re a group of entrepawneurs making all natural, delicious cat treats. Unlike humans, we know what cats want, which is why our treats aren’t made from chicken, salmon or beef — they’re all-natural, 100 percent mouse!
We’ve been talking about hiring a celebrity spokescat for our company, Of Mice and Meows, and we’d like to offer you the job!
What do you say, pal? You’ll be generously compensated in catnip and snacks!
Startup In San Diego
Dear San Diego,
It says here your product is only available in 14 stores and your total revenue for the last fiscal year was $476.23.
I just don’t see the logic in your valuation. Your idea is sound, but you’re entering a crowded market, and most of all the potential reward is not worth the risk that I’ll be taking on, especially if it eats into my 16 hour sleep cycles.
In addition to the scalability question, mouse is cool, but lack of turkey is not. And for those reasons, I’m out.