We’re tired of waiting


“So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for…”

Spring! Where is it hiding? We’re tired of looking at bare, brown trees. We’re tired of watching for the green shoots of the daffodils in the back garden and seeing only dead leaves and dirt. Heck, the crocuses are barely up. We hear birds chirping in the morning, but we’re pretty sure we’re dreaming. The sun makes alluring puddles for us in the afternoon, but they’re not warm.

Even our favorite toy has lost its thrill.

We’re so bored with winter we’re blue.

And we’re sick of our toys. We want something to watch outside. Where are the walkers, the kids playing kickball? Watching people shovel snow was pretty boring, but that was better than nothing — up to a point.

Even our favorite toys are no fun. Can indoor cats get cabin fever, too??

Would you take advice from your cat?


And then there was the time we tried writing an advice column. What do you think? We’re cats, so we’re full of opinions. Superior opinions. Send us your questions! We like telling other people what to do.

We find our true calling
We’re grown up now. We’ve been watching the world outside our windows for a long time – cats are keen observers – and we read books, too. Interesting people come to our house and we eavesdrop on their conversations. We’re published authors. With all those qualifications, we’re ready – and willing – to offer advice to others. So, we bring to you Ask the Meezers!

Tip of the week!

Tip of the week (from Mischief, who doesn’t take his own advice): Don’t chew on rose bushes. Even the small ones have prickles.

Dear Meezers: What’s a “mee-zher?”
— A New Reader
Trouble: Uh, that would be us. We’re Sia-meeze cats, right? Meezers.
Mischief: Are all the questions going to be this dumb? Instead of wasting time like this, we could be napping.
***
Dear Meezers: Why?
— Karma Kat
Trouble: Why not? It’s the curious cat’s mantra. Or you want to know why we want to nap? Now that’s a dumb question. We’re cats. It’s what we do.
Mischief: Miao.
***
Dear Meezers: Miao? Are you French?
— Un nouvel admirateur
Trouble: (Rolls eyes)
Mischief: We’re Siamese. We say “Miao.” Draw it out. Breathe deep from the chest. “My-yaaaao-oo.”
***
Dear Meezers: My cat prefers playing with empty boxes to all of the sweet little mousies and fluffy toys we buy for her. What am I doing wrong?
— Confused in Carlisle
Trouble: Nothing! You’re providing boxes, that’s a good start. But make sure you’re letting her play with the packages the toys come in, too.
Mischief: Especially if the packaging is crinkly. Trouble won’t admit it, but he likes to lick cellophane and plastic bags. Ick. If your girl doesn’t like the fluffy things, send them my way. I love fuzziness. And feathers. Got any with feathers?
***
Dear Meezers: My house and yard are full of loud monsters that disturb my sleep and – I admit it – make me puff my tail up to three times its normal size. They’re scary. My heart races. Why won’t my family consider my feelings and get rid of these things?
— Frightened in Fairview
Mischief: Let me go first on this one. Don’t be afraid to call these “monsters” by their proper names. Blender. Disposal. Vacuum. Mower. See? Saying it won’t hurt you. And neither will the machines. Be bold. Let everyone know how you feel. Arch your back and spit at them. If all else fails, a timely nip on the operator’s ankle should help. (Note: This is not recommended for the lawn mower. What are you doing out there anyway?)
Trouble: Ha! Face your fears. I agree with that one. In fact, I’ve found that if you curl up with one of these monsters, people will get all googly over how cute you are and find something else to do rather than disturb you. But I gotta say, Mischief just talks a good game. He won’t go up the stairs if the bedroom ceiling fans are on.
***
Dear Meezers: I get so tired of deciding what to have for dinner. So I ask you, tuna or salmon?
— Gourmand in Gettysburg
Trouble: Tuna!
Mischief: Salmon!
***
Dear Meezers: You guys seem to get along pretty well for siblings. What’s your secret?
— Chocolatepoint in Hershey
Trouble: Two halves make a whole. In our case, I like wet food, Mischief likes dry. I like to play with bottle caps and crumpled foil. He prefers trying to catch dangly things and chasing foam golf balls. I like to sleep on top of the kitchen cabinets. He likes to curl up on a chair. I like laps. He likes to sit next to people.
Mischief: You take my food. You take my toys. You take her lap. You hog the bed. You call that getting along??
Trouble: You pounce on me when I’m sleeping. You bite my neck. You chase me!
Mischief: Decca likes me better than you.
Trouble: Nuh-uh. She likes me better!
Mischief: Wuss!
Trouble: Brat!
Mischief: Hisss!
Trouble: Hisssssss!
Mischief: Hey! What are we fighting for? It must be time for a nap.
Trouble: Pssst. You’re lying on my tail. Mischief. Mischief!
Mischief: Snoor.
***
Dear Ask A Meezer: What’s “snoor?”
— Sleepless in Shamokin
….
Trouble and Mischief are the pen names of two midstate Pennsylvania cats who blog about books, life and the world outside their windows. Got a question for Ask the Meezers? Post a comment here or send it to deccablog@gmail.com You can follow the Meezers on Twitter at @DeccaCats.

(Ask A Meezer was first published at Central Penn Parent as part of the Tail Tales blog in 2013.)

We’ve got hairballs – is that a problem?


Since we wrote this column on our hairball “problem” last year, it seems to have gone away on its own. Our Decca is really baffled, because nothing changed in our diet or our behavior. Maybe it was just a teen-ager thing?? What do you think?

*Cough* Hairballs *cough*

There's something donw thre on the floor...

Pardon us, but there’s something disgusting down there on the floor you need to take care of. (Trouble, left; and Mischief)

Friends, are you embarrassing yourself in front of yourself and others? Does your pep suddenly turn into pooped when you stop in the middle of a good run to hack and heave? Are hairballs making you unpopular around the house?

Friends, the answer to all of your problems is — well, to tell the truth, we don’t know what the answer is. But now that we’ve gotten older, hairballs are more of an issue in our lives. They’re interfering with our play time. They’re interfering with our social life.

Yes, we do too have a social life! People come to our house. They fuss over us, they play with us, they admire us.

And then one of us hacks up and everybody backs off. Talk about bad timing. But, sheesh! You’re around cats and you don’t expect a little lump of wet, compacted hair on your carpet once in a while? It’s what we do.

Even our dearest Decca is giving us the hairy eyeball more often.

Now we’ve checked, and there’s nothing abnormal going on with us. Once a week, each, especially now that the weather’s hot and we’re eager to shed some of our gorgeous fur.

Hairballs are actually a sign we’re grown up and become better at grooming ourselves (as long as we don’t overdo it. We’ve also read that “excessive” grooming can be a sign of health problems.)

But that’s not how Decca sees it. She keeps trying to get us to eat stuff that’s supposed to “help” us with our hairballs. Just because she doesn’t like stepping on them in her bare feet… Put shoes on! Wear your glasses!

Have we mentioned that we’re picky about what we put in our mouths — when it comes to food? (We’ll give anything else a try: Bugs — dead or alive — paper, organic matter that isn’t intended to be food, like leaves or grass, a blueberry that falls on the floor; you name it, we have to taste it.)
This hairball “treatment” thing isn’t going so well, from her point of view.

The best-selling commerical products, according to Amazon? We’ve spurned them all, from the Pet Naturals Fun-Shaped Chews (fish!) to the Nutri-Vet Hairball Paw-Gel for Cats (both flavors). We liked the caped super-cat on the chews package, so we gave that one a trial.

Decca got so excited when Trouble ate two pieces — he’s the primary hairball producer of the two of us — that she couldn’t wait to grab the package the next day to give us “treats.” (Really? You think we were fooled?)

There was no repeat performance, so she snuck them into our food bowls. That worked once, too. Now, instead of white emptiness in the bottom of our bowls after we eat, these gooey, sad-looking fish-shaped bits appear. Yuck.

As to those gels and pastes in tubes, no thanks. It’s not that we’re bothered over the controversy over whether petroleum-based hairball treatments are a bad idea, we just think they’re icky. And don’t you dare smear it on our beautiful paws!

We’re been reading the Internet over Decca’s shoulder as she looks for new ideas. There are some pretty crazy home remedies out there. Mayonnaise? Crisco? Yogurt? (We know she won’t try that one – like many adult cats, we’re lactose intolerant.)

Hmmm. Canned pumpkin puree? Is that a vegetable?? You do know we’re carnivores, right?
But, hey, here’s one that sounds good — catnip!!

This one is even better, though: The experts at Cornell University say you should brush and comb your cat frequently.

Yes! We’d like that. A lot. Bring it on.

We’ll start purring now.

This is an updated version of a post that first appeared on Central Penn Parent.

A tale to make your fur stand up


It’s almost Halloween. That seems like a good time to recycle a very personal scary story we’re sure many of you can relate to. We’re calling it

No One Can Hear You Scream from the Closet

Trouble has no time for a fake jack-o-lantern.

Trouble has no time for a fake jack-o-lantern.

Mischief here. Because our Not-Very-Good Weekend ended with a Very Bad Day, and it was all Trouble’s fault, I’m taking over this blog to tell the tale. Trouble can just sit in the corner and think about what he did while I type.

It all started with the houseguests. We have a friend who comes to stay pretty often, and we like her. But every time Betty visits, there’s lots of coming and going. It throws our whole schedule off. Naps are interrupted, breakfast often is late, and dinner is just plopped in our dishes without so much as a “bon appetit.” We don’t like that.

This time, on top of all that, people came over to our house Saturday night for dinner. We tried to be good hosts, but it’s pretty hard when guests are sitting in your favorite evening nap spots.

And we needed our rest. Just before the people arrived, all of our toys got scooped up and put in a box in a corner of the living room, and our favorite pile of brown paper – we love to dive and burrow in its crinkly folds – was rolled up and hidden away.

We finally marched upstairs in a huff. If we can’t be the center of attention, there’s no point in hanging around.

That brings us to Sunday.

There’s a little room upstairs that’s filled with rows of hanging things and, on the floor, shoes and small boxes. There’s lots of fascinating stuff to explore – except we’re not allowed in there.

This Sunday morning, though, Betty and our Decca were rushing off somewhere yet again. I tried to get involved with their preparations and offer fashion advice (I am an expert on shoes and love to help select belts, scarves and shoes!) but got nowhere. So I went looking for Trouble to see if he wanted to wrestle or play Thunder Paws. That’s where we run all around the house and up and down the stairs, jumping over each other.

I couldn’t find him – and then I saw the door to the little room was open. I stuck my nose in and heard him whisper my name.

“Psst! I’m in here behind the shoe boxes!”

“Trouble,” I said, shocked. “You know you aren’t supposed to be in there! Come out right now.”

There’s tissue paper…” And he rolled around just so I could hear the rustling.

“Trouble, I’m coming in there right now to get you. We can take the tissue paper with us.”

Trouble just can't stay away.

You can’t see me here, right? But you’re not going to shut me in here again, are you??

Heart thumping, with one leap I landed in the center of the room. My second leap took me into the corner where I could hear Trouble behind the hanging things, now chewing on the delectable paper. It sounded so crisp I couldn’t think about anything else.

And then the light went out and the door slammed shut.

A few minutes later, we heard the garage door go up. And down. And the car drove away.
We were trapped!

She’ll come back,” Trouble said, trying to sound confident but failing. “She didn’t do a nose count and she’ll remember that and come back. Listen! I think I hear the car now.

“It’s your fault she didn’t do a nose count before she left!” I gave him a nip on the ear, I was so mad.

Hey! What’d I do?”

“She stopped doing the nose count because you started carrying on so much. Remember last week? She had her coat on and was ready to go and couldn’t find you. As soon as she called your name, you bolted to the top of the refrigerator and cowered. You actually cowered! And the way you mewed! It was sickening.”

I don’t want to go back to the vet. She always takes us in the morning…

“You’re pathetic,” I hissed. “Help me tip over the laundry basket. We might as well be comfortable while we wait. In the dark. Without any food or water. We could die in here – and it’ll be your fault.”

Huh. You wanted that tissue paper just as much as I did.

“Go to sleep.”

I want my litter pan.

“Go to sleep!”

We were in there all day. It was dinner time when the door opened and light hit our eyes. I’m proud to say that aside from shedding – we shed gobs when we’re upset – you’d never know we spent The Entire Day shut in that closet. We managed to hold it in and, if I dare say so myself, we looked pretty nonchalant when we sauntered out the door to freedom. A stretch and a yawn can mask a lot of emotion.

Our Decca felt really bad about our ordeal. But it was all Trouble’s fault. Worst of all, we forgot the tissue paper and don’t dare go back to get it.

This post is republished, in slightly edited form, from Central Penn Parent, where we were among a group of pets contributing to the Tail Tales blog in 2013 — until someone decided recipes were a better idea. But the recipes are pretty good, so check them out! How about Oreo Candy Corn Bark (it looks like pizza!) for Halloween?

We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, start all over again


The life of a writer is full of disappointment and self-doubt – often to the point where you can find yourself wondering if maybe you should be doing something else. We see our Decca go through cycles of passionate work followed by despondent days on the couch, but we didn’t really understand until it happened to us.

Success was within our paws! Last year, we were recruited to join a group of like-minded blogging pets to write for a parenting website.

Mischief and Trouble settle down to write.

Fish gotta swim, birds got fly, these cats gotta write!


Then, despair! After a few months, we all got bumped in favor of a recipe blog. Our precious works weren’t even archived. Something about traffic – or lack of it.

What did we want traffic for? Traffic is dangerous for small furry animals. We wanted readers! Nonetheless, recipes apparently are doing much better with the traffic thing. So we went into a funk and joined Decca on the couch. Boy, has TV gotten terrible. But there we were, licking our wounds (and each other, and her) trying to figure out our next move while our egos recovered.

Here we have to give a shoutout to some bloggers we really admire. Every single day, they produce posts that are fun to read, inspiring or thought provoking, downright educational sometimes and engaging always. So here’s to Savannah and Ingrid and Caren and Cody. We salute you for your creativity and perserverance. And we understand now how hard it is to do what you do.

You bring so much good to the world, and we wouldn’t be able to start the day without you.

We may never rise to your level, but we’re still cats in a writing household, so write we must. To get us back in the groove, we’re offering up the best of our “professional” work, starting with this, since it just happened again this morning.

We discover our inner hunter

We may not have discovered our inner Siamese yet – we still speak softly, and an adult Siamese cat in full voice can bring the cobwebs down from the rafters – but last week we unleashed our inner lions.
And we were heroes in our home! Here’s what happened.

A fly got into the house from the garage. Did we go crazy? Not at all. We got strategic. It’s hard to believe, but even though we’ll be 3 years old next week, [Boy, does time fly, he-he. We’re closer to 4 now.] we’ve never seen a fly in the house before. Stinkbugs, yes. Spiders, check. Even a small moth once, and a centipede (yuck!). So we had to analyze the situation and develop a plan.

But this fly! It was huge! We know now it was a horsefly, but we don’t get it. Why is a horsefly bigger than a housefly, when a house is humongous next to a horse??

Anyway. There it was, buzzing around the kitchen. We kept a close eye on it while we split up. From that point on, we were a team, laser-focused on that fly; if you could have drawn lines in the air, we were the three points that made a triangle, the fly pinned between us by our keen blue eyes.

And then we started walking. Every time the fly landed, it barely got time to catch its breath before we moved in from other side. It didn’t know what to do, except that it had to get up and keep flying. From the kitchen, off the living room lamp, to the stair rail, back to the kitchen, into the pantry, up the powder room wall, back into the kitchen. Repeat.

By the time the fly collapsed, panting, in an exhausted heap on the floor, we were still cool as cucumbers, ready to high-five each other and retire for a well-deserved nap, not a whisker out of place — and no damage to anything in the house.

We had done our jobs. An obliging person picked it up in a tissue and got rid of it. (What? We didn’t want to touch the disgusting thing.)

What a team we were!

You didn’t know cats could collaborate like that? A lot of people think of cats as loners, but it isn’t always the case. That’s why we say we unleashed our inner lions – lions will hunt in groups, some taking on wing roles to keep prey moving and drive it toward the lion that will deliver the coup de grace.

We did a little research about feline hunting techniques for this blog and found a few other interesting facts, too. Do you know why a stalking cat swishes its tail before it pounces? Neither did we – it just feels so good to wind up like a spring before leaping.

This post published on Central Penn Parent in 2013 has been edited for length. Stop by and check out the recipes!

Merry Christmas — at last!


Happy Christmas to all — and we hope everyone is enjoying the special joys of this special time of year. Friends, family, music, laughter, lights, fun, love, reflection, thanksgiving, gratitude (and, also for us, tuna and belly rubs and lots of dashing through crinkly tissue paper).

Santa Paws was very good to us this year, and you can see in this video that we were pretty impatient when we spied the presents waiting for us this morning. (You’ll also notice there was no tree again this year. You’d think we were a pair of ruffians, the way our Decca keeps breakable — and tumble-able and detachable — things away from us. For our own good, she says. As soon as we opened our presents this morning, she snipped off any little bells that were attached, so we wouldn’t accidentally swallow them.)

Catnip for Trouble! Feathers for Mischief! Lots of rolling and bouncing things to chase. And, in the end, tissue paper!!

Snow on the garden

While we were looking at this…

To be honest, though, we were so afraid we wouldn’t have any of that this year. Weeks and weeks ago, our Decca threw a bunch of suitcases in her car and drove away. Every day we waited to hear the garage door go up, but all we heard was the front door opening as our sitter arrived. She’s a wonderful person and spent a lot of time petting and playing with us, but it’s just not the same.

A Caribbean beach

… Decca was looking at this.

Night was the worst. It was too dark and too quiet and we didn’t have anyone to sleep with except each other. There weren’t any good smells in the kitchen, nor were there any ribbons to steal or wrapping papers to burrow under.

It hardly mattered, in the end, that we got extra play time and extra food. with our sitter We wanted Decca — and we wanted Christmas.

Well, yesterday afternoon, Christmas Eve, when we’d just about given up, we heard the garage door rumble and Decca walked in! She said she was sorry, but if that was the case, why did she go?

We don’t understand this vacation thing humans get so excited about. What about us? Those weeks and weeks — oh, OK, it was 10 days, but it seemed like forever — are time we’ll never get back. You try to make it up with combing and brushing and paw-ticures, but we’ll never forget the lonely time.

Relaxation, you say you needed? We don’t need to travel to do that. Stay with us and we’ll teach you all about how to relax.

Step 1: Start with two cats. Add a catnip mouse and a feather, although a bottle cap and a crumpled grocery list will do just as well. Play until ready to nap.
Step 2: Nap.
Step 3: Get brush and comb. Luxuriate in the soothing strokes from tip of whiskers to end of tail as you apply them to us.
Step 4: Feel the purr.
Step 5: Nap.
Step 6: Repeat as often as desired, but no less than four times a day. Each.

Vacation? Who needs it. From what we can see, her trip may have been fun, but it was exhausting. The first thing Decca did after she took off her coat was to curl up for a nap. With us.

We purred. With lots of days to make up for, we purred a lot. We’re still purring.

All’s right with the world again.

Each of us is a precious gem


Here’s something we never thought about before, not that there aren’t a number of such things. It’s what we do most of the day, when we aren’t playing, grooming, eating or writing:  We mediate on the mysteries of the universe and the puzzling things we see outside our windows.

Napping or thinking?

Trouble doing what a cat does best — meditating on the nature of the universe.

Really. It just looks like we’re napping.

But we were thinking recently about Thailand, the home of our ancestors. While browsing the Internet – we periodically google “Siamese cat news” to see what turns up — we came across a story about a new campaign to promote Thai tourism. And it features a cat that looks like us! Handsome face, lithe body, big blue eyes. It’s us!

Brilliant!

But if you clicked, you probably noticed that the writer doesn’t refer to that gorgeous feline representative of Thai culture as a Siamese cat. It’s something called a Wichian Mat. Which we found out means “moon diamond.”
 
Wow. We’re not only gorgeous, we’re poetry. Picture the warm gold and bronze of a harvest moon and the clear blue-white fire of a diamond. Then look at the subtle shades of our soft cream, mocha, tan and brown coats. Look into our sparkling opalescent blue eyes. It’s us.

Ol' Blue Eyes

Mischief shows off his gorgeous blue eyes.

So that’s when it hit us. All cats in Thailand are Thai cats, just as all cats in old Siam were Siamese cats. But not all Siamese cats were of the Wichian Mat breed. (Or, as we’ve also seen it spelled, wichien maat.)

Despite all the fuss over what constitutes a “real” Siamese cat in the rest of the world, if you go to Thailand, you still can see the real deal, the wichian mat, plus all sorts of other cats. We think that settles the argument once and for all.

It makes us wonder what else we’re making gigantic assumptions about. As we can attest just from watching our patio, the world is full of birds, for example. In our case, they’re American birds. But look closer, and you see robins, cardinals, several kinds of finches and sparrows, wrens, blue jays, doves (and we’ve heard tell of an awful, scary story about a dove and a hawk out there we won’t repeat. Thank goodness we weren’t there to see it, is all we will say.)

Some of these birds are native to North America. Some, like the sparrows and starlings, came from Europe. But each is special and distinct. If there were one less color, shape or song, our world would be poorer.

The world is full of diversity, and we miss out on its richness if we only think in broad categories and lump things together as being alike when that’s just not so. Look closer, and you’ll see each of us is a unique gem, bringing beauty to the place we grace with our presence.

Moon diamonds. Rare, exotic, mysterious, precious.

Review: Ingrid King does it again!


Ingrid King has a new book! Ingrid, of the award-winning Conscious Cats website, is also author of Purrs of Wisdom (which we reviewed here last year) and Buckley’s Story. Recently, she announced she will be the new cat expert on Answers.com.

kingvetcoverShe knows cats, and we’re sure that if we met her, we’d be purring around her ankles in no time.

But when we heard the title of this book, we flattened our ears a bit: Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself.

We like to read, but we’re not into Stephen King or anything else scary.

Never fear, though. Ingrid has done it again. In fact, we feel a lot better about the whole idea of vets because of the insights she brings from her years as a volunteer and then a manager at vet clinics. She takes us behind the scenes, into the drama of life and death, to show how loving and caring people, and pets, can be.

In this book, Ingrid tells the individual stories of memorable cats and dogs, as well as the fine veterinarians she has known. But the real story is about her journey from an unfulfilling day job to, as she puts it in the book’s introduction, bliss.

And what is bliss? Knowing that your work matters. That’s a story most everyone can relate to, since we all need to believe our lives make a difference in the world.

For Ingrid, that bliss started with animals – caring for them, earning their trust, learning about them and learning from them.

Finding her own path and then actually being able to follow it didn’t happen overnight for her, though, which is why the book is inspiring. Her journey was long and sometimes was an uphill climb, but she persisted. The result is that she can reach millions of people now who might benefit from her knowledge and compassion. Now that’s making a difference.

We have only one complaint with this book. It’s too short! But, as we suspect Ingrid would be the first to say, the biggest impact on our hearts can come from the smallest things. A cat or a dog, say. Or a gesture from a considerate person who takes an interest in our lives.

Ingrid King has a big heart. If you haven’t read her other books or visited her website, Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself is a great introduction to her. If you have, this book will bring you closer.

Four paws – 4paws – but only because we wanted more!

“Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself” is available from Amazon.

What makes birthdays special?


Tomorrow is our birthday! We were born June 11, 2010, so we’ll be 3 years old.

It seems like only yesterday that we were still living on the farm. We wrote about our Mama Sophie and our aunts and cousins a while back. We don’t think we’ll be hearing from them — we never do — but that’s OK. Our family is here now, in the forever home we came to when we were 12 weeks old.

Two Siamese kittens pose for a photo.

Mischief (left) and Trouble at five months old.

We are expecting the day to be special. We know we’re getting presents, because Decca said so — and we saw her hiding something a few weeks ago. She went away over the weekend and came back with something, too, that we’re almost certain is for us, from our friends up north.

She also promised to stay in after she gets home from work tomorrow instead of going out again, so we’ll get lots of extra play time in. And snuggling. And back-scritching. Mischief really, really likes that

Human calls that “quality time,” we’ve heard. It’s better than any presents, you know. But we’ll take the presents, too! Trouble is hoping for a new plush mouse, since he’s pretty much knocked the stuffing out of his favorite one. Mischief wants tuna. Real tuna, not cat-food tuna. Not that there’s anything wrong with cat-food tuna. Tuna is tuna!

Do you celebrate your kitty’s special days? What’s more special — birthdays or the big adoption day? We can’t decide. Life’s been good since we came to our forever home.

Two Siamese cats

Trouble and Mischief look for their hidden birthday presents.

There’s one more thing Decca has promised to do for our big day: She’s going to make a donation to our local humane society in our names.

We’re lucky cats and we know it.

And she knows she’s lucky to have us. Humans have a phrase for that, too, that we’ve heard. Win-win. By giving each other something good, we all come out ahead.

We have a better way to describe it, though: Love-love.

If we had a cake (which we could — tuna with butter cream??) and it had candles on it to blow out, that would be our wish — that everybody would find that special furry companion and live the love-love every day.

Review: ‘Furry Paw, Middle Claw’ tells serious, thoughtful story


It’s easy to tell when a book has been written from the heart — it’s got a genuine quality that shines from every page.

Barry Jackson cover art

‘Furry Paw, Middle Claw,’
Hardcover; $24.99; 217 Pages

“Furry Paw, Third Claw,” by Barry Jackson, is just such a book. Though it is a novel, it draws heavily on Jackson’s life and the many cats that, willingly or not, he came to know and share his home with.

Told from the human point of view, the cats nonetheless dominate the narrative. Like many men, when Dean Parker meets Melissa, the love of his life, his choice was to accept her, cats and all, or face life without her. He grudgingly accepts the two cats into his home, secretly hoping he can somehow get rid of them or — a hope even more vain — change Melissa.

He uses lots of humor to tell of his secret battle with the cats to be the dominate animal in his own home, but it is the humor of hindsight. This is a serious story, involving quite a bit of loss and heartache.

The novel really is about Parker’s journey out of a lonely childhood darkened by the knowledge his mother didn’t want him to an adulthood in which he learns to be a loving family man with a deeper understanding of himself and the cosmos. Along the way, nearly a dozen cats come in and out of his life — each with lessons to impart.

These lessons aren’t easy, nor are they conveyed with a sweet purr and a cuddly demeanor. We can’t imagine many men putting up with the spraying, shedding, smelly litter boxes, yowling, clawing and generally untamed behavior that Parker endures. Melissa is a rescuer, quick to adopt street cats, feral kittens and felines with serious wounds or illnesses. At one point, Parker calculates that over the course of their marriage, he and Melissa have spent $121,000 caring for their cats. (And there would be still more to come!)

And it’s not long before four cats at a time becomes the norm in their household. Parker eventually begins to appreciate their better qualities — and love Melissa all the more for her generous heart. The real turning point for him comes, though, when their son Craig is diagnosed with autism and one cat in particular, Dash, becomes the boy’s friend, companion and pathway into the wider world.

Looking back on his life toward the end of the novel, Parker comments,

“I believe it was my destiny to live my adult life with Melissa, Craig, and the cats. Cats came into my life in the same way I found Melissa and Theo [a friend], by chance or by fate. They recognized my moods and helped me just by being there with their love that knew no limits. However, life with the kitties was not always roses: hairballs in shoes, sinks used as litter pans, a dead vole brought to my pillow, birds carted into the house to be shredded beyond recognition, and tens of thousands of dollars of vet bills. It was always easy to forgive the cats for their transgressions because they were innocent. Forgiving people was not as easy.”

The title of the novel, “Furry Paw, Middle Claw” means just what you think it might. This is a realistic book; Jackson doesn’t make any attempt in the novel to get inside his cats’ heads or sentimentalize them. He describes their behaviors, good and bad, and their effects on Dean Parker and his family. Parker’s transformation into cat lover is gradual, therefore believable, and never quite total — just like Parker’s coming to terms with his emotionally abusive childhood and the place he makes for himself in the world.

Jackson, a CPA who has served a chief operating officer of several New York City law firms (according to his officials biography), live in New Jersey with his wife and four cats. This is his first novel. While his writing in spots shows the greenness of a new author, the novel is very readable and rewarding.

“Furry Paw, Middle Claw,” published June 1, is available for Kindle and in hardback from Amazon or the publisher at www.turnthepagepublishing.com (ISBN: 978-1-938501-10-4).

We give this book four paws!
4paws