Peace on earth, goodwill toward all


We’re cats, not poets, but at this most holy season, we wish you blessings:

Amid pain, may you experience healing.
Amid suffering, may you help and be helped.
In times of despair, may you find hope.

DeccaCats Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas from Trouble and Mischief! (See our tree? That’s all we’re allowed to have.)

If you fall into doubt, may you discover faith.
If you find yourself in conflict, may you know peace.
In the midst of clamor, may you hear that still, small voice within that calms and says all will be well.

As winter begins, remember the longest night is already behind us. Each dawn brings us closer to a new spring.

As the old year dies away, a new year begins. May it bring you wisdom, joy and love.

In an imperfect world, may you see the promise of tomorrow.

Review: ‘Purrs of Wisdom’ aptly named


Ingrid King’s cat Ruby graces the cover of her new book.

We know that living with cats can make people happier and less stressed. But can cats also help humans be healthier, more organized and smarter?

We think so, but don’t take our word for it — read “Purrs of Wisdom,” the new book by Ingrid King, who writes the award-winning blog, “The Conscious Cat,” and produces a wonderful website that she accurately describes as “a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health, and happiness for cats and their humans.”

Much of “Purrs of Wisdom” is drawn from Ms. King’s interesting, helpful — and, yes, wise — blog. Her regular readers should be very happy to find all that good advice drawn together in one volume. New readers will discover many pearls — urr, purrs — to enrich their lives and increase their appreciation of the cats they know.

We read the book straight through, but we admit that’s not the best way to approach it. Just as you might be tempted to wolf down a whole bag of treats if you get the chance, it’s better to enjoy the chapters one or two at a time and really savor their goodness. Otherwise you might be tempted to skim over some important lessons thinking they are repetitious when Ms. King really is providing constructive emphasis and subtle new angles on key points.

King bases “Purrs of Wisdom” — and “The Conscious Cat” — on her own daily observations and interactions with the cats who share her life. This results in a practical simplicity that we find is the book’s chief appeal. You can read any chapter and act on it immediately.

There are chapters on healthy eating, the importance of sleep, learning from nature, eliminating negativity from your life, techniques to find your dreams, aging gracefully and much more. Unfortunately for humans, they can’t purr, she notes. But just learning to breathe correctly, for example, can have a similar healing effect on the human body and mind.

All this she tells with heartfelt love for her feline mentors.

The golden thread running throughout the book is essential catness: Live in the moment and discover the importance of contemplation and gratitude. Observe the cats you know, then emulate them.

Cats are centered beings, and you can be, too. From that inner calm flows all the good in life.

It’s easy to see that Ms. King is a true cat person — her cats are not mere “pets” but genuine companions and guides. Cats changed her life and helped her reach her dreams. That can happen for you, too, if you are willing to watch and learn.

The book is available on Kindle at the moment but is expected to be in print soon.

We give this book four paws!

An award? For us?? Why, thank you!


cupcakesAs we wrote last week, the Internet is an awesome place — we make new friends every day, learn about new places without leaving our cosy home and — hard as it is to believe (we’re meezers, after all) — discover an inner humility we never suspected we had, because our online friends are so kind and giving.

Mischief is bedazzled

Mischief is awestruck by Nerissa’s nomination — are those stars in those baby-blue eyes?

One of them is Nerissa, a really sweet cat who blogs about life here. We linked to his blog a while back, under “Websites We Recommend” in the column to the right, but imagine our surprise when we got our paws on Decca’s computer today (finally!) and found out he had nominated us for the One Sweet Blog Award!

Thank you, Nerissa — you should see us blushing!

This is a perfect example of what we were trying to say. Do nice things and nice things come back to you. Last month, we learned a word for that from the Dalai Lama’s Cat: karma.

We happily accept your nomination, Nerissa, along with what you call “the strings” that are attached. Our Decca, though, says we should consider those not strings but an opportunity to “pay it forward.”

All we have to do is say “thank you, Nerissa,” (done!), link to your blog (done!) and nominate five other blogs for the award.

And here they are. We hope that, like Nerissa and us, our nominees will consider this a happy occasion and a chance to call attention to some deserving “sweet” bloggers they may enjoy as well. Share the love and pass it along to others!

  • Cory Cat
  • Savannah’s Paw Tracks
  • Moses the Cat
  • Housecat Confidential
  • Jacqueline’s Cat House
  • Five questions: An interview with The Dalai Lama’s Cat


    We are most honored to bring you an exclusive interview with HHC (“His Holiness’s Cat”), whose fascinating and insightful memoir, The Dalai Lama’s Cat (reviewed below), was published earlier this month. Thank you, HHC, for taking the time to answer our questions!

    portrait view of HHC

    HHC (Used by permission)


    1. Why did you decide to write the book?

     
    The book was inspired by a very famous actress who I am far too discrete to name.  She’s blonde, legally blonde, and when she came to visit His Holiness she made a remark about ‘What stories this cat could tell.’  That was really how the whole thing started. 
     
    2. If there is one thought or idea you hope readers take away, what would that be?
     
    The importance of loving kindness.  This isn’t just fluffy kitten stuff.  It’s perfectly true and you can test it against your own experience.  When you think of the times in your life when you’ve been most content, you invariably find that other beings have been your focus.  When were you grumpiest?  Who were you thinking about then?  The Dalai Lama calls this paradox ‘being wisely selfish.’  The more we think of others’ happiness, the happier we become ourselves.
     
    3. What was the most difficult part to write?

    Revealing details of my romantic entanglement with a street cat.  Dear reader, it was my hormones speaking.  What can I say?
     
    4. How has publishing the book changed your life?

    I’ve suddenly discovered all these Facebook cat lovers I never dreamed humans would be so interested!
     
    5. What’s next for you?

    A long sleep.
     
    Bonus question!  What was it like to work with a human?

    Like most humans my Transcriber doesn’t speak Cat very well.  What part of “I’m bored now, show me the tuna” does he not get?

    But in fairness, his heart is in the right place, and it’s nice to have this opportunity to share some of the great insights I’ve learned sitting on the lap of The Dalai Lama.

    (You can order the book in print or digital form HERE).

    Worth reading: ‘The Dalai Lama’s Cat’


    ‘The Dalai Lama’s Cat,’ by David Michie (Hay House, 2012), is available in print or in digital format.

    Many readers will no doubt call The Dalai Lama’s Cat charming, delightful or even touching. Author David Michie’s new book is all those things, but we like it best for its gentle power.

    As he tells the story of a stolen kitten rescued from certain death to become a most admired companion of the revered teacher, Michie interweaves the wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, but he never preaches. The journey of HHC (His Holiness’s Cat) – aka the Snow Lion of Jokhang, aka Mousie-Tung, aka Rinpoche – from self-centeredness to self-awareness is natural, not forced.

    We could see a lot of our baby selves in the frightened little Himalayan in her early days, though we’ve led much more privileged lives ourselves. Torn abruptly from her mother, her need for reassurance, physical security and food – lots of food – is understandable. And like all young ones, her perceptions of reality become her reality, with herself as the only reference point that matters. And from there stems much misunderstanding and needless suffering.

    But because HHC, like all cats, is a keen observer, she quickly learns by example that her way is rarely the best way. Her baby steps on the road to enlightenment are frequently amusing, but in the end, they are instructive. We wish we were more like her!

    Her horror when instinct overwhelms her and she attacks a mouse; her embarrassment when she must acknowledge the results of her gluttony; her chagrin when she begins to see that no one should be judged by appearance; her growing pleasure when she realizes that true happiness comes from serving others – these are all moments any reader can relate to.

    (Thanks to the incident with the mouse, we are looking at our toy mice differently.  Is this kind of play helping us to develop compassion for all creatures? That chipmunk that taunts us from the patio – how does he feel, seeing our narrowed eyes and lashing tails? As HH would say, we all have choices.)

    Chief among HHC’s teachers-by-example, apart from His Holiness himself, of course, are his assistants, Chogyal and Tenzin, the voluble Mrs. Trinci and local restaurateur Franc – who, for too long, sadly, confuses the outward trappings of practice with the inward peace that comes mindfulness and genuine humility. Michie deftly sketches these key figures in HHC’s life; each, often unwittingly, leads HHC to insight.

    We especially liked the chapter in which both HHC and two young monks discover that all can redirect their steps onto a better path, no matter how unpromising their beginnings. Truly, we cannot know how our actions today will ultimately affect others.

    We also catch through HHC’s eyes glimpses of His Holiness’s busy life, including a parade of celebrities and state leaders from around the world (and HHC is discreet about these encounters), as well as intimate moments shared between HH and HHC (but, again, our feline narrator is discreet).

    Nearly every page features the best kind of humor – warm, inclusive and never mocking. As HHC discovers, the proper object of humor is ourselves. From there, compassion grows most surely.

    We recommend this book highly. Suitable for older children through adults, it can be read as an entertaining story, but we predict you will find yourself going back from time to time just to reread favorite parts or to remind yourself of a particular instructive moment. Through HHC’s personal journey, we found much encouragement toward right living (we certainly could be more mindful about our Fancy Feast).  

    Finally: Is this story “true,” as in factual? That’s beside the point. The Dalai Lama’s Cat is what every tale should be – true to universal principles and true to the desire within every living creature to be loved.

    Michie is the author of the non-fiction best-sellers Buddhism for Busy People and Hurry Up and Meditate and a number of novels.

    We appreciate that Michie this time chose to look through the eyes of cat. Too many people stereotype us as selfish and aloof, instead of taking time to understand us for who we are. By telling the tale from HHC’s perspective, Michie reminds readers that, as His Holiness teaches, every individual – cat or human — seeks to enjoy happiness and avoid suffering.

    For those unfamiliar with the Dalai Lama, Buddhism or cats, this book is a splendid introduction. For those already acquainted with these topics, The Dalai Lama’s Cat belongs on your bookshelf with the no-doubt weightier tomes you possess. It is beautiful in its directness and simplicity.

    Follow HHC at @DalaiLamasCat or on Facebook, where you can also read more and see photos of other cats (and people, too).

    We give this book our highest rating: 5 Paws!
     

    Making work look like play


    People like to think cats lead lives of total luxury, but that’s not strictly true. We spend a lot of time protecting our homes from strangers — we’re the first to sound the alarm, whether it’s that pesky chipmunk taking all the birdseed from the feeder again or a neighbor kid at the door wanting to sell popcorn.

    And do we have to get into the need for vigilance when it comes to bugs? We can see things people can’t see, as evidenced by the number of times we’ll both be staring up at the wall, only to have some person keep asking, “What do they see? I don’t see anything!”

    It’s maddening. It is right there — why don’t you come do something about it?

    But these are noble pursuits, bred in the bone. All cats are hunters and warriors, whether their domain is the vast savannah or a cosy condo.

    Mischief flattens a cardboard box so it will fit in the recycling bin.

    Because we like our person, Decca, so much, we also try to help her around the house whenever we can. We realize that may shock some of our readers. Cats were worshipped in the ancient world, after all, and as Siamese, we mustn’t forget we’re descended from royalty. With royal privilege comes royal obligation, though, and it wouldn’t do to lose touch with the common world. We know our history. Look what happened to the Bourbons and the Romanovs.

    Trouble cleans the bathtub.

    To accomplish both goals, we’ve discovered a nifty trick that you, dear feline reader, could try at home. You get a good workout — and sometimes even treats — while preserving your dignity as well. Make the work look like play!

    Trouble arranges flowers for the dinner table.

    For example, when Decca gets that big, noisy vacuum cleaner out (which is far too seldom, we have to say), our job is to protect her from that snake-like cord. It’s apt to catch on chairs and wind itself around her ankles like an anaconda. So, by pretending we are chasing it, we keep the cord as much out of her way as we can. We also point out areas on the carpet needing extra attention by running in front of the machine.

    As you can see from the accompanying photos, we’ve found many other ways to help with the housework. This past week was particularly busy, since we had house guests. That involves so much preparation — from hunting down and capturing fluffy clumps of hair under the furniture (Trouble says he’s a shorthair, but he’s suspiciously fluffy) to making the rooms attractive and planning menus (Mischief takes keen interest in the culinary arts).

    Mischief consults on the dinner menu.

    So what about you, dear readers? Are there aspects of domestic science that you especially enjoy? Tell us about it, and if you send our Decca a photo (at deccaprice@gmail.com), we’ll post it next week and give you a shoutout on Twitter.

    (If you’d have a website and would like to be considered for a link here at DeccaCats, email her about that, too.)

    Housework can be exhausting.

    We love this book!


    Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Hudson Talbott knows his audience. He knows cats.

    “It’s All About Me-Ow – A Young Cat’s Guide to the Good Life” ” by Hudson Talbott (Nancy Paulsen Books 2012; ISBN 978-0-399-25403-1; $16.99 USA/$18.00 Canada. Hardcover)

    With a title like “It’s All About Me-Ow,” how could we resist his new book? Clearly, this book is a serious scholarly tome aimed at bridging the feline-human communications divide. With lots of fun pictures! All are very colorful and full of detail.

    We think he must have been a cat in another life. His narrator, Buddy, welcomes three kittens into his home and teaches them how to wrap their new human family around their little paws. They learn about why cats are superior to people, the value of “purr therapy” to a busy family, how to get the most fun out of the furniture, how to train a human and lots more.

    Our favorite parts, though, were the history of the cat and the cat family tree (and not just because he put a Siamese cat in that picture!) We could spend hours looking at those pages.

    Mischief has a question about cats in ancient Egypt.

    The best thing about this book, though, is that it gave us lots to talk about. Where did the kittens come from? What are their names? Is this their forever home or are these really, really nice people who foster homeless kitties? What is Buddy’s story and why is he so welcoming to these adorable competitors for food and laps? What happens next??

    Trouble wants to know more.

    We will be waiting eagerly for Mr. Talbott to write a sequel that answers these questions. If Hollywood calls, there’s opportunity for a prequel as well.

    In the meantime, though, it’s fun to let our imaginations run wild! That’s the best kind of book.

    The only thing we don’t like about this book? It gives away too many feline secrets. Cats, we need to keep our people guessing! We’ll be keeping an eye out for you, Hudson Talbott.

    We give this book our highest rating: 5 Paws!

    Writing is hard work


    Mischief offers suggestions while Trouble develops his keyboard skills.

    Well, here we are. This writing business is harder than it looks, especially when you’ve got a partner. One of us wants to write about what goes on outside (Mischief, the dark handsome sealpoint) and one of us wants to write about goes on inside (Trouble, the chocolate point, aka the mocha marvel) and we both want to write about Life and stuff.

    Our person, Decca, says we can write about anything we want as long as we use good grammar and spelling and don’t use baby talk. Decca is a writer and she cares about things like that.

    Decca makes writing look like fun, the way her fingers make the keys clack. We like that sound. It’s almost as good as tissue paper rustling! That’s why we try to help her whenever we can.

    We call Decca our person because that’s what she is. She not our mom. That would be Sophie. She is a sealpoint like Mischief, only smaller. She was a good mom and we miss her, but she taught us a lot of good things before we came to live with Decca when we were 12 weeks old. We’re 2 now. We tweet “Things our mother taught us” every Friday @DeccaCats.

    Last week it was “Poke your nose into everything.” We work hard at that. Decca wasn’t half upset when she saw we could open the sideboard cabinet in the dining room. It just has old dishes in it, but you never know when something more interesting could be in there, right? So we check periodically when she’s busy in another room. The clinking usually gives us away, but that’s OK, too.

    Decca doesn’t yell at us, she does what she calls “distracting” when she wants us to stop doing what we’re doing. We call that getting her to play with us! So we try to do “distracting” things a lot so she’ll leave the keyboard and play.

    Except now we want our turn to write, too!

    Bye now and thanks for reading. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll tell you when Decca lets us write again.