***The The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner is judged by many to be a masterpiece. I don’t intend any reference to that book other than the play on the title. Was it his masterpiece? You be the judge. Check out his book here.
Carl Sandburg said that fog comes on little cat feet…on silent haunches and then moves on.
It’s quite clear that Carl never kept a cat as there’s no such thing as silent haunches on a cat. In fact, silent is not a word to describe any area of a cat’s anatomy, especially when the cats in question are two rambunctious kitties who are also sisters.
I adopted my cats when they were wee kittens. They were actually sleeping in a little purring puddle of kitten fluff in a cage at Petco. They looked so cute like that and in between their kitten snores, a leg or a paw would twitch and they’d flex and change positions. I stood there and watched them, smiling the entire time. I could’ve stared at them for hours. Now, I do.
I came into Petco that day to adopt one kitten. I left with two.
It’s been one noisy condo almost ever since.
That cage at Petco was more of a sales pitch than a nap as that was the quietest they’ve ever been. When I first adopted them, they were confined to my office and spent the balance of their time climbing on the couch and looking out the window. They’d sometimes engage in a wrestling match or two. A few times, I had to retrieve one of them as they scaled my bookcase. I usually managed to grab them before too many books tumbled in their wake. But as they became more comfortable with their surroundings, they became more rambunctious.
They staged a jailbreak and there was no going back
One morning when I opened the door to feed them, they took off. The jailbreak was real. There was no way to corral them in that one room after that. The first games of tag commenced.
As a careful spectator of these games, I’ve noticed several things. The games start soon after breakfast in the morning when both of them are fortified and hydrated and then pick up again late at night. The games are loud and raucous. I have to admit, fun to watch. I never know who will be the chaser and who will be the chased. It changes almost every day.
They’re both guilty
I’m not sure which one instigates the games — Harper or Hermione. My guess is that it varies depending on who feels particularly feisty that morning. Once one of them starts it — the game lasts for about a half-hour and usually begins in my bedroom. One cat chases the other down the hall and back again. Somewhere in there, they change positions and the chaser becomes the chased.
Sometimes, if Harper is the one being chased, she’ll make a sharp left turn and scamper in the space between the couch and the wall — her way of taking a little breather. Hermione is bigger than Harper, and Harper knows her sister won’t fit back there. But, Hermione is onto this little trick of hers and usually waits for Harper at the other end of the couch. And the game continues.
It’s not just the games of tag. My little blind cat has figured out that if she scrapes her claws across the mirror on the back of my bedroom door, the sound is loud enough and annoying enough to wake me up. She knows that if she continues to do it until I get out of bed, I will feed her and her sisters. I’m still not totally convinced her sisters didn’t teach her this little trick. She’s blind so how’d she find the mirror?
The other two marauders share the blame
Anyway, Scout’s tactics have worked out in her favor. She’s now included in the games of tag. She sometimes even starts them, which is huge. When she was a kitten, the two cats did everything to avoid her. They hissed at her when she wanted to play with them and they’d run away if she tried to engage them in any way. I think she got her feelings hurt more than once. Now they’re becoming friends. That’s good but the noise volume has definitely gone up.
So, Carl Sandberg if you’re out there somewhere, the fog never rolls in like little cat feet. That is unless it stomps, scampers, or shuffles in.
That sounds more like a good thunderstorm and when one of those rolls in, it’s enough for those little cat feet to swiftly retreat.
It’s true. More than one game of tag has been called on account of rain. And it always starts with a loud thunderclap. My cats run for cover.
I have three cats. They like to hang out on the couch with me or by the windows to watch birds in the trees nearby. That may seem calm and serene, but trust me, they are crazy active at night. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Cats, as a species, tend to hunt in the evenings. It’s in their DNA to be active at night. After all, kittens learn to hunt by playing with each other. For these characters, it seems that instinct never diminished.
Most afternoons, my cats tend to nap like college students at the end of finals week. They don’t fool me though. I know they are resting up for the games that will follow once the sun goes down and I’m ready for bed.
As I drift off to sleep around midnight, I hear the not-so-gentle scraping of paws on the mirror attached to my bedroom door. It’s my blind kitten, Scout. She’s recently picked up this habit. I have no idea why. “It’s okay, Scout,” I call to her. After a few minutes, She stops scraping her paws. I watch her silhouette as she scampers off in the darkness.
It’s quiet again. I roll over on my side and close my eyes. This time, as I’m about to drift off, I hear tiny bells clang against the linoleum in the hall. It’s Scout again. She’s at the other end of the condo playing with a little ball that has bells inside it. Since she’s blind, I thought it would be a good idea to find toys that make noise so she can find them when she’s playing. I never considered what that would mean to my sleep routine. The clanging becomes louder and more frequent. Two are better than one, right? I bought a two-pack of those balls. She’s found the second one and is playing with both of them. Sleep is not going to happen, not yet anyway.
Soon the clanging of little bells is replaced with the sounds of paws stomping across the living room floor. A rather raucous game of tag has broken out. Hermione and Harper, two littermates and best friends, are engaged in a late-night game of tag. They chase each other down the hall and back. And over every chair and table in the condo. They pause only to change direction — the chaser becoming the chased. There are several rounds of this game.
I guess I’ve gotten used to the constant galloping of little paws, as I can feel myself about to fall asleep. Suddenly, I hear a loud banging sound. It’s consistent with the sound of a cat or two running full speed into the vertical blinds. That sound is followed by a series of hissing sounds. Only one of my three cats hisses like that. It’s got to be Harper. She hisses whenever Scout’s within swiping distance. That means one thing. Scout is attempting to join the game of tag in a way only she knows how — by pouncing at Harper while she’s hiding from Hermione. I’ve witnessed it before. Harper and Scout probably crashed into the vertical blinds in the living room as Harper was trying to escape.
I’m now wide awake and contemplating if my downstairs neighbors are as well.
Time will tell… After a few minutes, it’s quiet again.
But only for a moment.
I hear the sounds of paws scampering across the floor. This time, there’s a THUMP, followed by a low growl. I recognize the sound. It’s Hermione. She growls at Scout when they are play-fighting. I’m still trying to figure out if she’s mad or if she’s playing. I sometimes wonder if she’s figured out that Scout can’t see, and is doing her best to include her. That growl could be Hermione’s way of telling Scout where she is. I like to think my cats only have good intentions.
This latest play-fight now includes all three cats. Soon, Harper bows out before Scout gets too aggressive. But there are more growls and I hear a hissing sound. That means one of them is playing too rough. I suspect little kitty feelings are getting bruised. I was so close to getting to sleep too.
I get out of bed and attempt to soothe the kitty psyches. Hermione is sitting in a chair with Scout below her ready to pounce.
Harper is running away from both of them. I catch Scout in mid-pounce and hold her baby style. She lets out a few purrs, but her calm demeanor is short-lived. She squirms and I place her back on the floor. I go over and pet Harper, who weaves her body between my legs a few times. I can tell the hissing came from her. I pick her up and attempt to soothe her. Harper starts squirming so I place her on the couch. Hermione and Scout are now in the middle of a stare-down.
At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get any sleep tonight. I put some food in their bowls as a last-ditch effort to calm them down. I’m hoping the midnight snack will lead to a midnight food coma. They scamper over to the food and quiet overtakes the condo. I make tracks for my bed and slowly drift off to sleep.
The next morning, I wake up — bleary-eyed. Hermione, Harper, and Scout stare at me from the foot of the bed, ready for another day.
A few years ago, I adopted two kittens. That was not what I intended. They were littermates. I had planned to adopt one kitten I’d seen on a rescue site. But when I arrived at Petco to meet her, she was asleep in the same cage with her sister. They were entwined as they slept. It was difficult to see where one kitten started and the other one ended. When I saw them asleep like that, there was no way I could break them up. I adopted both of them. That was brilliant marketing on their part. And they haven’t slept together like that since.
I Hear it Before I See it
In fact, they spend a lot of their time in an endless game of tag. I’m not quite sure which one initially started this epic game, but it’s been going on for five years and there’s no sign of it stopping. I usually hear the stomping, stamping sounds of their little paws on the linoleum. One cat chases the other down the hallway. I can only guess what happens at the other end as the original chaser becomes the chased on the way back down. This goes on and on. At some point, Harper will take a sharp left turn and head down the small space between the wall and the couch. She knows her sister Hermione’s fluff is too big to allow her to follow her. But Hermione’s on to this little trick, she’s usually waiting for Harper at the other end of the couch. And the game continues.
The game doesn’t usually stop until one of them gets tired or it’s meal time.
The games don’t end there. One time, as Harper walked past Hermione, Hermione stuck out her paw and goosed her. Harper turned around and tackled her sister to the floor. Hermione maneuvered herself away from her sister’s grasp. They circled each other, darting, weaving and ready to pounce at the right moment. The result was a wrestling match that lasted about fifteen minutes before one of them retreated. I’m sure the initial attack was payback for another offense, but that wrestling match sure was fun to watch.
When they were wee kittens, they would play with the same catnip toys. Sometimes, that playtime would lead into more wrestling matches. But as they’ve gotten older, they’ve mellowed some and the wrestling matches haven’t been quite as often.
Sometimes, their younger sister Scout will initiate a wrestling match and the other girls will occasionally indulge her. Scout’s level of enthusiasm for these games is high, and her sisters will occasionally include her in the games of tag. Since Scout is blind, they’ve even learned to modify the game some and slow down a little so she can catch up.
That seems to be a trend with the cats as they’ve grown up. I’ve noticed lately that the girls watch out for each other. Hermione always meows when her sister Harper gets stuck behind the dryer. I’m sure Hermione was chasing Harper when she jumped up on the dryer and overshot her landing on the other side. At least, Hermione helped her out, right?
They even look out for little Scout. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. Harper and Hermione didn’t accept Scout in the beginning. I don’t think they understood that because she’s blind, she has special needs. They’ve grown to understand her better over the last year. Sometimes, Scout gets confused by her surroundings–like she’s not quite sure where she is. The other cats have started to rush to help her.
You don’t need to keep a cat to be a successful writer, but it wouldn’t hurt.
Writing is a solitary endeavor. It’s no accident that many writers are introverts. We’re comfortable living inside our heads, mining content for stories. We are observers of the universe — silently watching and analyzing those around us. We spend hours alone with our thoughts. In coffee shops, we spend time alone around other people spending time alone.
So when it comes to companionship, some writers turn to animals — especially cats.
That’s no surprise. Cats don’t ask if you’re still working on your book or when you’re going to get published. They just sit nearby offering their quiet counsel as needed.
An overwhelming number of famous writers kept company with cats. Maybe because cats don’t expect or demand the attention dogs do. Cats generally hang out in front of a window, watch birds for hours, and are mostly content. If you’re lucky, they’ll curl up next to you on the couch, occasionally stretch their paws and sit on top of papers.
Charles Dickens’ cat kept him company as he wrote. When the cat wanted attention, she’d snuff out the candle Dickens was writing by to let him know. Dickens didn’t mind. he wrote, “What greater gift than the love of a cat.”
Raymond Chandler preferred to share his time with his black Persian named Taki. He called Taki, his secretary, and even read his manuscripts to her. Sometimes, she napped on his typed pages. Chandler wrote a letter to another cat as Taki, where he lamented the frequency of his meals.
Mark Twain famously noted,
If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
Few have disputed the claim. It’s been said that Mr. Twainliked cats more than some people. He even rented kittens when he traveled if he was unable to bring his feline friends with him. When he left wherever he was staying, he gave money for the continued care of his rental kitties. When his beloved black cat, Bambino, went missing, he offered a sizable reward for its safe return. No one came forward and Bambino made it home on his own.
Hemingway referred to cats as purr factories.
Hemingway was known to have up to 23 cats at any one time. He even gave them the run of his home. His beloved cat, Snowball was a 6-toed polydactyl Main Coon. Some of Snowball’s descendants still reside in Key West. He even designated a guest room for his cats in his house in Cuba.
T.S. Eliot adored cats. He kept several as pets in his London flat. At one time, he’d been corresponding with Groucho Marx and they’d scheduled a meeting. Nervous, Marx studied quite extensively for the meeting. He needn’t had worried, the men spent most of their time talking about Marx Brothers’ movies, cigars and of course, cats, which they both adored.
Love or hate the musical CATS, you can thank or blame T.S. Eliot. Eliot wrote the whimsical book of poems entitled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a book of poetry about the personalities of different cats, that Andrew Lloyd Webber used as inspiration.
It’s said that Winston Churchill loved cats. He called his beloved cat, Jock his special assistant. Jock was next to Churchill on his bed the day Churchill died.