Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just call me Ragamuffin dahling

CJ has given me this tough cat persona and now she’s decided I am possibly a valuable breed called Ragamuffins. She said it makes sense because people sometimes abandon animals out here in the backcountry without regard for their breeding, which she said could be how my mom ended up living under a café where I was born.

I looked it up and Wikipedia says the Ragamuffin is an offshoot of a breed introduced in California in the 1960s by Mrs. Ann Baker. She trademarked the name ‘Ragdoll,’ and set up her own registry—International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA). In 1994, a second group decided to leave the IRCA and form its own group because of increasingly strict breeding restrictions. Since the name ‘Ragdoll’ was trademarked, the group renamed its stock of Ragdoll cats Ragamuffins.

It says Ragamuffins are a muscular, heavy breed of cat not reaching full maturity until approximately four years of age. I am still kittenish in many ways. But I meet the physical traits with my rectangular, broad-chested body with shoulders supporting my short neck. My head is a broad, modified wedge with a rounded forehead and a dip on the bridge of my nose. Our fur can be any color. Mine is smoke-colored, slightly longer around the neck and outer edges of my face, so it looks like a ruff. As you can see, my coat is thick and plush, but it does not readily mat or clump and is easy to care for.

Here’s the best part. Ragamuffins are bred to be sociable, intelligent, affectionate, cuddly companions that are playful throughout their lives.
So yes, I’m feral so I appear tough but I’m really just shy—although I’m still a great hunter. And if I had papers proving my breeding, I would be worth a thousand dollars dahling.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Not Playing Possum

Being as it's just us girls, we keep whatever hours we choose. Sometimes I like to wake CJ up early cause I'm hungry. So I jump on her bed and kind of stomp around. It may take a couple of trips up onto the bed but I generally wake her, sort of. She automatically feeds me first thing when she gets up, whether I wake her at 3:30 or 4:30 a.m. or she wakes on her own at 5:30 or 6:30. She also opens the backdoor to let me out. Then she'll put on a pot of coffee and go back to bed if I woke her.

The other morning I decided to wake her up and then she let me out and was making the coffee when I came running and hissing back in with a possum after me, not playing at all. Possums have no sense of humor. What they have are very sharp teeth, like spikes. It was as big as me and hissing just like I was. The possum runs after me through the kitchen and almost goes into the living before CJ finds her voice and starts screaming like she just woke out of a bad dream.

"Get out! Get out of here!" she shouts and the possum does a quick u-turn and runs back through the kitchen and down the back steps. CJ locks the door behind it. Whew!

I have not woken CJ up since then although this morning I did get up on the bed and lay their quietly, or so I thought until she got up and gave me some fresh chicken livers. She hasn't figured out not to reward me when I wake her up. What would you do?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cat and Dolphins playing together

Bear! Would you look at this. This is a really brave cat! Who knew fish got so big? What's the biggest fish you've ever seen Bear? Do you play with dolphins?

Any other cats out there with fish stories?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cat got your tongue?

Ahoy, are you there Bear?

Cat got your tongue? (A little feline humor.) But seriously, Tele says you are trying to find your voice.

I’ll tell you a story. I have a friend, Isabelle, a very pretty and clever actress who lives in London. She said she imagined I sound like Kathleen Turner, another actress who is the female lead in a movie called “Romancing the Stone” where she fights alligators (sort of). At first that sounded like a really good idea but after I played with it for a while, I knew I was just a country cat, wild, yes, but still homespun folksy—nothing like a sexy whiskey voice which is how you would describe Turner’s voice.

So, what do you think about a nautical voice. Following are some phrases I found at which has a big ole list of “nautical origins of some common expressions.”

Let the Cat Out of the Bag -
In the Royal Navy the punishment prescribed for most serious crimes was flogging. This was administered by the Bosun's Mate using a whip called a cat o' nine tails. The "cat" was kept in a leather or baize bag. It was considered bad news indeed when the cat was let out of the bag. Other sources attribute the expression to the old English market scam of selling someone a pig in a poke(bag) when the pig turned out to be a cat instead. (By the way, Isabelle things she wants a pot-bellied pig.)

Bear Down -
To sail downwind rapidly towards another ship or landmark.

You could talk pirate and say things like “Avast ye matey” which just means “hold up there pal,” or “Wait a minute friend.”

How about Poop Deck—not what you think it is—it’s the highest deck at the stern of a large ship, usually above the captain’s quarters.

Your voice should be you, your very realest you. I know you’ll find it.

Smooth sailing…

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bear is Beautiful

I've got a new paw pal, Bear the Boat Cat. She lives on a fishing boat in Alaska. Her human writes a blog called Hooked where you can see her picture and a happy photo of her humans holding huge wild king salmon. Now I need to talk to Bear.

Bear, I love your name. Bears were so popular here in California that there is a picture of one on the State flag. So popular that hunters about decimated all the grizzlies, killed em dead. Fortunately you've still got a bunch in your neighborhood. But I don't think I'd like to run into a grizz.

I know I wrote that I hate cats on my profile, but just the ones that come into my house and steal my food. There are a couple of feral cats around, mean suckers, so mean they have made me bleed, so yeah--don't mess with my food. My human, CJ, leaves the back door open a lot and in they come. One even came in the windown once. It's not that I can't catch my own food, it's just the principle, you know. Probably not, since you don't have to put up with other cats.

A cage at the pound? I can't even imagine! OMG, with DOGS! I did spend one weekend at a kennel when CJ was getting the house fumigated. I was howlin' when she left and still howlin' when she came to fetch me. (You know she's alergic and I set off so much dander in my fury that she had an asthma attack.) Don't think I'll have to go back though--not that they would have me.

I've only ever had canned fish, the catfood variety, but fresh fish hearts sound tasty. I had fresh gecko for breakfast (caught it myself) plus canned salmon catfood.

What's it like living on a boat? Does it make your motor run?

Meow back atcha...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Purring for Smokey

My friend Isabelle has goldfish swimming on her site, although they aren’t all gold. There’s a yellow one and a black one, and a couple of other colors, five fish total, and if I put my paw on the screen where they are swimming and move it around, they will follow my paw. It is mesmerizing. I can do it for hours and apparently I have been, since this post is kind of late. Isabelle is my one follower so you can check her site if you just click on her picture.

Isabelle lives in the UK where another cat called Smokey is featured in a story in the Daily Mail. Smokey can purr really loud, 92 decibels, as loud as a Boeing 737 coming in for a landing. He’s awful cute too. He’s going out for the Guinness Book of Records for the loudest purr—a real champion—which turns my motor on.
You can hear Smokey purring louder than a lawn mower on YouTube:,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWH6elrIuLojlkMF3t-h_6Ra&bclid=0&bctid=798256085001.

I think my accent is kind of hillbilly country, but Isabelle says she sees me more as a cat with a “lovely drawl and a deep husky voice like Kathleen Turner.” I can do that. I bet Smokey, the world purring champion, would like that too. Romancing the Stone is one of my all time favorite movies. I identify with her independent, adventurous character, a wild cat in the jungle. Plus she plays an author and I like to think of myself as something of a writer—hence this blog.

Isabelle is an actress, French, who spoke (San Fernando) Valley girl when she lived in California and now says that in London, she speaks with a neutral English accent. Actors can do that, they have such a good ear that it’s common for them to fall into the local speech pattern.

I have a good ear too. I can hear sounds too faint for human ears, and sounds higher in frequency than humans can perceive. This is because I’m a born mouser (tasty prey) and have evolved to be able to pinpoint their faint high pitched sounds, or so says Wikipedia. But I don’t speak mouse. Around the house I speak cat, sort of a growling mumble which my human understands pretty good.

What makes you purrr?

P.S. for Isabelle—Can you get me purring Smokey’s email address?

Monday, March 14, 2011

For the Birds, Tasty Tidbits

Hi Isabelle,

So you like my birds? They make me kinda hungry. You should hear it here. We’ve got so many songbirds it’s like a predawn symphony, with an ol’ hooty owl keeping tempo in the background.

I heard the birds are all gone in London, so said a British girl who moved to Los Angeles and carried on about how wonderful it was to hear birdsong again. CJ was in London Town a long time ago, like nine lives, and said mostly there were pigeons. I’ve never seen a pigeon. CJ says they look a bit like quail but not as pretty. We’ve got more quail around here than you could shoot a gun at, but I’ve never caught one, too skitterish.

I did catch a bunny rabbit the other day. Brought it into CJ’s room to show her and I think she palmed it. I put it down and it scooted under a chair and just lay there panting. CJ takes a peek and next thing I know, it’s gone. I looked and sniffed around for quite a while, but couldn’t find it.

I don’t get it. Rabbits are vermin too. Somethin’ needs to prey on them or they would take over the world. Just like mice or rats. So how come I can’t eat “cute and fuzzy” bunnies? (Think I just answered my own question.)

Speaking of owls, CJ read Wesley the Owl, even met his wife, this writer Stacey O’Brien from Southern California. The thing I was wondering—is that kosher? I heard a guy named Edward Lear from your neck of the woods, wrote a poem about The Owl and the Pussycat getting married. Any truth to that?  Hey, I’m a cat. I’m curious.


P.S. What’s a bong-tree? Also, CJ was wonderin' if they still call girls "birds" in London?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

As the Actress said to the Bishop...: Of pussycats, parrots and counting beans

As the Actress said to the Bishop...: Of pussycats, parrots and counting beans

A Taste of Blue

Hey Smokey – may I call you that? Thanks for being in touch. I think you’re name is real cool. A name can tell you a lot about someone. I knew a cat once called Mouse and she was one messed up pussycat as you can imagine. I think starting your own blog is a fantastic idea. You’ll need to come up with a really catchy title but I’m sure that’ll be no problem for a clever feline like you.
Hasta pronto.
x Isabelle
PS Do bluebirds taste of the colour blue?

Isabelle Gregson, an actress living in the U.K., sent me my very first fan mail via She Writes, bless her heart.

Re: taste of blue
Actually, Isabelle, CJ says they’re blue jays and I ain’t never caught one. You should have heard ‘em yesterday, squawkin’ all over the yard, up in the pine, zipping this way and that, in some kind of noisy mating dance, so loud I couldn’t hardly nap. (Caught my share of sparrows though.) I think ice cream tastes blue, even when it’s white—but I don’t often get ice cream to eat.

CJ said she called her very first cat Kitty Blue. CJ was only five years old and she didn’t name the cat, a farm cat with blue-gray tiger stripes. CJ and her sister dressed Kitty Blue in doll clothes and put her in an old dresser drawer for a bed, then ran off to dinner and forgot her until the following day. Kitty Blue wasn’t blue, she was red-hot steamin’ mad. CJ said they never dressed up Kitty Blue again. Only thing CJ ever puts on me is flea collars and I fight her about that, but then they do work.

Names: Kitty Blue is a cool name, unlike Mouse. (Isabelle is a pretty name.) Calling a cat “Mouse” is like calling a human “Cow.” Cats eat mice, vermin that need to be kept in check. People eat cows, placid bovines raised for beef and milk. Don’t nobody want to be called a Cow (nice as cows are), certainly no female person.

Think on this Mouse: “Thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the Gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; thou art indeed…the Great Cat.” – Inscription on the Royal Tombs at Thebes

Catchy blog titles: Help! I thought “Smoke the Cat” was a catchy title, but it turns out it’s slang for smoking weeds? Why would anyone want to smoke weeds? Why would anyone want to smoke anything? Phew! Got any suggestions for what to call my blog?

Smoke, the Feral Cat

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who's the Rat what Stole the Cheese?

I was born under a café, what they call a greasy spoon, where CJ worked part-time as a cook. I knew her voice and sometimes I saw her take out the grease bucket and dump it in the recycling barrel. But I didn’t have nuthin’ to do with her, not even when she brought me here to her house. She said she was allergic to cats but said I could live in the little house and catch gophers that were digging holes all over her yard.

Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’m a born hunter. Must be, because I was just weaned when I came here, although my momma used to catch mice, not difficult living under an old restaurant. They had a cheese rat once. Some guy broke in and stole a whole 10-pound brick of Swiss cheese and the cash register. He couldn’t get the register open and started throwing it on the ground, making enough racket to alert the police if we’d had any.

CJ wanted to write a story about it for the local paper, but the editor said no. The editor said they did not print any bad stories about this little town. Can you imagine? What kind of “news” paper is that I ask you. CJ worked there part-time, too. Like, ‘Who’s the Rat what Stole the Cheese?’ (The kitties know but they ain’t talkin’.) People would love to read that. That’s what sells papers for goodness sakes. CJ said the last owners got run out of town for writin’ something bad about the lumber industry and this editor was scared that could happen to her. Scaredy-cat, sheesh!

Livin’ in that broken down in-law apartment was fine with me. I didn’t want to live with no human anyway. But I was gonna miss my littermates, or so I thought. CJ put down this warm pad covered in flannel, an electric heat pad she said it was. It was awful nice for sleeping on. She left me a bowl of water and dry food and brought wet food every evening. When I heard her coming I would scoot through a space in the wall and hide under the house. But sometimes I wasn’t so fast and she saw me, or I would peek out and see her.

You know what? Curiosity got the better of me and one day I just had to take a look in the kitchen. I could always hear her moving around in there and hear water running and stuff. So I peeked in and what do you think? CJ puts down some fresh chicken livers for me. I ain’t never sayin’ NO to fresh chicken livers. That was kind of it. I moved into the house and I’ve been here ever since.

Did you know that feral cats are willing to adopt a human if you get them young enough and treat them nice? It’s a fact. I got me a pretty good human.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Let me say I think this is a bad idea. It’s not mine. Blame it on CJ or Carolyn Barbre or Backcountry Writer, whatever she is calling herself. She’s the one who named me Smoke, not terribly original but then we don’t get to choose our own names, do we?

She say’s it’s because of my long gray fur and she sometimes calls me Smokey. But don’t you even think about it. I hate cute. Cats are not cute. We are regal.

CJ listened to an audio book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, narrated by a dog named Enzo. I hate dogs. She couldn’t stop talking about the wonderful dog story, yuck. CJ is busy writing her memoir. She suggested I tell my story. I’m sure I can do at least as well as some slobbering dog.

I’m thirteen, pretty old in cat years and something of an antiquity for feral cats, which is what I am and will always be. Leopards don’t change their spots and feral cats don’t go all mushy for humans. I won’t have no truck with nobody but CJ. When she has guests, I’m gone, outta there, whosh! I have a secret way to get under the house and I won’t come out until the coast is clear.

But sleeping about twenty hours a day is not good for this ol’ girl’s figure. The truth is, I’ve had some interesting things happen in my life too. So as long as nobody comes knocking, I don’t mind sharing.