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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Meet the Cats of Katzenhaus Books

It recently came to the attention of the feline gang here that other cats have their own blogs. They caught me looking at picures of Sockington, and reading a blog written by Mija, Jean McBride's cat. So in fairness, here's an introduction to the team that keeps me entertained when the words stop flowing.

Panda is the undisputed patriarch of the clan.  He's over 16 years old and has seen his share of troubles. Before he was a year old, he developed a herpes infection of the eye that threatened the eye itself.  Did you know there is such a thing as a cat ophthamologist? Memphis is lucky to have one who visits one day a week.  He operated on the eye, covered the open lesion with a flap of skin from the white of the eyeball, and within a month, the danger was over.  Panda still has a film over that eye, which  you can probably see in the photo, but his vision is great.  He can still spot a bug at fifty paces.

Panda came from a feed store, where the owner had a reputation for taking in whatever strays happened to be dumped on her doorstep.  She called me one day to tell me that someone had just dropped off a lovely tuxedo kitten.  Did I want him? Of course I did.  I dashed over, picked him up, and had him fully ensconced in the family before my husband got home from work.  He's been a delight, if just a bit stand-offish about being held. He's done a great job of helping to raise everyone else.  He still acts like "Dad Cat" now and then, boxing an ear or vigorously washing someone's forehead. His greatest quirk? He has always believed that cat toys need to be fed and watered, just like kittens. We fish balls and catnip mice out of the food bowls frequently.

Miz-Miz is the next oldest. She's solid black and difficult to photograph. She is officially named Miss Mestophales because we adopted her on a Friday the Thirteenth, and the Humane Society questioned us closely to be sure we didn't want to use her in some devil-worship ritual. No cat was ever more unfairly named. She is, without question, the sweetest cat we've ever owned. Her mother was brought in with a litter of seven black kittens, and a wonderful woman named Julie hand-raised all seven of them. The affection she received at the shelter still shows. She loves everyone, craves attention, and grabs our hands if we forget to pet her. She is so good, in fact, that I find I have very few stories to tell about her. As you can see, however, she is the inspiration for the black cats on my logos.

Next in line is Nutmeg. She is another rescued kitten from the feed store.  This time there were twins, it was late November, and a blizzard was on the way. Some idiot just dropped them off outside the store and left them to freeze.  Naturally I took them home. Despite our best efforts, however, we were only able to save this one. Nutmeg's official description is a dilute torbie.  That means, first, that her colors are a light tortoiseshell, almost as if someone diluted the blacks and browns and oranges to turn them into grays, tans, and yellows.  Then she displays an overlaid pattern of tabby stripes, which take on the darker shades of whatever color is underneath.  You can see, for example, an orange stripe above her right eye, right below a black one.  What can I say about Nutmeg?  She is a tough little survivor.  She is sweet and grateful, but if another cat messes with her, her feral background can turn her into a snarling threat without warning.

And finally, there is Dundee, the "Cat From Hell". Looks innocent, you say? Don't believe it! When we decided it was time for another kitten five years ago, I had very specific requirements.  Although I'd been lusting after a Main Coon Cat, I finally had to admit that they grew too large.  I needed a small cat, one that would be easy to handle. So, I said, I wanted a very tiny kitten I could raise to my own standards.

We visited shelter after shelter with my description of the perfect kitten in hand -- no older than 7 weeks, male, and orange striped, so I could name him after my favorite brand of Scottish marmalade -- "Dundee." No luck ( or, in hind-sight, better luck than I knew.)  Finally, at Mewtopia, a private rescue shelter, the woman looked at me in surprise, excused herself for a moment, and returned with a seven-week-old male marmalade tabby.  "Is this him?" she asked. Of course it was!

Since that moment, life has been rough.  That tiny kitten now weighs 18 pounds and is sheer muscle.  He dominates any room he enters, destroying anything breakable in his path. Not even the vet and an experienced assistant can hold him long enough to take his temperature or clip his claws. He cuddles  only until we let down our guard, and then he bites -- and laughs, I swear! Our vet, a man whose experience and knowledge I trust implicitly, said on a recent visit, "That cat owns this room.  Look at him taking possession of it. And he sees us all as other cats.  He's an alpha male, and he will tolerate us only so long as we remain subservient to him."

We have now reached a state of armed truce.  I let him groom me when he wants, even though the hairdo's he bestows are pretty weird.  My husband and I try not to ignore him by talking only to each other.  He expects to be in on every conversation and every activity.  I lock drawers and doors to keep him out of my things. Panda helps out now and then with a fatherly cuff to remind the youngster to mind his manners. I seldom turn my back on him these days, but I love him to distraction!

So there they are, the four characters with whom I share my days.  Let there be no more questions about the origin of "Katzenhaus Books" as my publishing imprint.