Monday, 25 July 2011

That Weird Lady at the End of the Road with All the Cats

Grab a cup of coffee and visit with today's humorous guest author Ruth J. Hartman.

My husband, Garry, is afraid people will call me ‘that weird lady at the end of the road with all the cats.’ And I tell him. Too late. They already do. It’s a label I’m proud of. Why not? Everyone has to be good at something, right?

I have two spoiled cats who live in the house. And several wild ones I feed outside in the shed. Although, I’m aware I’m feeding other furry mammals, too. Can’t be helped. Just yesterday, we caught an embarrassed raccoon in our live-trap. It was fat. And its fur looked so soft and fluffy. My husband said it’s from the vitamins and minerals in all the cat food it had been guzzling.

Since I have no children, my cats are my kids. Always have been. I’ve loved cats since I was in the womb. No, really! Every picture of me of a little kid has me holding at least one cat. When I look at those old photos, I feel sorry for them, though. As a toddler, I carried them around with both hands. Around their necks. Eyes bulging. Bodies squirming. Those cats must have been made of tough stuff. None of them died from asphyxiation.

Lucky for me, Garry has morphed into a cat person, too. It was bound to happen. I had cats long before I had him.
And we’ve been married nearly 29 years. He could see the writing on the wall. Love me. Love my cats. I mean who doesn’t like being awakened at 4:00 a.m. by a cold, wet nose on their eyelid?

I ambled downstairs yesterday morning, looking for a Diet Mountain Dew. My caffeine drink of choice. I wandered into our living room where my husband sat reading the paper. Nothing new there.

Before I could mumble “Mornin’” he was pointing.

Why was he pointing? I knew I didn’t look my best, obviously just having gotten out of bed, but come on. My hair wasn’t sticking up anymore than usual that time of the day.

And his wasn’t any better. He had no right to ridicule me. We both looked like frightened peacocks.

He kept pointing.


More pointing. I finally looked down. Well that’s just great. A pile of kitty upchuck congealed on the floor. Who knows what time it got there. My bare feet had narrowly missed being slimed. Having that stuff ooze between your toes is disgusting. And yes, I know that from experience. Chunks of
partially digested Iams lay in a puddle of I-don’t-want-to-know.

My husband, a wonderful man who I adore, will not clean up a discretion of that kind. Ever. I sighed. Just what I wanted to do before I had breakfast, took a shower, and got ready to drive 30 minutes to my dental hygiene job in another county. Where I got to scrape goo off of people’s teeth.

Of course, the cats were fascinated, watching me wipe up the goo. They both stared at me, swishing their tales. Neither one would admit, though, who’d done the deed. I knew whoever it was would still be hungry, obviously, since his or her tummy was once again empty. But they were both now whining, asking to be fed. Again. I gave in, just like I always do, and fed them. One would once again be satisfied. The other would now be pushed further toward his or her coveted goal of fat cat.

What’s equally disconcerting, though, is getting out of the shower to an audience. The male, Maxwell, stares at my drippy nakedness. He doesn’t even blink. The female, Roxy, simply yawns and turns away. Not sure which is worse. I’m either a naked freak or I’m boring. Hmmm. I’ve always wondered if the cats whisper about me later on. Comparing notes about my ghastly appearance. And I know I’ve heard them giggling before. Don’t they realize that hurts my feelings? I mean, I try not to laugh at them if they’re having a bad hair day, o
r writhing on the floor in the throes of catnip drunkenness. Seems they could return the favor.

But, they are my muses. They’re always around when I write. Giving me ideas. Purring encouragement. Looking for a lap, or just wanting to sit and unnerve me by staring at me. Right now, Maxwell is sitting on one of our closed laptops. Roxy is lounging in my inbox. Purring. Ready to be processed.

Where would I be without them? Unpublished? Childless? Let’s not find out. Okay?




Kitty Carter is used to getting into strange situations when she chases her cat, Arthur. But this latest escapade is just too much! When Arthur chases a mouse at the marina while she's doing researc

h for her book, she follows him down the dock and onto a yacht. Not entirely her plan, since she falls down some stairs and hits her head, and wakes to find herself out to sea. And she and Arthur aren’t the only ones on board!

Oh no. Not again. “Come back here you little rascal!”

Kitty Carter trotted down the warped wooden dock of the marina chasing Arthur. She was always chasing Arthur. And Arthur was always running.

Away. From her.

“Slow down, will ya? I’ve only got two legs.”

Why does he always do this to me?

Arthur, her black cat, scurried on, stalking a minuscule brown mouse.

Her cat’s claws dug into the pine boards of the dock, leaving gouges the size of three-penny nails. As Kitty looked up in time to see the tip of Arthur’s tail disappear over the shiny metal railing of the small yacht, her foot slipped in a spare tire-sized puddle.


While her feet flew over her head, her left shoe flew off her foot and splashed into the water. Perfect. The back of her head smacked the dock. Hard. After a moment of staring into the blue Alaska sky, she smiled as hippos in yellow mini-skirts pranced among the clouds.

Wait, that couldn’t be right, could it?

She sat up and shook her head. The dancing hippos vanished. Kitty sighed. It wasn’t the first time she’d witnessed cavorting animals in the sky after hitting her head.

Graceful, she was not. At the rate she was going, next time she’d see an entire kick-line of bowtie-wearing giraffes.

Taking inventory of her person, she surmised most everything was still intact. Still had feeling in her arms and legs? Check. Too much blood loss from the scrape on her forehead? She could probably live with what she had left. And drat! One of her shoes was missing. Now she had a naked foot to deal with. She’d loved those sandals, too.

Kitty let out a heavy sigh and pushed up to her feet. Wind-milling her arms while hopping on one foot wasn’t highly effective. Better to have one dingy, bare foot than to lose her balance off the dock and end up with a bath she hadn’t counted on. Especially since she couldn’t swim.
She ran the rest of the way toward the yacht where her wayward cat had last been spotted. Gripping the rail so she wouldn’t follow her left shoe into the water, she climbed over the rail onto the deck. The shiny white deck and teak wooden cabin sparkled in the mid-morning sunshine. The yacht’s name, “MT Pockets” was painted on the side.

“Anyone here?”

No response.

“I’m just here to rescue my cat.”


“Or, I guess I should say, to rescue a mouse from my cat…my cat from a mouse?”

Still nothing.

She shrugged and looked around the small, tidy deck. Not finding Arthur there, she headed for a set of stairs descending below deck. Kitty peered into the darkness.

“Arthur, are you down there?”

Her cat didn’t answer. Neither did the mouse. She wondered if that meant the mouse was already in Arthur’s tummy.

Okay, here goes. Taking it slow, Kitty inched her way down the stairs. She tried a switch, but nothing happened. Deciding the small lever must have been for a purpose other than turning on a light, she continued on in the semi-darkness. Third step from the bottom, her naked foot hit the edge of the slick metal step. Her feet flew up, her head swan-dived down. Pain lanced across the back of her head as she thwacked it on the last step. Kitty groaned and rolled into a cat-like ball. As her world faded to black, she whispered, “Arthur, are you even down here?”


Art Katz carried two large cardboard boxes and a red duffel bag slung over his shoulder on board the yacht. Two weeks sailing and fishing. Unbelievable. He’d waited all year. Hoped to have formed gills by the time he reached his destination. He chuckled, remembering his dream from the previous night. He, of course, had been a fish. Salmon or halibut? He couldn’t remember. Not that it mattered. But no doubt about it; he’d been a fish.

Deciding to unpack later, he set to prepare the yacht, checking gauges and levels. After a short time, he headed out to sea. He’d spent enough time on this particular yacht to know its quirks. No doubt he could make the journey safely. But not everything in his life was so predictable. Like his business. He worked like a dog. Every weekend. Most evenings. But he still wasn’t making the money he wanted. His employees often called him a slave driver. But hey, you didn’t make money just sitting around.

He flipped open his cell phone.

“Hey, it’s me.”

“Hi,” said his friend, John. “Thanks again for delivering my yacht. I still can’t believe your vacation coincided with my move. I owe ya, man.”

“You’d do the same for me. If I had a yacht. Or a place to put a yacht. Or money to buy a yacht.”

“Yeah, yeah. I hear ya.”

“I expect to be treated like a rock star when I get there.”

“You got it. See you when you get here, then.”

“Later.” Art closed his phone and put it in his jeans pocket.

John seemed to have it all. The lucrative medical practice. The beautiful wife and kids. Not that Art had time for the family part. He wasn’t like John. He didn’t have money stashed everywhere. He had to work. All the time. That’s why this trip was so special. He hardly ever left the office.

For the next several hours he sailed, admiring the whipping green waves and diving birds. Eagles and puffins splashed about, more often than not emerging with fishy treasures in their beaks. He envied them. He couldn’t wait to start fishing himself. Although, he’d be using a pole. He wasn’t crazy about biting into raw fish.

A soft sound floated up from below deck. He turned his head.


A meow?

Perfect. All he needed was a stowaway cat for the next two weeks. He’d never been a fan of felines. Far from it. With their tiny, impaling claws and creepy purring sound, he’d been able to avoid most of them.

So far.

Ever since the incident. Putting the yacht on autopilot, he walked to the stairs. His hand reached to the light switch. Nothing. And of course, the light bulbs were in a cabinet downstairs. He sighed and made his way back to his duffel bag. Flashlight in hand, he cautiously made his way down the dimly lit stairway.



Faith said...

I've been a cat lover since I was li'l. My mother had always had cats when she grew up, so as I grew up, there was always a house cat or two and some outside with a litter of kittens.

I have two outside right now and one house cat. Radar is my buddy, my constant companion, who believes he's a dog, I think, lol.

That cold pile of cat puke in the middle of the night as you stumble to the bathroom is the WORST feeling!

Willa Edwards said...

My cats are my muses as well. Though their just as often my distraction. I rescued them a year ago and they have become very spoiled kitties. However, they are my first cats, so the whole cat throw up thing is new to me and very unwanted. However I do like not being woken up at 5am because the dog needs a walk.

I too am trying to keep a way from the monicure of cat lady. But if it comes it comes. Outside the house its not as obvious but inside my home there are cat toys, bowls, trees and definitely cat hair everywhere. But what can I say I love the little crazys.

Ruth J. Hartman said...


Your cat Radar sounds like my Roxy. She acts like a dog, too, sometimes. She loves to play fetch with the little rings from underneath the milk cap. We play for a while, and when I'm done, she sits and pouts!

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

What wonderful and funny post. I am not a cat person but I am the weird lady down the block if that counts.

Ruth J. Hartman said...


I have all those cat reminders inside, too. I'm sure some people think I'm nuts about how much I love cats, but I don't care! :)

Ruth J. Hartman said...


That's perfectly all right! In my book, anything weird is good. It's more interesting and definitely more fun!!

Taryn Raye said...

Oh, Ruth! I am a cat person, too, from a very tender age. My grandpa owned a junk yard and there were always stray momma cats(usually dropped since they lived way out in the country) having kittens in the backseats of old junk cars in the lot. My aunt and I were always on a mission to seek out the new babies.

And I was always toting some tiny mewing furball around, feeding them from eyedroppers if they were orphans. I feel a kinship with cats. Not sure why, but it just feels like my nature.

I have only one nearly 9 year old indoor female cat named Miscellaneous but we call her Mizzy or The Miz for short. I'm definitely not a fan of the cat puke, but I do get a kick out of her quirky ways- pulling her water bowl out into the path through the kitchen to let me know she needs more, scooping her cat food out of the bowl and eating it from her paw as if she has hands.

She's definitely my writing buddy, usually nearby when I'm at the computer.

Ruth J. Hartman said...


I love that about the cats having kittens in old cars! My grandparents lived way out in the country, and there were cats everywhere. You wouldn't see them, then Grandma would yell, "Kitty, kitty!" and about fifty would dart out from the cornfield to eat her leftover chicken gravy.

DARRELX said...

I am definitely a dog person and will never understand the affinity that some women have with cats. Its just one thing about some women that I do not want to understand. One cat lady told me that her cat could channel Elvis through its ovaries. I was like, what makes cat ovaries more magical or special then any other ones in nature. So this affinity with felines tens to get weirder and weirder. Its just a freaking cat! At least my dog can fetch the morning paper, can you cat. Sheesh!

Faith said...

Actually, I've had two cats that would fetch things for me. I've owned many dogs throughout the years too. I've had some stupid dogs as well as a few cats who seemed brainless. And, I also know many men who are cat lovers, so it's not just a woman "thing."

One of the truckers who drives a big coal semi up and down SR 148 has a cat that rides with him. It always puts a smile on people's faces to see that big tabby cat riding up on the dash in the little seat the trucker has made for him. That way the cat can watch everything through the windshield.

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Haha, Darrelx,

Not sure how to answwer that post :). I've never had a dog. I don't have anything against them at all. Just never had one. But I'm glad you enjoy their company. Thanks for your comment. :)

Ruth J. Hartman said...


What a great story about the trucker-cat! I can just picture that :)

trinity said...

I have two cats and I know what you mean about them getting sick. The other night we were watching TV and my cat Missy (the queen in our home) pukes all down the TV screen. My son is sitting getting ready to heave and my husband lays on his butt yelling at me telling me how to clean it up. I finally look at both of them while hand wrapped around a paper towel full of her stuff and say enough. Tell son to go upstairs till I get it cleaned up and told husband if he can't clean it up to shut up. He never said a word.
But love my cats!

Ruth J. Hartman said...


Down your TV! Yuck! Thankfully my cats usually do that on the vinyl flooring. I hate it when they get sick. They can't help it, and I'm sure they don't feel very good afterwards.

Anthology Authors said...

I am a cat lover, too, Ruth. Like you, I grew up with them. We had dogs, and I enjoy dogs, but the cats were my favorite. We currently have two indoor cats and an outdoor one. One of our indoor cats, Blackie, does act like a dog. He will follow us round the house. He's not much on sitting on laps, but he will snuggle if you're lying in bed. :)

As for cat throw up, ours will usually do it on the hardwood or tile floor, but there are times when I chase them down to keep them from doing on the carpet. LOL The poor kitties are traumatized, but I'm not letting them throw up on the carpet if I can help it. LOL and, yes, stepping on it is disgusting!



Ruth J. Hartman said...


I know what you mean. I've been known to pick up the cats by their armpits when they start the hurl-shuffle, just so they stay off the little bit of carpet with have :)

Janice said...

We have two cats. Ninja who's a little over two years and a three month kitty named Freya.

The worst thing is hearing that gagging noise at night. You just know your going to find something ugly on the carpet in the morning.

Good luck with your release. It sounds like a fun read.


Ruth J. Hartman said...

Thanks for your comment, Janice.

At one time, we had one older cat, who had been with us for years. Then we ended up with two unexpected strays practically at the same time. It was hard on the older one at first, but he got used to them. They knew who was king! :)

Paul McDermott said...

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Cat - so it isn't surprising that every Cub Scout Unit I've been associated with [in 40 years and 4 different countries!] has given me the title of Bagheera (2nd i/c after Akela if you aren't familiar with the Scout 'ranks'!) Reason? Well, I don't do it deliberately, but it seems nobody ever hears me coming ... I must walk a lot quieter than most people!! LOL

Like any respectable feline I'm cursed/blessed with Wanderlust and spent over half my teaching career wandering through Europe, the original "peripatetic" as in Days of Yore. I'm happy to say that I've always found a cat willing to agree to share its lodgings with me for as long as I've been in town.
And yes, cats DO feature as 'players' in some of my creative efforts ... LOL

Ruth J. Hartman said...

Hi Paul,

I think it's true that some of us just have a natural draw to and for cats. I've always been that way. I can't imagine not having a cat around.

Thanks for your comment!

Kathryn Scannell said...

We currently have four, down from a high of ten about 5 years ago. I can't imagine being married to someone who didn't share the way I feel about them.

Some days I feel like I'm half way to being a vet tech from taking care of them as they develop health issues later in life. Our friends no longer even blink at walking into the bathroom and finding an IV drip set hanging off the shower rod (for giving cats with failing kidneys subcutaneous fluid therapy).

Ruth J. Hartman said...


Awww. One of our cats had kidney trouble too. They get illnesses just like people do. It's hard to watch them go through it. But they get a whole lot of love along the way.

DARRELX said...

I am not against cats or women owning them or liking them. Its just the ones who try and make out that they have special magical or mystical powers. I do not hate cats either. I just like dogs way better. And they are much easier to train to fetch something. Its instinct with them, not with a cat.

Christina Wolfer said...

Very funny post, Ruth. I'm an animal lover in general, but cats have never been my first choice. However, my two dogs and three horses are my kids. That I understand. Gotta love the joy and inspiration they bring to our lives.

Ruth J. Hartman said...


You're right about not being able to train cats. They pretty much do as they like, when they like!

Ruth J. Hartman said...


I love all animals, too. They are inspiring. If there's a cute animal commercial on TV, my husband might as well wait until it's over before trying to talk to me. Once I see animals, I'm a goner!

Jaime Samms said...

We have three cats. My husband picked the one that pees on the bed. Need I say more?

Ruth J. Hartman said...


Whenever one of our cats does something weird or annoying, they suddenly become "my" cats :)

Jaime Samms said...

Ruth, he would never in a million years admit he picked her out of the litter. But now that she's nearing the end of her lifespan, he won't take her to the vet, either. He's not real good at hiding how he's soft and squishy on the inside.

Ruth J. Hartman said...

My husband is the same way, Jaime. He says he's not a cat person, but he'll hold them like babies and say he can't get out of his chair because he might wake them from their nap! :)