Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Death from the sky!

Seems like a cat story day, doesn't it?

Meet Stupid.

As cats go, he's right down there on the bottom rung of the ole' feline scratchin' post. You wouldn't want to know him. He is dumb as a catnip mouse. He has a rotten disposition, it would be a charity to say his personality is a lot like a bent shitcan. He is seriously unaffectionate, yet he is pathetically needy - a living contradiction in fur. He is pointy on five ends. He smells funny, like dead fish and old gym shoes. He sheds like you would not believe. And he is patently psychotic, of the twitchy voices-in-my-head-are-telling-me-to-kill-you variety.

This is he. And yes, his eyes really are lit from within by a hellish yellow light.

Technically his name is Sitka. But since he doesn't answer to anything except that one voice in his head that sounds like Lambchop quoting Mein Kampf, we call him whatever we feel like, which is usually The White One or as I may have mentioned - Stupid.

But for quite a while we called him Pegleg, and that brings me to an amusing Alaskan story.

See, Stupid and his brother, Tubby (AKA Kenai, The Grey One, or more often The Fat One) are house cats. They've still got their claws, because we felt funny about cutting off their toes, but let's just say that when I use the pronouns 'he' or 'his' - well, it's just a courtesy. They really have no reason therefore to go out prowling the neighborhood, if you get my drift. And there's another reason we don't let them out - Alaska is a dangerous place for small silly creatures, especially small silly stupid creatures.

Unfortunately, keeping a pair of cats contained is a lot like herding, um, well cats.

So, about two years ago, Stupid and Tubby decided to go for a walk. A door got left open and having no damn sense whatsoever, they slipped out. It took a while to realize that they were missing, we figure that they'd been outside for about an hour or so when I suddenly detected a marked decrease in the levels of free floating cat hair, found the open door, and started looking for them.

Imagine it: two medium sized cats, one grey, one white, lost somewhere in Alaska - Yeah, a mountainous, heavily forested and glaciated region fully as large as the rest of the United States west of the Mississippi (Well, OK, I reasoned that I could safely rule out Kodiak, The Komandorski and Aleutian Islands because cats don't like water and therefore were unlikely to swim for Russia. Still, the reminding search area was pretty good sized, just saying).

OK, not a problem. I knew just what to do.

I went back inside and shut the door, got a beer and went back to surfing the internet. Hell, maybe they would swim for Asia. Screw it, says I to myself (gleefully), let the Rooskies deal with the little bastards, cats are basically communists anyway.

Alas, it was not to be - the kid noticed them missing. The wailing and gnashing of teeth started to get on my nerves. Sigh.

Back outside. Around the house and around the shop I searched. Through the woods (and over the bridge to Grandma's house, ho, aren't you clever). Calling. Their. Names. Yep, perhaps we're calling the wrong creature stupid here. Eventually I found them, filthy and hissing under the back porch. I opened the side door, the one that leads into the attached garage, got a broom, and attempted to (wait for it) herd the cats into the garage. Tubby went, no problem, but Stupid here refused to do anything other than hunker down in the furthest dark reaches under the porch and spit at me.

Nothing for it then. I got down on hands and knees and slowly reached under the porch with my bad arm (because I needed the good one to hold me up, do I have to explain everything?), attempting to get a hold of him. About then, there came a loud sobbing noise from behind me - my son, who had crept up behind me and was attempting to help by suddenly yelling 'What are we gonna do!" over and over and then bursting into hysterical tears. The noise startled both the cat and I. I reacted by falling forward and banging my head on the porch. The cat reacted by attempting to bite my fucking thumb off. Between hitting my head on the porch and the searing pain in my hand, I thought for a moment that I'd been bit by a wolverine. Not one of my finer moments, and I'm afraid the resulting swearing killed all of the grass in the back yard and caused a large gray squirrel to fall stunned from it's perch in a Sikta spruce tree 30 yards away.

Then, and only then, did Stupid dash out from under the porch and into the garage.

Where I left him for a good while. It was either that or put a bullet into his fuzzy ass. And if I wasn't bleeding so much I would have. Instead I spent the next half hour with the medicine chest, pouring betadine into the wounds (yeah, cat slobbler in deep puncture wounds, shudder).

Eventually I let him into the house and he went off to compare tales of exploration with his retarded sibbling.

Think the story ends there? Guess again.

My wife came home. I told her the story. She took one look at my mangled hand, sniffed - and went to check if the cat was OK. It wasn't, something was wrong with a front leg. I was all for letting Stupid suffer for a day or so (you know, as a lesson, not to be cruel [OK, maybe just a little cruel]). Don't worry, Stonekettle Station is not a democracy and I wouldn't get a vote even if it was. Off to the vet. Guess what? Broken leg, oh and not just broken, shattered. Along with various cuts, scraps, and missing claws.

Hot damn, says I to myself, I'll get my pistol.

Did you know that they can fix a shattered cat leg? Apparently all you have to do is wrap it in a dozen hundred dollar bills for about six months (just as a point of reference, a .22cal long rifle cartridge costs about 9 cents). So, the cat ended up sedated, X-rayed, pinned, casted, and collared with a huge floppy blue apron-like thing to keep it from eating the cast. White cat, huge white stiff cast, giant blue floppy collar - glue a red rubber nose on him and he would have been the spitting and hissing image of Bozo the Clown.

So what happened? Bald Eagles, that's what. Unfortunately for me, clumsy and incompetent bald eagles. Damn birds.

Small, fuzzy, stupid, and outside - in Alaska, that means you're food.

We have hardwood floors. For the next six months, Stupid would stump around the house, banging his cast on the floor, like Ahab pacing the quarterdeck of the doomed whaler Pequod - hence the appellation Pegleg.

He would often sit in the windows of the sunroom and glare at the eagles circling outside.

Eventually he got the cast off and is just fine as only a crazy, psychotic cat who cost us $1200 can be. And he has never attempted to go outside again.

But, Jim, I hear you say, you said this was an amusing Alaskan story. We're not amused (OK, we were a little amused at that part where you got mauled by a wolverine, but we were expecting more).

Well, yeah. I left something out. See, we have this friend, an old and dear friend, and he often sends us something cool and different for Christmas. This year it was a plaster Bald Eagle, nearly full sized, designed to hang on the wall.

The cat took one look as it came out of the box on Christmas morning, hissed and ran away. I manfully resisted the urge to chase him around the house, holding the eagle like a kid playing 'airplane' and making screaming raptor noises. I expect serious positive karma credits for this, because at that moment my hand began to hurt in remembered pain.

I hung it in the sunroom, it looks like this (sort of a cat's eye view, so to speak):

Our friend was not aware of the cat's history with death falling from the sky. The irony is sweet sweet justice (about $1200 worth by my estimate). Now, we're even.

See, I said it was an amusing story. Notice I didn't say who it would amuse. The cat is not pleased - and this amuses me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go make sure we have enough betadine and bandaids.

Additional Cat Stories:

Death From the Sky, Part II
The Further Adventures of Stupid
Manly Blogging Thursday with ShopKat


  1. I will resist the urge to start a "Not Chang" style "Stupid Fan Club". That would annoy you even more than my incessant pleadings for video of the "Oh Yeah" Dance. (And I still want that BTW.) And I was amused all the way through the story.

    Also glad you backed me up on animal medical costs. Curing the curable for thousands, but if you want to treat a futile, fatal disease, that'll be more...lots more.

    Lastly, 'cause I can resist, do I detect, Steve out there, starting to respond? Has he typed half a comment four times already and deleted it? Is he tying one hand to the armrest, chanting? Must. Not. Respond...Must. Only. Lurk.

  2. Yeah, I stopped posting to my blog, because I was afraid if the numbers grew too large, Steve would delete it from his RSS reader. ;o)

    Seriously though, Jim, I laughed my arse off with your story. Well told, hilarious, cat degrading -- perfect.

    Unfortunately, the kids out in the high school library are looking at me like I've finally snapped, because I'm laughing so hard so early in the morning. I think flapping my arms and making eagle noises at them might help. Then they'll know for sure.

  3. Wow. That's a heck of a story. Luckily for us, the stupid cat is small and has a pleasant and affectionate disposition. The large cat, who wants attention only when he wants it and otherwise you'd better not touch him, is quite smart.

    And also incredibly amusing.

    He's the reason I had to paint the lower half of the kitchen wall a dark color, because frequently he takes the sharp corner and manages to get ALL FOUR of his feet on the wall at the same time as he banks the turn.

    But big and stupid (with claws) is not a good combination.

    And I understand your reservations about declawing. I was very uncomfortable doing it, but as the big cat was (quite literally) climbing the walls of our rental apartment, the choice was get him declawed or give him away. The small cat I resisted getting declawed, but after years of trying everything we could think of, including soft claws, she was finally also declawed. She dealt with it surprisingly well, and considering her propensity to freak out, and glad she's less of a threat to my grandmother's epidermis.

  4. Glad I could amuse you all.

    Both cats are currently staring at me and I can see malice glittering in their little eyes.

    1. Time for stock in betadine and bandaids.

  5. Off Topic Alert

    Did you hear about this?


  6. Ah, vet bills. I paid one on Saturday of $450.00 to X-Ray the Boogie-Dog's hips. He's been a bit ooky lately, and he's not a pup anymore, so we bit the bullet and got it done.

    The vet hasn't called with the results yet, though.

    But in the dog's case, I think he's worth it. He's a good, good boy. And if you're thinking I'm a bit soft when it comes to the dog, you'd be right.

  7. Janiece, well, yeah, he's a dog.

    Dog's are always part of the family. Cat's are all independent, right up until they need medical care, then it's all "but I don't have insurance! Help me!"

    Nathan - sounds like a movie you might have worked on, "Weekend at Nathan's". I'd say "only in New York" but no it's probably not. When I was in california, some guy got arrested for driving in the HOV lane on the 15 with a corpse in the passenger seat - hey, the law didn't say the passenger had to be alive (though I believe it has been amended since to say that to be considered a passenger, the person must be alive and not either a corpse or inflatable).

  8. I believe that once the vet bills surpass the total purchase price of the animal, it's totaled. Like a wrecked car.

    I keep waiting for the insurance company to come tow away Lyza, my senior dog with chronic pneumonia (and chest xrays). (OK, I don't have pet insurance, just extending the metaphor).

    Jim, hilarious post. I had a cat like Stupid once - psychotic, brain dead, bizarre. She was fun. The hub is fiercely allergic to cats, so we're dog people now.

  9. Nathan, sounds like they watched Waking Ned Devine. There's a big difference, however, between a lottery ticket and a social security check. :P

    BTW, if you haven't watched the movie - do so. It's an Irish indie, and unbelievably funny.

  10. I believe that once the vet bills surpass the total purchase price of the animal, it's totaled. Like a wrecked car.

    Well, see the cats were given to us gratis, which means the cost of their very first meal exceeded their 'purchase price.' I'm not disagreeing with you, I think they should have been totaled then. But, as I mentioned in the post - Stonekettle Station is not a democracy and even if it was I'd be like a Florida democrat - my vote doesn't count.

  11. Even though Boogie was an expensive animal, I think he's passed Jeri's yardstick after all's said and done. And yet I keep shelling out...

    We needed a pure-bred, though, to ensure we didn't get a dog that sheds. My Smart Boy's a bit allergic.

  12. Yeah, purebreds are always at risk. Diabetes, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia.

    Jumper is a mutt, typical sled dog type, half this and that (seven of the best dogs in the neighborhood as my Dad says), but as a result she's stronger, healthier, and smarter than most dogs. But she ain't going to win any AKC shows. Which is fine with me, because I intensively dislike the AKC.

  13. I believe that once the vet bills surpass the total purchase price of the animal, it's totaled.
    I have a friend who says that about his Husky.

    My cats were free (actually, there may have been a small donation to the shelter), so I feel like they've already got credits in their favor. I have been extraordinarily lucky on the health side of things (knock on wood). It does help that they are primarily indoor cats and there are few (if any) bald eagles in the area. There is a fox, however.

  14. 1. I've seen both of those movies. Much fun was had.

    2. I too have free cats, so I can't follow that rule. We draw the line at expensive tests to discover diseases that require expensive treatments that rarely have much success.

    I mean, hey, we've been feeding the beast by hand six times a day for two months, so we obviously care about him, but spend a couple of thousand for the same result? Not so much.

    Also, please go to my site and read Jim's entries in the contest. Then imagine coming home and going through your email. Blogger emailed me Jim's comments completely out of context. The first one I read was the burrito one. I had an extreme WTF moment before figuring out what it was all about.

  15. Glad to add a little surrealism to your day, Nathan. Just returning the favor, so to speak.

    And speaking of movies: did any of you notice the quote at the top of the homepage? I like movie quotes, Beastly and I can go on for hours, holding entire conversations in only movie quotes - it drives my wife mad. Mad!. Reason I mention it is that for the last several days I've been putting up quotes that all have something in common. Yesterday's was from The Jerky Boys. Figure it out yet? Today's was fortuitous, because the list I'm working from just happens to have a movie containing cats.

  16. Ok I was not there for the Eagle incident but I know that cat. It may be evil and is definitely stupid. When first I met Stupid and the Fat One they were like every other cat. Jim told me they would not like me at first but hey since I am alergic to cats and especially Siamese they all flock to me to watch me twitch and sneeze. within the first hour of being there (following a 12 hour drive) the cats found me irresistible. And over the course of the next few weeks, whenever I sat down at the computer Stoopid was right behind me on a chair sniffing my head with both paws on either side of my head. I figured he was looking for some way to eat my brains. And everywhere Stoopid went the Fat One was sure to follow. So there I was with a cat in my lap and another on standing on it's hind legs sniffing my head. And for those who really know cats and have more than one you know they plot and scheme. These two actually stand nose to nose and communicate telepathically. I've seen it and as far as I can tell Stoopid is in charge.

  17. Stoopid is in charge

    Naw, we're fairly sure Tubby is the brains of the outfit, Stupid is a thug. However, Tubby is clever and he makes it look like it's all Stupid's idea. At least that's the current theory around here.

    But the telepathy bit - yeah, that's definite.

  18. Reason I mention it is that for the last several days I've been putting up quotes that all have something in common.

    O.K. I can think on one thing right off the top of my head the Stuart Little and The Jerky Boys have in common. If you re-post some of the earlier quotes, I can see if I'm right.

    BTW, finding a worthwhile quote from The Jerky Boys is a really impressive feat.

  19. If you can use php, I have a nice quote randomizer I use on my site. (I use the same quotes on my front page and at the top of my blog.)

    It's similar to the php that pulls up a random header image.

    It's also a lot easier than having to remember to change the quotes and pictures. :)

  20. Michelle, thanks for the suggestion, but I prefer to pick my quotes. I try to make them relevant to whatever I'm posting that day, or however I'm feeling, or for strange and arcane reasons that only I know :O

    Speaking of which:

    Yesterday's Jerky Boys Quote:
    Johnny: Oh, God! My mother, she woke me up today. She poured a hot pan of grease all over my chest and my ass and genitals and I fell down the stairs and my shoes fell off.
    (I love fact he equated having his shoes fall off with hot grease on the genitals)

    The day before it was: There's nothing wrong with the food, it's the company. from Crocodile Dundee II.

    There's more but I think that's enough to figure it out.

  21. OK, I hadn't been following the quotes, but that locks it. I'm disqualified.

    Tomorrow's Quote:

    Roger: "That's just spastic enough to be charming."

  22. Nathan, that'll work, but there's just so many good quotes from that movie.

    Personally I like: Roger: if you feel compelled to contribute to the pathetic, heartbreaking predictability of it all, by all means...

  23. I told your story to my Smart Man, who's a cat toler-hayta last night, and he thought it was hoot, BTW. Gotta love the scare-eagle.

  24. That's me, providing entertainment to the masses... :)

  25. I'll have Nathan and Shawn know I just finally got here.

    Yep, whenever I see a hawk circling outside my first thought is, "Where's the cat." I think in her hay-day she could have taken any such beastie, but now she's a very senior citizen cat. Although she still looks at the wild turkeys and gets the hunter tail twitch going. I can hear her thoughts, "Damn, if I could get *that* we'd eat all year!"

  26. Reminds me of the Farside cartoon:

    Two spiders stretching a web across the sidewalk in front of an approaching paperboy on a bicycle. One says to the other, "If we can pull this off, Murry, we'll eat like kings for a year!"

  27. I find it insanely funny that a cat was nearly eaten by a bird. Poetic justice, that would have been!

    Why do people in Alaska have cats, anyway? Just as snacks for the local wildlife....?

  28. Anon, we don't 'have' cats. Cats choose to live here in our houses for reason only they can explain - if they were so inclined, which they are not.

    It's a mystery, though I suspect the real reason is that they could not abide people living free of cat enslavement. That's my theory anyway.

  29. Oh, god. I know I'm nine month late but this story almost killed me, towards two thirds of it I was laughing so hard that I stopped breathing. My co-tenant came to see if I was having some sort of asthma attack or epileptic seizure.

  30. Oh wow. What an awesome site. We just shelled out $3k because the evil red monster got a urinary blockage and had to be hospitalized for several days. We think the bill was his way of saying thanks for the catheter the vets shoved up his little cat johnson. He paid *them* back, by taking a chomp out of one of the technicians. He's a 17 pound gato, too. Them's some long-ass fangs. Good times.

  31. Marbles, thanks, thanks a whole lot - the term "little cat johnson" is now lodged in my brain along with the visual, and this morning's coffee is mostly dripping from my nose.

  32. I'm laughing my arse off here. My cats are all indoor cats because I live near downtown and we have a bazillion cats, mostly owned because they're sleek and fed, roaming outdoors.

    Friends of mine who transported their mid-town-raised cats to nearly-wilderness Colorado lost most of their city cats to wildlife quickly (unfortunately).

    The most cunning one, Matthew, who was death to squirrels and birds, pretty much figured out the protocols and survived a long while. But.

    He died by hit-by-car. After moving from a place where he raided restaurant dumpsters as a hobby and went back and forth across a Very Busy street for three quarters of his life. Hit by a car on a road that maybe has one car a day.

    Their current flock (household = four adults, three children, seven cats and two large dogs) cats are all wildlife alert.

  33. I laughed so damn hard I cried and nearly peed myself! OMG! That is absolutely HILARIOUS; all of it.

  34. Been a cat person since I was a kid. I still have a wonderful scar on my arm from the stupidest cat that ever owned me. I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes. Thanks for the share Jim.

  35. Ok, haven't read the other comments. Again I'm knotted up with hysterical glee. And I'm a cat lover. Fully aware that, just like people, there are some cats who aren't worth the time of day. I went the cat-leg-amputation route once with a kitten who was mauled by a doberman. $1000, and the little things started to associate ME with the pain and trauma so we had to give her away fast before she reverted to feral. It's a no-win.

    1. Our amputee cat never let the other half, aka the boss, touch her; and she died after 4 years. She could change direction of travel faster than any cat I've ever seen. She would throw that 1 rear leg in the opposite direction to her new intended path and be gone faster than the blink of an eye. Her sister is still with us, senior Queen and more King log then King stork.

  36. Great. NOW I'm going to be dreaming about Lambchop making speeches at Nuermberg rallies. And it's all your fault.

  37. Wonder how Shopkat would have handled the eagle outside

  38. we in the veterinary business have a saying about cat fractures: "If the ends of the bone are in the same room, they'll heal"
    oh, and btw, cats are not communists, they're libertarians...

  39. i am so not proud of this, but i laughed my ass off....poor cat

  40. You lot have just broken the first rule of the interwebz!!
    >>The comments were just as much fun to read as the original article.<<
    I must now go and re-assess my life.

  41. Okay... I am 8 years late on this story. But still...

    You have female readers. We don't always buy the waterproof mascara. Warn us. I was laughing insanely and then looked like a crazed raccoon due to running mascara. Which probably would have scared Stupid.

  42. Yeah, I'm late, too...
    My little brother came in one Superbowl Sunday with what can only be described as a pre-corpse cat. It was wheezing and shaking with mucous pouring out of it's eyes and nose. My brother cried and carried on, demanding my dad take the cat to the vet.
    He called the vet in on SUPERBOWL SUNDAY, in Texas, and met the vet at his office. The vet looked the cat over, said he was dying and probably had crawled away to do just that when my brother found him.
    It cost my dad 375.00 to have the cat put down.
    He grumbled about the cost of an annoyed vet versus the bullet for years.


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