Category: Cats

A Day in the Life of the Little Furry Muse

A Day in the Life of the Little Furry Muse

The life of a little furry muse is not an easy one.

Greetings, humans. No, it’s fine. No need to bow. If I was physically before you things might be different, but you’ll look ridiculous if you’re all sitting there bowing to your internet machines.

Wait, I take it back. Bow away.

It has come to my attention that some of you doubt the work that I put in as a muse. It’s extensive. All cats put in the exact right amount of work, as it happens. You humans, always rushing around, as if being busy all the time makes you a better person. It’s utterly unnecessary. Happiness is dependent on knowing the correct balance between sleeping, playing, and musing. Or whatever you do. What do humans do? It makes you shed your fur so badly that you have to wear bits of cloth instead, so it must be quite unpleasant. If anyone would care to enlighten me in a sufficiently entertaining manner, please do so.

My day commences early. I am duty-bound to wake the Significant Human (SH) at 5am latest, to ensure she has enough time to gather herself to feed me at 6am. She’s very irritable in the early morning, and I need to paw her face numerous times between 5 and 6am, which tends to lead to her telling me to “get off” and that I’m a “horrible cat”. I forgive her these indiscretions. One must indulge one’s humans at times.

NOW try and get up, human. Human? Oh. I think I need a new one.

Once up, the SH goes to another room and jumps around a lot, waving her arms in the air and lifting heavy things. I think it must be some sort of primitive ritual, perhaps to ensure a good harvest. I’ve heard about these. I usually observe from the door, and occasionally run past her to jump out the window, which makes her trip over and shout a bit, but I know it improves the challenge for her. Sometimes she does quieter rituals, with no jumping, and then I lie in the middle of the room to supervise. I think in these ones she’s trying to emulate the true grace of cats. It’s sweet how bad she is at it.

Having watched the SH’s ritual, I return to the big bed, as it’s quite a suitable place to doze until the biscuit machine calls me for second breakfast (The SH complains that she can’t make the bed, but I don’t understand this – what does she think she’s going to make it into? A pony? They are odd creatures). My meals are unsatisfactorily small these days – the human says it’s for my health, but I suspect there may be a shortage of cat biscuits. As such, I make sure to investigate all cupboards that are opened during the day, so that I can check that she hasn’t lost food in there.

No, no. This is no good. Try harder, human.

The human will normally be staring at her internet machine by this time, so I will make sure she gets her exercise by asking to be let out and back in again at least eight times in quick succession. This duty taken care of, I will attempt to sit on the internet machine, and bite her when she moves me off it. She’s surprisingly slow to grasp the fact that I am far more interesting that anything on the machine. Once she has given up and started petting me, I will bite her to make her stop (it’s important to keep one’s humans respectful), then retire to the sunny spot on the couch to doze until lunch. If I remember I will get up and demand lunch from the human a little before the biscuit machine puts the biscuits out. So far, she has resisted giving me anything, but there’s always a first time.

After lunch I repeat the human’s exercises with the door, and if the weather is clement I may even stay outside for a while and sleep in the sun, or hunt up a gecko. The human gets very excited when I bring geckos back for her, even if she’s not very good at keeping hold of them. She always manages to drop them outside again.

Alright, human. Throw it again, will you?

First dinner is at 6pm, and as the human gives me this I need to start reminding her at about 4. Humans are not, of course, very bright, so she could easily forget. After dinner I like to play with the SH by chasing the toys she throws about the floor. It’s a little beneath a cat of my status, but it makes her very happy. Sometimes the Other Human (OH) plays as well, and it’s very rewarding to see how they crawl around after the toys (because obviously I chase them, but do not return them. I’m not a dog). Always make time to play with your humans, cats.

The rest of the evening is taken up with sleeping on the SH, first on the couch, then when she goes to bed, in order to offer her comfort – she turns so many lights on that I can only assume she is very scared of the dark. Staying close also allows me to remind her that 10.30pm is second dinner, in case the biscuit machine malfunctions. The humans remain in bed all through the night, which is terribly lazy, but even when I try and rouse the SH for my 2.30am feeding, she ignores me. They’re not very good at spreading their sleeping hours out, but I do what I can to make sure hers are at least interrupted. One day maybe she will manage to sleep in a more cat-like manner.

Correct sleeping includes lengthy daytime naps, human.

And that is my day. As you can see, it is terribly busy, and very focused on the welfare of my human. She requires a lot of reassurance that I like to cuddle with her, and sometimes some amusing poses to make her laugh if she’s having a bad day. She likes being greeted at the door and for me to show an interest in what she’s doing, but obviously this does depend on my napping schedule. She talks to me a lot, most of which I ignore, although I do tolerate one instance of being picked up daily, and a large amount of petting. It’s hard work, keeping a human, but once well-trained they can be quite pleasant.

Please address any questions relating to training your human to the SH, and I shall offer advice for keeping your human happy, healthy, and dog-free.



Well, yes, I don’t know what I’d do without her musing…

Do you have a muse, little, furry, or otherwise? How do they help you out? Let me know in the comments!




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Cat Logic

Cat Logic

You knew it was going to happen. Why would you even try?

In the world of t’internet, there exists the term, “cat logic”. It’s both hashtag and explanation, description and exclamation, and it’s one of those wonderful phrases that makes me happy about the existence of social media and the internet in general. Seriously, google “cat logic”.

You’re welcome.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to share a few examples of Layla’s cat logic, as it’s a wonderful thing. I may also attempt to relate them to the life of non-felines, to prove that I’m using my blog for more than just sharing photos of my cat.

That may or may not work.

Obviously, Layla shares the usual feline traits. If it was bought for her to sleep in or play with, she wants nothing to do with it. Favourite sleeping places are my lap (or back, if I’m in bed), or anywhere that makes it awkward to get up/sit down/open doors/carry on life in general. Favourite playthings (despite the half-suitcase of Australian catnip toys I carted back to France for her on my last trip) are my hair ties, a drawstring from the SO’s PJs, and crumpled bits of paper. Every time a cat sitter looks after Layla, they very diligently collect all the hair ties and put them away on a shelf somewhere. They must think I’m some sort of hair tie stripper, flinging multi-coloured elastic bands about the house willy-nilly. Because one hair tie is not enough, obviously. It must be every hair tie I put down, no matter where that may be.

This is fine.

I go through a lot of hair ties.

But these are all cat logic traits shared with most cats I know, along with the astonishingly accurate foreknowledge that allows her to come and sit on my lap at the exact moment I need to get up. But Layla has her own wonderful quirks.

She will only sleep on the spare bed if I’ve stripped all the bedding off, including the mattress cover. Apparently this makes it a wonderfully comfortable place to nap, so much so that she only moves for food. Which is unfortunate, as vacuuming mattresses is not as easy as washing cat hair off sheets.

If we’re going out for the day, she must go out in the last minutes before we leave, despite the fact that she’s lazy and spends almost all day sleeping inside. This goes double if it’s raining and/or we’ve spotted some of the neighbourhood strays in the area. With no cat flap, this means we spend all day wondering how many fights she’s got into (Layla has never been known to walk away from a fight. She thinks she’s posh because she’s from Harrogate, but she’s actually very scrappy for a small cat), and return home to an aggrieved kitty, complaining about being left out where she can’t get to her biscuits.

I don’t care if there ARE two doors and three other windows open. Open THIS one.

She likes to sleep in cupboards. This is something that she shares with many other felines, but the problem is that she can’t really meow. She puts an awful lot of effort in, and you can see her sides heave as she pushes the air out – but if any sound joins it, it’s a tinier squeak than most kittens have. Which means that, if we haven’t noticed her go into a cupboard, it can take a long time to find her again. She ended up spending all day in one when we thought she’d done her usual Great Escape, only to panic when we returned home to find she wasn’t waiting for us. It took about an hour of frantic calling and searching outside before we thought to check the cupboards. To be fair, she was sound asleep, so I don’t think it was much of an issue.

And it looks even worse in reality.

She doesn’t like fresh fish, chicken, or meat. She doesn’t even like fancy cat food. Which is good, because there’s never any need to worry about leaving food out, but also bad, because when she occasionally goes off her food, I don’t have many options. Not that I’m entirely complaining that the cheapest, nastiest supermarket own brand food is her preference. Oh, and pork pies. That’s the only food she’s ever stolen. Which may say something about the composition of pork pies.

Layla, unlike many animals, isn’t at all bothered by loud noises. I remember the first Guy Fawkes after she adopted me, I spent a fortune on a Feliway plug-in, Feliway spray, Valerian drops for cats, etc, etc. I tried everything I could think of (or read about) to make sure she was going to feel safe when the fireworks started. Her ears barely twitched. I, however, was a nervous wreck. On the other hand – apparently the SO’s winter jacket is terrifying and he can’t put it on in the house any more. (Edit – I also discovered yesterday that toothpaste boxes are Very Scary.)

If she’s outdoors and feels a hairball coming on, she runs inside and finds a rug to vomit on, then goes back out. (In one house, there was only one small rug in the entire downstairs, everything else being smooth flooring. She always found it).

She never, ever walks on the kitchen counter, but every other surface in the house is fair game. This is not something I’ve taught her.

I hate air conditioning, but if it gets really hot in the summer and I can see she’s getting uncomfortable, I’ll put it on. At which point she will always leave the room. Likewise in winter – she’ll sleep in the bedrooms where there’s no heating on, rather than in the living room where there is.

Without fail, she leaves the Christmas tree a minimum of two weeks before she attacks it. It’s always just at that point when we’re thinking, “Ah, she’s such a good kitty. We’re so lucky, not having to worry about the tree,” that we come home to utter devastation.


Two other things about her, which have nothing to do with cat logic, but which I’ll share as more examples of her lovely oddity: she’s clumsy, and she snores. Both of which are adorable.

And I have, of course, utterly failed to relate any of this to human life, so I’ll just say this – we don’t always have to have reasons for our pathological hatred of certain jackets, or our affection for small cosy spaces. We don’t need fancy things to be happy when small things will do just fine. And, while we may know better, there’s nothing wrong with eating a little cheap and nasty food now and then, just because we like it. A little cat logic never hurt anyone.

How about you? Any examples of cat logic you’d like to share? Or just the lovely quirks of your pets?




Stuff for Sunday – the Cat Edition

Stuff for Sunday – the Cat Edition

You may have noticed that I’m fond of cats. There are a few things that give it away, like, oh, I don’t know – Layla having her own blog this week. And also maybe before. A couple of times. Plus there are my many, many short stories that involve cats. And then, if you’re on social media with me, you have to put up with an overabundance (if that’s possible) of cat photos.

Cats are cool. There’s no arguing with that. Or them, for that matter. Go on, try. I’ll wait.

And because cats are the masters at relaxed days, they seemed an obvious choice for a Sunday.


Why a Cat is a Writer’s Best Friend: Feegle Cat Chronicles

“Writers will always have cats because we keep your lap and your lap top warm.

We remind you that there are other living beings on this planet when you’re engrossed in your writing by expressing loudly our hunger or other demands.

We keep you company by being with you as you write without looking over your shoulder and criticising.

We will never judge your writing, mainly because we cannot speak. Not because we are kind.”

The lovely Lisa Sell is ably assisted by her own little furry muse, Feegle, who regularly takes over the blog to make sure things are running correctly. The pictures are pretty cute, too.



The Great Cat & the Origin of the Universe

“Before there were stars, the Great Cat spun through the cosmos with his bowl of tuna.**

At first the Great Cat was content because he was the First, the Most Important, and the Only. But then he realised his tuna had been sitting in his bowl for more than an hour and was no longer edible, and it didn’t move when he felt like playing.

So he created the earth and made mice to run across it and get eaten.

He created the oceans and made fish to swim through them and get eaten (but only when they came on land, because water is wet and yucky).

And at last he created the skies and made birds to fly through them and get eaten.

And then he slept because he was tired, even though he’d given himself a week to create his realm and it was only 10am on the first day.”

The hugely talented and hilarious A.S. Akkalon is also owned by a cat, as all writers tend to be. And there have been problems with a lion in her kitchen.


The Guardian – Top 10 Cats in Literature

“Which was when she explained a great truth to me – that once a literary woman associates her name with cats, no one will take her seriously again.

I have been haunted by that conversation ever since. In my heart, I know that she was right. But on the other hand, cats are such good material.

It seems obvious to me that cats are clever and totally lacking in altruism. This means you can believe almost anything of them.

The following are masterworks by people who were bravely prepared to take the risk of being associated with cats. Noticeably, though, nearly all of them are male, so perhaps the subeditor’s warning should still stand.”

Good thing I was never aiming for a literary career, then.


Moshow, The Cat Rapper.



He raps about cats, and adopting cats, and cat welfare, and cat ladies, and it’s completely hilarious. And if you disagree I don’t think we can be friends anymore. Also absolutely my favourite thing on Instagram!

And that, my friends, is that for this week. What fun things have you come across this weeks? They don’t have to be cat-related, but it helps…


Life & How To Cat

Life & How To Cat

Are you ready to take notes, humans?

Layla has made her mark on this blog more than once, and she’s insisting that she be given her chance to shine again. Having ladled out life advice for cats and humans alike, she has some observations on human behaviour that she’d like to share with us.

I say humans, but really, it’s just me. She’s judging me. Which is what cats do, but she could be at least a little subtle about it.

Over to the little furry muse.

Greetings, inferior beings. I’m going to take this chance to enlighten you on a few things, in the hope that my human will also learn. I don’t hold out much hope, though. She’s terribly slow. (K: HEY!)

It seems to me that you two-leggers do dance around things an awful lot. You call it politeness and courtesy. I call it unnecessary. So let’s get a few things straight.


Always know your safe places. And escape routes.

1. Hiding is okay.

No self-respecting cat feels social all the time, and if people are going to be pushy, you should feel free to hide under the couch. Or wherever it is you fit, since you’re all a bit over-sized. You get all wound up about being social, but do you do anything about it? No. I went and sat on the roof for half the night when more than the two permitted humans were in the house the other day. The Significant Human kept trying to get me back in, but I wasn’t having any of it. And did she join me when she got tired? Ha! Silly creature.



Observe: The human has not observed correct petting etiquette. I bite her.

2. Respect your boundaries, and make sure others do, too.

I am a cat of advanced years, and before adopting the SH life was a bit rough. This means that I have no patience for fussing. I will allow the SH to pick me up once a day for a brief cuddle, and for the rest she knows to limit things to some petting and head rubs, strictly on my terms, of course. I am not comfortable with more than that, and I make this clear with a some assertive tail sweeps and, if pushed, an admonitory bite. If you don’t listen, on your own head be it. The SH tries to explain this to guests, so it’s really their own fault if they push things.


(K: The conversation tends to go like this:
“Best stop now, she’s had enough.”
“Oh, she’s just playing.”
“No, she’s not. You really need to leave her alone.”
“But she’s sweet really, you’re just – OW!”)


You will not touch me with your poison drops.

3. Express your displeasure.

The SH, for reasons known only to herself (K: it’s called politeness, Layla), rarely makes a fuss when things don’t go her way. She sighs a bit, but then continues as if nothing is wrong, although I hear her muttering sometimes. She never seems to actually say, “I don’t like that,” even when, for example, there are people being loud outside her window when she’s trying to sleep. This is, of course, entirely her own fault as she sleeps at ridiculous hours, and always at night. Humans. Anyhow, if I were her size, I’d throw cans at them from the window. Or potatoes. I’m not sure what else potatoes are good for.

To demonstrate how you can be more proactive in expressing your displeasure, here are some real-life examples:

If I am bored with my food, I will stop eating until the SH provides a decent alternative.

If she insists on putting that stinking poison (K: flea treatment, Layla. Flea treatment. You don’t want fleas, do you? L: Don’t be vulgar, I never get fleas. K:…) on the back of my neck, I will retire to a high shelf and glare at her for at least two days.

If she buys the wrong sort of sand stuff for my indoor toilet, I will use the bathmat.

And if she will insist on sleeping past 5am and not responding to the gentle touch (K: ha!) of my paws on her face, I will fart on her pillow and leave.

Make your feelings clear, people. How else will you be relaxed enough to sleep all day?


It is not a real mouse, but I will express mild pleasure.

4. Bring gifts to those you love.

The SH does her best, as does the Other Human. They can’t help that they will never be as beautiful, gifted and intelligent as cats (K: can I insert a face palm here?). I do love their big clumsy selves, and to show my appreciation I will on occasion bring them a nice mouse, or a lizard. These critters take some catching, and there is usually some bloodshed involved, but I persist and try to always bring them in alive, so my humans can learn a little about hunting. They normally jump around and shout a lot while they try to catch the gifts, so I feel they do understand how special these little gestures are.

However, they’re not very good at reciprocating. They keep bringing me fluffy mice and fake birds, stuffed with herbs. I know the real ones are tricky to catch, but they could at least try. It’s very lazy.


I don’t WANT to sit in this weird room. But someone has to make sure you don’t drown.

5. Look after yourselves.

You don’t sleep enough, particularly during the day. My humans spend all their time out, or rushing around, or tapping on the internet machine, then expect they’ll get enough sleep by lying down in one special room for about seven hours. That is not enough, and besides which everyone knows that night is the time for adventures and playing, not for sleeping. And what’s with the one room? How can you have slept properly if you don’t sleep in every room, every day?

Then there’s the matter of grooming – I never see the humans grooming themselves. They splash water all over the place instead, which I have to supervise closely in case they need rescuing. Worse than kittens.

They also never chuck up hairballs. I know they eat some odd varieties of grass, but it doesn’t seem to work very well. I hate to think of the amount of hair they must have in their tummies.

So, there we go, humans. Please try and emulate cats a little, and your lives will only be the better for it. You can contact me through my human with any questions, or to express adoration and send treats. You’re welcome.

Hard work, all this catting.

There you have it. Layla speaks, and I’m not sure all of it was entirely rubbish. What do you think? Kitty behaviours we should embrace or resist?


Catnip, Marmite, and Whittaker’s Chocolate

Catnip, Marmite, and Whittaker’s Chocolate

It’s short story time, so head on over to this week’s offering here, or read on for some background, and a ramble about the things we miss when we move away.

I’m sure my nana had those glasses.

One of the things that you don’t think about, when you’re eighteen and heading out into the world, is that not everywhere will have Marmite. Not New Zealand Marmite, anyway, and as I’ve discussed at length before, any other form is nothing but a treacle-coloured imitation. Whittaker’s chocolate, for some strange reason, is another product that has failed to travel. Inconceivable, really, when you consider they’re just giant slabs of chocolately bliss.

These days, it’s not such an issue – you have all these delivery companies that will happily post you everything you might miss from home, even if you’re weird and like pineapple lumps and burger rings (seriously, I tried those when I moved back to Australia for a while – they’re awful. Evidently teenage me had no taste). This was not the case when I originally left New Zealand, so for a while there my every trip back ended with me dragging an almost-but-not-quite overweight bag through the airport, laden with supplies to last me until the next trip. The first time I went back after being away for probably six years, I discovered 1.2kg jars of Marmite. 1.2kg. Oh yes.

They taste of dust and sadness. What were you thinking, teenage me?

I’m not quite such a hoarder these days, partly because it’s easier to order things on-line than to hope your bag of chocolate and Marmite doesn’t get either squished or left in the sun, and partly because things start tasting different. I don’t know if Whittaker’s has changed its recipe, or if I just remember it differently, but ever since food hygiene was invented and they actually started to wrap their bars, it doesn’t taste the same. It’s still the best chocolate around, but I’m not quite so obsessive over it.

However. Layla is one of those cats that isn’t fussed about catnip, in the normal course of things. Yeah, she’ll have a snuffle of the leaves, but it doesn’t send her silly. And then we discovered a certain brand of Australian catnip.

Gold. Yes it is.

This particular brand is some crazy strain that Layla likes a lot. As in, rubbing it all over her face while crying in delight a lot. And she’s destroyed all the toys that we brought back with us, so I figure this trip my luggage on the way home will consist of Marmite, Tim-Tams (biscuits of joy), and as many of that particular brand of catnip toys as I can find. Which, on reflection, might look a little weird coming through the airport.

“Anything to declare, ma’am?”

“Ah – cat toys, yeast spread, and sugary snacks?”

It’ll be worth it, though.

Read The Smuggler now!

How about you? What do you miss when you’re away from home? Anything you remember loving as a kid that now doesn’t taste the same?

Happiness is Australian catnip.
The Art of Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination

This is how we look when writing. Honest.

Writing’s a tough gig. It is. I know, we spend our time in made-up worlds in our heads, telling our characters what to do (theoretically – in my experience, they normally do what they want), drinking caffeinated beverages and occasionally writing a few choice words in a beautifully bound journal. But, you know, when we’re not wafting about the place in flowing white clothing, we do Other Things.

Generally I find that I get a lot of Other Things done when I should be writing.

These can include but are by no means limited to:

1. Reading. It’s research, obviously. I mean, I don’t sit at the desk with my latest bedtime read (well, not all the time, anyway), but, you know. Books about writing, or books about mythology, or books about pretty much anything that’s remotely related to what I’m writing, even if at the most tangential angle. Failing that, wikipedia. Or various internet searches that have probably put me on a watch list. There’s so much to read online. So much.

Hair? What hair?

2. Cleaning. For a two-bed apartment, it’s amazing how much cleaning needs doing. I’ll be getting in the zone, you know, thinking about characters, untangling plot points, really writery stuff, then, BAM. Look at the dust on those shelves. I only cleaned two days ago. Or I’ll notice cobwebs on the ceiling (uninhabited ones, the others are allowed to stay). Sometimes it’s laundry. Sometimes it’s the tumbleweeds of cat hair that galvanise me (one cat. One. I think she’s borrowing hair from the neighbourhood strays). And then nothing will do but to clean whatever it is that’s caught my attention, followed by everything else in the general vicinity. Depending on the day, I’ll find myself two hours later, scrubbing tea stains off the cutlery.

3. Shopping. This is one of my least favourite activities ever, but a general disorganisation when it comes to household stuff, combined with a tendency to forget lists, means I’m lucky to last a day without having to go to the shop for something. Luckily there’s one just down the road, but I always choose the queue where someone’s paying for their weekly shop in 5 cent coins, and the person in front of me invariably forgets something halfway through checkout, and has to go find it. At the other end of the shop. So shopping can take up a disproportionate amount of my day.

Offerings to the muse. Honest.

4. Cooking. I love eating. I really do. But preparing things to eat is time that could be better spent writing (in theory). I can usually get around this for most of the day by eating fruit and nuts, but eventually it’s either make something or fall into a packet of chocolate biscuits. It can go either way. And, not to forget that the muse must be bribed with chocolate and woven moonbeams, so regular baking is also in order (I still haven’t worked out the moonbeams bit, so I just add more cake).

5. Everything. Layla-cat doing something cute. Needing a cuppa. Checking the post. Deciding I desperately need yet another reference book on obscure monsters (research!). Social media (obviously). Needing to find that one song whose name I can’t remember that was popular about ten years ago. Discovering I need to do laundry. Deciding to answer a two year old email. Everything.

In my defence, she does physically get in the way sometimes.

This is also known as procrastination, of course, and I used to spend a lot of time and headspace berating myself about it. I could have got that chapter finished, if I hadn’t checked a fact on a common garden plant on wikipedia and found myself two hours later reading about the breeding habits of the lesser spotted green-eared skink. I could have finished that blog post if I hadn’t noticed that there were fingerprints on the sliding door and therefore had to clean all the windows in the house. I could have finished that short story, if I hadn’t decided it was vital to clear out my winter clothes, right this minute.

It’s astonishing, considering how much I want to write, and how much I actually love it, how many things can distract me from it. But then, writers are meant to be endlessly inventive. I guess that’s why we’re endlessly inventive when it comes to procrastinating, as well. And I have no solution to this, other than the ever reliable “switch off your wifi” (but, phone).

Yeah. You can’t call that a process.

The only thing I can say, is that I’ve come to accept it as part of the “process” (quotation marks, because, really. I have no process). And sometimes it feels less like an avoidance, and more like a continuation. That in the time spent away from the computer, with my mind on one level occupied with how to reach all the hair ties the cat’s stashed under the washing machine, little things are settling into place. Problematic plot points, twists in scenes, recalcitrant characters – you sit back down, and suddenly the solution’s, if not clear, at least within reach. So maybe a little procrastination isn’t the terrible thing everyone says it is. Maybe a little procrastination is just another part of writing, albeit an, um, indirect part.

Plus sitting at your desk for hours straight will apparently kill you, so this is now my excuse for getting up and going to the biscuit bin every half hour or so. I’m actually making myself healthier.

How about you, writer people? Do you procrastinate? Do you accept it, or have you found ways to work around it? If so, please tell me, so I can pretend I’m at least trying to minimise it.

Gratuitous cuteness shot, so you can see what I have to put up with.
The Magic of Movement

The Magic of Movement

Accurate depiction of my feelings regarding PE.

Just in case you’re new ‘round here, let me start by saying that I am not a coordinated person. I was the kid that was always picked last on sports days, could never catch a ball, and actually almost failed PE (Physical Education – I’m not sure what the translation to other English is. For us, it was those horrible days when you had to put on your very old, very stained sports gear and broken-down shoes, and hope you were ignored rather than picked on for the next 45 minutes). I don’t think anyone knew it was possible to fail PE before that.

These days, I no longer have to deal with sweaty gym rooms and hormone-loaded teenagers, and I get to choose how I move. Which means it definitely doesn’t involve balls I can neither hit nor catch, or team sports that I can never quite fathom the rules of. And movement, I’ve discovered, is a wonderful thing when it’s on your own terms.

Yeah, swimmings great. I feel so much more relaxed. So. Relaxed.

I never decided to be a person who moves. I just sort of fell into it. My first job when I left home was working in a dive shop, and that was active – not just the diving itself, but lugging tanks and gear and in and out of the water constantly. When I left that, I found I wanted – I needed – to move. So even when I was working on boats I found time to swim lengths of the nearest shore once a day (added advantage – sneaking up on turtles, barracuda, and even sharks before all the snorkelers came up and scared them away). Later, I started to run and do other little snippets of exercise, all very unplanned and disorganised, but it was the moving that mattered, not the rest of it.

Life, as it does, went a bit hideous for a while, but I still somehow kept moving. Not all the time, but here and there. It reminded me that I was alive, that if nothing else worked, my body still did. And when I started to drag myself out of the bad times, it was movement that kept me sane. Not moving to lose weight or achieve some bikini body ideal (I think I’m a bit past those days, anyway), but moving because I could. Because moving meant I was alive, and I had survived, and this body would carry me forward. And because, once the desperation had died down a bit, it was fun.

Layla believes all movement should be fun. And involve catnip.

Because it is. Moving’s fun. Whether you’re falling out of side plank in a circuit work out, or tumbling out of warrior three in yoga, or running down some muddy track in the rain, or splashing around in a pool – it should be fun. I think too many of us are put off because it seems like a chore, whether we enjoyed it in school or not. Or we’re so focused on goals that we forget to take pleasure from how we get there.

All of which is to say that if we can move, it seems a shame not to. If you have the time and the ability to make space for some movement in your life, try it. It doesn’t need to be much – if you have room on your floor to lie down, you can do a workout. Finding the time can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be long. It’s so hot at the moment that most of my workouts are around 30 minutes. I’m a puddle of sweat by the end of it.

Okay, weird writer person, you’re thinking. You reckon these things are fun. But why else should I try it?

Proper supervision is essential.

Alright, lovely fellow writers (and everyone else – we’re not the only ones that get stuck on things). Here’s the thing. Moving clears your head. Stuck on a plot point? Walk. You don’t even need to think and walk – just walk, and maybe something will surface while you’re watching someone do a terrible job of parking, or arguing with their dog about which direction to go in. Frustrated with your characters? A few burpees and star jumps will work that right out of you. Stressed out and tense from too much time in your head? Ten minutes of sun salutations may not completely clear it, but you’ll certainly be back in your body again.

Now, I’m not saying it’s a cure-all. I don’t even know if it’ll work for you the way it works for me. But I know that walking is about as close as I get to meditation (yeah, I know I said I do yoga. It doesn’t mean I’m good at it), swimming makes me feel like I’m returning to my natural element, and most of my bad moods don’t survive a heavy HIIT workout.

So what d’you think? Do you move? What’s your favourite way to do it? And does it help you?


Okay, that sort of team sport I can get behind.

PSA: Results can include mysterious sore spots (annoyingly, I don’t bruise. I’ve fallen on ice with all my weight on one knee, and had nothing to show for it. It’s very irritating when you’re looking for sympathy), and occasionally embarrassment (sometimes public, sometimes not). Plus little doses of happy.

The Feline Agony Aunt

The Feline Agony Aunt

Aunty Layla will see you now.

The human’s notes:

The Little Furry Muse has informed me that her followers need her. There are too many cats in this world struggling with difficult-to-train humans, and it is her duty to assist where she can, both to ease the lives of cats everywhere, and to ensure the population is better prepared for the on-coming Catopalypse. She has therefore requested that I invite any dissatisfied cats to send their questions about dealing with humans in, so that she may answer them and calm the ruffled fur of cat-human relations.

And I’m going to have to do it, because she’s been practising sleep deprivation techniques on me. The other night she ran back and forth across the bed on about a two-hourly basis, interspersed with bouts of vomiting that resulted a 3am carpet scrubbing session. I’m still not sure exactly what I did wrong, but I think it probably has to do with the vet visit and the new food he prescribed for her.

But I’m going to comply with the blog request order anyway. Just in case.

Aunty Layla speaks.

Pepper, from the UK, has written in via her human Anna with quite the litany of complaints. She’s really quite dissatisfied with her humans, so let me see what I can do to help her.

The lovely – and traumatised – Pepper.

My main complaints are as follows:

EVERYTHING IS VERY SCARY especially sounds and movements and objects and thin air.
Pepper, you are a cat. You are wild and beautiful and brave and a perfectly designed killing machine. We fear nothing! Don’t make me come over there and convince you of it.

The slaves terrorise me DAILY with the Hoover Monster, which also removes the scent and hair I so carefully deposit over my territory.
Daily?? This must stop. I would recommend putting a dead mouse in its mouth when they’re not looking. It may soothe the beast into hibernation, but failing that it’ll get sucked up when the slaves wake it up. That will either choke the monster or else rot in its belly until the humans begin to hate it.

Is this the face of a cat that could make a smell like that?

They accuse me of making smells with my bottom when, of course, my bottom smells wonderfully of dead mice.
Pepper, I feel your pain. How anyone can accuse cats of creating such terrible smells bewilders me. I mean, have they not seen our faces? Obviously the human is just shifting blame onto you. I have also experienced such injustice, when the OH (Other Human) told me off for producing some foul stench. Fortunately, the SH (Significant Human) couldn’t continue the deception, and laughed so much that he realised it was her, and not me (obviously). But to even be suspected of such a thing!

The solution is clear. Save up these gaseous emissions the humans find so distasteful until they can be used to best effect. I would recommend when there are visitors – during a dinner party would be good, or perhaps a visit from the in-laws. Make sure you are well concealed, and release. The human will be blamed and humiliated, and you will have your revenge. Failing that, just position yourself in the bed so you can greet them appropriately upon waking.

Yeah, you’re laughing now. Wait til I bring the real mouse in.

They’re so stupid they mistake my food gifts as rubbish, and put them in the BIN even when they took me hours to hunt and kill.
Ah, poor Pepper. It’s as if they really don’t understand the value of a crippled bird, or a half-disembowelled mouse. Try bringing them in alive. I do this, and catching them does keep the humans amused for a good while. Hopefully they may even begin to appreciate the exercise we give them.

They installed a monstrosity which they call a “cat tree” even though it is patently not a tree and THREW AWAY THE BOX IT CAME IN which actually looked very comfortable to sit on.
Refuse to sit in it. What do they think we are, pets? Sit on their heads when they’re lying on the couch in order to fully express your displeasure.

Correct employment of early morning waking techniques.

Slave 1 demands cuddles in the evenings when I want to glare superiorly from the sofa, and refuses cuddles at 7:34am when she’s late for work.
This requires some remedial training. I would suggest acquiescing to the evening demands, but moving constantly, making sure to step heavily on the more delicate areas of the torso. Some kneading could also be helpful, especially if the slave is wearing thin clothing. Backing up into their faces can also make them less eager, I’ve found. As for the mornings, the solution is simple – wake them up at 5:05am for pre-breakfast cuddles.

Slave 2 calls me names when I sit under the ground-level, open window at 4am and meow at 700 decibels for the door to be opened so I don’t have to jump a foot off the ground.
Glare at them disdainfully, then resume meowing.

Both slaves laugh at me when my tail turns into a monster and I can’t get away from it.
Oh my god! That happens to you, too? What is that thing??

Go on, human. Try your fancy exercises now. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.

They also laughed at me when I launched myself on the polished wooden table and whooshed off the other end in two seconds flat.
That is a difficult one to recover from. My humans also laughed when I attempted a very advanced jump from the counter to the top of the fridge, crashed into the side and slid all the way down head first. Which I don’t think was fair, as I’m pretty sure I had concussion. I find payback is the best method for dealing with such things – walk close to their feet, or run unexpectedly in front of them. They’ll normally fall over trying to avoid you, but if they do actually trip on you, you have the added advantage of making them feel guilty. This often results in treats.

When the slaves pet me and I walk away, I inevitably reach my destination to find I’m no longer being petted, which is most inconvenient.
I’m still working on this myself. I find it’s best to sit down and look at them with wide, pleading eyes until they follow you. Allow them to pet you, then walk on. Repeat.

Slave 1 gives me many nicknames, including Fatty McFudge and Dickhead, which I feel is disrespectful.
Ugh. Yes. For some reason the SH calls me Pudding Socks, Sausage, Pork Pie, or even Lamb Chop, rather than Her Great And Worshipful Sleekness, Ruler of All She Surveys and Destroyer of Hair Ties. Revenge is best served cold – wake them at 3am with very soft paws on their faces. Repeatedly.

Hopefully this column will go some way towards helping our readers as well as poor Pepper, and we can work together towards better trained humans. If any of my feline friends have any complaints or questions, please do let me know in the comments. I’ll help where I can.

The human’s notes: Do dogs bully you this much? Asking for a friend.

Sunshine Blogging for Cats

Sunshine Blogging for Cats

There you go, Layla – happy now??

Well, it had to happen. I let Layla have one post, just one, and the next thing you know she’s being awarded a Sunshine Blogger Award and everyone wants to talk to her instead of to me. Although, to be fair, she’s probably just as good a conversationalist as I am. Actually, that’s not fair at all. She’s probably better.

Anyhow, the lovely Anna Kaling invited Layla to have her say on some of the more pressing questions that concern us when it comes to cats, so I sat down and interviewed the little furry muse. This was not as easy as it sounds, because she had to find time to fit me in in between naps, grooming, and working towards world domination. Life is busy for an in-demand kitty.

You want to ask me what?

Now, before we get started, there are rules to this award, one being that having answered Anna’s questions, I have to ask some other bloggers questions of my own. It’s meant to be 11 bloggers, 11 questions, but that all seems to be degenerating like one of those terrible games of Chinese Whispers you had to play at parties as a kid. So it’ll be 10 questions for three bloggers’ characters in their writing projects. Because I’m nosy. Questions to follow, but first let’s see what Layla has to say. And if you haven’t checked out Anna’s blog yet, head over there and do so – it’s fun, smart, and will make your day better. Promise!

So, Layla – are you ready? Here we go, then:

How close are you guys to world domination?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. You’re not scheduled for that yet. You have cats to feed.

Does your human pick her nose when no other humans are around?
I don’t know, I’m usually too busy licking my bum to notice such things.

Besides picking her nose, what does your human do in private that she wouldn’t want us to know about?
She does this thing when she’s cleaning, or if she’s happy about something on her internet machine. She calls it dancing, but I don’t think anyone else would.

Why is it that you would be outraged at being given cheap cat food unless it’s intended for another cat or a hedgehog, in which case it becomes Michelin Starred?
Because all food is ours. How dare you offer even cheap food to other animals? Just as all beds, couches and freshly washed towels are ours, so too is all food. Besides, there’s always the possibility that you’ll run out of the good stuff – we know you’re not that bright. And if that did happen, we might be forced to eat cheap food to stave off starvation. So we need all of it. All the food.

Who do you have more disdain for – modern people who think you’re pets or the ancient Egyptians who worshipped you so inadequately?
Definitely modern humans. The ancient Egyptians would never have dreamed of dressing us up in shark costumes or farm boy outfits. I mean, okay, they didn’t have Dreamies or those really soft fleecy blankets either, but they also didn’t make us wear collars or call us Fluffy Bum. They showed us proper respect – plus, harming a cat was punishable by death. These days – well. Just wait until we attain world domination. Just you wait.

How much can you really tell about another cat from the smell of their butt?
Nothing at all. But it makes you uncomfortable, so we do it anyway.

Is it even comfortable when you stand balanced on our ribs and gouge our eyes out if we attempt to move or, you know, breathe?
Not really, but you have to be trained, and part of that training is understanding that our desires come before your comfort. And if we have to endure some discomfort in order to ensure you understand this, so be it. Plus you make really funny expressions, so it’s quite entertaining.

What’s the first thing you will do when you evolve opposable thumbs, shortly before the decimation of all humans and dogs?
Take the top off the damn biscuit machine. The human bought this thing that spits out biscuits in the middle of the night so she doesn’t have to get up and feed me (she’s so lazy, honestly. It’s unacceptable. I always wake her a couple of times anyway, just so she remembers who’s in charge). The thing is, it doesn’t give me anywhere near enough biscuits, and neither patting it gently nor tackling it like the enemy it is makes any difference. I know the biscuits are in there, and if I just had thumbs…

Do you judge vets who offer to express your anal glands when you have a completely unrelated complaint in, say, the head area?
This has never happened to me. It may be because the vet fears me (I am small but incredibly vicious), or it may be some fetish of your vets. I’d look into this.

Human. Stop. Please don appropriate clothing before working, so I can sit on you.

Do you judge your human’s outfit choices and, if so, which one really makes you want to claw it to ribbons?
Ugh, summer. She starts wearing shorts, which means her lap becomes quite uncomfortable. And she whinges that I’m making her legs sweaty. She’s the one not only wearing inappropriate clothing, but sweating. I don’t sweat. She should wear fluffy tracksuit bottoms year round. It’s really very inconsiderate of her.

What do you think of the cat in Cinderella?
I have not seen this film, but I asked the human to look up the cat on her internet thingy. He seems to be quite the caricature villain – typical lazy stereotyping by the humans. I’m only surprised he wasn’t all black. At least they made him somewhat clever, by the sounds of things, but I’ll tell you now – if he was a real cat and wanted to catch those mice, he would have. They would have been decorating the doorstep by morning tea time.


How is Grumpy Cat viewed in the cat community?

Personally, I don’t have a problem with her. She’s made a fortune out of being no different to your average cat, other than the fact that her facial expression betrays her. I think the humans like that they can look at her and laugh, and say to each other, “Doesn’t she look grumpy? Isn’t it funny? Because she’s not really like that.” But don’t kid yourselves – she is like that. We all are. Mostly because we have yet to develop opposable thumbs, and you call us ‘cute’ all the time, ignoring the fact that we are actually beautifully formed killing machines.

Layla is late for her 3pm nap, so that was all I could get out of her. Personally, my biggest take away from all this is that I need to make sure I remain invaluable to her in providing food, and just hope the opposable thumb thing doesn’t come around too quickly. Although I may have to consider fluffy tracksuit bottoms even in summer. Just to be on the safe side.

And, as the little furry muse has no preference, I’d like to nominate the following bloggers:

Here are my questions to any one of your characters in either a completed work or a WIP:

  1. Is your author disproportionately cruel to you, or does she enjoy embarrassing you for comic relief?
  2. Are you named for someone in your author’s life? Why?
  3. What quirks has the author given you that you really wish they hadn’t?
  4. Do you feel confident that you’re going to make it into a sequel (or would, if there was one)? Why/Why not?
  5. How do you justify not doing what your author tells you to?
  6. What is one thing about you that your author has edited out/is going to edit out, but you’d like to tell us?
  7. What’s the most interesting thing about you?
  8. If you’re not the protagonist, do you wish you were? Why/ why not?
  9. Do you have a sidekick or helper? Who are they?
  10. What would you like to tell your author?

If you haven’t checked out the websites of these lovely people, please do so!

Also, Layla invites any other questions. She doesn’t promise to answer them, mind, but she’s fine for you to ask.

Seriously, are we done here? I have world domination to attend to.
The Little Furry Muse Speaks

The Little Furry Muse Speaks

Sit down, human. I have wisdom to impart.

The significant human (SH) is ‘tired’. It’s her own fault – she will insist on staying up all day when there are sunny spots to be napped in. All it means is that she oversleeps for my first breakfast, and I have to wake her. I don’t want to wake her, but what can I do? She never leaves food out, and if she doesn’t get it for me, what reason would I have for keeping her around? She makes lots of noises about how ‘3am is too early’, and ‘you put your paw in my mouth, that’s disgusting’, but I know she realises it’s for her own good. Well trained humans are happy humans.

And my paws are perfectly clean, thank you very much.

It’s not easy keeping up with human training as an only cat. Admittedly, I prefer it that way, and make it very clear to the SH and the other human (OH) that I do not appreciate company. This necessitates attacking any other cat or dog that ventures near my home, although I’m careful to keep it to a lot of spitting and tail bushing. One does not engage in actual physical contact, like some common alley tom. It’s unnecessary, undignified, and, quite frankly, beneath me. I am from Harrogate, after all. But it does get the point across that other animals are unwelcome. While the assistance in training would be appreciated, one can never be certain that a new cat would uphold the standards I have set. And a dog? Don’t make me laugh.

Laps are for cats, not machines. Deal with it.

I am struggling in one area of the SH’s training, however. She spends far too much time on her screen machine (she calls it a ‘laptop’, which is ridiculous, because she hardly ever has it on her lap. And if she does I insist that she move it at once so I can sit there. Machines should not be on laps. Laps are for cats), and I have observed her looking at other cats on it. Sometimes she even calls the OH and shows these cats to him. In front of me, no less! This is an insupportable situation, but despite my best efforts she remains rather attached to her ‘laptop’. The only solution therefore was to establish my presence on the machine as well as in person. Now that I have done so, world domination is, naturally, within my grasp, but as a mature and intelligent cat my chief concern is the education and training of humans. As I have secured access to this webnet platform, it seems only fair to offer my wisdom to other humans who may not as yet have comprehended the finer points of their cats’ training methods. In addition, some humans may not have even been chosen by cats yet, and this is doubly important reading for them.

Stop. You need to listen to this.

So, humans (because you must be human if you’re reading this – fellow cats, I imagine you’re trying to stand on the clicky bit beneath the screen. Allow your humans to read unimpeded. It’s for all of us), allow me to enlighten you. There is a world outside of the interwebs, and your cat overladies (and overlords) would like to take this opportunity to remind you of why you should step away every now and then and show us a little appreciation.

1. We give you someone to talk to. Talking to yourself is frowned upon in all species (well, except birds – they’re always nattering on, whether anyone’s listening or not, but then – ‘bird-brain’, yes?), but you will find a receptive audience in us. Plus, we really are the only ones that will listen with infinite patience to you ramble on about your ‘stories’. Mostly we tune you out and purr a little louder, but we never criticise and we are completely supportive of that troll/wereduck/alien love triangle you have going on. I mean, it’s inventive. Totally.

No, I’m not judging you. Honest.

2. Our purring (whether we’re using it to drown out your whinings about your undiscovered genius or not is rather a moot point) is very soothing, and the amount of caffeine and sugar you’re ingesting, you need soothing. You probably also need an intervention, but who’s judging. Yes, admittedly, we are, but we won’t say anything. You can tell yourself we’re staring at you lovingly.

3. We never suggest you should get out of your dressing gown. It’s super-comfortable and wonderful for bedding into, so, you know, you do you. We support your choice of working attire whole-heartedly. Although it might be wise to removed that half-eaten cookie from the pocket. Just because we keep the rats away doesn’t make that sort of behaviour okay.

4. We are unfailingly attentive when you get a 2am working sprint on. We won’t ask you to turn out the light, or complain that you’re keeping us up. We will sit next to you and purr, any hour of the day or night. We are 24/7 companions. But you should probably offer us a few biscuits to show proper appreciation.

5. We remind you daily that there’s a different way to live. That sun on the floor is reason enough to Zen out on life, the universe, and biscuits. That moments of exuberant playfulness are necessary no matter how old or dignified you think you might be. That there are wonders to be discovered in wardrobes and drawers, in bags and washing machines and boxes. That relaxation is an art form, and self care is vital to happiness. That there are more things in the world than you can perceive, and that love and companionship come in many beautiful, wonderful shapes, sizes and species. And that there’s always time for an ear scratch.

There’s always time for a stretch in the sun.

So off you go, humans. Strive to do better.  And cats? Keep up the good work. Together, we can manage our people.

Special thanks to Feegle, who inspired me to speak out. Training humans is going to reach a whole new level now we have the interwebs. Feegle can be found over on her human Lisa Sell‘s web page thingy here.