Huuuuugh…urrrrrg, man I wish I could just sleep forever. Why did she have to shove me off her face so rudely, so early in the morning? Pillows were made for sleeping on, soft, warm, cuddly, and just right; especially when I can sleep next to that heating vent she calls a nose. Alas, the mood’s spoiled now, the moment gone. Another day, another patrol of the neighborhood, another adventure awaits. I’ll have to admit it, curiosity always gets the best of me, staying cooped up indoors all day, I would go stir crazy. Better go catch up to her and remind her it’s breakfast time, less she forget.
With that last though Toby jumped off of the mattress and headed to the kitchen expecting to find his empty-headed master stuffing her face and remind her his stomach was empty. Hey, babe, it doesn’t purr on empty you know! Humans, you got to keep on top of them, or else they’re lost. On his way to the kitchen Toby stopped to stretch, yawn, and sharpen his claws along some of his favorite areas of carpet. The official scratching post he was supposed to use had lost its luster long before its warranty expired. There’s nothing like reminding humans just who’s in charge by leaving your mark wherever you can. He also brushed against some of his best worn-in corners to work the morning kinks out of his fur. Naturally as Toby’s circulation improved so did his fleas, so he stopped at the last minute to lick a scratch that just wouldn’t wait. Ohhh baby, that’s it…just the spot…ohhh yeah! Satisfied with his accomplishment he proudly pranced into the feeding hall, head held high, tail too.
Toby surveyed his favorite room in the house, but Lillian was no were to be seen. Oh for crying out loud, every day I get up and the first thing I do is head out for breakfast. Hasn’t she noticed the pattern by now? And they say us cats are difficult to train! Toby instinctively knew where to find her, in the bathroom, on the phone, where she spent most of her life grooming herself. Humans, such silly animals; they spend half their time trying to smell like peaches and flowers and the rest chatting on a plastic toy attached to a plastic coiled snake attached to a box on the wall. And they call themselves the superior species. I’d like to see one of them catch a hyperactive squirrel with their bare hands.
Starving as he was, being nothing but 30 measly pounds of fur and bones, Toby wasn’t sure he could survive the long trek. All the way to the kitchen and every bowel empty and dry, no back to the opposite side of the house to get my just deserts. Sheesh, when will karma ever turn my way! When Toby got to the bathroom door it was closed, of course, he suspected it would be. So he worked a bit more on the abstract etching he was carving at the base of the door. “Meoooow! Meeeeroooow!” Come on Lillian open up, get the lead out, start the buzzing machine that opens the metal cylinder to release my tender vittles already! Get your priorities straight.Why do people have the need to rinse their natural oils away? Why do they shave the fur off their legs just when it gets thick enough to provide some insulation? And that nasty habit of always pooping in my favorite watering hole! And constantly stealing my crap from the pebble pit, what the hell can that be about? And they say I’m the animal!
Lillian finally cracked open the door releasing a cloud of steam, hair and body wrapped in towels, to be nearly tripped by Toby rubbing up against her shins. “Alright Toby, I get the message. I’ll bet you’re starving. Come on Dinner’s on,” with that they were off to return to the kitchen, Toby following close behind making certain she didn’t get lost yet again. If you just licked yourself clean like the rest of us you wouldn’t need to wrap rags around yourself every morning. Heck, if you let your fur grow maybe you wouldn’t have to spend so much time selecting which artificial coverings to put on. Think of all that time wasted that you could be petting me!
Lillian thought she’d try and get away with getting coffee started first, but Toby would have none of that. There was only room for one bona fide prima donna in his house and it was a four-legged one! “Meooow…Meoooow….Meeeoooooow!” After numerous choruses she finally got his message. Damn lady do I have to meow my throat raw just to get some chow. Just how am I supposed to swallow it with a soar throat? At long last the music Toby had been dying to hear hit his peaked ears. The can opener buzzed, the seal on his food was broken, the mixed seafood melody poured and Toby’s face plowed Lillian’s fat hand out of the way. Before she knew it he was engrossed in scuffing it down as soon as possible, less it evaporate.
As usual the plump purr machine set new speed-eating records. Having eaten his fish flavored cake and licked the bowl too, Toby was fit and fiddle, ready to fight the world, or at least protect his little patrolled patch of it anyway. So the gallant guardian jumped up on the widow sill to survey his vast kingdom. Gazing out upon the morning dew, his radar ears tuning in all the bird’s begging to be chased, his wiggling nose inhaling all the scents to be analyzed, his lackluster tail sprung to life for the first time today. Man it’s good to be alive. Look at all this wonderful bounty, and it’s mine…all mine…yummy. Toby’s tummy always had a one track mind of its own, full or empty mattered not. All that stood between him and harvesting his daily allotment of fun was a mere window screen, the likes of which he was slowly but surely slashing his way through, keeping his eyes peeled for any houseflies that might try to escape.
“Toby, stop that! You’re letting the bugs in! Bad kitty!” screeched Lillian. “What am I going to do with you young man,” she scolded as she scooped him up and plopped him before the door. Lady, if you’d just put in a kitty door I wouldn’t have to install one myself-sheesh! Toby hated when she called him “kitty,” but when she called him “young man,” well that was really the insult! Why she couldn’t just call him be his name, he didn’t think of her as human, woman, young lady, just Lillian. What’s so darn hard about using a name, that’s what they’re there for?
Lazy Lillian gathered enough energy to turn the doorknob after Toby wasted way too much of his energy reserves to get her to do so. It’s about time! The early bird always gets the worm which makes him the fattest. How many birds were you going to let get away with trespassing in my airspace! Comon’ Lillian, get on the ball already. You’ll never make the centerfold of ‘Master of the Month’ at this rate. At last Toby was set free for the day. Lillian had better remember to fill my water dish before she speeds off in that big metal smoke-sputtering machine that keeps me warm in winter. Lazy human can’t even run for herself, got to use a car to go anywhere. No wonder they can’t catch their own food.
Songbirds serenade us all every spring morning. Some people find it charming, others consider it a racket they could do without. Toby wouldn’t have it any other way, unless he could have it year round. That’s it my pretties. Sing me a melody as an appetizer. Broadcast your exact position, my juicy feather-headed snacks. The most beautiful part of any morning for a cat is the birds. Every flutter of a wing has a corresponding flutter in their heart and twitch in their tail. Perched on branches too numerous to count are full buffets just waiting to be caught and eaten. They chirp away taunting every kitty for miles with their incessant bragging. Such vibrant noise can dry throats quickly. Consequently the first item Toby always checked on his morning patrol was always the bird bath. This particular morning he spotted three potentially paw-licking good samples marinating in the shallow waters. His tail twitched alive again this time ringing a little dinner bell in Toby’s skull. That’s it drink up my fine fellow. The more you take in the heavy you get, the longer it takes you to get airborne, the more gravy for me, and the easier your feathers will go down.
Within the next second the half-pint panther on the hunt had crouched down and was on a slow belly crawl towards his second breakfast. Rubbing his belly against the ground just seemed to make more room for more. The mighty calico hunter peered up from the grass clandestinely glaring at his prey. Moving inch by inch, till they turned their backs to him, at which point he’d suddenly sprint forward a yard at a time; cautiously stopping to reevaluate his concealment every step of the way, before continuing on. Within a minute his nostrils were filled with the scent of fresh food. His tongue panted, his mouth drooled, his tummy growled indicating a new vacancy had become available.
Toby could already taste his next meal. But the best laid plans of man and cat often go astray. In life timing is everything. And when one year equals seven it’s even more important. With a hiss and a snapping click the blasted sprinklers came to life. Pheasants on the water became the ones that got away. Toby, his spirit as well as his coat dampened, shook it off. It always rains on my parade! I need to bury those infernal leaking pipes even deeper next time. If only that snail of a master had let my out a few seconds earlier!
Birds having flown their bath, Toby relocated to the back yard where the ground was still dry. There he rolled around on his preferred bald spot of dirt a few times to work out his frustrations. Don’t even think about growing here grass. This is my stretch zone, where I bury my fleas. You have the rest of the yard to spread out in. Like an earthworm doing a mating dance Toby squiggled and squirmed about. After getting a little dirt crazy he naturally had to groom himself off. Gotta look nice for the ladies, even if the plumbing’s not what it used to be. Damnation, I’m one handsome kitty! So he plopped his butt down, curled himself up and got to work, tip of tail, butt, balls(or at least where they used to be-damn snip-happy vet), hind quarters, fun zone, and beyond.
The birds had their bath; Toby had his, now it was time to move on to new adventure. By this time the leaking pipes in front had stopped and the ones in back were hissing, so Toby headed back to the bird bath to see what gifts might be waiting. Great now that the whole yard’s soaking wet, the bird-brains can land anywhere for a drink. Hope Mr. Sunshine’s in the mood to dry things quickly today. A brief instant of disappointment shown in his yellow-green eyes when the fountain of free food turned out temporarily void of life. Stalker cat took cover in the nearest bush and waited his next turn. It didn’t take long, it never did.
Next on the never-ending menu came another one of his favorite entrees, rodent ala nuts, squirrel. Ah, perhaps not the other white meat, but you’ll do nicely. Envious of not only their skill of leaping from tree to tree, but of their flamboyantly bushy tails, it was always a pleasure to put on of the little show-offs out of their misery. Well look at you. You clever tree rodent you. You think you’re so smart scampering up and down trees like there’s no tomorrow. So bright-eyed, happy, and carefree with energy up the bushy-tailed wazoo that it almost makes me sick. Well I happen to know where you buried those nuts last winter; planning to dig them up now that Mother Nature has softened them up for you…I’ll be waiting. Come and get it, and I’ll get you…ha, ha, ha! The last laugh will be on me this time.
Sure enough the tag-playing pair of squirrels worked their way over to Lillian’s soft flower bed where Toby lay in wait. As they drew closer, digging their way through Lillian’s petunias looking for buried treasure, Toby tensed up tighter and tighter getting ready to strike. Like a catapult springing into action he went off. Damn, nothing but tail! The tiny trapeze artist had the reflexes of hyperactive maniac combined with the luck of a rabbit. Although truth be told Peter Cottontail was easier to catch, he just didn’t show his face much in the daytime. Poor ole’ overworked underfed Toby only tasted defeat with long strands of squirrel tail fur in his paw. I’ll get you yet my pretty! His second swat did make firmer contact, but he failed to snag his prey securely. Licking his paws clean he got a smidgen of satisfaction in the realization that he drew blood at least. There’s a reason that people that go nuts are called ‘squirrelly.” Got your scent now, you punk. I’ll remember you!
The thrill of the chase had Toby’s heart racing and tail twitching out of control. Beware of wild-eyed cats in such a frenzied state-anything goes! Now it was all out playtime. He sped off full speed at the birds that had returned to their bathing. They were aloft long before he got near, but that didn’t matter. Toby launched himself futilely into the air landing out of breath, but full of life. Ah that’s living; the thrill of the hunt; the pursuit of happiness. The freedom of an open sky and the time to take it in and enjoy it all, that’s what it’s all about.
With that last thought Lillian came bounding out of the house, got into her car cursing at a run in her pantyhose, and then took off to work. Toby lay on the front lawn puffing and heaving away, and merely turned his head to watch her go. All he could think was Too bad she doesn’t get it.
Toby spent the rest of his dizzying morning contently chasing birds, squirrels, a rabbit, and even his own tail. After putting miles on the pads of his paws the end result was one minuscule green lizard. Still beggars take what they can get. Ha ha Mr Dragon, victory is mine! Satisfied completely with his new scaly toy he carried it to the back deck to play with for a while.
Where do you think you’re going? Inquired Toby as he slammed a paw down on the now tailless lizard. After spending an hour batting the poor pathetic specimen between his paws and treating it as if it were a chew toy, it apparently thought it could escape by losing its tail. Not so with a mastermind like Toby keeping watch. Unfortunately for the appetizer, without a tail the cantankerous kitty found it far less entertaining. In two gulps it was over, Toby one-lizard zero. With his tummy temporarily satisfied the purring beastie leapt up on the umbrella table for his afternoon nap.
The curled-up furry centerpiece was as content as he could be. There’s nothing like an afternoon catnap to balance one’s day. Unfortunately sleeping in daylight seldom goes smoothly for very long. Lazy, hazy and with a nasty case of lizard breath yawn Toby awoke early to the stench of his mortal enemy, Ralfundo, the mangy neighborhood mutt. That big-mouthed barking bully busybody pushed his nose into Toby’s business any chance he got, more often than not getting a scratch or four across it for his trouble. “Ruff! Woof! Grrr!” Ralfundo was out to tree himself a pudgy puddytat. “Ruff, rufff, ruffff!” Whatever in the world did I do to deserve this? I was having such a nice peaceful dream, only to wake to such a nasty thunderous nightmare! Before tabletop Toby could shake off the shock of being so rudely disturbed the felonious fleabag was on him like a blood-thirsty tick with a grudge. Without so much as an “excuse me” Ralfundo had pounded up onto the deck to narrowly miss biting a chunk out of Toby’s hair-raised startled skin.
Toby had learned a thing or two on his hunts. Before the deranged dog knew it, the cat was doing his best imitation of a squirrel. Toby has leapt atop the deck railing, raced along it towards the house, and leapt once again up the chimney and onto the roof. He didn’t need no stinking ladder! Like you ever had a chance, Stench bucket! Keep dreaming, Lamebutt! Dumfounded and disappointed all Ralfundo could do was attempt to bark him down. Naturally he did so at the top of his yapping lungs. Ralfundo was a fearsome Chihuahua, full of spice and attitude, but not very impressive as far as dog kind goes, but Toby only liked to be the biter, not the bitee.
My kingdom for a paw-full of acorns, you rough-neck low-brow excuse for a four-legged pea-brained pest! Was all the ammo Toby could think of as he sat aloft in safety waiting for frustrated freaky fido to finally give up and sniff for something better to do. If loudmouth Ralfundo has been misfortunate enough to stroll to close Toby would have been more than happy enough to squeeze out some pee to give him a shower with. Come and get it you dumb hick of a stick fetcher! He would have made the yipping intruder pay for interrupting his purrrrfect nap. But the dim-witted bull’s eye wasn’t so dumb after all. Despite roof-top kitty’s taunting with wiggling tail-dangling close-calls near the gutter’s edge, Ralfundo didn’t take the bait. After 20 twenty minutes of howling himself hoarse, doggy defeated hung his tail and wandered off. Toby 439-Ralfundo 1/9, for it was a close call. Likely cost poor tabby one of his nine lives. Just like when he was a kitten taking a winter’s nap under the hood of the car. Lillian went and started the dang contraption without fair warning. That put a real kink in Toby’s tail; a pain that still ached whenever it was chilly out.
Once he was certain the coast was clear, a parched sun-baked cat plopped himself down to Earth in two bounds and headed straight for the oasis of a birdbath to quench his overwhelming thirst. Ah…a bit of red robin with a pinch of le pigeon, thought the crouching connoisseur of bird bathing fluid. Tongue lapped water and tail twitched with satisfaction. Once he had gotten his full, wildcat Toby was on the loose once more. Okay birdbrains I’m all ready and waiting…bring it on! He took on his big jungle cat attitude in a small domestic package while stalking the vast terrain of his front yard. He wasn’t about to let Rofundo spoil his day.
That flavorful birdbath lapping hadn’t gone unnoticed. Tickled taste buds relayed their sensation throughout Toby’s system. His tummy’s alarm bell was ringing once more. Climbing a roof and fighting off dogs one and an eighth your size was hard work. Fur was frazzled. Nails were chipped. Muscles were used. Calories were burnt. It was time for an afternoon snack, Toby had earned it. Since the great multi-colored hunter hadn’t had his daily allotment of feathers yet, snack du jour was to be bird, flown in fresh hourly. Or at least that was the picnic on the run plan. Here birdie, birdie, birdie…I just wanna play. It won’t hurt, I promise. It should be noted Toby’s promises were worth less than his fur coat.
The fact that this savage safari came with the added bonus of not having to prance very far at all was no small coincidence. If Toby was a professional at anything it would have to be loafer. He was one lazy, chubby, smug, spoiled, and pampered house pet. If Toby had any training in scuba, and the birdbath had been a bit deeper, he wouldn’t have had to move at all. Traditionally cats supposedly hate water, but he wasn’t against going against tradition if it filled his growling stomach.
Since kitty-cat sized scuba gear isn’t easy to find Toby had to take up a strategic position in the nearest tall grass he could find. Darn that Lillian, always mowing her lawn so short! If she had to catch her own Thanksgiving turkey you can bet it would be as high as an elephant’s eye. Directly under the birdbath was out of the question. He’d tried numerous times before, but just wasn’t agile enough to pull a backwards summersaulting half-twist leap upwards off. Next closest cover was under the concrete bench a whole four feet away. So in the deepest shade he lay in wait, letting the sun work its dehydrating magic on the flying future fowl feasts.
Dang wind, quit blowing so much, you’re holding things up! It took longer than Toby would have liked, but after nearly a half hour of circling and near landings, a nice juicy brightly colored blue jay stopped in to top off its tank. The cat tensed up preparing for his pounce. The tightly wound trap was sprung and Toby was in the air before the water-laden bluebird. Victory is mine! cheered Toby as best he could with feathers in his teeth as he marched proudly back towards his shady spot. Just when he was about to relax and enjoy tenderizing his meal, Lillian pulled back into the yard beeping her blasted car’s horn. Not now, dammmit!
If experience had taught Toby one thing, it was not to be caught red-pawwed with “pretty birdie” flagrante delicto feathers in mouth! “Bad kitty” had one chance to run as fast as he could and seek cover under the back deck to finish his still-breathing meal. Alas the gods did not smile upon furballs that day. Or perhaps they had done so once, earlier with Ralfundo, and there was a limit of one miracle per day. Anyway Lillian’s shoe flew into Toby’s midsection and before the startled bird blood-sucker knew what hit him, his captured prey had flown the coup. Dang Lillian and her impeccably bad timing…and perfect aim! Curses foiled yet again! At least Toby could expect to hear the sound of another can of cat food being open in the near future. Otherwise he might have hissed up one heck of a frustrated fussy furball fit.
To think of all the decapitated birds, squirrels, and baby rabbits I dropped at her feet as gifts of respect….what was I thinking! There’s nothing more disappointed than a kitty who’s lost his pecking prey toy, especially when it was still alive and very much kicking. But it happened before, and it’ll happen again, and Toby was used to it. Still he didn’t like it, and Lillian needed to be taught a lesson. There may very well be a bird in every tree, but Toby wasn’t a kitten any longer, he hadn’t the energy to climb up after them all. A bird in the paw is worth three in the bush, possibly four or five now that Toby had put on some weight, and Lillian needed to be reminded of that. So for a while he brushed her off, giving her the cold coated shoulder with his back turned to her, nose raised snootily and rigid tail lifted straight-n-still in righteous indignation.
She got the message. Toby had trained her well. Mama loved her furry baby. In no time at all Lillian literally got down on her knees calling, “Here kitty, kitty…here darling,” whispered in her most seductive tones. It would take more than that to turn Toby’s stubborn little head.
Sorry missy, but I’m sick and tired of all that exercise going to waste. It’s one thing to get your heart racing in the thrill of the hunt and come up empty. Quite another to have victory plucked from your paws by a busybody birdwatcher! You know those feathered freaks do carry disease-ever heard of the bird flu? Without me keeping their population under control you’d be sneezing your head off. Such ingratitude! Toby quickly slunk past Lillian diving to the floor denying her the ultimate pleasure of petting his divine hide.
Pride goes before the fall. Toby’s tubby sagging gut was an obvious testament to the fact he was ruled more by his tummy than his pride. Despite what Toby’s inflated ego would have him believe guilt-ridden Lillian wasn’t sweating bullets, she knew from experience all she had to do was ring the dinner bell and all would be miraculously forgiven. Yet she was in no hurry to reward the pet with the disloyal attitude. Woman verses animal, once again the household had a stalemate. Only question was whose craving was stronger, Lillian’s tactile fixation for stroking something smooth, or Toby’s bottomless pit of a stomach demanding it’s hourly tribute. The house favored Lillian, by a long-shot.
Woman or beast, once again willpower would be tested in the Toby household. The war of wills was on. Lillian fired the first high-heeled shot by robbing hard-hunting kitty of his catch. Toby responded with salvos of ducking her affection. Tit for tat it was now master’s turn to put the screws on the cat. The alluring sound of the electric can-opener once again filled the air with its tempting whine. Toby’s autopilot had him in the kitchen before the spin-cycle was complete. Alas Lillian was just testing the waters. The chosen can in question containing green beans. Toby knew something was up when he heard the can lid snap off, but didn’t smell any aroma to get his taste buds drooling. Dang-nabbit! Ran all the way here and no pay-off. To think I almost meowed my “feed me now woman” command. She’ll pay for this outrage!
Toby did an about face and stomped out of the kitchen in utter disgust. The heavyweight lightweight did his best to shake and rattle the walls on his way out. All four paws hit the floor as hard as they could manage. He’d slam a door or three if he could have. Unfortunately being naturally light on his feet meant Lillian didn’t get the full impact of his disgruntled dissatisfaction. The lingering taste of bird had all but left his mouth and his stomach tremors had escalated into quakes. Toby scurried to the back of the house to make sure Lillian wouldn’t get the satisfaction of hearing his empty belly rumble. He went straight to his private place, the floor of Lillian’s walk in closet. Just to rub it in he was sure to sharpen his claws and teeth on a few of Lillian’s favorite shoes. The leather ones tasted the best.
Lillian was no fool. Having witnessed Toby’s strategic withdrawal from the corner of her eye she knew she had one pissed-off kitty on her hands. She’d seen that look and experienced that attitude many times before. She had better make a quick peace offering if she wanted no unpleasant surprises in her future. Yet again the sound of the tormenting opener of canned foodstuffs filled the house. Only this time Lillian opened the genuine article, cat food. But she had miscalculated. She had unintentionally opened Toby’s least favorite flavor; an old can that had been sitting on the cabinet shelf since she had made the mistake of bulking up on that discontinued flavor on a clearance sale. The finicky feline had snuck back just enough to get a whiff of the “lip-smacking liver and gizzard surprise.” I’m hungry, but not that hungry. Let me know when you get some real food and we’ll talk, thought finicky Toby on his way back to closet snacking.
The aroma of the day permeated the entire house, but Toby stayed pat. The questionable cat food sat in Toby’s dish for an hour uninterrupted as Lillian patiently cooked and ate her supper stalking it out. Twice she got up to shake the bowl invitingly with no dinner guest showing up. Guilt-trips come in many forms, and Toby had a few classic detours that he never tired of using when necessary. Meowing his furry fat butt off as if it were on fire had been done to death. Rubbing her shins for attention would only give her what she wanted. As would climbing up to his highest attention getting perches strategically located throughout the house. Walking into furniture as if he had too much catnip meant risking a trip to the dreaded vet. Ignoring Lillian was a time-tested favorite. Ignoring food was the cream in his saucer of torture. By the time the lady of the manor finished eating her tummy was full, but her heart was empty. Lillian hated it when Toby had the upper hand. That called for bringing out the big guns.
Being within the house meant he was within range and poor Toby never stood a chance. Lillian knew his weak spots better than he did. Toby was a sea-faring kitty, the fishier the better. The heavy ordinance came in a small can. The one delight that Toby couldn’t resist; the taste treat that tickled his tummy every time-tuna fish! Yummy flaky people food aged to perfection in its own fishy flavored brew. The scent of ambrosia hit the air. By the time the first drop of tuna water hit the counter an AWOL Toby was present and accounted for.
Peace talks were wordless but effective. The buffet of forgiveness had begun. To wet his appetite first course was just the liquid drained from the can. Without any apology the starving tabby just dove right in. Toby marinated his whiskers in it as he lapped up every last drop. After that he scoffed down the flakes of fish as if it would swim away if he let it. The war was over; the tummy was satisfied, the happy cat purr machine now running full blast. The beauty of tuna was the fact he’d be licking remnants of its flavorful juice off his face for hours to come. In addition it really helped lubricate those dry-as-dust fur balls.
Toby and Lillian never shook hands or hugged to make up. They had another ritual to heel hurt feelings. Lillian would plop down on the sofa to watch the glowing window and Toby would wait for a whole minute before plopping on top of her. She would stroke his fur, rub the scruff of his neck, tickle the hair on his chinny-chin-chin, and scratch behind his ears. Toby would let her. And Toby would PURRRRR! All was right with the world once more.Once full and satisfied Toby would be looking for a warm lap to nest in and Lillian was sole proprietor of the only one in town. Fact is it had been years since she last slept alone; at least not for a full 8 hours. In the morning he would have to face the music for the war-zone he had created on the floor of her walk-in closet.
The lines that are supposed to be Toby thinking are supposed to be in italics but they didn’t transfer that way