cats

Posted by Ellen

Students spotted it first, early on the morning of December 2: a little ball of fur near the door outside a high school in Boca Raton, Florida.

A ball of kittens, of course, two of them, tangled together in a tabby clump and much too tiny to be out on their own. They were lucky little kittens, however; each was rescued and ultimately adopted by an English teacher at the school, and one of those English teachers just happened to be our own Officer Al of the grammar patrol (the alt-write, he tells us). Both little kitties have thrived.

But like all cats, they showed up without names. And like all cats adopted by English teachers, they needed literary names, not to mention all the other fraught sorts of names catalogued by T.S. Eliot.

Allen named his cat Scout, as in To Kill a Mockingbird. But a couple of days later, when he finally got little teeny tiny Scout to the vet for a checkup, there was a surprise: Scout was a male kitty. He would need a different name. Why? We can't know these things, but Allen was very sure of it.

He considered Travis, as in Travis McGee. He considered McGee, as in Travis McGee. But those names weren't right.

He considered Sue, as in Johnny Cash. Nope.

So he settled on Phineas, from A Separate Peace, Phinny for short. And Phinny he was, until within a couple of weeks he wasn't Phinny any longer but Phinn. No, not Phinn: he was Finn. Maybe as in Huckleberry. Or maybe as in Phineas. The ambiguity was delicious.

Meanwhile, the other kitten from the clump outside the school, also a male, was named Dante. In the photo above, Finn at left and Dante on the right are back together again for a recent brotherly meetup and play date.

We might think this name thing is all settled now, but like the poet says, we think that because we're stupid:

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name

Posted by Ellen

Maggie Stein and Colin Doody write from Rochester, New York:

We have two cats: Mac and Jasper. Mac is this tall, slim, elegant, handsome, smart and funny young man. However, as he has a shiny black coat, he is fairly difficult to photograph. You can see his eyeballs in the top picture above. That's one of his favorite hiding places: behind all of his favorite DVDs. He's got a comprehensive collection ranging from boy meets world and full house to sleepless in Seattle to black hawk down.

Jasper is our chubby, off-white, special little boy. While he is super cuddly and floppy (as you can see in the two pictures above), he is also less adept at normal cat functions. He often gets stuck up on top of our shelving unit, and he struggles with bathing, using the litter box, and controlling his caloric intake. He might also have a thyroid problem (which, as it turns out is a huge problem due to Rochester's soil), as he likes to sleep at least 18 hours a day. One of his favorite pasttimes, when he's not sleeping of course, includes pulling Q-tips and sponges out of drawers. He also enjoys occupying public areas in protest. While he doesn't voice his opposition well, we think he may have something against Ikea (see photo below). 

We hope that our special boys make the Good Morning email. They would be so proud of themselves. Mac might even link to it on his Facebook account. Those interested might consider friending Macbot J. Catson.... he could use a few more friends. (Please don't tell him we said that.)