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Lester, sneaking up on me: “Timber, I’m worried about you.”

Me, closing the laptop: “What do you mean?”

Lester: “You’re taking this new role a little bit…seriously, don’t you think?”

Me, sitting on the laptop…which just happens to still be warm: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Lester: “Is this your Dropcam project again? Spying on the pets of the world? Looking for new recruits?”

Me: “Ha! Like you’re any better. Mr. ‘SpyCatNumberOne’ on Tumblr.”

Horgan: “Boys, what are you arguing about? Do I need to take your computer privileges away? Again? Get back to your Russian language lessons!”

Us: “Yes, Boss.”

Journal–If I COULD get a Dropcam pet monitor in every home, how easy would recruitment be?? Maybe there’s room in the CIA budget.

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Let’s face it. Cats make great spies. We’re quiet and sneaky. We travel well (as long as it isn’t in the car). We adapt to many environments (though we prefer sunbeams and a gentle breeze).

What could be better than a spy cat? I made the mistake of asking Horgan one day.

“Dropcam,” he said.

Horgan is a Covert Animal Handler, but he does love his gadgets.

I sniffed the camera he was reverently removing from its packing material. “You’re not going to put that on me, are you Boss?” It looked heavy. I’m a big cat, but stealth would be difficult dragging something the size of a grapefruit.

He slipped it into a ceiling mount that hadn’t been there yesterday. “Oh, no, this is something better.”

Oh, no, that was worse. It was a spy camera. I backed under the kitchen table. He hadn’t even had his coffee yet—when had he had time to do all this?

He saw my reaction. “I’m not going to spy on you, Timber. I’m just testing it.”

Uh huh. The way he was just testing the Wii, or the Xbox, or the GoPro. I’m sure that’s why he aimed it’s deceptively cute little eye at the living room, where Pfizz was practicing karate and Lester was looking at Facebook.

I nudged Lester off the computer and looked up this “Dropcam”. It was worse than I imagined. Giraffes. Turtles. Adoptable cats. Maybe even…you.

See for yourself:

TreeHouse Humane Society (Lester says he wants to live there. I had to explain to him what a Humane Society was, even one as nice as this one. In the mean time, he borrowed Horgan’s credit card and placed an order for some stairs and shelves to decorate our walls.)

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Peninsula Humane Society – Cat Room (Pfizz has a theory. Put spy cameras in ALL the humane society cat rooms, and monitor them to see which cats are most successful at their escape attempts. Recruit junior feline agents. I think he’s onto something. The only problem is, these rooms look so nice, none of the cats seem interested in escaping.)

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Dropcam Virtual Zoo (Horgan overheard us. He insists the CIA is not monitoring the Giraffe house to recruit new agents. But he never said anything about the Cheetahs.)

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Dropcams: They’re sleek. They’re quiet. They’re everywhere. Maybe they’re better than spy cats.

But do they keep your toes warm at night?

Journal,

Today I stumbled on a corner of the Internet devoted to the humiliation of cats and the barbaric practice known as “cat shaming”:

Tumblr.

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Why, Internet, why? What would drive cats to such depths? We stalk the countertops and toilets of the world with pride. I know no cat, ever, driven to offer such a depraved confession as I encountered on this site. Dropped a sock in the litter box? So what! Peed on a hamster? What else are they good for!

Some of these cats’ confessions seemed a bit too…contrived. Conveniently placed. There were pictures with incriminating glimpses of human hands. Some of these signs were—you’re not going to believe this—tied with string around the cats’ necks.

I told you it was hideous.

So I did some research.

Ironically, the whole thing started with dogs in August of 2012.  

Dog shaming may have started out as a cute human trick— who hasn’t poked fun at dogs now and again?

But it’s gone too far. It’s time to take a stand, felines—don’t let them put words at your paws. Using my secret agent skills, I snuck into a local home and interviewed four cats. Here’s what they REALLY want to say.

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All responses were reported with NOTHING BUT PRIDE. Nothing but pride, felines.

Even the pooping on the rug thing.

Image“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days” — Benjamin Franklin

Horgan’s sister came to visit for New Year’s. She smelled fine, kept to herself, and didn’t ask questions about the cache of weapons under the guest bed. This post is not about her.

It’s about her cat.

It started the moment Aunt Helga arrived, fluffy white cat in hand.

“You never told us she was bringing a cat,” I hissed at Horgan.

“Timber, this is Lolita. Be polite. Lolita, this is Timber. He’s not usually like this.”

“Do I have to share the litter box?”

“You share it with Lester and Pfizz already.”

Actually, I didn’t. Being former barn cats, even in the dead of winter, they still went outside. It was one thing to lick your own poop off your paws. But a stranger’s?? How could I make Horgan understand??

The white ball of fur hopped to the floor, looked me up and down, and stuck her tongue out. She disguised it as a lick of her paw, but I knew.

Because she ran under the bed and hid for the rest of the day.

On Day One, she left a hairball in my water dish. Was it because Helga forgot to pack her food? Did our diet not agree with her delicate stomach, as Horgan suggested? Try to be patient, Timber, he said.

On Day Two, she stole my tuna.

“She stole my food, Boss!”

“She hid all day yesterday. She was probably hungry, Timber.”

On Day Three, I woke up and she was sleeping on Horgan’s bed. In my spot. And he was petting her.

On Day Four, she had Lester and Pfizz teaching her how to shoot a pellet gun.

By Day Five, she still smelled no more like a mackerel than she had on the day she arrived. I was very relieved when Aunt Helga announced they would be returning to Minnesota that afternoon.

Lolita licked me goodbye. “Thank you for everything, Timber. I was really scared about this trip, but thanks to you guys, I had a really good time.”

Oh.

“Not every cat is a secret agent cat,” Horgan reminded me. “Most of them are just cats.”

“For a regular cat,” I said, “I suppose she was okay. Even if she didn’t smell like fish.”

Horgan is one of the world’s only Covert Animal Handlers. He is an expert on cats. He’s a great boss. But there are some things he will never understand.

Horgan: “Why are you always leaving hairballs on the kitchen floor, Timber?”

Me: “Would you prefer I stopped taking baths?”

Horgan: “How about you stop eating things with backbones? I can’t tell you how many tiny skeletons I’ve cleaned up this week.”

Me: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Horgan: Disgusted sigh.

There’s a simple answer to the mystery of why cats throw up hairballs:

Because they are there.

But is it ever that simple?

According to Wikipedia, a hairball is a collection of fur that is vomited when it becomes too big. (Yes, Wikipedia has an entry on hairballs.) I’ll spare you the picture and the video; anyone familiar with cats can bring to mind the unique sounds and motions that can only indicate the return of that which cannot be digested.

A hairball, when placed properly, can mean many things:

– Your offering of food, though generous in portion, was unpleasing to my palate. I was bored, so I ate it anyway. But don’t think I liked it.

– Your offering of food, very generous in portion, was extremely pleasing to my palate. Unfortunately, it was too much for my stomach, which is a bit upset from a romp with the catnip. You should have anticipated that.

– My long, luxurious coat is shining, but the residual layers are accumulating in a packed cylinder near my pyloric sphincter.

– The natural diet of cats, which includes a variety of small mammals with indigestible bones and fur, relies on hairballs. No hairballs, no more room in the stomach. Please understand this, and feed me the occasional vole.

As a secret agent cat, I have needs. They aren’t elaborate. They aren’t complicated. Litter box. Kibble. An open door policy with my employer.

As a covert animal handler, Horgan is a good boss. Generous with the bacon. Attentive with the litter box scoop.

My only complaint is about the bathroom.

Me: “You’ve been in there for, like, fifteen seconds already.”

Horgan: “Timber, privacy, please.”

Me: “MRAOW!”

Horgan: “Get your paws out from under the door! Don’t you have documents to translate?”

Me: “Lester’s on the computer.”

Horgan: “What’s he working on?”

Me: “No, he’s ON the computer. Taking a nap.”

Horgan: A deep, profound silence, followed by a prolonged exhalation.

Me: Scratching at the door. “It’s been SIXTY SECONDS, Boss! I can’t stand it!”

Horgan: “The cat flap is open, Timber. Go outside if you can’t hold it.”

Me: “It’s not that.”

Horgan: “What is it?”

Me: More scratching. “The DOOR. It’s…it’s…CLOSED!” SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH.

Horgan: “TIMBER! It’s not too late to have you declawed!”

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