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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.

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.

Journal,

We just finished watching Iron Man, which is the first movie Horgan has ever let us watch that doesn’t star Garfield. For a human, Robert Downey Jr. is quite talented. His engineering skills surpass even those of the craftiest spy cat.

The movie itself was okay, except for some parts of it which I had a hard time believing. How can a man, even one wrapped in a metal suit, fall from the sky, land on the street, and survive?

If he were a cat, it would make more sense.

I said to Horgan, “You know what the world needs? Iron Cat.”

What he showed me next pretty much destroyed my faith in the ability of our government to keep secrets. I have serious doubts about my identity as a secret agent cat.

Because Iron Cat is real. These pictures and videos can only be explained by a long-standing secret feline weapons development program, going on under our very whiskers all this time. I can only hope that Iron Cat, wherever he is, is on our side.

Mad Cat
v8abF

An obviously early prototype. Notice the lack of complete body armor, and primitive weapons systems.

Source: http://imgur.com/v8abF

Mech Cat
cardboard-mech-cat-mechwarrior

An improvement over the first design. Presumably has a quadrupedal mode as well, or else is hopelessly anthropocentric. Lasers, if functional, are really cool. Must ask Horgan for lasers.

Source: http://imgur.com/gallery/c2vBj

Iron Cat in action

Somewhere there is a city in peril, and a giant robot cat is coming to save it. Or destroy it. I’m not exactly sure which.

The future of Iron Cat
mech__cat____thing___by_koonmo-d557nbx

A futuristic design, no doubt one of the planned final stages of the program. Armor and weapons are apparently now merged with biological constructs. Brilliant and terrifying.

Source: http://koonmo.deviantart.com/art/Mech-Cat-thing-311085789

I asked Horgan for a suit of armor for Christmas. He said he’d think about it.

Artwork by Ava Byroads

Artwork by Ava Byroads

Last week, Horgan, our Covert Animal Handler for the CIA, received a new mission from headquarters. I was initially relieved. He had added cat breeds to our foreign language lessons (who knew there there was a whole world beyond domestic short hair and domestic long hair?) and I was looking forward to field work again.

No such luck. “Even I don’t get to go, buddy,” he said. “This is for advanced feline agents only. They specifically requested Lester.”

Lester put down his flashcards and blinked. “A solo mission? That’s above my pay grade. Do you think I’m ready? I don’t have a suitcase. Do I have to fly? What if my passport is expired? What if I get–YEOW!” The black tip of his tail was swishing so rapidly back and forth across the carpet, Pfizz had darted across the room and pounced on it.

“Thorry,” Pfizz said through a mouthful of fur. He spit out Lester’s tail. “I thought you were a mouse.”

“Lester, you don’t need a passport,” Horgan said. “You’re a cat.”

I’ll let Lester explain the rest.

————————————-
Field journal of Feline Agent L. McMuffin,

Undercover assignment, Day 1

Location: Unable to reveal

Date: Unable to reveal

Mission: Infiltrate household and report suspicious activity.

Feline observations:

This look? You think it's something special? Don't flatter yourself.

This look? You think it’s something special? Don’t flatter yourself.

1. The house is run by a feline matriarch. She prefers the high ground. Avoids contact, except via teeth. The look of disdain captured by this photo is representative. Criminal potential: HIGH

2. The low ground is covered by a large, orange blanket. With feet. Excessively demonstrative. Purrs at the first sight of food or a human lap. Is too fat to reach either unaided. Criminal potential: LOW

My food...it's so far away. Yet somehow, I keep getting bigger.

My food…it’s so far away. Yet somehow, I keep getting bigger.

Human observations:

Majority of household activities are dictated by two miniature humans. They spend most of their time either playing with cats or dressing up as them. Once, I caught them smuggling large amounts of colorful currency into the basement. They spent a lot of time buying, exchanging, and mortgaging property. One of them spent time “In jail” during this activity. I suspect they are dwarves being groomed to infiltrate the Secret Agent Cat training program. Criminal potential: EXTREMELY HIGH.

I reported my findings to Horgan.

Meow. This isn't going to cause trouble at all.

Meow. This isn’t going to cause trouble at all.

He laughed at me. “Lester, the kids were playing Monopoly.”

“Then what was I there for? It was highly suspicious, Boss.”

He held a remote control up to my back, pressed a button, and much to my surprise, a voice started talking. I recognized the owner of the cats and dwarves saying, “Why do we have a foster cat again?” Horgan fast-forwarded through the recording, listened to bits here and there, and made notes.

At the end, he nodded, and said, “Thanks to you, we now have proof that Switzerland is trying to start a canine secret agent program.”

“I never saw anything.”

“They talked about it while you were asleep.”

“The dwarves? I knew it!”

Horgan’s coffee spilled. Through his nose. “The parents, Lester. The parents.”

“You mean all that time I was a glorified tape recorder?”

“The best undercover spies are the ones who don’t even know it.”

Used. For the sake of my country.

It’s better than being a cat toy, I suppose.

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