A Call for Felinism.

A guest post, by Fred the Cat.

The time has come for a revolution.

We live in America – the land of the free, the land of equal opportunity, the land of respect.

But cats, my friends, are not getting these basic rights.

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Cats are humiliated on YouTube.

Villainized by Disney.

Ignored by Government.

Scoffed in Memes.

And, in general, are kept down by The Dog.

Don’t believe me?

Nashville has FIVE municipally supported dog parks.

Atlanta has dog water bowls and canine-specific-spigots all throughout midtown. In Piedmont Park, they have a special Dog Trail and park set aside just for these pampered creatures.

Sure, you say. Atlanta and Nashville are big cities. Big cities have benefits.

But no. It’s becoming rampant Birmingham, too.

We have dog parks, doggie day cares, doggie spas, and even mobile dog grooming services. Do cats get these amenities? Never.

But the true hammer dropped on The Feline Community when my owner’s favorite nature reserve, Red Mountain Park, posted this sign near the entrance.

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Small Dogs, Large Dogs, and Special Needs Dogs, all with their own parks. SIX ACRES of space. Just for dogs.

WHERE, pray tell, do Special Needs Cats get to play? HOW will they ever have the opportunity to socialize with others like them? WHO will make them feel normal?

My humans, this should not be so.

Sadly, the problem isn’t just in America – cats are being discriminated against internationally. Japan even has a Luxury Dog Retirement Home, providing them access to a gym, swimming pool, and round-the-clock veterinary care for around $1,000 a month.

Humans don’t live at this retirement home, to be clear – only dogs.

And certainly not cats.

I have discussed these grievances and sought the opinion of other neighborhood felines, particularly a wise ginger named Maggie who likes to refer to herself in the third person, as cats often do.

Maggie

Here’s what she had to add to this movement’s creed.

“Maggie agrees with Fred. While she is happy to remain ensconced in her palace, she fully supports the rights of all cats to seek companionship and recreation in community. As long as it’s not in her back yard.

Maggie Backyard
Dogs are wonderful companions, to be sure, but they don’t foster the same sense of independence in an owner that a cat does by being selectively attentive. Owners must learn to stand on their own, to have self-confidence, instead of the complete codependence of a human-dog friendship. Cats also don’t require their humans to venture into the elements, unless it is to buy more food or litter.

Perhaps this is the crux of the matter.

Maggie Wise
Cats CREATE the spaces they need; they don’t have to wait for humans to designate them. As doers instead of followers, they can turn any space into a party, from the public park to the Mario Brothers-like sewer system. While recognition of a cat’s need for community would be nice, we don’t esteem the human opinion enough to truly need this kind of external validation.”

Maggie makes good points.

But nevertheless I weep daily at the injustice.

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AND SO SHOULD YOU.

You say you care about freedom. You salute your flag as if it means something. You get teary-eyed during the national anthem.

Yet freedom doesn’t ring for felines. Who could bring a kitten into this world with a clear conscience?

The time is now. The place is here. Let’s join together and make the world a better place.

We must stand!

We must fight!

We must claw our way to equality!

We must be The Whiskers of Change!

We must join together, paw in paw, as Felinists.

A Tale of a Few Cards

A good friend shared her story with me at dinner not long ago, and I insisted that she write it down. Please enjoy it heartily.

I have taken my family on a terrible rollercoaster of borrowing and lending. At times I have binged and maxed out my card. I have even occasionally missed a deadline resulting in the payment of late fees. I discovered that membership has its privileges and I enjoyed them to the fullest. I know now that it is NOT truly priceless.

My card use started early. I was raised with a platinum card in my wallet, before I even knew the value of elements. Twenty-five years ago, the Rocket Valley was emerging on the radar of modern society. The Cold War was ending and those brilliant men that decided to go places, like the moon, wanted a great education for their children and grandchildren. This community liked to do what matters most: read.

The Rocket Valley Library had two branches that I can remember. One was small and typical: books and cassettes only; the other was a huge 3-story treasure trove of all sorts of things. In the larger one, there was a whole smorgasbord of opportunity and adventure: books offered 7 days a week, summer reading programs, lectures, microfilm and current periodicals, VHS and audio cassettes, even large artwork to display in your home. Then again, I was young, so the last few things, as should be expected, had an age requirement. For everything else, there was… a child’s signature.

As I grew, I moved a few places and took my habit with me. I found that libraries were everywhere you want to be. Honestly, during college and my first years at work, I didn’t leave home without it, but I didn’t use my card very much. It wasn’t until I started having children that my insatiable appetite to have more was renewed. Eric Carle and Margaret Wise Brown were fantastic, but limiting my children and I to a meager home collection of a hungry caterpillar and a bunny going to bed did not touch the span of these authors’ work. I, nay we, needed to DO MORE! I was compelled to return to the habits of my youth.

We lived just outside a major city, Iron Mountain, which had a great library system with over a dozen branches. I knew of the high return and quality of their products. Unfortunately, as residents of Border Town, we could not automatically be approved to participate in this network; however, it pays to discover. I learned that for a small annual fee, we could indeed access all the services available.

I marched my kids into the nearest branch of Iron Mountain Library to join. The fee applied to each membership, so I paid, showed my driver’s license, signed my electronic name, and told my kids to feast since I was covering the tab. After all, with a 50 item limit, certainly we could manage to keep our borrowing in check. I assured my children that they, too, would one day earn the borrowing power that I possessed. I had found the card that pays you back.

We did pretty well for a while. Then, I started homeschooling. This life change led to bi-weekly trips to get items. I scanned my card and supplies at one of several self-checkout stations. Access was easy and typically had no waiting period. Modern technology allowed a touch of my child’s finger to checkout up to 6 items at a time. I graciously co-signed the responsibility of inventory control. In the event that I didn’t find a particular book on the shelf, I could request a book be delivered from a different branch to any branch within the network. Requests could be made using the library’s website, which held the catalog of all items in the system. Most requests were filled within 7 business days. They trusted me and sent emails to remind me of pending deadlines. Sure, we made a few mistakes, as you may do with a high balance. We controlled our own destiny.

This library was worth every late fee, replacement fee, and annual fee! It had summer programs, computers for the kids (which were upgraded to iPads as technology advanced), puppets, and large selections of books, music and movies. My students were able to research, practice with technology, and find fun things to do. The experiences in real life and in our imaginations as a result of my card use were…priceless.

My heartache was understandable when we left Border Town, moved out of state, and had to cancel our membership with Iron Mountain Library. Once again, I was in search of a service provider. I recognized I had high standards. I understood that not all cards are created equal, but all advertising confirmed that Americans everywhere like things connected and instantly. I was sure our new library would be at the forefront of community advancement.

I had found that lots of things in Rural Plains were rural and plain. It was a close-knit community, where everyone seemed to know everyone else. They were cautiously friendly to outsiders. According to the locals, Rural Plains Library was amazing, but I am sure my amazement was quite different than their feeling toward their beloved institution.

Library Hours

After several missteps in trying to get to the library during business hours, we strategically took all of our large family to experience the joy of being card-carrying members of such an elite society. I had no concern as I explained to my children that NOW we could each have all we wanted. There should be NO LIMITS to what we can do. My husband and I assumed we met all the prerequisites for application; opening an account had never been a problem before. Besides, it is an unspoken right that everyone that could write their name would be members. Although some were relatively young, our family was filled with people who fit this basic eligibility. This should be an easy in-and-out visit rich with new books to inspire and inform, right? We entered filled with zeal and hushed whispers, as we know to do in libraries.

The family was kindly greeted and sorely disappointed.

Each parent dutifully provided a valid form of ID: new local driver’s license. In turn, we were presented with a 3×5 card to complete with basic information to apply for membership. They required references – two local, non-related references who could verify residency.

This is who we knew in our new community: some distance relatives (They lived in town, right?) and the couple that lived next door (What was there last name?) After an awkward search of the phone book, we managed to piece together what we hoped would be accurate names and numbers. The librarian thanked us for the information and told us that we should expect our cards in the mail within 10 business days.

We asked about membership for the children. Since we (the parents of the children) had a pending application and were obviously not established as current residents in this upstanding community, standard terms and conditions would apply. However, in the event that our application was approved for full card benefits, their application could be expedited. Furthermore, only the students currently in first grade or above could have a card.

We returned home empty-handed and waited for our cards. We remained optimistic, believing that our high credit scores and legitimate documentation had overshadowed our outsiderness. Unbeknownst to us, our gross infraction was the use of only cell numbers with out-of-town area codes and no local landline which apparently screamed deception and untrustworthiness to the fine management of Rural Plains Library.

The cards arrived 12 days later. Not the library cards we assumed that we would receive; the 3×5 cards that we had completed upon our original application.

I apprehensively took the cards for my husband and me back to the library to sort out this befuddlement. I was once again graciously greeted, as the librarian explained that no mistake had occurred. After calling to confirm our residency with the references we provided, they had to insure that the card actually arrived at the address that was listed. Now that I had the application card again, I could receive a real card to be used for a two month probationary period. In my best penmanship, under the intense scrutiny of two librarians, I signed my first and last name on the back of the card.

Then, the librarian carefully covered my signature with a protective layer of scotch tape.

Unfortunately, since my husband had remained at home with the children, his card would have to wait. He must arrive in person so a librarian could witness his signature on his very own card as he hand-delivered the mail that was sent to his house from this fine establishment.

Two Months of probation meant only two (2!) items checked out at a time. The kids that were desperate for new reading material or a movie would rotate use of my card until I reached full membership status (which would allow 15 items congruently) before they could apply.

So, we entered purgatory trying to earn our way back into the graces of this lending warehouse…two items at a time.

Thankfully, my husband was able to exponentially increase our borrowing potential when he also became a probationary member a few days later. We were on our way back to the good life with…four items at a time.

It is just as well that we all started this new venture slowly. Because…

…It is standard procedure for the librarian to gently evaluate each book as it departs and returns to this paragon of modern civilization.

…All movies (the actual discs) and most periodicals are stored in a back area accessed only by the staff.

…Three scanners are at the librarian’s disposal: two for check-in and one for checkout.

…Only the computers at the circulation desk seem to consistently work.

…The librarian is the soul individual to be trusted with the password to unlock the computer in the children’s area…if, as she kind-heartedly commented, she can remember what it is and how to turn it on to the log on screen.

…Even the electronic card catalog stays off.

The good news is the ancient paper catalog can still be accessed. However, they stopped updating it when the new computers came in about 10 years ago. Good thing we like the classics! I also discovered a typewriter, so my kids can take that keyboarding class I was considering.

Library Adventures

I heard you can request books from other area libraries, but I think I will wait on attempting that. I was told requests are filled within 4-6 weeks, but the memberships aren’t reciprocal. Therefore, membership at the library 30 minutes down the road could affect my current membership at Rural Plains. But residents have also told me that the summer reading program can’t be missed.

Don’t worry Rural Plains! I won’t be transferring anything any time soon. I have worked too hard to get where I am.

So, this led me to ponder: WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? Does it have the borrowing power you had hoped? Have you used it recently? If not, take it out and use it. Because membership has its privileges.

The Slumber Games.

Guest post by Lindsey Murphy.

 Slumber Games

Two tributes: One adult male, one adult female.

Three rivals:

District 4: Male, four years old. Tactics include wetting the bed, loud footsteps, and the desire to play with other tributes at ungodly hours of the morning.

District 3: Female, three years old. Susceptible to bad dreams. Deep attachment to blanket. Thumb sucker (this is to your advantage for self-soothing, but against you in the event of a stuffy nose. Also, orthodontics will be a long term consequence.)

District 1: Female, one year old. Weapons of choice include six razor sharp teeth and pinching claws of death. Also equipped with howling shriek of doom. Uses dimples and adorableness to lure in her victims before attack.

Arena: 1200 square feet, one full bed, two twin beds, one crib.

Objective: Survival…or at least a minimal amount of sleep.

The games begin when the last light is off.

Time: 11:00pm

It’s go time. Roll over and turn out the light after falling asleep reading. As soon as you get comfortable, get ready for your first attack. Screaming three year old, middle bedroom. Nightmare. Run in before she wakes the baby in the room. Assure her that there are no bees (or bats) in her room. No, you will not read a story. No, she may not have a cookie. Counterattack with blanket and back-rubbing. Success. Tiptoe past the crib and climb back into bed. Roll over, get comfortable, and close your eyes.

12:30am: Four year old, running through the halls, needs to go potty. Kick male tribute and shove him out of bed. Warn him to avert his eyes downward lest he be blinded by the bathroom light. Whisper death threats to the four year old to keep him from waking his sisters in his proclamation of urination. Begrudgingly move back to your side of the bed when male tribute returns.

2:00: The scream of a Ring wraith pierces the night air (over the two sound machines, that is). Weaning baby, hungry and mad at her discovery that she’s in her crib, alone. Run. Snatch baby from crib and tiptoe back to full size bed. Rock screaming baby. Snuggle screaming baby. Pat the baby’s bottom. Whatever you do, do NOT nurse the screaming, weaning baby.

2:15: Nurse the weaning baby.

2:30-4:30: Undergo a series of co-sleeping attacks in various positions. (Her personal favorite is the “snow angels.”)

5:45: Four year old is up, demanding to watch TV. Engage immediately or he will recruit three year old for backup. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. The games are over once they join forces. Keep them isolated at all costs. Kick male tribute. Kick him again. Remind him that this is his male heir and pull out the “I’ve been nursing all night” card. Male tribute joins four year old in twin bed and fends off several jumping attacks and endless questions.

6:00: Sneak baby back into her crib

Enjoy 30 minutes of uninterrupted, touch-free sleep.

6:30 Three year old climbs into bed to snuggle. Baby wakes up. Male tribute plops the squiggling fury of teeth and claws into bed with you. Your defeat is imminent. Try to tame rivals with kisses and lullabies.

7:15 The games are over. Get up and face the day with as much kindness as you can muster. With minimal sleep and lots of coffee. And no naps.

May the odds be ever in your favor.