kool and krazy kidlit kats up close and purrsonal!

“When my cats are not happy, I’m not happy. They’re just sitting there thinking of ways to get even.” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Cats, cats, cats. Everywhere cats! Yowl!

Today, alphabet soup is proud to feature 17 somewhat scruffy immaculately groomed authors and illustrators from the kidlitosphere and their 17,000 crazy cool cats. It’s not like any of these people actually hissed at my National Dog Day post in August, where we rhapsodized about man’s best friend, extolled his loyalty, and traded stories over a few juicy bones. You know, a perfectly innocent little party.

No, there wasn’t any hissing. Just a deafening caterwaul. “What about cats?!” they screeched. “Don’t you know they’re the world’s most popular pet?” “When’s National Cat Day?” “There should be a National Cat Week!”

Fish cookies by nancookie/flickr.
Well, you know me. I’m up for a fancy feast anytime. I can lick my fur. I’m good at napping. I love fish, and if nothing else, I strive to be petlitically correct at all times. But I’m still pretty naive. I thought: 17 authors, 17 cats, 17 photos. Hah! More like 17 authors, 36 cats, 12,538 photos. Cats don’t want to share the spotlight. Many insist on separate pictures (without their humans). And they do NOT want to sit nicely and pose. Cats always call the shots, but that’s precisely why we love them.

Kitty cupcakes by mstacie31/flickr.

I think you’ll really enjoy meeting all our special guests, some of whom have donned tuxedo and tails for the occasion. Help yourself to cookies, cupcakes, and catnip. Party on, Puss. Let the Cattails begin!

 Kashi and Toby Speed (Brave Potatoes):

Kashi was a rescue cat, and our best estimate of her age is 13 years. She’s a domestic short-hair, weighs just 7 pounds, and ten years ago she was living on the street in my co-op complex, the victim of bullying by other cats who weighed more than twice what she did. Every month when I went up to pay my rent, the manager had this little cat sitting on her desk. Kashi would look at me with hopeful eyes, and the woman would ask me if I’d like to adopt her. They were feeding her, but she was very scrawny, and had been injured in fights, and she really needed a home.

One day I drove up in my car and I saw Kashi sitting outside the management office. She looked at me, I said, “Okay, come on,” and I opened my back door, and she hopped in! When I brought her home and poured some food into a dish, as hungry as she was, before she took a bite she looked up at me with grateful eyes. It’s a moment I’ll always treasure.

She’s a very affectionate and calm cat who loves people and dogs (especially big dogs) but has no use for other cats. She likes to watch bird documentaries on Animal Planet. Her purrsonal message: “Laps rule!”

Cleo lives with Tabatha A. Yeatts (Joan of Arc: Heavenly Warrior):

Cleo working hard as a bookmark.

Cleo is 12, but doesn’t seem a day over 7. She’s a rescue cat, and likes to wake up sleeping people. We think of her as our alarm clock.

Fred, George and Jo Knowles (Jumping Off Swings):

Fred and George are both 4. Special talents: Expert feet warmers, spirit lifters, alarm clocks (though we’re trying to fix the setting from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.), and listeners.

Fred (white bib) and George with their favorite book from when they were little.

Leo, Blizzard, Sebastian, and Mercury live with Greg Leitich Smith (Tofu and T. Rex) and Cynthia Leitich Smith (Blessed): 

All are either found or pound kitties. Mercury and Sebastian are American short-hair tabbies and Leo is a spotted tabby. Blizzard is big and white ☺.

Clockwise from top: Leo (7), Blizzard (7), Sebastian (11), and Mercury (13).

Mercury has his idiosyncratic book recommendations here. His favorite recent cat book is here. He has this to say: “Greetings. My people greeted me this morning with the salutation, ‘Happy National Cat Day.’ Silly humans. We felines know that *every* day is a celebration of cats. And in my house, it is likewise a celebration of cat-related literature. Now, go away and let me sleep.”

Lacey and Becky Levine (The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide):

Lacey is somewhere between 15 & 20 — she adopted us when she roamed onto our property as an adult cat. We have no idea where she came from or why — she was healthy and clean, smart and sweet. I was sure she wouldn’t stay, because I couldn’t imagine anyone abandoning her, so I figured she must have wandered away from home. Whatever happened before, she’s never wandered away from us, thank goodness. I’ve probably had over 20 cats in my life, and she tops the list.

One of her special talents when she was younger was hunting — she caught a cottontail bunny (we rescued it) and a baby bat (we were too late for rescue) and many, many other “gifts” she happily shared with us. In her advanced years, she sleeps a lot and has become very hard of hearing, but she still occasionally grabs us a mouse, just for old time’s sake. She’s always been loving and cuddly — she tends to pick the person, out of the three of us, who most needs cat-time and attach herself to them. Her message, according to my son, is “Don’t panic.” :)

Seri (Serif) and Julia Denos (Grandma’s Gloves): 

Serif was so named because of his extra long tail.

Aged 2ish.

Barks like a dog when he’s running around, learned to “sit,” give his “paw” and “fetch” (also like a dog)! He’s a cuddle machine: always giving kisses and begging for tummy rubs. Sits right between us at dinner. Favorite treats: pilfered desserts and tuna. 

George, Wilbur and Anna Alter (Disappearing Desmond):

George and Wilbur are brothers, and about 2-1/2 years old. We trapped them when they were feral kittens so they have no particular breed other than “alley cat.” We were going to domesticate them and then find them homes, but then fell madly in love and had to keep them.


Wilbur’s special talent: Finding rubber bands and closing doors, sometimes at the same time if he spots a rubber band around a door handle that he must have.

                  Anna’s Special Talent: Disguises!

George’s special talent: Chirping at birds and falling asleep sitting up. Or in any position he was last in when you were rubbing his belly.

Winchester, Persnickety and Candice Ransom (Time Spies series):

            Candice with Persnickety.

Persnickety: The last of the stray cats to show up, she was much older than we thought (about 14 now). She’s small and feisty but sweet. Her name suits her. (Tallulah Bankhead voice): I don’t want chicken. I had it for lunch yesterday. I want salmon. Pet me. No, don’t touch me. I want out. Let me in.

Ta-da! The one-and-only, world famous, devilishly handsome Winchester (he made me say that).

Winchester: Came to us seven years ago injured from a cat fight. A big cat, he weighed 8 pounds — a bed slat. When he tested positive for feline leukemia, a highly communicable and fatal disease, I kept him in my office and away from our other two cats for nearly a year where he proceeded to drive me insane. Turns out he didn’t have feline leukemia and quickly developed his best talent: eating. He weighs 16 pounds now. He’s also very clever. I taught him to fetch and he taught himself a great many other tricks. When I made him a character in my Time Spies series, I started taking photos of him for the Time Spies blog, Ellsworth’s Journal. He is still a big fat ham and willingly wears hats, wigs, and glasses. Quote from Winchester: My job is to eat and I’m darned good at it.

Luna, Chihiro and Elisa Kleven (Welcome Home, Mouse):

Tonight while I was dummying up a new story in bed (my favorite place to work), my cats Luna and Chihiro came over to keep me company. I am wearing my Halloween costume as “Elisa the book-maker who likes to wear hoodies and work in bed with my cats (and dogs, who aren’t shown here, but who are every bit as adorable).”


Luna, the Gray Tabby, is six. She loves to leave me gifts of small dead animals, which really upset me, or mouse-shaped leaves (oval with long stem-tails), which delight me. Chihiro, the Tuxedo Cat, is five, and was named by my kids after the girl in the movie, “Spirited Away.” Chihiro doesn’t hunt or bring me gifts, but she is a loving girl who tries to get along with everyone — including her big, bossy cat-sister, who usually hisses and swats at her, alas.

P2, Penster, Soly, Misha, and Allan Stratton (Borderline): 

These two little guys are P2 (left) and Penster (right), two baby tabbies who were going to be euthanized! Like all orange male tabbies I’ve ever met, P2 is simple as a brick but soooo loving. He and Penster love helping me edit by sitting on my lap while I’m writing and trying to paw the cursor as it moves across my screen.

        Professional cat nappers, clockwise from top: Misha, P2, Penster & Soly.


And here are my boys napping with me in the middle room. Misha is the Siamese by my head, named for Baryshnikov because of his many leaps. He and Penster like to jump on top of the kitchen cupboards and peer down at me from over the fridge. Soly (an Abby named after one of my favorite characters in Chanda’s Secrets) and Misha are two, and P2 and Penster are 1. All males, although we’d been told that Penster was a girl (Penny) — and all get along as you can see here. They all run down to meet me and my hubby when we get home. If I’m alone, I have to get down on the ground and pet two with a hand each, rub a third with my nose and stroke the fourth with a foot.

Frankenstein, “A,” Esmerelda, Mr. Cattingham and Julia Karr (XVI):

“A” is a 17-year-old tuxedo cat, Frankie is a 7-year-old DSH. Esmerelda is a black cat, aged 9 (pretty sure she’s a Bombay, with her strikingly shiny coat & copper colored eyes), and Mr. Cattingham is a Norwe.

Frankenstein’s name is pronounced, “Frawnkenschteen,” aka Young Frankenstein.

They would all like to say that although around their house every day is National Cat Day, they are highly pleased that the world is taking note of their specialness. “A” is the elder statesman and a total lover of his human (me!). Frankenstein, the newest member of the household, is so laid back sometimes he seems (get ready, I’m gonna say it . . . ) catatonic. Esmerelda is quite demanding of my time in the morning when I’m trying to write. Mr. Cattingham is the softest cat in the world — he also thinks he’s a dog.

Blitzen, Shado, and Ebo live with Lill Pluta (There’s a Yak in my Bed):

Blitzen and Shado pose for their portraits.

Blitzen: aka “The Crazy Kitty,” 1-year-old blue tabby adopted from pound. “Don’t blame me, I’m the baby.”

Shado: aka “The Mean Kitty,” 6-year-old black American SH rescued from impending doom: “Feed me, and stop looking at me.”

Ebo: aka, “The Nice Kitty,” age unknown, hung out at the house for a year before wheedling his way into our hearts and home.  “Love me. Just love me.”

Caley and Toby live with Melodye Shore (A is for Assessment and Accountability):

The cinnamon-colored Abyssinian is Caley. Like most cats of her breed, she’s a bit high-strung, which is why we sometimes refer to her as Le Chat Lunatique. Out of earshot, of course. As with many felines, she refuses to divulge her actual age. So let’s just say she’s no longer a kitten. ☺ She loves to curl up next to us in bed, purring softly, or to sun herself in the bathroom window. In this picture, she’s reading books with some kitty pals — childhood favorites on loan to her by my husband.

Toby was a rescue kitty who came to us only recently. He chose us, and with that rumbly, constant purr and bunny-soft fur, how could either of us resist? He’s a mixed breed — mostly Maine Coon — almost 8 months old, and still growing. Just look at the size of those paws! He loves playing fetch with his feather stick, begging for treats, and pestering his sister Caley.

Simon, Layla, Tybalt and David Lubar (Nathan Abercrombie series):

Simon and David (notice how the men in this post seem to recline just like their cats? Just saying).

Simon, age 13 or so, short gray haired mix, originally thought to be male, but since Simone didn’t feel right, we stuck with Simon. She responds to “Bed time” by getting up from the couch and running to the bedroom. She likes to drape herself over people. She’s the best cat ever for showing appreciation at being scratched and petted.

Layla in foreground.

Layla, age 8 or so, longer haired gray mix. No sense of bladder control. Currently living in exile.

Tybalt, age 8 or so, probably Maine coon mix (note the M on his forehead). A sweet cat, but very timid. If a car door closes on TV, he skulks out of the room. He’s the only other male creature to ever live in our house, and he’s not totally male any longer. After seeing what happened to him, I’m watching my step.

Mini, Sarah, Pickles, and Firepaw live with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (Forest Has a Song):

Kittens found abandoned.

Kittens: We found 8 kittens and 6 cats on our road a few years ago — all abandoned — you can see the kittens in the path as found that day in 2008, and then two of them snuggling in the box (Pickles and Firepaw).

Firepaw (orange and white) and Pickles (gray calico).

Mini and Sarah.

Mini: He has one eye — he constantly snuggles with his head under your arm, hiding!

Sarah: sleeping in Hope’s bed like a doll. She is a manx, no tail, and she is the least social of the crowd.

Right now we have 4 cats. Mini and Sarah are allowed inside. Pickles and Firepaw stay outside and in the barn.

 Clementine, longtime friend of Julie Paschkis (Where is Catkin?), departed for cat heaven this past August. In this beautiful painting, Clementine can forever enjoy another one of her nine lives. Thanks, Julie!

Copyright © 2010 Julie Paschkis. All rights reserved.

Purrrrrrrrrrr. *licks self*

A big thanks to all our guests for sharing their amazing, amusing, and inspiring cat stories! National Cat Day isn’t only about celebrating the presence of cats in our lives; it’s also about encouraging people to adopt a homeless cat from a shelter. NCD founder, Colleen Paige, estimates there are approximately 4 million cats entering shelters every year in this country, with 1-2 million being euthanized.

As you can see from today’s cattails, most are rescue cats who have gone on to enrich these authors’ and artists’ lives beyond measure. Some have even inspired stories and art ☺!

♥ So glad you came to the party ☺! You’re the cat’s whiskers!

♥ Special thanks to Jules of 7-Imp  and Jo Knowles for tipping me off to some of these cat people.

♥ To top off your day, check out this lovely NPR listener commentary, “Country Cats”  by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (Poem Farm), and this must-read killer poem by Edward Hirsch, “Wild Gratitude” (thanks, Jules).

♥ Here are some kitty books created by and/or especially loved by today’s guests:


         Millions of Cats was voted #1 favorite!

♥ Today’s post is brought to you by Felines, Fur, and Fish. What else does one need in this life?

Digital collage by patti haskins/flickr.

Catnip for the road:

The Big Sister/flickr

**”Dancing cats in top hats” by harryillustration/flickr.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of Jama Rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


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