View Full Version : The Polly Papers

April 16th, 2016, 11:34 AM
22 Sep 13

Furgason went to the land of Bastet in the fall of 2012 and Tigger followed him in June of 2013 and so Sasha had nobody to play cat games with. He moped around the house, lethargic and bored. “He opened up his eyes but they didn't seem to shine”, as the Lovin' Spoonful used to sing, and, since he hates all kinds of live music, and especially jug band music, we decided to get him a kettling. The word went out that we had an opening.

Jody's sister found one for us. It was kittled in a stable near the infamous Bolivar land fill, sometime in early August of 2013. She is a polydactyl calico with six toes on her front feet and four toes and a dew claw on her back feet. Her front feet look like two little catcher's mitts. We named her Polly. She is so tiny she can curl up in one of my hands. She has been weaned, though, and will eat hard cat kibble or wet food and can drink from a bowl. She was brought to us so young because bad things can happen to kittens in stables. Her owner was afraid one of the horses would step on her.

April 16th, 2016, 11:42 AM
10 Nov 13

Polly will attack and bite anything that moves. This includes Sasha's tail and ears. He is stressed to the point of pulling the hair out of his own back. He has to sit on his tail in self defense. He eventually gets aggravated enough to knock her down and chew on her some, but he is never rough enough to make her leave him alone. She loves the rough-house and attacks him even more ferociously. Sometimes she will walk toward him on her back feet and wave her front paws in his face.

She walks around the place like royalty, strutting in front and swaggering in back. She has the attention span of a gnat spinning in a vacuum.

April 21st, 2016, 12:27 PM
Thursday, 19 Dec 13

Today we put up the Christmas tree and train sets, but left the most fragile decorations and train layout scenery in their boxes. We figured this year the tree was going to be clumb on a regular basis so why tempt fate and the new kettling with the breakable stuff? We chided her for playing with the tree ornaments and , so far, damage has been nil. She seems fascinated by the moving trains but does not derail them.

I feed both cats their wet food in separate bowls. Polly noses Sasha out of the bowl he is eating from at the time. If he goes to the other bowl, soon she noses him out of that one too. (We seem to be harboring a Democrat in the house.) Sasha just sits and waits until Polly has eaten her fill before he continues eating.

I taught Polly the game of flies and grounders. While she was sitting on my lap, I held a small cat treat in my hand. She eventually caught on that these were special food. Then I put treats on my knee. She began to eat those too. Then I made sure she was watching and let one fall on the floor. She jumped down and gobbled that one. I began to drop them farther from the chair. Then I could begin throwing them around the room. Now, she watches my throwing hand and anticipates the trajectory. Sometimes she can swat them out of the air with those catcher's mitts of hers. I can throw them into the next room onto the hard floor and she likes to run in there, full speed, and do a bootlegger's turn. After a while, she gets wired and stares at my throwing hand and makes short, quick moves like a jumping spider.

April 21st, 2016, 12:30 PM
15 Jan 14

Polly is beginning to settle down a bit. Her ability to concentrate has doubled; she now has the attention span of two gnats spinning in a vacuum. “Two Gnats” will be her buckskinner handle. When those two gnats collide, she makes a big tail. Sometimes she starts the amplification in the center of the tail and spreads it toward both ends. Sometimes she starts it at the far end and makes it progress to the near end. Sometimes she only puffs up the far end. We call this “making a daisy”.

One morning, she surprised a spider in the bathtub. She attacked and ate it. Now she jumps into the tub and attacks invisible spiders. Sometimes they chase her out of there. She makes a big tail when that happens. But she always returns and kicks ass.

She is beginning to practice her leaps and flying leaps. If I tie a feather to a string and flirt it around, she can jump four feet in the air, do an Immelmann turn at the top, and land on all fours. Once, she launched herself off the back of my easy chair and , at the top of her trajectory, folded up her legs and wrapped her tail and assumed the configuration of a flying meatloaf.

May 2nd, 2016, 10:41 AM
7 Feb 14

Polly is beginning to prowl the house, scent marking everything within reach of her jaw. We called the cat mechanic and made an appointment for a few alterations before she begins to run through the house singing arias in the wee morning hours. The appointment was made for this morning at 7:15. It was cold – minus 7 degrees F. I put multiple layers of towels in the cat carrier and a couple of heat packets between the layers. A blanket went over the top to keep out drafts. She came home this afternoon, wearing a plastic Elizabethan collar (“the cone of shame”). She had always had a high-pitched, squeaky voice; she became a contralto in the car.

There is another appointment for March 3 to remove the stitches. I think that is too long. Those stitches can fester in that amount of time. The vet is a good one, but I will keep an eye on things anyway. That collar severely inhibits her super powers: she can't see very well in our games of flies and grounders and she can't get her teeth on Sasha's tail.

May 3rd, 2016, 10:50 AM
3 Mar 14

This morning, we took Polly to the vet to have her unstitched. It was cold again – about 10 degrees F. I put a hot water bottle in the cat carrier this time. She yelled for the 30 minute ride out and the 30 minute ride back. She stayed in the soprano range this time. It only took the tech a minute to remove the stitches. I could have done it myself if you had been here to hold the cat.

May 3rd, 2016, 10:52 AM
14 Mar 14

Polly now has accumulated enough gnats to operate the entire tail-puffing operation at one go. Sasha can make her do it. It is such a magnificent tail, we wish we could put hair spray on it so it would stay puffed out like that. Sometimes, she only puffs the far end. What is the sound of one gnat colliding . . . in a vacuum? When Sasha can put a big tail on Polly, it's gonna be a good day.

She spent most of her waking hours practicing her bootlegger turn on the bedroom floor. She uses her tail to help with the steering.

May 5th, 2016, 10:54 AM
27 Mar 14

I bought a quarter-pound of rubber bands today, thinking I could teach Polly a new chasey game to add variety to flies and grounders. I didn't have to teach her anything. She was onto the game from the first shot. I can shoot a band off my finger nearly anyplace: carom it off of walls, corners ceiling, furniture, etc., and she runs and pounces on it and thoroughly kills it. Sometimes she catches it before it hits the floor. I am trying to teach her to retrieve, but so far, she will only bring the quarry back halfway before dropping it. Eventually, she will carry them to the kitchen and drop them in her food dish.

I am trying to think of a name for the game. “Bandersnatch” would be good but it is already taken.

July 8th, 2016, 01:16 PM
17 June 2014

The Pollywog has a varied assortment of cat toys and a carpeted “cat bastion” to climb on and, best of all, another cat to play (or fight) with. But still she is bored. I can't spend my days playing flies-and-grounders and bandersnatch with her, so I made her a foraging toy.

The cat treats here are crunchy, pillow-shaped squares 3/8-inch on a side. I took a 6-oz plastic jar and cut a square hole in the side, slightly larger than a treat and then put a handful of treats inside. I tightened the lid and put the jar on the floor.

“C'mere, Little Bit. I'll show you how to work this thing.”

She was interested right away because the smell promised a tasty nosh. She watched as I rolled the jar along the floor. Soon a treat fell out. She gobbled it down and then looked at me.

“Hey! Pay attention! The action is here on the floor. 'When a wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.'”

I rolled the jar a couple of feet farther and another treat fell out. She scarfed that one down.

“There! It's your turn now.”

She nudged the thing along with her nose and about 3 feet later she foraged her first snack. After that, it was Katie bar the door. She rolled the toy with her nose and swatted it with her paws, Hoovering up the treats as they emerged. Eventually she found that she can roll the thing into a corner and slam it back and forth without the need to cover so much real estate. When that corner happens to be in the bedroom at first morning sparrow fart, even the big cats are entertained.

July 17th, 2016, 08:36 PM
9 September 2014

In our family, my generation was the first to learn English as a first language. My ancestors, all the way back to the 1830s in America, learned German first. To this day, the German accent survives in our community. Adults used the language when they didn't want the children to understand a conversation.

In college I was required to take a year of a foreign language. Since I was studying a science, the choices were between French and German. My advisors recommended French because that supposedly doesn't have so many rules. I thought lots of rules would make things easier. Besides that, speaking German would keep my uvula supple. So German it would be.

Alas, I lost most of the language over the next 40 years. There was nobody to speak with or to write to. I bought some old German literature books at flea markets and learned black letter so I could read them. But now I have very little left. But I can still handle Cat German!

Polly sits at the foot of my chair and stares at me.

“Hola der Pollykatz! Kommen sie hier und visitin der Popcat! Setzen sie auf mein lap!” I pat my knee a couple of times.

She gives me a trill and jumps onto my lap; sits and stares at me.

“Bin dry-gulchin der Sashacat und fightin mit spittin und hissin und gnashin der toothers? Ja?”

She glances to one side for a few seconds, analyzing the sounds to see if any of them amount to the Magic Word. She chirps and bobs her head a couple of times.

“Ist sittin auf laps und jonesin fur treats?”

There it is, hanging right out there on the end of the sentence. She gives me a trill, rises up, and lands a hard bunt on my nose. Mistress of the Flying Bunt. I hold up the box of treats and she gives it a high six and jumps down to the floor. We are going to have a game of flies and grounders.

She starts out in the batter's box and, if I can pitch the treats over the plate, she can swat them down and devour them. She is a good switch hitter, too.

She tires of this, eventually, and moves to the infield. The treats are square and they take bad hops when they hit the carpet. She watches my throwing hand and nothing gets away from her.

Soon she runs into the next room. That is the outfield. There is linoleum and a throw rug on the floor in there. She fields wild bounces off the rug and the fast skids on the hard floor. When she is stuffed full of treats and begins to just watch them fly by, it's game over.

July 28th, 2016, 09:31 AM
Hunting from Cover

19 February 2015

By this time I think Polly has developed her full complement of gnats. She no longer pounces on everything that moves; she has learned to stalk her prey and hunt from cover. I don't know how she learned this; I didn't teach her. She didn't get it from Sasha; he doesn't stalk anything. She apparently learned it herself. Maybe a cat has it “wired in” at a certain age.

She could have learned it by playing with Sasha. Sometimes, when he is in the litter box “burying the Ferengi”, she will set up an ambuscade outside the room and drygulch him as he leaves. They have both developed defensive protocols for leaving the litterbox room.

When stalking, Polly takes advantage of all possible cover, from something she can actually hide behind to something as ineffective as a narrow chair leg. She will even stick her nose in a slipper, leaving just her eyes and ears exposed.

When I grab a handful of rubber bands and kneel on the floor, that is a signal for a game of bandersnatch. She takes cover somewhere along the shooting path. When she is ready and her hind hooks are dug into the carpet, she gives me a chirp:


I shoot the rubber band along the floor like a berserk tank tread. She launches herself after it and knocks it down. She takes it in her mouth, gives it the killing shake, and drops it. Then she crawls through the room, using all available cover until she reaches another lair.


Another rubber band skitters over the carpet. I give this one maximum boost and it reaches the next room where the floor is slick. It loses steam before the Polls overtakes it and it begins to fall over, making a hard turn to one side. Polly performs her well-rehearsed bootlegger turn and snags the band as it stops. She beats hell out of this one, perhaps because it got past her.

Each time the game resets, she takes up lurkage a little closer to the end of the run. Finally I call “goal tending” and it's game over. I pick up the spent ammunition. If I miss one, she will carry it to her kibble bowl three rooms away. After all, prey should be kept with the food.

December 17th, 2016, 08:51 AM
Where did you get them gnats?
Where did you get d'ose bugs?
Ain't they the mental kind
What makes you scuff da rugs?
We like to see those extra thumbs
On bandy-legged cats,
But still, we have to say, "Oh hey!
Where did you get them gnats?"