The New Frugality
The Bailout, Hope and Elders

Of Cats and Men

category_bug_journal2.gif It is difficult after the many months of our long presidential campaign to get my mind back around the subject of aging day to day. If you sense a bit of stumbling about this week, you are not wrong. My past routine was replaced for most of this year with intense scrutiny of minutiae of the election. I learned a lot about politics, government and policy, but I’ve lost the rhythm of my days.

To Ollie the cat’s frustration, his life became unsettled during these months. I sometimes ignored him when he tapped my arm at 6:30AM for what had been, since his kittenhood, our morning fetch-the-mouse game. My lunch break, which in his mind, involves a round or two of strings on a stick, was hours late on many days, overlooked entirely on others. And the 7PM romp of find-out-what’s-hiding-under-the-blanket was too often set aside as I caught up on the news of late afternoon election developments.

But don’t let anyone tell you that cats don’t have long memories. I may have neglected Ollie, but he didn’t stop pestering me even though I improved my ability to ignore him, and sometimes he got so angry he bit my ankle - which does focus one’s attention. Cats don’t forget anything and they worship at the altar of routine.

To Ollie’s relief and the well-being of my ankles, we have resumed his daily schedule.

Although I undoubtedly picked up Ollie’s toys and dried them out while I was distracted during the campaign, I had forgotten how icky they get.

Ollie’s food is stored in the cupboard above this counter which is where I fill his bowl twice a day and dry out the #$%^&* mice when he soaks them in his water bowl – every damned day.


Let’s have a closer look at that: soggy mice in a variety of colors forever drying on the counter. Not a day goes by…


Oh, but that’s not the extent of it. For a long time, Ollie stole my dirty socks from the laundry basket. Eventually, I gave in, knotted one so it can be thrown with more heft for a cat to chase and gave it to him. It solved the stolen sock problem only to become the wet sock problem. Did you know that a sock in a water bowl wicks ALL the water into the sock? Apparently, this pleases Ollie and so the sock too, spends time drying out on the counter.


But I’ve kept the “best” part from you for last: Ollie doesn’t just drown the mice. Oh, no. He then drops them in his food bowl so the kibble turns into soft, slimy stuff which attaches itself to the mice.


I’ve never actually seen Ollie retrieve mice from the counter, or put them in his water bowl or transfer them to the food bowl. He does it when I’m not looking, but clearly expects me to keep him supplied with dry mice. He’s quite stern about it, as you can see.


And, he complains when he can’t find a dry mouse, sitting on "his" counter yelling at me until I locate a mouse. Even when I stand around watching, however, he doesn’t drown it until I get bored and leave.

For many years, my women friends and I had a joke-y rule that holds a lot of truth: don’t do anything the morning after the first night with a man that you don’t want to do for the rest of your life. Don’t pick up the clothes flung around in the throes of passion. Don’t cook an elaborate breakfast. Don’t be the one to go out for the newspapers.

With cats, the rule is the same: don’t do anything with them on a schedule or they’ll trick you into a routine you can never escape.

At first you think it’s cute when, at the same time every day, they drop a mouse or a ball at your feet and look up at you with all the playful innocence and big, round eyes of a toddler. But don’t be fooled; they are training you.

In the beginning, you are amazed at the precision accuracy of their internal clock when they get you out of bed at the same time every morning. Be warned, if you succumb, you will never sleep in again. And cats don’t respect weekends.

Don’t ever give in to a cat’s attempt to organize life his way or you’ll be doing it for the rest of his or your life, whichever comes first.

Of course, none of us follows the rules - with cats or men.


Thanks for a glimpse into the life of your master. Ollie is looking great!

Adele has posted a video concerning cats, from UTube, at and has included a NY Times article and link to another UTube video by the same young man, Paul Klusman, at Paul and I worked together for a year or so just before I retired in 2004. He and his droll humor are delightful

The level of engagement has been huge and those who are online readers have engaged more fully, I believe, which has been good for our democracy.

For the cats, though? Yes, I bet it is good to get back to some sort of life, as it was before.

But, for the cat, too, I think life has changed a little bit.

Ollie sounds like a wonderful, intelligent cat with a firm grasp of priorities. You're lucky to have he is lucky to have a human who is so aware of, and willing to accommodate, his personality.

I'm more of a "dog person" myself but love this description of your life with Ollie! Cute photos too.

So basically, he catches 'em, drowns 'em, and then feeds them? Hmmm, I wonder if Ollie believes in some kind of afterlife, a mouse heaven...

I love reading about Ollie! I've always been a cat person, even though I don't have a cat right now. By the way, I'm back home from one week in the hospital and nearly five weeks in rehab for my double knee replacement. That means I'll be back to commenting here, and I'll be writing in "Never too Late!" about my recent experience very soon.

How cute and how true about cats. I love them but they definitely get their way-- one way or another

Dogs are trained by their owners.
People are trained by their cats. I rather admire them for that (most times).

Enjoyed the pictures...Thanks..

Oh, I had to chuckle. It's been just like that in this house with Yin and Yang, the two Siamese. All four of us flopped around the day after the election as we were up all night. They certainly did not like a change to their routine.

You know the saying....Dogs have owners; cats have staff.

I laughed at Ollie's routine and how well he has trained you. I am well trained myself by our furry little roommate, FiFi. Sometimes I laugh at her intelligence and persistence and sometimes, at 2:00 in the morning when I have forgotten to make sure the doors in the house are all open for her midnight strolls. She has the ability to sit back on her haunches and scratch the doors that are closed with amazing speed without any let up until someone gets up to make it all right again.

"Never you mind. A cat's got to sometimes."

It's obvious, Mr. Steinbeck owned cats.

Great title and tie in! I love it!

Ollie looks very stern in that photo. I've seen that look on my cat Storm. She's in my post today, so come have a look at her new sleep spot.

My cats break routines by choosing new favorite places to sleep or bird watch. I never know where I will find them. After a week or two, they get bored and look for another spot to camp out for a week or two more.

I thought Ollie had an innocent expression that said, "Who me?"

My little DaisyCat is currently waging a particuarly savage war against Mister Twister, our name for the little plastic zip-strip at the top of the milk carton that you pull off when you first open the bottle, and her favorite in-house foe. He's small and easy to carry around, and if you whack him just right, he ROLLS, which causes all manner of hilarity in my house. Over the years she's accumulated quite a store of Mister Twisters (collectively known as the Twister Nation), and has recently decided that the best way to discipline them is to drop them into her water dish and then drink water THROUGH them. This is surely some form of Kitmo waterboarding, since it's the only time she actually drinks from her water dish; the rest of the time she prefers the fresher water in the toilet bowl. At first she only dropped the darker-colored Mister Twisters in the bowl, and I feared she was becoming a feline racist, but she quickly got past that and now happily tortures them all equally, without regard to race, color, or bottle of origin. At last count (this morning) she had 11 of them bobbing around in there. I was reassured by the knowledge that someone else's cat is as deranged as mine. Perhaps there's hope for her yet. And of course for the poor harried Twister Nation...

Ollie is the just about the handsomist fur person I've ever seen. I disagree with you.....writing about one's day to day activities, which include mice and socks, is writing about ageism. Today I wrote about bed covers. When I was young, I wouldn't have noticed any of the cats details that closely, nor would I have cared about the covers.

Ronni, so nice to hear more about Ollie again. My elder gentleman cat doesn't care for toy mice, but the two younger girl cats love them. They whack them around (as they do with Mister Twister) until all are lost in some other dimension.
The girls quickly learned our stash of toy mice is in the pantry. When their toys are lost and I open the pantry door to retrieve something, one of them races over, stands up and begs for another mouse. They never drown theirs, but often place them in the food bowl.
All of them will catch real rodents, but they still have great fun playing mouse-toss and mouse-hockey.

Ollie is most resourceful. I wonder what the attraction is for the drowning mice? Are they filled with catnip or something?

My grnddaughter's cat stayed with us for a week recently. I accidently dropped on of my velcro hair rollers and the cat had a high old time and was pleased that the roller stuck to her front paw when she batted it around.

I love this post! So funny and so true. That "morning after" advice is great!

The more I'm learning about Asperger's because of my grandson, the more I see it in cats. He and my cat remind me of each other, and there's a book titled All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome.

Up to today, my favorite cat was Tiddles, Mrs. Slocombe's from the show Are You Being Served...I loved her "clockwork mouse"....but your Ollie is just too much. He reminds me of My Sydney, not the cat, the!!! Thanks for making my day.....your friend in aging "gracefully"-Shalom, Ronni

Great tale about Ollie. During a recent visit to my son's home I was automatically enrolled by one of his cats in a training class. I caught on quickly to his wily ways only to realize I had already been conditioned. He was a fast worker. Some males are like that.

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