The Payoff

Our cat Sam rests on top of the banana catnip toy he chewed open on September 12, 2021. Original: _RAC9345.arw

Years of effort paid off as Sam finally chewed one end of the banana cat toy open, spilling catnip all over the carpet. As a younger cat he would have rolled around in it but at fourteen he was content to just bask in the glory of a job well done.


Our cat Scout sits beside the catnip on our back porch in Portland, Oregon on May 6, 2005. Original: IMG_8116.cr2

Twenty years ago a feral cat gave birth under the house of one of my wife’s friends, the mother soon disappeared so the family raised the kittens until they were old enough to adopt out. We were offered one of the last of the litter and named our tiny tuxedo Scout. I’m close to all our pets but even so Scout and I had a deep bond, sadly cancer took her from us after 12 years but I’m thankful for every day we spent together. I’ve been having off-and-on trouble sleeping lately but it was never as hard as when I came back from a long hiking trip, she’d wake me up throughout the night either to reassure her that I was well and truly home or to tell me I was never to leave her side again, I’m not sure which.

She was four in this picture, sitting beside her favorite catnip plant on the back porch.

Rise of the Samwise

A close-up of our cat Sam curled up on top of the cat tree

The internal medicine specialist called yesterday and said all of Sam’s test results looked fantastic, and since he is doing so well on the new fiber-laden food, the plan is to keep him on it and see if that continues. The little fellow’s energy levels never dipped too badly but he is on full song now, tearing into his favorite catnip toy with abandon. This picture of Sam atop the cat tree with catnip sprinkled around him is from October, shortly before his health issues started.

CAT133 “Tandem Dog Bed Stealing”

Our cats Boo and Sam snuggle on a dog bed on September 1, 2014. Original: _IMG_9568.CR2

If you’ve mastered the art of solo dog bed stealing, why not double your fun? In this class Professor Boo will teach you how to snuggle, spoon, and stick your feet in your best friend’s face!

Templeton! Who Raised You?

Our cat Templeton eating catnip with his tongue sticking out

Templeton was not sticking his tongue out at Scout but rather licking his lips after chowing down on catnip, which was usually followed by him laying on his back on the concrete sidewalk and wiggling around, a legacy now claimed by little Sam. While he is definitely his own cat, he does share many of Templeton’s traits.

He’s a full-on no-apologies I’ll-sleep-on-your-legs-until-you-can’t-feel-them lap cat, just like Templeton was. He sticks his head out the door to greet me the moment I come home, just like Templeton did. He then goes downstairs to his food bowl and meows loudly to be fed, meows even if his bowl has plenty of food but he can actually see a bit of the bottom of the bowl, meows just because he likes the comfort of having me come down and go through the motions of feeding him. Just like Templeton did.

He’s an excellent groomer and yet never has hairballs, just like — well, Templeton was an excellent groomer.

Struggling Catnip

Our cat Scout sits near a patch of catnip

Scout sniffs the trellis where the clematis will eventually grow. The catnip in front of her was one of her favorite spots in the yard. It grew pretty well when Templeton was the only one eating it, but once Scout acquired a taste for its pleasures, it never grew much above the height it’s at now. It eventually died completely when some of the neighborhood cats completely smothered it, but once I blocked off their access a few years later by sealing off the bottom of the fence, a couple of volunteer catnip plants immediately took root and are now growing strong and tall once more.

Cat in the Nip

Our cat Scout behind a big tub of catnip in our backyard on June 23, 2009. Original: _MG_4996.cr2

One of the things I’ve been playing around with this summer is taking pictures of the cats hidden behind plants. This is Scout earlier in the summer in one of her favorite places in the backyard: behind the tub of catnip.