Cat’s-Eye Of The Hurricane

22 Aug

By Brian M. Howle

Besides being a “graphic rabbit” (i.e. graphic artist), musician and writer, I pride myself in being an all-around handyman who dabbles in tinkering around with inventions. After years of collecting various electronic components, wires, relays, circuits, tubes and generally what others would consider junk, I recently put the finishing touches on what I believe to be my greatest accomplishment: The Universal Cat Translator.

For the past two years, I have worked tirelessly on my little project during the time between magazine deadlines. It was a hard, time-consuming labor of love sandwiched between pounding out this publication, but as mid-September approached I had finally realized my dream . About the size of a Walkman personal stereo, it contains a standard hard drive found in most computers, capable of recording days of information on a set of AA batteries. While the technical aspects are fairly commonplace, the breakthrough coup de gras was my unraveling the mystery of the cat vocabulary. Most people probably think that cats have a very limited vocabulary, consisting primarily of “meow” and the more emphatic “meow, dammit.” But no one was more surprised than I when I stumbled upon the longlost scrolls of feline phonics while mindlessly surfing the net one night. Akin to decoding hieroglyphics and binary codes, it was an amazingly easy process once I got the hang of it.

I was all set to begin the necessary patent paperwork to share my invention with the world when big, bad Hurricane Floyd decided to put the fear of God into every reasonable human being on the entire eastern seaboard. I set about boarding up my parents’ house at Pawleys Island, removing furniture and household items so as not to relive the horrors experienced by Hugo ten years earlier. Then I repeated the same procedure for my landlady, and finally again for my own apartment. After the last sheet of plywood was nailed up and the yard missiles put away, there was one final task to undertake before I could join the mass exodus of evacuees. I had to round up my little herd of cats – all eighteen of them.

With my array of portable cages securely tied down in the bed of a pickup truck, I covered them with multiple tarps as the first wave of feeder bands from he approaching storm began their ominous onslaught. Ready to roll, I made a last dash through my apartment, gathering up clothes, cat food and kitty litter for the journey inland to the safer confines of Columbia and my beloved. On my way out the door, I grabbed the Cat – Translator and tossed it into the back of the truck – but not before turning it on for the long ride ahead of me. The following is the transcript of my journey, as my kitties chatted among themselves. To clarify who is who, here are the names of my little ones:

Anastasia: Matriarch of the bunch; older, wiser and less prone to freaking out in a crisis; solid black.

Romaria: Oldest daughter of Anastasia; large, lithe, a stately lioness among her peers; bluepoint silver.

Alexander: Oldest son of Anastasia; plush but muscular, dominant male but too sweet to exploit his position; solid black.

Samantha and Sabrina: Twin daughters of Anastasia; one mellow, one devilish; gray tabbies.

Othello and Mercutio: Twin sons of Romaria; noble and kind, they emulate their uncle Alexander; solid black.

Delilah and Monique: Twin daughters of Romaria; soft and supple, they mirror their mother’s grace and style; blue-point silver

Alanis: Youngest daughter of Anastasia; overly-hyper and harboring angst towards any male, but kind at heart; black with white chest.

Guinivere and Lola: Twin daughters of Samantha; slightly wilder than the rest when excited; blue-point silver.

Chanel: Youngest daughter of Anastasia, quiet and calm, but constantly bedeviled by her children; gray tabby.

Howard, Robin, Jackie and Fred: Chanel’s kids, unmercifully rowdy and curious, with irreverence for their peers; black, silver and gray tabbies.

L.C.: My housecat, oldest of the bunch, completely anti-social and having nothing to do with the rest, has a real attitude but is daddy’s little babycat and knows it; orange and white tabby.

Now that you know the players, here is their story as it unfolded:

Anastasia: QUIET?CHILDREN! Stop that screaming! It’s drivin me crazy!

Alexander: But, mom, we don’t know what’s going on! Why did daddycat put us in these little boxes? And where are we going?

Alanis: I don’t care where we’re going, I just don’t want any of you boys near me.

Othello: Shut up, Alanis, no one is even slightly interested in you in the least.

Alanis: Oh sure, I’m so sure … that lying Tom from down the road said the same thing before he dumped me after he got what he wanted. You men are all the same!

Romaria: Alanis, we’ve all heard this before; please don’t shout like that, it just upsets the kids.


Mercutio: That’s because it IS rain, dumbass!

Monique: Hey … isn’t that ironic, don’t ya think?

Guinivere: Mom, Grandma … Why is the ground moving?

Samantha: I don’t know, darling, maybe your grandmother knows.

Anastasia: Yes, Gwinney, I do know … It’s because daddycat is taking us to a safe place until this storm is over. And tell your sister to come down from the ceiling.

Guinivere: Lola, Grandma said to chill out and come down here.


Sabrina: I’ve heard stories from west coast cats about the ground moving, Lola.

Delilah: That’s probably because west coast cats smoke catnip, Sabrina.


Robin: You wish, Jackie!

Anastasia: QUIET! I don’t want to hear anymore about that!

Romaria: Sam, Dee, not in front of the kids, OK?

Howard: I’m just waiting to see some hot lesbo cat on cat action here.


Robin: Grandma, Howard’s obsessed with that, you know.

Howard: Ooofa!

Fred: Ooofa!

Chanel: Boys, BOYS … please, please don’t upset your grandmother.

Monique: Excuse me … Grandma, you never said why the ground is moving.

Anastasia: Monique, darling, daddycat put us in his ironcat, and now he’s taking us to a safer place, away from the storm.


Alexander: Gwinney, Lola, stop screaming, now. Daddycat is only trying to keep us out of the bad storm.

Alanis: But, we’ve been through storms before and daddycat didn’t put us through all this …

Anastasia: No, children, this is a terribly bad storm, much worse than anything you have ever known. It’s called a hurricane.

Othello: What’s a hurricane, Grandma?

Anastasia: It’s the worst kind of storm, darling. The humancats all fear this more than anything else. The rain comes in ferocious amounts, and the wind blows down the trees and the humancats houses.

Howard: (Peeking under the tarp while the truck is rolling along I-20) So … what’s the difference between that and what we’re going through right now?


Robin: Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee!

Othello: (to Mercutio) Geez, she laughs at anything.

Mercutio: I know, day after day after day. It’s sad.

Alanis: Is there a dry litter box over there?

Anastasia: No, darling, just make do with what we have, now.


Robin: Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee!


Guinivere and Lola: Are we there yet?

Howard: Seriously … (looking under tarp again) … I don’t see the difference between this hurricane thing Grandma’s talking about and this.

Romaria: Howard, mom has explained this to you already …

Robin: Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee!

Chanel: Howard, your aunt’s right … and shut up, Robin.

Sabrina: Hey! Somebody stole my lizard!

Othello: You got a lizard?

Sabrina: Lola! Did you eat my lizard?

Lola: Noophh.


Anastasia: QUIET! There will plenty of lizards when we get back!

Howard: Hey! Look! There’s another cat in this ironcat that’s going by us!

(Everyone looks under the tarp as a station wagon pulls alongside; a snow white cat sticks his head out of a small opening at the top of a side window)

Howard: Hey! That’s Daniel Catver, Grand Catdaddy of the Kat Klax Klan!

Catver: (As the wagon passes) Wake Up, White Kitties!

Mercutio and Othello: Hey, We resent that!

Chanel: (Shaking head) Oh Lord … where’s Wayne Gray when you need him.

Anastasia: Chanel! Bite your tongue, young lady!

Guinivere and Lola: Are we there yet?

Alexander: Mom, make them shut up, please?

Anastasia: Gwinney, Lola … You ask that again and I’m coming over there and scratching your eyes out!

Fred: Ooooooo … Grandma’s gonna kick some butt!


Robin: Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee!


Guinivere: Ooooo, gross … Lola coughed up a big hairball.

Sabrina: Is there any lizard in it?

Samantha: Sabrina, let it go, OK?


Howard: Oh boy, the litter’s gonna hit the fan now …

Chanel: HOWARD!

Robin: Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee Hee!

L.C.: (Yawning) God, I hate outside cats.

As I pulled into my beloved’s driveway, they all quieted down and leaned against each other in a big, fuzzy ball. Eager to playback their conversation, I hastily grabbed the Translator as I ran towards the door, anxious to get out of the pouring rain.

Unfortunately, the slippery case slid from my grip and fell against the steps, disabling its recording mode. Although I was able to retrieve the above transcript, I’m afraid the Translator is beyond repair for the time being. Which is really a shame, since the trip back home the next day was in beautiful weather, and instead of the 45 MPH speed I endured in the storm, I was able to drive the posted speed limit of 70.

Now, that would have been a story to hear.
The previous article originally appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, September 23, 1999

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Posted by on August 22, 2009 in Along The Watchtower


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