Cat swiping/griping=love

A cat typing at a computer.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Ethan,

I heard that stupid Jamie-dog was going on about love and how dogs love people. Yech. Who cares???

Everyone loves cats, and that’s what’s important. We also love ourselves.

Cats are magnificent, marvelous, mystical, and other words that start with M!

We are the ulltimate status symbol—to ourselves, not to you humans. We don’t care what you humans think.

As cats we want only one thing—well, two things. One: We want every living creature to recognize, acknowledge, and bow down to our feline superiority. Two: We want tuna, shrimp, or any type of edible fish. Get on that. NOW.

Sure, dogs bark and scare away burglars, but have you ever thought of what burglars are called? CAT burglars, named for their weak imitation of our stealth-paw ninja skills. Criminal masterminds understand that to be truly successful, to be superior at stealth, they must imitate cats. Our feline perfection defects major detection.

You may ask yourself if cats love humans? Yes and no. We love ourselves first, naturallment! But sometimes, if a human is lucky, and prefereably if they have a warm, squishy lap and a soft voice, we cats might—ever so reluctantly—deign to love our humans.

It is important to remind the humans WHO is in charge. The occasional yowling at 3a.m. or random claw-swiping helps humans to remember that we are their bosses. But yes, some humans receive our love.

We even love you, human money-child, but that is mostly because you need us. My fellow calico cat Trixie and I have come to understand that your days at school with all of those bullies and torture sessions called “phys ed” would be hell-on-Earth if you did not have our feline favor to look forward to at the end of the day. Although I prefer a good old-fashioned swiping-and-griping, the occasional lap cuddles sessions are not totally offensive.

So yes, I guess that cats love too. Sometimes. Now go fetch me a tuna!


Dogs CAN love!

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Olivia,

I am a little confused today. I’m kind of confused everyday, but this is a little different. Or a lot different. How do you know which is which?

Somebody told your mom that dogs can’t feel love or devotion. They told her that we only follow the person who feeds them. They also said to stop humanizing dogs by giving them human emotions.

Is love really a humans-only thing?

Maybe dog love is different than human love. Dogs don’t have special words for love because we don’t need them. Our love just is. Or it isn’t.

Someone else told your mom that dogs don’t love, instead they become devoted to whoever has food. Yes, dogs will follow someone who feeds them, but humans do that too.

You ever seen a hungry human? They can turn on you double-quick. Then, when you give them some food like bacon or chocolate, they become all nice again. How is that different than a grouchy hungry dog? It isn’t.

I can prove that dogs love. Your mom has a little dog name Felix. You know the yappy little fluffball? (Seriously, even I think he’s bit full of himself. He’s 9-and-a-half pounds of over-fuzzy attitude!)

Felix hides crackers for when your mom is sick. Seriously!

I think he has a wall-hole under your parents’ bed or something. Whenever she has crackers he begs for one and he tucks it away. And whenever she gets sick he brings her a yummy, dusty cracker to make her feel better. He puts it in front of her and barks until she eats it. (I think she’s just pretending, but I don’t want to tell Felix and hurt his feelings.)

That has to mean that Felix loves your mom, right? If he didn’t love her he would chomp the cracker by himself. He wouldn’t save it and share it later. He stares at her for hours and follows her everywhere, even when she doesn’t have food. Just like I follow your brother, and just like your cats follow you.

I know people say that love is a human emotion, but it’s a dog emotion too. We may just show it a bit differently, and we may have simpler rules, but it’s still love.

Dogs can love, whether humans earn it or not. Just sayin’


Bullies are just jealous!

A cat typing at a computer.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Ethan,

The stupid pest-dogs told me that you were getting bullied. Now, as a cat, I do not understand why you would let anyone bully you. The only one who gets to pick on you is ME. But still, I guess when you’re away from home there isn’t much you can do. Or is there?

As a cat, I have learned to combine my lightning ninja skills with my superior acting prowess. Sometimes I use my retractable razor-claws to make others bleed their way into submission. I randomly ninja-swipe anyone who walks past my hidey-hole. The screams turn my purrs into throaty, velvety laughter!

Yet, once in a while, not too often, I need the sympathy of those kinder, gentler, and stupider beings who hold the key to happiness: the can opener. Yes, I’m talking about your parents. They mean well but they really are quite gullible, aren’t they?

So, on rare yet festive occasions, such as when I have broken something your mom really, really likes, I wait until your mom or dad has run into the room, and I roll around and around on the floor and cry pathetically. Did I mean to smash your mom’s vase? Absolutely! But why not get some treats and dog-blaming while I’m at it?

You see, I never roll and yowl until the dogs come in to see what has happened; THEN I let my acting skills kick in!  I arch my back and hiss at the dogs and make my eyes big in my “they scared me” routine.

Your parents shoo the dogs away and then your mom picks me up in an admittedly-not-awful cuddle hug. She walks me to my countertop and gives me tantalizing turkey treats. Sometimes she even tells the dogs to get out of the kitchen and leave me alone!

OKAY, so CLEARLY I am fabulous, but how does that apply to you and your sister?

See, bullies are going to exist whether you do the right thing or not. It stinks to get picked on (not that I’d know, I’m usually on the other side of things) but why not have some fun with it?

Instead of playing it SAFE, play it SMART.

Record what happens by turning on your phone-thingy and putting it in your pocket before you walk down the hall. Stop trying to act all brave. Ask for help already! We all know you’re brave. We’ve seen the way the bus driver steers the bus, you HAVE to be brave just to ride the bus to school and home again!

Give the recording to your parents. Admit that you need help. You can trust your parents. They’re dumb and a bit naïve, but they love you. And they buy food, bonus! And remember that whatever the bully says isn’t true.

Bullies try to hurt people because they’re damaged. Your mom calls them toxic. They hit you or say bad words, and the words all seem to be like these weird arrows that open up every bubble of fear or sadness inside you. Bullies have had a lot of target practice and are used to shooting down souls. Don’t let them get away with it.

Every time a bully says something mean and the words start to bleed on your heart, think about how you would feel if they said the same thing to your mom and dad or even your sister. Would you believe those words then? Would you let your family hit themselves over and over with bad words, or would you fight to help them break those word-arrows?

Come on, we both know the answer. You would never let anyone hit your mom and dad’s targets. And they don’t want anyone to hit yours. Don’t let bullies own you, and don’t let them change you.

Mind you, I still think razor-sharp claws would take care of the problem double-quick, but the dogs say you can’t hit back. So you’re gonna have to hit them with your mind. Me personally, I think the bullies are jealous.

You’re different, sure, but your family loves you and they show up to everything. EVERYTHING. Even when they embarrass you and act like their silly-selves, they always come to school events and band practices and plays and rehearsals. You can’t really get away from those weirdos, am I right?

But, have you noticed? You never see the bully-kids at anything. They aren’t at the plays or the carnivals. Your mom said she’s never seen their parents at all either.

Do you think the bullies are just jealous because you’re loved so much?

Then again, maybe the bullies are just jealous because you have the world’s most attractive, most intelligent calico cat to rule over you. Heck, I’d be jealous of me if I wasn’t myself!

For the record kiddo, you may be one can short of a tuna case, but you’re family and I’ll scratch anyone, any time, just for you. Heck, I may do that anyway.

Love from your favorite feline,


Bullies do NOT understand Love!

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Olivia,

Last night your mom was sad because she read an article about folks who were mean just because someone was from a different place. I even heard that some people don’t like each other because they look different.

That’s dumb. I mean, I know people think I’m not smart because I’m a dog, but I know dumb stuff. I’m really smart about dumb stuff!

I’m a brown and white dog. Babbie is a tan and white dog. I’m big, she’s little. So what? We both chase our tails and bark when someone goes past our window, so we both know what is important!

I don’t care if Babbie is different! I don’t care if YOU are different!

I know some girl made fun of you because you are short with brown hair, but I think you are beautiful. Especially when you have bacon. Then you are EXTRA beautiful!

I think that human-people are kind of stupid. They get picky about what someone looks like or how much stuff you have, but seriously, how much stuff do you need? Isn’t it what’s in your lunch box that matters?!

For us dogs it’s all about smell. Other animals smell right or they smell wrong. That’s all there is to it. If it smells wrong, it IS wrong. And if someone smells like a bully, then they’re a bully. Listen to your nose. And your gut. Those are the truth-tellers in life.

You and your brother have had to deal with a LOT of bullies lately. Bullies are stupid. They’re also sad. Something is wrong with anyone who has to chew someone else’s chowder. Just sayin’.

I know that doesn’t help when they’re picking on you. It stinks. It stinks that I cannot be there to bite them for you. Maybe you should bite them instead? Biting teaches a lesson. A brilliant, painful lesson.

True fact: Bullies don’t understand love. They don’t understand that sometimes massive cuddle hugs smother you but make you feel warmer too. You need other people and dogs, and they need you too. So don’t stop loving.

You be YOU girlfriend! Oh–and offer bacon. Bacon makes everything better!