Carolyn Holm

One Dog, Two Cats
Grand Ideas
InterSpecies Memos

Language

Cher Madame,
Il faut dire, this morning Monsieur was mocking this petit cat.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
He was just imitating your “hello” meow.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This petit cat does the polite thing, to greet everyone upon entering the kitchen.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You do, and I love that about you. You are very chatty. Some cats never greet, except maybe to raise a tail.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
The Winston doesn’t bother.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Winston isn’t all that invested in being polite. And while he has some interesting vocalizations, he has nothing like your range. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This petit cat does try to communicate.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You do! There’s your hello “Mao-wow?”. Your emphatic It’s Time to Feed Us meow. Both very clear and straight-forward. But you also have an interesting chirp that has two meanings, depending upon your context. The light “move it” warning to Winston, and a nice “oh hi” recognition when my touch surprises you. Usually while you nap.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
C’est vrai. Madame has clearly paid attention.
Regards, M. Le Poufin,

Dear Puffin,
I’m also fond of your evening Game Time meow. I love that you celebrate each point you make in the game with a running commentary!
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Madame is too kind.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
But I have to mention, sweetie, you give me the “F— Off ” hiss when I try to move you off my lap and you aren’t having it. I’ve never lived with a cat who spoke to me with language like that.
Love, Carolyn 

Cher Madame,
Sometimes the moment overcomes one. This petit cat has the apologies.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Thank you for that! But for sheer dramatic intensity there was the Full-throated Holler you launched at Louie the neighborhood cat when he came to our open window. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
That dreadful invader was peering in the kitchen window. It was necessary to repel him immediately.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
That you did. Between the two of you it sounded like a cat opera. A lot of dramatic yodeling.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
He wanted to enter our house.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
He has a neighborhood reputation for doing just that. But there’s another vocalization I’d like to ask you about. It’s your strange yowl.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This polite petit cat does not do the yowl.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Oh, you do indeed yowl. It’s a powerful baritone, and I’m not sure what it signifies. Is it to call me? I’ve noticed that when you yowl, you’re off in some other part of the house, and when I call out your name, you show up immediately. Is it that you had simply misplaced me? 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This petit cat does not do the misplacements.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
So, this yowl is something else entirely? Existential angst? Dementia? Constipation?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Toujours le sarcasm.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I guess that comment was a bit snarky.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
The apology by Madame is accepted.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

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Rituals

Hey Mom
You got home late last night.
Winston

Dear Winston,
We did, didn’t we?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
You never get home late!
Winston

Dear Winston,
Not in a while. I hope Puffin didn’t start in on the predator story.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
The one where you and Dad are late because predators caught and ate you?
Winston

Dear Winston,
That’s the one.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
Puffin didn’t bring it up this time. But where were you??????
Winston

Dear Winston,
We were at my sister’s for Thanksgiving. That’s when families and friends get together for a big feast to commemorate gratitude.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
Food does something for gratitude?????
Winston

Dear Winston,
It’s a ritual kind of thing, sweetie. A ritual is a way to mark something, to give it meaning.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
Is it a ritual when Puffin kneads the bedroom cat bed?
Winston

Dear Winston,
Interesting, I never thought of that as a ritual. But it’s true, that is the only place he kneads. Just in that bed. Not in any of the other cat beds. I wonder what the meaning is for him?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
And Poppy tears into her bed, scratching it wildly before lying down there. But only in the bed in the living room.
Winston

Dear Winston,
Very good, maybe that’s another ritual. Something to do with making the bed hers. After all, you all tend to take over that bed from time to time.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
And I’ve heard about Molly’s OCD ritual with the food bowl. Tapping it twice before each bite.
Winston

Dear Winston,
That was a hilariously odd one. Good ole weird Molly. Who knows what that meant.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
And Puffin expects his precious catnip banana every evening after games.
Winston

Dear Winston,
The games themselves are like a ritual too! The security of a schedule he can rely upon.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
And Poppy barks at every passing person with a dog!
Winston

Dear Winston,
No, that’s not a ritual. That’s just annoying.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom
I think it’s exciting.
Winston

Dear Winston,
You just like the excuse to run around the house when she barks. So, what’s your ritual?
Love, Carolyn

Mom
I’m supposed to have one???????
Winston

Dear Winston,
No, don’t worry about it. For you, life is purely random.
Love, Carolyn

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Compromise

Dear Poppy,
You seem to have real preferences about where to go on our walks.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Oh no, isn’t that okay?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Of course it’s ok, sweetie. Don’t worry about it. I just notice, for instance, that there’s a corner we come to where I always want to turn right and you always pull on the leash like you want to keep going straight.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
We always do what you want.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That’s not true – sometimes we go straight, for you. We do a lot of things that you want to do. Like stopping for your feet.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s when I have burrs between my toes!!!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I’m so proud of you for taking care of them yourself. Some dogs expect their person to do that for them. You are very self-reliant.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But you seem impatient when I work on them.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Sorry, I guess I am. When you keep going back over each foot two or three times.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
To make sure.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s hard to be patient. We stop a lot. We continually stop so you can smell everything. It’s a lot of stopping. Arrggghhhh. I like a brisk walk.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But when I want to run after the squirrel, you tell me NO. You tell me to calm down.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Well, okay, you’re right about that. The same squirrel thumbs his nose at you every day and runs up the Oak tree. You’re never going to catch that guy, you know.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But it’s so exciting!!!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I can see that. So it goes. Turn the corner or continue straight. Walk briskly or poke along slowly. Take off after the squirrel or walk nicely down the street. Going for a walk means continual compromise. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Is that okay? Am I doing something wrong?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Don’t worry sweetie. That’s life.
Love, Carolyn

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Standard Time

Cher Madame,
The schedule she has changed. Madame has changed it. All is not as it should be.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Changed the schedule? Of course I haven’t, sweetie!
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Vraiment, the schedule is disturbed. Madame has changed the meal times.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You are referring to the Time Change! This week we had to move the clocks back an hour to Standard Time. It does take getting used to, doesn’t it?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
C’est fou. Vraiment crazy.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I’ll admit it is one of the goofier things humans do. I wish we could just stay on Standard Time all year long.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
The Schedule she is très, très important. We have a time for the Breakfast. A time for the Dinner. A time for the Playing of the Evening Games. The Schedule is not to be taken lightly. 
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I wouldn’t dream of taking it lightly, sweetie. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Moving the times, this is exactly what is called taking it lightly. Madame has a very cavalier attitude about all this. Meal times are très, très important. 
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I understand. Breakfast and dinner pretty much anchor your day.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This pauvre petit cat needs his meals.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You do all right, sweetie. You are not going to waste away. And now and then you are extra lucky, when I fill both feeders and leave Winston’s open by mistake. You move right in to get a huge bonus meal! 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It is such a lovely surprise when Madame’s attention is distracted this way.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You also get treats, from Monsieur!
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Monsieur is très generous with the treats. But the Winston grabs all the treats from Monsieur. This pauvre petit cat gets none of them.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Maybe we’ll need to give you a treat or two when Winston isn’t around to dash in and steal them.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Bien sûr, that will make the disorganized schedule a bit easier for this petit cat to tolerate.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

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Alien

Hey Mom,
I’m an alien!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
You’re a cat, honey.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Not the outer space kind of alien!
Winston

Dear Winston,
What kind then?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I’m an ALIEN INVASIVE SPECIES!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
You’re a cat, honey. And cats have been part of the landscape for quite a while. 
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Cats were domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. So, both Dad and I are from the Middle East!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
That’s stretching things a bit, but you could say that. Otherwise you two don’t have a lot in common.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
And I’m DOMESTICATED????????
Winston

Dear Winston,
Not very.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
And I’m invasive, all over the place, wiping out birds and mice!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
So that’s where this is going. Fortunately, we don’t have any birds or mice in our house for you to wipe out.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
And I have a fancy name: Felis catus. How cool is that???????
Winston

Dear Winston,
Where are you getting all this information?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
The radio mentioned an article* all about how much damage we cats do to the environment. To birds and small wildlife. We’re an invasive species and we are DANGEROUS!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
That’s unfortunately true. And one of the reasons you two are strictly indoor cats. That and the safety issue. Cats are both predator and prey! 
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
We are!!! And I’m good at both!!! That’s why I’m going to keep racing around the house – to stay on top of my game!!!!!!! I’ll keep attacking the newspaper while you read it! And slide all the rugs around! And make tunnels out of the sofa cushions! I’ll be the Best Alien Species Ever.
Winston

Dear Winston,
We’ll be so proud. 
Love, Carolyn 

*Article by the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Trick or Treat!

Dear Mom,
What is happening in our neighborhood!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Nothing unusual, as far as I know. Is there something I should be aware of?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Molly warned me about this.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
She did? That’s never a good sign. About what?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Three things actually. For one thing she said that you were not very conscious of security.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I know, she always thought I was careless. And the other things?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
There’s another thing?????????
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You said there were three things Molly warned you about.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s right. She did. She said that this time of year is crazy with strange human behaviors. Creepy things showing up in front yards. Sheets with faces hanging from trees. And she said you foolishly encourage it.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
She was always very critical of the holiday. And number three?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Number three is all the orange pumpkins. She was very suspicious of them! They have faces!!!!!!!!! Why are these vegetables suddenly everywhere????? There is one next to our front door!!!!!!! There was one here last year, and I barked at it and it left, but now it is back!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You bark at it every year.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I do? 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Halloween. It’s an annual human tradition. Molly didn’t like it at all. So, you’ve noticed the decorations in the neighborhood!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Mom,
Everywhere! When we go on our walks there are skulls and skeletons and ghosts in the front yards. And down the street there is even a dog skeleton. Who DOES that?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s not real, sweetie. Humans are strange animals. I know, it makes no sense to you, but humans just get a big charge out of scary things. And Halloween is a great excuse for that. All in fun. A lot of pretend scary stuff.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
No wonder Molly always said we’re doomed. Is Halloween when children swarm up to our door and shout at you when you open it?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Yes, and then I hand out treats.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Do I get a treat too?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You’ll get some pumpkin!
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
The pumpkin on the porch by the front door? 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s for decoration now, but after Halloween I’ll cook some up for you.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I get to EAT IT???????!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Something to look forward to. Meanwhile, on Halloween evening you and the cats can retreat to the safety of the bedroom.
Love, Carolyn

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Whap!

Hey Mom,
I love our new game!!!!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
What game is that?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
You know the one! We played it last night!!!!!!!!!
Winston 

Dear Winston,
We did? And what did this game entail?
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
Not my tail! My paws!
Winston

Dear Winston,
That narrows it down. And we played this game last night?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
We did. When you were finished with Puffin’s game.
Winston

Dear Winston,
You mean when you were hiding under the sofa cushions, with just your face and your paws peeking out?
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
And… I tapped your foot and you whapped at my hand?
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
And I missed, but the next time you tapped my paw I NAILED YOU!!!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
Yes, you did. That was quite a game. Like most games with you, it ended up a blood sport.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
It was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!
Winston

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Puff Enough

Cher Madame,
It is not fair. The Poppy gets all the nicknames.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Everyone gets nicknames around here. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
The Poppy gets her own special nicknames. Poppers, Popsicle, Popchek, Even Honeypie.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I call you Sweetie.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Ouf, Madame calls everyone sweetie. Everyone. And baby. And even honey. Mais il faut dire, the honey name is used with a difference. When Madame is being firm. As in, “no, honey, you can’t do that.” 
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It’s all said with affection. Hey, sometimes I call you Puffy.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Alors, there is no dignity in Puffy. Madame calls Winston The Puma. That is a much more dignified nickname, and he is hardly dignified enough to merit such a name.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I also call him Slinky.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
That is a name that suits him.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You are such a dignified cat that I keep it formal with you, sweetie. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Formal? Ouf. Mais, what about Puff Enough? Madame likes to say “Are you Puff Enough?” and then chuckle to herself. Alors, what is this Puff Enough?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It’s how I entertain myself.
Love, Carolyn

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The Boss

Hey Mom,
Puffin thinks he’s the Big Boss Guy, but I’m taller!
Winston

Dear Winston,
You are indeed, but he’s got you beat on girth.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Still, he can’t always boss me around. I like to whack at his feet when he jumps past me onto the sofa. That gets him all bothered.
Winston

Dear Winston,
I notice you play with his tail when he’s eating breakfast.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I do!!!! He hates that.
Winston

Dear Winston,
He’s not in a good mood when he’s hungry. That’s when he really gets irritated with you.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I love it when he gets all irritated with me!!!!! The best thing is when I sneak up on him, while he’s sitting there looking dignified, and then whap him and run away like crazy, really fast!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
You’re incorrigible. But sometimes he plays with you.
Love, Carolyn 

Hey Mom,
He does! We whack each other and run down the hall!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston,
See, he doesn’t always act like the big Boss Cat.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Soon I’m going to be much bigger than he is!!!!!
Winston

Dear Winston
Well, maybe not. The vet said that you are looking extremely well fed, and that we should keep you on a diet or you’ll be overweight. You look pretty sleek to me, but we’re doing what she says. Measuring out the portions. And no more extra treats.
Love, Carolyn

Mom,
Puffin will always be bigger?????? 
Winston

Dear Winston,
Yes, but just in girth.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
Ok, I’ll just have to be even sneakier.
Winston

Dear Winston,
I think you do a good job of holding your own.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
But I stay out of his way when it’s evening game time.
Winston

Dear Winston,
That’s wise. Evening game time is a big deal for him. He doesn’t want you butting in.
Love, Carolyn

Hey Mom,
I just watch from the back of the sofa.
Winston

Dear Winston,
That’s probably the best plan.
Love, Carolyn

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Wild Dog

Dear Mom,
I’m ready to go up on the Ridge now!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
The Ridge is up in the mountains, sweetie.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I know!!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
We can’t go today, we just got back from the cabin yesterday.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
We can’t go today?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
No sweetie. It’s a four-hour drive.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I want to go anyway.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I know, you love it there. You are a real High Sierra dog.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I’m a WILD DOG!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You did get pretty wild this last time. You are the only dog I’ve ever seen actually doing zoomies over the granite boulders.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I’m a WILD WOLF!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Well, wolf-ish. You are wolf-ish sweetie. A very sweet wolfish dog. But I have to say, I’m glad to see so many exclamation points.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
So, we can’t go up on the Ridge now?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
In a couple of weeks we will be going up again.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I love the cabin!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s a lovely, rustic old place, isn’t it?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
It’s not a real house!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That’s so true. No electricity and a privy out back. It takes us back to older times. I’m glad we’ll be back there soon.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
And I’ll get to run wild on the ridge in back! And chase ground squirrels and chipmunks and lizards!!!!! And find the bear poop again!!!!!!! And bark at people walking by with their dogs!!!! I’ll get to be Wild!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Okay. We might want to dial that back just a bit.
Love, Carolyn

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