Carolyn Holm

One Dog, Two Cats
Grand Ideas
InterSpecies Memos

Catastrophe

Dear Mom,
The cats say the world outside our house is dangerous now.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I’ve told you not to listen to the cats. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But they both watch television. They know what is going on. I don’t usually listen to Puffin, but Mia is very smart.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
She is. But the world outside our house is just going through a tough time. That’s why Dad and I are pretty much staying home.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Except for our walks.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Yes, thank heavens for our walks!
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Mia says this plague will make everyone sick. Are you going to get sick?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I don’t intend to. Please don’t worry! 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Puffin says it’s a catastrophe. And Mia says catastrophe has the word cat in it so we should all be worried.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
They are being insufferable. It’s another reason not to listen to the cats. Poppy, sweetie, we’ll be fine. We’re doing everything we can to stay healthy. And speaking of being healthy, pretty soon it will be time for our walk. If it stops raining.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s another thing! Rain!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s spring, sweetie. It’s the time for rain. That’s as it should be.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But I don’t poop in the rain.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
There is that problem. At least that’s a problem I’m accustomed to.
Love, Carolyn

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The Plague

Cher Madame,
It is wonderful, n’est-ce pas, that Madame and Monsieur remain home all the time now! You are always here to keep the food bowls full!
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Do you ever think about anything other than yourself? You are a funny old cat.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It is not just pour moi. It is a good thing for Madame and Monsieur also, to stay home and enjoy the snuggles with us. This new program is wonderful!
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
That’s sweet of you to suggest that this is a good thing. And we do enjoy the snuggles. But actually we are not very happy about the new program.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Not happy to spend time with your excellent cats? Ouf. Madame she knows how to hurt the feelings of a pauvre petit cat.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Of course we love spending time with you. But we are stuck at home for a sad reason, the sickness that is spreading like wildfire and turning our world up-side-down.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This is the plague that everyone on the television goes on and on about? Ouf.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
That’s right! You have been listening.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Of course we listen. We do not miss a thing. They say there is a shortage of le toilet paper. We cats have a special regard for le toilet paper. It is exhilarating to play with.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
There is no shortage. And please keep your mitts off our toilet paper.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
If there is no toilet paper shortage, then we do not understand why people are making such a lot of noise about this plague.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It’s so contagious! And so lethal. No one wants to be the person who spreads it to others. So, to avoid spreading, everyone has to stay home. And all events are cancelled. We had tickets for all kinds of wonderful things. The ballet, concerts, plays. All cancelled.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
You are sad without the events? Why? Humans put too much value on going out. You should curl up in front of the fireplace with us.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
We like the fireplace as much as any cat, but it is natural to miss going out, and we miss our friends. But I should not be complaining, because we are fine. But schools are closed, businesses are shutting down, people are getting sick, and many people are worried about how they will get by. It’s a terrible time.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
But one thing is better now. This plague is good for keeping you home. When you were going out, leaving us, leaving your pauvre petit cats all alone with a moronic dog, that was not a good thing.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Well you might change your tune if food shortages start.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
The shortage of the food? C’est un catastrophe!!!!! Madame must be sure the dinners continue so these sweet petit cats do not starve.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I’m kidding. I just wanted to get your attention. There won’t be food shortages. We have plenty of cat food. And dog food too. The three of you will be fine.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Et le toilet paper?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
And toilet paper.
Love, Carolyn

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

Ice

Dear Mom,
I’m protecting the earth from climate change.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That’s good to hear! We all have to step up, even cats.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s me! I AM stepping up!!!!!!!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That’s wonderful! So, meanwhile, what are you doing with that bowl of ice cubes?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I’m stepping up to protect the earth and save us all!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That’s definitely a good thing to aspire to, sweetie! But it begs the question: what does this bowl of ice cubes have to do with saving the earth!?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I am making sure this ice doesn’t melt.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
I love your enthusiasm, but I’m not sure this will save us.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
It will!!! It will!!! Ice is melting from climate change! It’s science!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Your bowl of ice is all that stands between us and global catastrophe?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia, 
I wish that were so. But sweetie, it’s more complicated than that.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Every little bit helps. 
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Fair enough. Every little bit.
Love, Carolyn

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

The Take-over

Dear Mom,
I think Mia has something up her sleeve.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
She’s a cheeky cat. I’m sure she probably does.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Seriously, she is planning something. And she’s being sneaky about it.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Cats are always sneaky. Unlike dogs. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
She’s been playing with me. She races past me and then out the room. Then back again. So that I’ll chase her.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That sounds like a lot of fun! I’ve noticed you both seem to be enjoying it.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Then she jumps on a chair, turns around, and bats at my face.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
But gently, right? She’s just playing! It’s so nice to see you two have fun together.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
But why is she suddenly doing this? Why is she suddenly being nice?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Ahhh, you think this is maybe a charm campaign.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Yes! That’s it! Her charm offensive is part of her take-over plan!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
A take-over plan! That does sound like something Mia would think of. And she has been particularly vocal lately.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Like when she stands in the hall, early in the morning, yelling for breakfast.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
True, she never used to do that.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
And she whacked Puffin in the face yesterday when he jumped on the sofa.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That’s a reversal, isn’t it.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
She has been shouldering her way into his food dish. He just backs off.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
True. But then he goes and eats what’s left in her bowl. It evens out.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
All through dinner she sits next to Dad and taps his arm so he will give her tidbits. 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
She is persistent, isn’t she?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Overall, she’s getting very pushy. She’s planning a take-over.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I appreciate your intelligence report. We’ll be on our guard.
Love, Carolyn

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

Youth

Cher Madame,
Pourquoi Monsieur insinuates a joke about le bathroom paper et moi?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
That’s from your kitten days. We still laugh to think about it.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
You laugh at my kittenhood?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It’s that or cry. But seriously, you were hilarious.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This hilarious activity, it was what exactly?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Where to start! You were a wild kitten. The wildest, most destructive youngster we’ve ever had. It’s surprising you turned into such a staid grown-up.
Love, Carolyn

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

Dear Puffin,
It’s not sarcasm. You were off the charts wild. Every day was a new mess. Or several messes. The toilet paper was one of your favorite games. You raced around the house with one end in your mouth, so it unrolled in a long stream threading through the rooms as you went. And then there was your fascination with toilets. Do you remember that?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
You malign the dignity of this pauvre petit cat. I do not have this fascination.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Thank heavens for that. It was a strange and disgusting fascination. Whenever you heard the toilet flush, you ran in and peered inside, reached into the swirling water, and tried to catch whatever was in it. Whatever. Was. In. It.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This does not sound like moi. Madame may be mistaking another kitten for me.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It was you all right. You weren’t put off by water. You kept trying to catch our goldfish, reaching into the tank up to your shoulder. You pulled out the aquarium plants and left them all over the floor. And when the day came that you finally caught that poor fish, you left him to dry on the floor as well. Then there were the plant accidents. You brought down a large potted Ficus tree. By the time you were finished with that project, branches were broken and there was dirt all over the carpet. It was very dramatic. And then there were all the other plants you chewed up. But you still do that.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
C’est medicinal.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
And the laptop charger cord. And the phone charger cord. And the shoestrings. Many, many, sets of shoestrings chewed through. I’m sure they were medicinal as well.
Love, Carolyn

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

Dear Puffin,
Then there were the lamps and vases you knocked over. You broke a beautiful Limoges vase. You were a terror. I’m glad you have calmed down in your old age. You are a lovely, sweet old couch-potato now.
Love, Carolyn

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

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

Hissy Fits

Dear Mia,
You two cats were not very nice to Dad last night. First Puffin hissed at him. And then you bit him. You two hurt his feelings.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
It was his fault.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
His fault for stroking the two of you?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Of course. He did not observe the rules.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Did he break the No-Stomach-Rub rule?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
No, not this time. Dad wasn’t petting sincerely. He was stroking absent-mindedly. That infuriates me. It needs to be mindful. And he was stroking Puffin too forcefully. Neither of us likes rough petting. That makes Puffin hiss. He prefers gentle strokes, and a lot of under-the-chin scratches. But don’t try any of that under-the-chin stuff with me. Or full body strokes. And, of course you are not allowed to pick me up. And Puffin can’t be stroked unless he approaches you first.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
You cats have a lot of rules.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Of course we do. Otherwise you would just be annoying.
Love, Mia

A note to our readers…
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Sweet

Dear Mom,
These pretty heart boxes turn up every year!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s an annual tradition, sweetie. Candy for Valentines Day, from Dad. In a heart box. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Is the candy like the treats you give me?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s dark chocolate. Not exactly like your treats. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s too bad.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Why too bad?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
It’s a shame Dad doesn’t love you enough to give you dog treats.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Oh he does. But he knows that my favorite treat is dark chocolate. Otherwise I’m sure he’d give me dog treats.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
You always have dog treats in your pocket. I thought you ate them for snacks.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Those treats are just for you. Each one of us has their own special treat.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Would I like your treats?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
They would make you very sick, sweetie. Each of us should just stick to our own treats.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I also like the cat treats.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
We won’t tell the cats about that. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Love, Carolyn

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

The Toy

Dear Mom,
You have some strange stuff.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That’s an old toy horse. I think it’s kind of cool.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I don’t see the point of it.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
There is no point. It’s just sweet and reminds me of childhood.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Did you ride this horse when you were little?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
No of course not! It’s for playing with, not for riding.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Does one bat it around? Grab it in your mouth? Chase it across the floor?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
No of course not. Humans don’t play with things that way.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
A pen is a lot more fun.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
You really like playing with pens, don’t you? They keep disappearing and then I find them under the furniture.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
See. A lot more fun than a toy horse.
Love, Mia

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

The Gauntlet

Cher Madame,
Mia and I have noted that Madame has thrown down le gauntlet.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
The what?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Le black Terror. Le angry black gauntlet. Le Mitt.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You mean the grooming mitt. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
If you wish to call it that, it is for Madame to say.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Very clever to call it a gauntlet. 
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
C’est le harbinger of le terror.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
No it’s not. You two cats are going to be groomed today. No terror involved. Just grooming.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Je suis very handsome without the grooming.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
This isn’t about your appearance, sweetie. It’s to remove loose fur.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This petit cat knows perfectly well how to groom himself and lick up the lovely loose fur.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
And bring it up again as a slimy hairball. For me to clean up. Not to mention step on, barefoot. Like I did yesterday. That was a nice way to start the day.
Love, Carolyn

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

Dear Puffin,
I don’t know why you make such a big deal about the grooming.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It is against our wills.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
All I’m doing is petting you with a glove on! I don’t know why you both hiss at me when I do that. And yowl insanely. Your language is offensive.
Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Le Mitt of Terror is offensive. With it you bully these two petit cats.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I’m not bullying you. And I give you treats. Lots of treats. The entire time I groom you with the mitt I feed you treats.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
We reluctantly submit to the treats. Let the grooming begin.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

A bonus…
It was six years ago today that this inter-species correspondence began, so today as a bonus we’ll share the very short first post from Puffin. As you can see, the relationship was fraught from the beginning:

Memo to:  Madame
From:  M. Le Poufin
You’ll notice I’ve changed my name.  I have discovered I am French.  Je suis Français.  So please start calling me Monsieur Le Poufin.  And greet me in the morning with a polite “Bonjour Monsieur!”  And then feed me at once.  Avec toute vitesse.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

To: Puffin
From: Carolyn
You are not French, Sweetie.  You were picked up on the streets of South Central Los Angeles.  When you wake me at 5:30am I will continue to greet you with an angry snort, and I will feed you when I choose to rise for the day.  I might make a concession to your delusion by shouting “Merde!” when you wake me.
Sincerely, Carolyn

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

Side Hustle

Dear Mom,
Look what I found!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That’s a violin. Please don’t touch it. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I’m being gentle!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
It’s not a toy, sweetie. Please don’t play with it.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
When I pluck the string with my claw it makes a wonderful sound!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Not all that wonderful, sweetie. Please be gentle with it. A violin is very special.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
This is going to be my new side hustle. I’m thinking about becoming a busker. 
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Where were you planning to do this?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
On Solano Avenue! Right in front of one of the restaurants! I’ll pick a really busy one. People will love me. I’ll play musical favorites, like the guy with the accordion in front of Peet’s Coffee. Poppy told me all about him. You always give him something, so I figure people will give me treats.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
One problem. Actually, two problems. One, you don’t know any musical favorites. And two, you can’t play on the street in front of a restaurant because you are strictly an indoor cat. Not to mention problem three: you don’t know how to play the violin. And actually, there is also a problem four: most people don’t stroll around with cat treats in their pockets.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Human negativity has never stopped me before.
Love, Mia

A note to our readers…
Subscribe and get this every week in your email in-box! The subscription button is at the top of the page, on the right. If you are reading this in an email, go to blog.carolynholm.com to find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!