Carolyn Holm

One Dog, Two Cats
Grand Ideas
InterSpecies Memos

Turn of Phrase

Dear Mom,
Why do humans worry about Friday the 13th?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Humans are a very superstitious species. Some folks even think black cats are bad luck.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That makes no sense. If a cat wants to be bad luck, it has nothing to do with her color.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
You are absolutely right. Go figure. But cats certainly have a hold on human imagination. You are very much part of our literary tradition.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
We are very important! And very literary. Cats show up in all kinds of expressions. Like “playing cat and mouse.” And “look what the cat dragged in.” And we share one with dogs: “it’s raining cats and dogs.”
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Then there is “letting the cat out of the bag.”
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Out of the bag?????!!!!!!! What was she doing in a bag?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Maybe it was an emergency. You know, if we had to suddenly get out of here really fast, like in a fire, my plan is to toss the two of you into a pillow case.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
You would do that?????? That’s a shocking idea.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
No it’s not. Because in a disaster it would take too long to get the carriers out. It would save you. But anyway, that’s not the only strange cat phrase out there. Here’s one: “Cat got your tongue?”
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s disgusting. I have no intention of taking anyone’s slimy old human tongue.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Who knows where that phrase came from. And there are more. For pure horror, there is “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” And then there is “a dead cat bounce.” That’s a financial term, for when numbers go up after a big drop. The idea is that even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a big height. 
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
A DEAD CAT BOUNCE??????? What is wrong with your species?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
I have nothing to say. I can’t defend us.
Love, Carolyn

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Jump!

Dear Puffin,
You have been very jumpy lately. Is it the noise across the street?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
This petit cat appreciates that Madame understands! Oui, the noise she is excessive.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It has been noisy, hasn’t it? I’ll be glad when they are finished with that endless house remodel. The pounding, the sawing, the jackhammer, and god knows what else. But honey, you don’t have to run out of the room when it starts up.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
When a petit cat sleeps next to an open window, the noise is a blast to assault the nerve endings. Le petit cat cannot help but jump.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
But you jump at any unexpected noise. When there was a loud cat scream in the night, you clawed me in your scramble to get off my lap to hide. There was blood involved! Still, I can understand your horror. It was one of your people.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
By my people does Madame mean French?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
No doofus, I mean cats. I don’t think we’re likely to hear a French person screaming in the night.
Love, Carolyn

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

Dear Puffin,
You even jump when the garbage truck pulls up to empty our bins. You don’t have to jump, sweetie. That happens every week. And those men never come into our house.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
One does not know. Anything can happen. Et alors, one day the terrible man next door with the leaf blower may just get it in his head to invade us.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
No he won’t. Though I’m annoyed by that racket as well. And then there is also the doorbell. When it rings, you tear out of the room so fast, you leave your shadow behind. Where do you go?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Under la bed, bien sur. But Madame is making light of the terrors that a petit cat must face every day. Toujours she is cruel.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I think you are maybe too tightly wound. Last night Monsieur dropped a book and you almost went out the window. Sometimes it is perhaps understandable, but you overdo it. There was the time, on the Fourth of July, when someone set off a fire cracker nearby. Granted it was with a boom so loud it sounded like it was in our house. But you were amazing. I did not know you could jump that high.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It is not kind to take a mocking tone with a petit cat living in a world très dangereux.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Your world is not a very dangerous one, Puff. Maybe you take it all too personally. Maybe you could try to accept that life is full of loud noises that don’t necessarily threaten you. When that fire cracker went off, Poppy just looked at me to see if I was worried. I was startled, but she could see I wasn’t worried, so she decided it was fine. And Mia just rolled her eyes and said “Ouf, humans.”
Love, Carolyn

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Howl!

Dear Poppy,
You were so well behaved on our car trip to Los Angeles!
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
It was terrible. Such a long drive! I was relieved when we finally arrived..
XOXO Poppy 

Dear Poppy,
It is a long drive. That’s why I put you in your anxiety jacket, and I gave you a CBD chew. And that’s why we stopped at every rest stop to take a little walk.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
It was still terrible. But I loved visiting your daughter and her dog Mika!!!!!!! Although Mika was a bit rude about the dinner dishes.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
She’s not used to sharing a kitchen with another dog at dinner time. But she was glad to have you visit. You are her partner in crime.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
Do you know what was the very best part of the visit?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I think I can guess. Did it involve coyotes?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
YES!!!!!!! THE COYOTES!!!! 
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I was surprised how openly they hang out by the alley behind the house. Right in the middle of Los Angeles. Bad news for the rat population, though. But it was so cool to listen to them howl in response to fire engine sirens!
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
And that wasn’t even the BEST PART!!!!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I think I know where we’re going with this.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
We ALL started howling!!! All of us! TOGETHER!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That was indeed an extraordinary shared experience. One siren, three humans, two dogs, and a pack of coyotes. A lot of yip-yip-yipping.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
We couldn’t believe you humans joined in the howling!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I can just imagine what the neighbors thought, but it certainly was exhilarating. I wonder what the coyotes thought.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
Their dialect is a little different than ours, but I think I got the gist of it. They said it was exciting to have a human component in the song fest. And they thought you are probably crazy.
XOXO Poppy

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The Study

Dear Mia,
I heard that there is a recent Japanese study that concludes that cats know their own names!
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
That’s insulting. Of course we do.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
It’s not all that obvious. Cats usually act like they don’t. In fact, the study pointed out that they generally prefer to ignore their humans.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Of course cats don’t respond when they don’t feel like it. That’s just being smart.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Still, the Japanese seem to have a special place in their hearts for cats. They brought us Hello Kitty. And this cat teapot.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
They are wonderful people. They understand that we are superior to other animals. Especially to dogs. There is probably a study that says that.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Let’s not get competitive. Cats and dogs are simply different.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
Dogs are like children. Cats are adult.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That’s true. Living with a cat is like living with an adult. A difficult adult. But an adult with a lovely long tail and silky fur.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
You envy me for my tail. Maybe you can get one. The Japanese have invented a robotic tail for humans!!!!!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That sounds weird and awkward. Not nearly as nice as a long silky cat tail. Once at a dinner party, you sidled up to me, and while everyone was admiring you, I stroked you and ran my hand along your tail. And I said “I think it would be wonderful to have a tail” and the table went completely silent. And I realized I had said it aloud. It was a bit embarrassing.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mom,
I remember that. You are quite right to want one. There is probably a study that looks into tail envy.
Love, Mia

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The Lawyer

Dear Puffin,
This morning you lied to me. I have to say, I’m disappointed in you.
Carolyn

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

Dear Puffin,
You did this morning. As soon as I woke up you were all over me, crying that Monsieur hadn’t fed you.
Carolyn

Cher Madame,
One should ask Monsieur about this confusion. Except one cannot because he left the house very early while it was still dark.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
He had to catch an early plane. But I texted him and he replied that he had indeed fed you.
Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Moi, he did not feed. He put my bowl away.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
He plainly said you were up and lobbying him for breakfast, while Mia slept late with me. He put food in both bowls, as usual, but when he found you eating Mia’s food, he put your bowl away. The operative word here is eating. Sounds pretty conclusive that you were fed.
Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Must it be pointed out to Madame that this petit cat was not fed in the proper bowl?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
So TECHNICALLY you were not fed because you ate Mia’s food?
Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Oui, technically, quoi.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
If you were not a cat you would probably be a lawyer.
Love, Carolyn

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Responsibility

This is a corrected version of this post!

Dear Alpha Mom,
I’m worried that I’m not doing a very good job.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You’re doing great! What job?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
All my responsibilities. In the house. The garden. The neighborhood. It’s so much!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You’ve taken on a lot. I think you could cut back on some of those responsibilities.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
There are so many invaders! The deer, for starters. The doe with the two fawns, the big guy with the velvet antlers. The grey fox. And there’s the coyote who marked the tree in front of our house.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Well, I don’t think you can do anything about the coyote. Or the fox. And the deer can’t get into the garden because of the fence, so I think you can remove them from your list of invasion worries.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
But they all walk by the house. And then there are the nighttime garden visitors. The skunk. The scary raccoons. The possum. It’s a lot to worry about.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
But they usually come by when we’re in the house. We don’t even see them. I think you can relieve yourself of that responsibility.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
I go out in the garden every night for a last run before bedtime. I can run into them any time.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I do hope you don’t run into the skunk.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
Do you think I’m crazy? I know about skunks! I had that happen once. Once is all it takes. I will avoid the face-to-face with our skunk.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Well if there’s an accident I have the de-skunk materials* always handy. Just in case.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
There’s also the tortie cat who sneaks into the garden.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Fair enough, you can tell her to get out. You can even chase her out, as long as you don’t get too serious about it.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
There’s so much going on in the garden. Like the two mice who hang out under the bird feeder.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
They are bold, aren’t they? But I notice you have been doing a good job of keeping an eye on them.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
There are the crows in the bird bath. The Towhee in the window feeder. And the biggest intruder of all, the squirrel. I have to be constantly vigilant!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Here’s what I suggest. You give the crows and the Tohee a pass, and just take on the squirrel. If you chase him off the veranda every day, you’ll be doing a good job.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
The bird feeder is under constant threat. It’s complete chaos there.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Just scare off the squirrel, and let the birds sort themselves out on the feeder. It may look like chaos but they seem to be doing a good job of taking turns.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mom,
I hope you’re right.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
I’m always right.
Love, Carolyn

* FOOL-PROOF ANTI-SKUNK SPRAY RECIPE:
Skip the tomato juice – it’s not only messy, it is an ineffective Old Wives Tale. The following recipe truly works like magic. (Note: an earlier version of this post had incorrect quantities – so sorry! It wasn’t Poppy’s fault.)

Mix in a spray bottle:
1 quart hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid detergent
Spray on the unfortunate dog’s coat, covering the entire affected area. Don’t spray the face, just wipe the liquid on there. This recipe is enough to take care of a small to medium sized dog. Double it for a large dog. 

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.comto find the subscription box at the top right. See you every Friday!

Flash Mob

Dear Mommy,
I’ve been trying all evening to get all five of us in the living room. All at the same time.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Why is this so important?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
It’s a secret.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Well now you’ve brought it up so you’ve got me wondering.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
If I tell you then you won’t be surprised.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Oh I’m sure I’ll be surprised anyway.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
Okay. It’s because I’m organizing a flash mob!!!!!!!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
A flash mob! I’m totally without words to respond to that.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
We’ve done it before, but you didn’t notice. It’s a great idea, right?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
It sounds lovely! I’m surprised I didn’t notice when you did it before. Just how does this plan unfold?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
You and Dad are sitting there reading, everything quiet, and the three of us saunter in like we’re not planning anything and all of a sudden we start dancing!!!! To completely surprise and enchant you.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That does sound surprising. How do we know that what you are doing is dancing?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
It will be obvious! We’ll be jumping around! I’ll wave my paws and Poppy will chase us around the sofa!
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That sounds like quite a lively dance.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
But it’s really difficult to get everyone organized. And keep them focused. When I try to get it all set up Poppy gets carried away and chases one of us right out of the room. Barking like crazy.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
But you rather enjoy that chase, don’t you?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
I do but Puffin doesn’t. So he gets grumpy.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
I think he wants to be the chaser. Puffin chases you all the time.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
He does. Down the hall, and up and down the stairs.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Maybe that’s your dance?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
Running in and out of the room?
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That would work. This time I promise we’ll notice. And I like to dance so maybe I’ll join in. 
Love, Carolyn

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Snack!

Cher Madame,
There is a cat café in Berkeley. I don’t understand why a cat would want to go to a café.
Regards, M. Le Poufin 

Dear Puffin,
That’s a kind of café where people can have coffee and pet cats.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
That sounds like a terrible idea. This café is evidently French, but they spelled “cat” incorrectly.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
They did?
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
As you yourself know, in French, cat is chat. But they spelled it “chaat.”
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
Chaat is an entirely different word, sweetie. They aren’t trying to say cat. They are talking about food. Chaat is an Indian snack. The Chaat Café is an Indian café. I don’t think you are a chaat. I hope not anyway.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
One does hope I am not a small food item.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You wouldn’t be a small one. More likely a hefty snack. Monsieur and I have had our eyes on those delicious-looking plump thighs of yours for a while now.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Toujours les insults. Always about the weight.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
I’m just kidding, sweetie. Don’t take it seriously.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
It’s still not a very nice thing to say.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You’re right. I was out of line. No more snack jokes.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
And it’s not just you and Monsieur. There was your friend, the lady who exclaimed “Ooooo, he’s lookin’ like a snack!”
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
That was a little different. It was because she thought you were adorable. That pink nose. Those pink paw pads. The cute white spots on your heels. Your killer green eyes.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
So adorable she wanted to eat me?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
She didn’t want to eat you. She was being funny. Hilarious in fact. The slang use of the word snack doesn’t usually apply to an overweight cat.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
To what does it apply?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
To a very attractive person.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Et moi, I am not attractive?
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
You are not a person, honey. You are a cat. And a gorgeous, luscious big armload of one at that.
Love, Carolyn

Cher Madame,
Toujours les insults. Madame keeps bringing up the fat.
Regards, M. Le Poufin

Dear Puffin,
It’s a big part of your mystique.
Love, Carolyn

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Bad-Ass Dog Pack

Dear Poppy,
When my daughter came for a visit with her dog Mika, we were having such a lovely time, until we all went out for a walk. What the heck was that all about?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
That walk was EPIC!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
And by epic, you mean insane and obnoxious? Because it was a horrible walk. You two behaved very, very badly.
Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
We were having an exciting time!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
You were wild and unruly. Both of you.
Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
What does unruly mean?
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It’s when you two behaved like you were about to attack another dog. You both looked ferocious, like you wanted to rip them apart. And not just once. There were five different encounters.
Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
We weren’t unruly – we were ruly!!! We wouldn’t have ripped anyone apart!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
No one could have guessed that, based on your behavior. Sweetie, you were transformed. Normally the two of you look sane. But on that walk you were lunging and yelling and screaming like crazy animals.
Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
It was pretty exciting.
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
It was embarrassing. You two were going berserk. And dear god, those were our neighbors.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
Together we are a dog pack!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
That pretty much describes it. Neither one of you is like that on her own. But together you became a batshit-crazy dog pack.
Carolyn

Dear Alpha Mommy,
When Mika is here we are totally bad-ass!!!! A bad-ass wild dog pack!!!!!!
XOXO Poppy

Dear Poppy,
Somehow next time she visits we’re going to have to stuff that genie back in the bottle.
Carolyn

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Tongues

Dear Mommy,
I can speak in tongues.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
I don’t think you know what that means.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
It means I speak many languages.
Love Mia

Dear Mia,
Well, no it doesn’t. And I don’t think you do.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
I speak Feline and English, for starters.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
That is pretty much the default around here.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
But I also speak Armenian.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
I seriously doubt that.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
I’ve learned it from listening to Dad speak Armenian. I know “Eench gah chi gah.” There. See?
Love, Mia 

Dear Mia,
Do you even know what that means?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
Not really. It’s what Dad says when Puffin saunters into the room.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
It’s kind of slangy. Basically, it means “’Sup?”
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
That’s good to know.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Okay, you know one sentence of Armenian. Do you know more?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
No, but I also know Arabic. I know “Bezoon.” That’s what Dad likes to call me. It means cat.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Ok, you know one word of Arabic.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
I know Italian. “Ciao.” You say that all the time to your friends.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
So you know one word of Italian.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
And French. I know “bon appétit.” That’s two words. And “Pah!.” Puffin says that. And he says “toujours le sarcasm.” So that makes six French words that I know.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Pah isn’t really a word. And technically speaking, you are spelling sarcasm the English way.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
Ok, four words in French. That’s still a lot. And I know Japanese.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Come on, you don’t know Japanese.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
Sushi.” I know sushi. I LOVE sushi. The fish part of it, anyway. I don’t care for the rice part of it.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Fair enough. Are there any more languages you think you know?
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
That’s seven languages. That’s probably a record.
Love, Mia

Dear Mia,
Usually when people master a language, they know more than one word.
Love, Carolyn

Dear Mommy,
Now you are just being technical.
Love, Mia

A note to our readers…
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