Monday, August 30, 2010

Cashmere Nights by Denise Stanley

Cashmere Nights
by Denise Stanley

Our Cashmere tucks us in at night
And when we are asleep,
She prowls the house to set things right,
Then starts to earn her keep.

She checks the floor for bugs and mice,
Dispatching them with ease.
Our Cashmere is an indoor cat,
No pesky ticks or fleas.

She has a bite to eat and then
A drink to quench her thirst.
The couch is calling her to sleep,
She runs there with a burst.


She licks and grooms her pretty fur,
And does yoga for fun.
At last she sighs and hunkers down,
Her night’s job has been done.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Note to Contributors

I have been very happy with all the submissions and contributions to Hazard Cat. As you know, this is a new publication and a new venture for me. Thank you for your patience in waiting for your contributions to be posted. I will not be able to post more than three times a week indefinitely, so it may be some time before I get through all the work. I am still posting May submissions.

At this time, I am considering have an open submission period once a year and posting all accepted pieces over the course of the year. I will keep you posted on my decision.

Again, thanks for all the great submissions, correspondences and donations over the summer. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop an email.

Don't forget to pet a cat.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hierarchy by Guy Belleranti

by Guy Belleranti

Kitten, thinking she's number one,
Grabs attention with pointy claws.
Her mother sets the record straight-
Puts her in place with gentle jaws.

They frolic for a fun moment,
Their feline hierarchy's just fine.
Mother's training her kitten well-
Soon TWO cats will be keeping me in line.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bionic Cat by Tricia Sutton

Bionic Cat
by Tricia Sutton

Someone who must've experienced a similar cat developed the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

My cat-crusade began to wane. My last request resulted in a rabbit, and prior to that a pigeon. So I convinced my parents that life wasn't worth living without a squirrel. That was when I got the cat I'd been so brutally denied.

Since I was medicated anyway from my newly diagnosed orange blossom allergy, Mama couldn't use my cat allergy as an excuse.

My older sister Beth brought home a baby bobcat mix born in her friend's shed. The mother was a regular housecat who'd been lollygaggin' around with fierce mountain beasts. "He'll be wild," came the warning of Beth’s friend. I didn’t care because the brown and grey spotted kitten was too cute to be anything but sweet.

I named the tiny critter Smokey, and he was just a wee bit mean, nothing I couldn’t handle.

Mama couldn’t handle him.

She reminded me daily why she hated cats and how Smokey was a shining example of what creation fashioned "a new breed of devil." She clearly exaggerated his orneriness. “He's got hell in his eyes, that cat. Hell, I tell you!”

He hid behind furniture and around corners, waiting. When Mama walked by he pounced, squealed, then chased her on his hind legs with his front paws outstretched as if he were a monster—some say he was. She'd take off, and he'd overtake her every time, biting, and latching onto her ankle.

No matter how many times a day he attacked, it was always unexpected. Her scream would cause the birds of the world to fly, cattle to run.

“I hate that cat," she'd say repeatedly. "I hate it so bad.” He seemed to enjoy harassing her most (the neighbors being a close second). She provided him the explosive reaction he desired. When Mama was unavailable, he stalked any moving target: the neighbors, their pets, destroying property for fun. He popped out of the bushes, startling a neighbor to drop her armload of groceries. Later, she told my dad, "He's a heart attack waiting to happen."

One school night—when I should have been in bed—I was watching an episode of "Get Smart" when a chill coursed through me. I shuddered, left the TV set on and got up to walk off the bad feeling like walking off a bad dream. I crept out the front door into the blast of cold wind, which blew into the valley from the snow-capped mountains nearby. Into the unlit street with only the February full moon as my guide, I wandered toward a small, dark shape on the roadway ahead.

It was either a dead animal—common living near wilderness—or batches of wet pine needles that had blown into heavy piles. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was Smokey, lying in a little heap as listless as a dammed-up pine needle dome. My first thought: probably the car that hit him aimed for him.

My family and everyone else in scream distance gathered at the sound of my wails and discovered Smokey was still breathing. When my siren had silenced—along with the defeated groans of those who hoped for his death—Mama spoke first. "I'll get the shovel and finish him off."

"I got a gun," offered a neighbor.

"Shoot him," cheered another.

"Stay put; I got a shovel right here," said an out-of-breath neighbor, who'd gone home and fetched a shovel in a nanosecond.

A multi-tasker, Mama would use the shovel for both whacking and burying. When a bird had flown into our kitchen window, Miss Suffering Intolerant marched outside, located it, snapped its neck, then tossed it into the trash, all in the presence of our visiting and visually disturbed pastor and his family.

Daddy rescued Smokey from Mama and others in the mob, wrapping him up in a towel and taking him to the vet.

"It's a bobcat," the vet observed, scratching his temple, "with a tail."

I forgave him for his obvious statement; we had caught him at bedtime. I could see his pajama bottoms underneath his navy blue smock; his eyes looked tired, his hair in disarray.

The animal hospital smelled beyond my wildest fears bad; toxic toilet bad. My brother's feet bad. I held my nose and worried the cat would die by sheer will, by self-induced euthanasia. The vet spoke as if no odor existed. He advised he put Smokey down due to the severity of his head injuries and the expense it would be to risk the slim possibility of his surviving.

Mama's eyes watered, but not from grief. She cupped her hands over her mouth and nose and said, nasally, "This is too awful to bear."

The sleepy-eyed vet placed his hand empathetically on her shoulder. "We sure get attached to these little critters, don't we?"

I could tell she struggled to clear up the misunderstanding, to impart her hate for Smokey, to chronicle his misdeeds from day one, but to do so would cause her to release the breath she had been holding. When Daddy and the vet began their discussion on actually saving the cat, and how Daddy could barter his electrical experience to work off the bill, Mama shook her head violently in protest. She made gagging remarks that no one understood, and finally, in defeat, fled the building for fresh air.

In 1975, fifteen-hundred dollars was a lot of money to owe a vet. Even our wealthy neighbors admitted it was too much to spend on a wild-breed lawsuit. So Smokey earned a new name: “The fifteen-hundred-dollar cat.” We called him the bionic cat: genetically engineered to destroy the world.

The vet did a remarkable job restoring Smokey to his old bobcat-self—or something close to his original shape, anyway. The vet phoned us in distress a week later claiming Smokey was ready to go home. When we arrived, the vet kept at a safe distance while we loaded the stiff cat—complete with a full-body cast and unrestrained teeth and claws—into our laundry basket. He then waited until we were in the car before he gave us his afterthought prognosis: "He’ll have permanent brain damage." Then he waved good-bye with his bandage dotted arms, darted back into his clinic and turned the "closed" sign.

Mama’s eyebrow rose straight up to her hairline, and she shot me a glare. “I knew we should've let him die.”

On his next day off, Daddy went straight to work to pay the bill. The thought of him working in that smell, for a cat he couldn't pet without hand protection, gave me a whole new perspective on unconditional love. His love of his family and animals knew no boundaries.

After many follow up visits to the vet, who now donned gloves normally reserved for large birds of prey, Smokey was down to wearing leg braces but otherwise seemed fine. Mama said, "He's not fine; he's meaner than before."

I didn’t notice.

As Smokey adjusted to his leg braces, he became quite the noise maker: clink, clank, clink, clank. His metal apparatus's noise was a constant, like a broken window shutter in a storm: clink, clank. Plus, he adopted a new growl, a roar louder than any everyday bobcat. So thunderous and ferocious, this growl, that most visitors didn’t believe it emitted from him.

Throughout the rest of winter and spring, Smokey grew bigger, healthier, and more deranged each day. But Mama found his hunting skills to be beneficial in eliminating the gophers that had overtaken the garden. Daddy trapped and freed them in the hills. Mama just wanted them dead; thus, Smokey became useful.

Smokey brought us a dead animal offering daily (even Mrs. Smargassi's yappy Chihuahua, which I promptly buried behind the shed before there were any witnesses).

Bored with small prey, he started encroaching on other folks’ property for larger breeds. Our dogs were of no interest to him anymore—Rosie could've easily killed him and probably wanted to, and his interest in Dorky diminished about the same time he chased him into a fatal heart attack.

Smokey's rap sheet included trespassing, property defacement, stalking, harassment, and even murder. It also meant we became unpopular with the neighbors.

All calls to police dispatch were published in the Ojai Valley News' police blotter. The media called the house wanting to know the name of the legendary famed feline, but Mama only said his name was "The fifteen-hundred-dollar-cat," which was what they printed.

Underneath the first police blotter headline, CLOCK TOWER CHIMES THREE TIMES AT TWO O’CLOCK, was this heading:


The case of three drubbed Dobermans and one very bad cat. Savagely attacked, the watchdogs at the Morgan Manor needed medical attention as The Fifteen-Hundred Dollar Cat paced around the cornered dogs. Owner, Don Morgan, finally had to spray said feline with the water hose before the beast retreated. Dogs are recovering.

The next time it read:


This time leaving the head of a decapitated duck on the doorstep of Ms. Wilson. Ms. Wilson called to report that said cat has prevented her from leaving the premises. "He won’t leave and won't let me leave either, even after I banged pans together, threw apples at him, and played Jim Nabors' "Love Me With All Your Heart" really loud on my record player. He growls like a junkyard dog. I feel like a hostage in my own house, and that beast has hell in his eyes.” (Where have I heard that before?) The Austens, owners of troublesome wild-beast, claim brain damage caused his peculiar behavior, and they are taking steps to prevent future police attention.

A town hall assembly ensued; a committee developed, and a new cat-abatement law turned up on the next council meeting agenda. If the bill passed, vicious cat owners could be fined community service for destruction of property. It was voted down, laughed probably right off the ballot by those lucky enough to live outside Smokey's territory.

Tricia Sutton is a novelist and short story writer. Her stories and articles can be found in The Rambler, Simple Joy, and forthcoming in The Shine Journal. The Bionic Cat is an excerpt from her unfinished novel titled Hiding in the Spotlight, about a hearing impaired girl's struggle with an amazingly embarrassing family, and a slew animals with equally disturbing qualities. She claims the story is mostly trueish. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and four cats in Fresno, CA. She welcomes visitors to her publications blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Whoops! by James S. Dorr

by James S. Dorr

slinking cat's wet cough
presages hairball but where --
foot put in shoe knows

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Unwanted Pet by Jeanna Tendean

The Unwanted Pet
by Jeanna Tendean

Disgusted, he watched it, though hidden from it’s view. He stayed hidden from it most days. He realized that wanting it had been a colossal mistake.

It never shut up or stopped eating. It laid around all day stinking up the room.

And the cries it made when it mated turned his stomach sour like rotting fish did.

The worst part, though, was that it tried to touch him with its filthy paws and mouth.

So one night, when it drifted off to sleep, he quietly crept up and smothered it to death.

And then the cat was happy and free to roam about…

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bad Cat Week Starts with Mr. Whiskers by Graeme Reynolds

Mr. Whiskers
by Graeme Reynolds

Mark drifted in warmth and darkness. Images flashed through his mind; random, jumbled but tied together by a subconscious narrative thread that defied logic.

He could hear knocking. Steady, regular. It tugged at him, puncturing the womb that his mind floated in. Awareness leaked in.

No, he thought, not knocking. His mind processed the sound, rising from the depths of his dream. There was a weight on his chest, restricting his breathing. The weight twitched in time to the sound.

Hyunk! Hyunk! Hyunk!

The fog cleared from his mind in an instant. His eyes snapped open and saw two flat green disks stating back at him.

Hyunk! Hyunk! Kaff! Squelch!

The cat’s mouth opened and a lump of partially digested food, grass and hair appeared on the duvet. The severed head of a mouse stared at him with dead black eyes.

“Oh God! Gerrofoutofityabastard!” he yelled, throwing back the covers.

The cat leaped from the bed and vanished into the darkness. Within moments he could hear it being noisily sick somewhere else in the house. He looked at the alarm clock. 4.15am. Mark groaned.

“Please Mark”, he whined in a falsetto imitation of Joanne. “Look after Mr. Whiskers while I go away. It’s only for a couple of days and he’ll be no trouble.”

Yeah, right. So far the thing had stolen his dinner from the plate, sprayed acrid urine across his laptop and now blown chunks of mouse all over the duvet. This was not Mark’s definition of being no trouble.

He got out of bed and felt something warm squelch under his feet. He put on the bedroom light, and sure enough, there was the rest of the mouse – stretched out over the floor of the bedroom - a drawn out string of entrails with sporadic patches of blood soaked fur that poked out from between Mark’s toes.

“Aw man, that’s gross!” he muttered, and hopped to the bathroom to clean his foot.

Jo had inherited the cat; a scraggy, flea-bitten ginger tom, from her aunt about a month ago, after the silly old cow had fallen down a flight of stairs and broken her neck. Mark had disliked the cat instantly. There had been times when he had caught it looking at him with a strange expression on its face that made him uneasy. When Jo had to go away on a business trip, she had pleaded with him to house sit and look after the animal. He was regretting his decision.

He walked back to the bedroom, pulled on a pair of shorts and headed downstairs, ensuring that the lights were on so that any other presents lying around on the floor could be avoided. Sure enough, on the stairs was a reddish brown mass with wisps of steam curling from it.

Nice, he thought, stepping around it and continuing down the stairs. A flash of orange fur between his feet made him stumble, and for a moment he teetered, stepping backwards to catch his balance.


”Oh for…are you trying to kill me?”

The cat flicked its tail at him and wandered off into the living room. Mark was sure it was laughing. Cursing, he hopped to the downstairs bathroom to clean his foot again, and then headed to the living room. Mr. Whiskers was lying on Mark’s suit jacket that had fallen from the door where he had hung it the night before. The cat scratched itself and clouds of ginger fur filled the air, coating the expensive black material with a layer of hair and flecks of dandruff.

“OK Mr. Whiskers, I think it’s time you went outside for a while,” he said, and reached towards the animal.

Mr. Whiskers disagreed. The cat arched its back and growled at him, swiping Mark’s outstretched hand with razor-sharp claws. Blood welled up in the parallel tears in his skin. The cat ran past him before he had a chance to react, disappearing into one of the other rooms.

“Bastard cat! I’ll deal with you later,” he growled after the retreating animal. He headed to the bathroom to dress his wound, leaving spots of blood on Jo’s expensive cream carpet in his wake.

After ten minutes or so, the bleeding had stopped. Mark’s head was thick with fatigue, but there was no point in going back to bed. He had to be up in an hour, and there was still the matter of cleaning up the mess.

Jo kept the cleaning things in the cellar, along with her suitcases and a bewildering array of junk that she refused to simply throw away. Holding his injured hand, he opened the cellar door and peered into the darkness below. At the bottom of the steep wooden stairs lay Jo. Dressed in her business suit, her legs bent beneath her, and her head at an unnatural angle.

“Oh my god! Jo!” he yelled, and ran down the stairs to reach her.

Something orange and hairy entangled itself in Mark’s legs and he plummeted head first down the stairs. As he fell he saw Mr. Whiskers on the staircase, licking his genitals.

“I’m going to kill that fucking cat,” he thought before he landed beside his girlfriend with a wet snap.

Mark lay on the concrete floor twitching. He couldn’t move his body – couldn’t even blink. Blackness closed in around the edge of his vision as he watched the cat strutting down the stairs. The animal brought its face up to his, filling his vision with malicious flat green disks.

Mr. Whiskers turned around and raised its tail into the air.

“No!” he thought, “It wouldn’t!”

It did.

The acrid urine hit Mark square in the face, burning his eyes and nostrils. Mark watched Mr. Whiskers saunter back up the stairs, pausing at the top to glance back at the dying man. The last thing Mark saw was a grin on the cat's face, and a last contemptuous flick of the tail before the darkness claimed him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Postcards from the Road by Kevin Craig

Postcards from the Road
by Kevin Craig

I’ll place you curbside, my lovely,
Calico eyes emptied,
life dwindled to a sigh.

You’ll be a postcard
to sadness,
a little girl’s cry.

Soft coat stained and shrill,
you’ll find a square
of fallen sunlight,
dapple your stretched body
into somber green.

I’ll shed a tear
for the sadness yet to come,
the missing purr at morning’s door,
dabbled spots of milk
You’ll not devour.

I’ll set you here amid the grass,
where later they will find you,
a sad refrain,
a lost postcard

from the road.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pirate and the Lady by Jean Airey


by Jean Airey

It has been said there are psychic currents in Englewood that bring people together. I'm beginning to believe these must affect animals as well.

As a volunteer with one of the local pet rescue organizations, I'd gone down to the parking lot of the local newspaper where we were going to have a special adoption day. Our organization believes in fostering out as many animals as we can, and I'd been foster mother to a black cat named Pirate since he'd been rescued as a kitten. Today was another chance for Pirate to be adopted.

I put Pirate in one of the front cages, at eye height, in the hopes that someone would be interested in him. Unfortunately, this was also the area where all the cute little kittens were, and few people are interested in an almost full grown cat. Pirate lay in the cage, ignored, and occasionally glared at me as if to ask why I'd brought him there.

A lady came out of the newspaper office and walked over to look at the cats. At the kittens, really. I have to call her a lady, because she looked like one and not like the down-home casual women one usually sees around town. She was wearing a classic straight-skirted light blue suit with a pale yellow blouse and low, slim heels. Elegant gold earrings glinted in the sun and a small gold watch rested on a fine-boned wrist. There was a single ring with a colored stone on her right hand. A professional woman, I guessed. The type to choose a Siamese or a Persian that would go with her décor.

"Are these all for adoption?" she asked. Her voice was low and pleasant. She was wearing tinted glasses, so I couldn't see her eyes clearly, but the rest of her face seemed to be carefully made up.

"Yes they are," I replied. "They've all had their shots and, with the adoption fee, we do provide neutering."

She put one finger up to a cage, and a small tabby kitten came over to bat at it. She smiled. Maybe she would consider a cute kitten, I thought. Cute could be as enhancing to one's décor as beautiful. Then she looked down the cages and caught sight of Pirate. "That's not a kitten," she said and moved down toward him. I followed her.

Pirate's head was tucked into his belly. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought. "No, he's eight months old now. I've been his foster mother since we got him. His name is Pirate."

At the sound of his name, which usually meant food was coming, Pirate lifted his head and looked at us. She took a quick breath. "He's only got one eye," she said in a hushed whisper as if saying it might upset me.

I'd seen this reaction before. Amazement, curiosity, a fascinating listening to his story, and then a return to the cute little kittens. Pirate looked directly at her, his eye – on the left side – a glowing yellow – the solid black fur on the right side a mute testimony to his life on the streets.

"One of our volunteers found him on last Halloween; she spotted some boys clustered around something in the middle of the road. They ran away when she approached them. She found Pirate on the ground where they'd been standing. His eye had been cut open and part of his tail was crushed. One of his legs had been broken. In spite of that, he still stood up on three legs when she bent down to pick him up. She says that when she picked him up, he started purring."

The lady was staring at Pirate with a singular intensity and he was returning the look. "Grreow," he said to her in a raspy voice and reached out to her with one paw. She reached through the bars with one manicured finger and touched it.

This looked promising. A lot of people didn't even want to touch him, as if they might catch some form of one-eyedness. "He lost the eye and an inch off his tail. The break healed well, although there's a slight lump on the bone," I continued. She was still stroking his paw.

"Grreow," he said and got up to move over to the bars where she could scratch his head. Somewhat bemused, she obliged.

"Does he sound funny?" she asked with some hesitation.

"We think someone may have tried to choke him and damaged his vocal cords. He's got a little rasp when he purrs too. He's a very friendly cat – toward people. But he wants a lot of attention and it would really be best if he was the only cat in the house."

"Could I hold him?"

Well, this was progress. "Of course. Let me take him out and we can go over to this section in the back where it's not so hectic." There were a number of people looking at the cats now, including some of the dog-walkers. Anticipating this, we'd set up a blocked off section that only possible adopters could go into with one of the volunteers.

As we walked back there I asked some more pertinent questions. Did she have children? No. Husband? No. Job? Teacher at a local middle school.

"I have more than enough children there," she said with a rueful smile. Reaching the 'holding' section, she sat down and I put Pirate into her lap. She started stroking his back and he promptly rolled over to get his belly rubbed. When she stopped, he grabbed her hand with both paws (claws retracted) and said "Ggggreeow."

"He doesn't want you to stop."

"I can tell that," she continued, learning the first lesson of a cat owner: Do what the cat wants. I could hear his raspy purr. "Does he have claws?"

This was going to be a breaking point. I could easily picture an immaculate apartment with delicate fabrics and decorations precisely arranged. "Yes, but I've always kept them clipped and he's never scratched anything."

"You clip his claws?"

"Yes. It's just like trimming your nails." Only I bet she had a professional do that. "We can teach you how, or you can bring him back to us and we'll do it."

She picked him up and held him against her chest. I could see black hairs on the blue suit, but she didn't seem to notice. He snuggled into her neck and purred more loudly. "How can I adopt him?"

I wanted to say, "Are you sure?", but from the way she was holding him, it was obvious she was. "I'll get the form for you to fill out."

She nodded. As I left to get the application form, I saw her lift Pirate so she was looking right into his face. "Don't you worry," she said. "You're going to be my one-eyed beautiful boy. You see, I've only got one eye too."

"Grreow," said Pirate.

(Based on a true story)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Claiming the Cat Scope by Lyn C. A. Gardner

Claiming the Cat-Scope

By Lyn C. A. Gardner

For years, my husband saw phantom black cats,
gone when he turned his head. Too many black cats and their ghosts
filled our house to follow them all. But when I caught
our new black cat diving away from us that frosty night
as we entered the living room, his long tail snapping an alert,
I knew they were hiding something. While my husband snoozed,
the cat-scope sailed through the night to lodge
under our loveseat--a blocky wand with an eccentric lavender glow
that the invisible man would have loved or cursed:
either way, his secret would be out.

Quick as mice, we laid our counterplot.
While they lounged, sedated by sun and soft bedding,
I snagged the scope from hiding. It flickered in daylight,
its gleam no more than a shadow. Our skin itched with the sense
of invisible cats just beyond our ken.
At night, we drew the shades, waited till cats curled tight
around heat-generating husband. When they finished washing,
sleepy, he snuck out to pee, an urge they understood.
They pooled into the warmth he left, smiling in innocent slumber.

We leaned together, whispering. My husband flicked one switch.
Our cats disappeared, leaving indentations in the bedspread,
their lazy yawns popping with the click of teeth.
We chuckled softly. It explained some things.
A different switch brought new cats
dribbling smoothly from the scope, tuxedos and snowy silk
winding through bookshelves, ducking behind the fridge,
pots jangling with their complaints: we'd stolen their secret weapon,
their master spyglass to guard frail bones against cat-rending canines
and crushing human feet. Their periscope, their decoder--
they yowled threats, stalking us with gleaming eyes, shining claws, sharp leaps--
I flipped the switch. They flickered out.

Sly, we prowled the night with our captured Enigma,
scanning their haunts with this secret violet glow
from the box-like wand that translated sprayed squiggles
into ornate calligraphy in our tongue:
"That little black cat's too high and mighty.
Don't crown him king, even though you love him most.
I'm the best cat for the job." The signature was a bold, unmistakable C.
We knew which quivering tail had marked these
elegant threats and snide comments on court intrigue.

While we deciphered, the cats grew uneasy:
We heard them scratching and whining from the bathroom,
no doubt smelling the facts as we wiped their secrets from the wall,
their history vanishing in a mist of enzyme spray
as we erased vituperations about who bit who's tail.
When we released them, they rushed into their domain,
small round bodies looping furniture, reestablishing their index,
connecting communications as they laced the air with crossing arcs,
leaping from one end of the house to the other,
their claws cutting small notes in wood,
impressions and reflections scored for later pondering.

We still claim the cat-scope from time to time.
We let them think they've batted it out of sight
beneath the dresser, then listen in on prison talk:
C knows we're thinking about relocation camps for the worst offenders,
those whose sprayed messages deface our books, whose claw-marks
shred couch and papers. C offers to solve the problem permanently:
he sleeps in our bed often enough to elicit no suspicion
the night he'd smother us. Appalled, we shove him outside,
back into the snow he came from six winters ago.
His gray-striped brother yowls reproach, scratching glass prison bars.
Tonight, we'll read what he says about it--
if he doesn't flick the scope for backup, calling new cats to do C's work.
We take the violet glow to light our bedroom, just in case.

Monday, August 2, 2010