“Herding Cats”

"Herding Cats," New Yorker cover art by Barry Blitt

“Herding Cats,” New Yorker cover art by Barry Blitt

Kittehs! Where are you in this week’s New Yorker cover?  

At first, I was verrah excited, cuz I could see my sisfur, Suzy, the black and white kitteh wif teh panicky, “get me outta here” eyes, bottom right corner, and even my brother, Taffy, laying down on teh job, per usual, behind Mr. Obama.  But where am I?  

I figure I am way out there in front of Mr. O, leading teh charge.  In fact, I am prolly out of frame cuz my speedy cheetah-like sprinting means I’ve already overshot Congress and am currently taking a lap around the Supreme Court, which would be very hard to draw.  But still.  You would think a bold, streaky blur of tiger stripes would be easy for man of his talents, but I’ll let it pass.

BUT I do take umbrage (or I would, if I knew how to do that…I mean, do you take umbrage by teh scruff of teh neck? pounce on it as it lumbers past, shredding it to bits? pin it under a steely claw until it squeaks for mercy? anyone know…?)

Sorry,  I was saying, I take umbrage at the fact that Mr. Blitt is comparing us kittehs to…*sputter* *cough*…Congress.

Shocking, right? Here we have teh proud and noble predator, Felis Catus, hunter of vermin, lap warmer, beloved and useful domestic companion to teh Mans since time began, compared to members of Congress? Those Guys? Those argumentative arrested adolescents, stubbornly obstructing the democratic process in order to make someone else look bad?  Those guys who, while already millionaires, still spend their day chasing money bags dangled by Corporate Sponsors, and then turn around and tell school teachers and police officers and Hurricane Sandy victims to “stop whining.” Those guys who must have been neutered because they ain’t even got the cojones to talk about reasonable gun control?  Those guys = kittehs?

I don fink so.

I would draw a different picture, one in which Mr. Obama has a nice sit down wif teh kittehs, a little purr and snuggle stress-relief session, to help the Man prepared for another day dealing with these buffoons.  I hear Mr. President is allergic or sumthin’, which is sad, but still I’m sure he’d put up with itchy eyes to hang out with cats who would neveh EVAH be so tactless as to yell “YOU LIE,” or call him “Hitler,” or make up make up conspiracy stories that he won the election because an invasion of space aliens or something like that.  No. Kittehs have class.  

Herd us into teh halls of Congress and you know what would happen? Things would get done. Heads would be bonked, sometimes fur would fly, it’s true, but – Establishing Justice? Ensuring Domesticated Tranquility? Promoting the General Welfare?  Kittehs would be all over that like spit on a catnip mouse.

Good Luck, Mr. President. Give us a call if you need helps. 

Cool on Coolidge

More Cat in HISStory!

In our ongoing series on Execative Kittehs, we fondly remember the poor, long-suffering Tiger, one of the menagerie of animals that infested the White House during Calvin Coolidge’s presidency (1923 to 1929).  The smiling Officer is a member of White House Security, who posed proudly with Tiger after he “saved” the cat who had “got lost” by wandering away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for teh umpteenth time.  The one not smiling is Tiger. 

Living with a quiet animal-lover may sound ideal, but Tiger knew all too well about the down side of living with Silent Cal.  While Mr. Coolidge had nuthin’ to say to Congress or the American Public, he did feel more than a little at home with the four-legged constituency. He and his critter-crazy wife Grace came to the White House with several dogs, rabbits, raccoons, mockingbirds, canaries, a donkey and a goose.  Soon, word got out about Cal’s animal fixation and so peeps seeking favors would try to soften up the flinty old man by sending all kinds of animal gifts.  “Kind people send us animals, puppies, kittens, queer animals sometimes—wombats and such,” the President wrote to a friend, conveniently forgetting to mention the pygmy hippo, the baby bear, the wallaby, the miniature antelope and a pair of lion cubs dropped off by the Sultan of Oman. 

You can imagines the smell, right? Or the frustration Tiger must of felt at watching Rebecca, the Raccoon, steal kibble from a clearly marked cat bowl.  Or the humiliation of surrendering the best napping spot in the East Wing (the Empire settee in the Red Room) to Smokey the Bobcat.  On top of all that, Mr. Coolidge had a particular fondness for practical jokes, most of which revolved around hiding cats in various places for his wife to find – such as the dumb waiter or the roof.  When Mr. President was found “in the basement putting a black cat in a crate with a rooster,  just to see what would happen,” Tiger knew it was time to make a break for it.

And so he walked off.  Several times. Each time, the Coolidges noticed, somehow, that one of the multitude was missing, and issued “Missing Cat Bulletin” over the radio.  White House Security was ever on alert, dragging Tiger home from the bushes outside the Old Executive Building.  Mrs. Coolidge had a special collar with “Tiger – White House” engraved on the name plate.  Then one day, he didn’t come back.
“Perhaps,” the grieving Mrs. Gracie wondered,  “instead of safeguarding him with the collar, we had made him a too attractive and tempting souvenir.”

Or perhaps that attractive souvenir was pawned for a bus ticket across town and a boat ride down the Potomac.  Anything to get away from that zoo.

for EVEN MORE Calvin Coolidge animal stories, check out David Pietrusza’s great article “Wombats and Such” and thanks to Retro Campaigns for the pix!