Changing Times

People change over time. They develop new interests, try new things, and find new ways to avoid terminal boredom.

Case in point: Way, way back in 2013, I said that Watanuki isn’t “aggressive about sitting on newspapers…doesn’t have much interest in chewing on books…doesn’t unroll the toilet paper…and given his choice of dens, he’s more likely to hole up in a plastic cat carrier than a cardboard box.”


‘Nuki didn’t just stroll into the box and sit down. He had to knock it on its side first. That took several tries. Then there was a period of cautious sniffage, followed by multiple changes of position before he was comfortable.

Perhaps Watanuki has outgrown his early “reverse Maru’s syndrome”. He has taken to sitting on the recycle pile–which is primarily newspaper–and has been seen droolingnibbling on the corner of Maggie’s ebook reader (call it meta-paper).

Or maybe he’s just doing it to mess with our minds. I wouldn’t put it past our house-thug.

Regardless, Rhubarb wants to make it clear that he had nothing to do with ‘Nuki’s behavioral change, has never met Watanuki, and in fact, doesn’t even see the cat to his right.


While it’s true that times and people change, some things remain the same.


No matter how lazy a cat may get (Garfield notwithstanding), mice remain a hunter’s favorite target.

Two Things

I don’t want to make this another political post, but there’s one thing I feel obligated to say: It’s not over!

Seriously, folks. I’m seeing a lot of celebration over the Manafort conviction and the Cohen plea deal. And yes, they’re worth celebrating.

But it’s not, as many columnists seem to think, the end of Trump. Case in point, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote that “the president’s strategy of diversion and evasion collapsed.”

Which president has he been looking at? Has he read any of Trump’s tweets over the last couple of days? Or any statement coming out of the White House over the last year and a half? This is an administration that runs on denial, obfuscation, and lies.

Has any Republican in Congress snapped out of his paralysis and done anything more concrete than expressing cautious concern? Not that I’ve heard about. Has there been any sign of Republican pushback against Brett Kavanaugh? Not that’s been reported in any news source I’ve got access to.

Until we see Republicans taking action against Trump–or until Democrats control both the House and the Senate–not only is Trump not done for, it’s not even the beginning of the end.

‘Nuff said.

Moving on to something more cheerful.

The affinity between cats and boxes is well known. I–along with every other blogger since the Internet was created–have written about it before.

You can find pictures of cats in boxes with little trouble. Cats in shipping boxes, cats in cereal boxes, and on and on.

But nobody has come up with a box specifically designed for cats to sit in. Until now, anyway.

That’s right. Scott Salzman has, according to the Longmont Times-Call run a successful Kickstarter to launch sales of his purpose-built cat-sitting boxes (not to be confused with the sort of cat boxes normally filled with litter).

That’s right. For a measly ten bucks, you can now offer your cats a box built just for them. No more secondhand, used boxes!

My prediction? Your cats will completely ignore the “Purrfect Cat Box” you buy them, and instead play with the packaging it was shipped in.


Did you know that rabbits are susceptible to Maru’s Syndrome?

“If it fits, I sits,” indeed. There were several bunnies at the county fair who had more extreme cases of the disease, but this one was the cutest.

Speaking of boxes, I went to clean the litter boxes a few days ago and discovered that someone had left a message.

That’s not a casual comment or accident. The scoop normally lies on the artificial grass mat visible at the lower left. Whoever it was had to pick it up and carry it into the box.

And no, I don’t think the message was that the box needed cleaning. Despite what it looks like in this picture, it actually had less mess in it than usual.

Nor has the message been repeated. Maybe it was just “I’m bored and this looks like a toy.”

I don’t know who left the message either, but odds are good that it was one of these guys.

They may look cute and innocent when they’re curled up on the bed together, but I’m fairly sure that the more innocent they look, the more likely they are to be plotting some fresh deviltry.

And, speaking of deviltry, Sachiko wanted to know when I was going to put her on the blog again.

Never let it be said that I gave her an excuse to bury the litter box scoop. Not that she’d need an excuse if she thought of it.

Box O’ Cats

It’s Friday, and that means I owe you a cat-related post. Hold tight while we dip into medicine and feline psychology in an attempt to solve one of nature’s greatest mysteries.

Thanks to Stef for sending me this video that demonstrates the question. It’s definitely worth three minutes of your time to watch, so go ahead; I’ll wait. (She suggests turning off the sound and I concur: the music adds nothing to the experience.)

You’re back? Good.

Giggle-worthy though the video is, it started me asking why cats are so driven to crawl into tight spaces. And it is unquestionably a drive. The first segment came from the video below, and it adds a whole new layer of meaning:

Maru shows that he will get into any box that catches his eye, no matter how much of a struggle it is or how uncomfortably his tail gets pinched. (There’s a whole series of Maru videos that will show up in the recommendations when you watch that one. Well worth spending some time on them; as Alton Brown has said in another context, “Your patience will be rewarded.” Maru’s determination is an inspiration to us all.)

Several sites give the obvious answers: it’s like a little cave, it’s a protected space where they can sleep without being attacked, and it’s a concealed location where they can watch what’s going on without being seen.

That’s not an adequate answer, though. Cats have a very finely tuned ability to figure out whether they’ll fit into a given space–that’s what their whiskers are for–so why do they continue to try to cram themselves into boxes that are too small, or, as Maru demonstrates, drape themselves across the top of micro-boxes?

A few other proposed explanations from around the web:

There’s some merit in those ideas, especially the last one, but they don’t quite seem adequate to me.

Not all cats display the same level of determination that Maru does; clearly there’s something specific to certain cats that drive them to force themselves into tiny boxes.

There is a human neurological disorder called Frey’s syndrome; those who have the syndrome sweat from a patch of skin near the ear whenever they salivate. (As it happens, I have Frey’s syndrome; those of you who have shared a meal with me may have noticed me wiping my left cheek and complaining about my “damn sweat patch”.) I think cats that demonstrate “Maru’s syndrome” are experiencing a similar neurological misfiring; in their case it’s a misdirection of the instinct that draws cats to sit down on your book or newspaper while you’re reading. Cats are drawn to paper and paper products: they’ll rub their cheeks on the corner of a book you’re reading, snooze on a pile of paperbacks, crawl into boxes and bags, unroll the toilet paper, and yes, plop themselves down on your newspaper. In Maru’s syndrome, clearly that instinct is being intensified; the scent of paper and cardboard drives them to a frenzy and they go greater and greater efforts to surround themselves with the scent.

I mentioned in this morning’s photo post that Watanuki’s issues with condos were relevant here. What’s the connection? First, consider that he’s actually giving up the benefits of being in a cave: he’s not enclosed and protected from predators, he’s not concealed, he’s not getting his body heat radiated back at him, and he’s certainly not doing anything to improve the economy. Second, consider that this condo, like many, is made of heavy-duty cardboard. Could it be that ‘Nuki suffers from a sort of “reverse Maru’s syndrome” in which the scent of paper products actually repels him? There is some supporting evidence: he’s not aggressive about sitting on newspapers–he prefers clothes; unlike several of his siblings, he doesn’t have much interest in chewing on books–his chew toys of choice are toes and Yuki; he doesn’t unroll the toilet paper–he leaves that to Kaja and Rhubarb; and given his choice of dens, he’s more likely to hole up in a plastic cat carrier than a cardboard box or the wooden headboard of the bed. Seems like a significant possibility.

In most cases, Maru’s syndrome–and Watanuki’s syndrome, for that matter–is a minor nuisance to the cat, and an entertainment to humans. Massive investment in seeking a cure seems unwarranted, but if you are a feline suffering from Maru’s syndrome, please take care in your self-boxing. You don’t want to wind up like this: