Adventures in pet sitting: When the dog’s away, this cat’s definitely in charge

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

Every January, Gabby scoots off to Palm Beach for a little vacation, leaving me — Asia, the tabby — in charge of the household and her column. I’m not inviteGabby Dogd to Florida.

Cats, according to Gabby, and travel don’t mix, so, you see, she has my best interests at heart.

And last year, I have to admit, I did enjoy cats’ holiday at home with Charlie, our new brother. He had just come home from the shelter; and from the instant his little paws touched the carpet, we all knew he belonged.

I toasted his arrival with eggnog, which we sipped from our mother’s good crystal.

It was wonderful batching it together.

Charlie was more fun than a satchel of mice.

Charlie, pretending not to care.
Charlie, my reading buddy.

To show my appreciation, I even cooked my famous salmon with tomato and bread crumbs in his honor. Nothing but the best for Charlie, dear chap, I used to tell him. I gave him the tour of the cellar, where I kept an office, and told him to make himself at home. It was all his now. To my delight, he made straight for the hide-y hole between the two couches where I used to snuggle.

We swapped mousing stories in the cellar. Back upstairs, we sat by the fire and read Black Beauty, still my favorite, even though not about a cat.But that was all before the arrival of our two new sisters — Twila and Nickel.

I have renamed them “No more peace,” and “No more quiet.”

To be frank, I haven’t been able to write a word since they moved in. Press releases go unanswered. Was I supposed to deliver reports on Flora, the horse, and Juanita, the duck?

Sorry, no time.

Take yesterday, for example. I had just given the girls their breakfast. As I tidied up the kitchen,  Nickel, the little butterscotch pudding tabby, decided to leap atop the counter and spring into the cabinet crammed full of dishes. Why? I said. Why would you do that? Why would that seem like a good idea?

“Oh,” she says, as the cups rocketed off their hooks, “there’s plenty of room in here for me. Ooops, did that break?”

I had to climb up and give her a piggy back ride down, so she didn’t cut her paw on the broken shards.

And she wasn’t finished looking for trouble.

Now, I have seen kitties play in boxes but never watched one dive headfirst into a paper bag until this little adventuress.

twila 004 (2)

As for Twila, she was a “foster kitty” from the shelter, the human said. Translation: the little dear had snarled and slashed her way into the shelter’s witness protection program, meaning she had become so impossible everybody needed a break. I have it on good authority she had been placed in quarantine at least once for, uh, you know. After prospective pet parents “overlooked” her for two years, she agreed to a name change. (She won’t tell us her old name, though.)

I overheard the vet say, our Twila was so notorious, the staff mounted her picture on the wall.

Of course, I’m partial to her for all those reasons, not to mention the fact — as a mackerel tabby  she looks a bit like me, although her coat is so dark she’s almost a black cat.

Still, I have had my paws full with her and her sister.

When they’re not chowing down — and bless their little appetites — they want to play. I ran out of games the second day they were home.

At Charlie’s suggestion, I looked in the human’s e-mail and found a message from her friend about a new book Tiny Hats on Cats: Because Every Cat Deserves to Feel Fancy

Best part, the book came with hat-making instructions.

“Ohhh,” Nickel mewed. “A craft.”

Who knew these shelter cats knew all the ins and outs about story hour? Charlie and I never had a craft. We went mousing when we wanted something to do.

But the girls sprawled on the hardwood and demanded a story. Then we made hats until Twila decided she didn’t like her chapeau. No, she wanted Nickel’s beret.

Nikel: So demanding.

“But Twila,” I said. “Yours is prettier.”

When Nickel heard that, she decided Twila’s hat was prettier. Then she wanted to know why she had received the ugly hat.

“You do not look like a train conductor in it,” I said, although I had to admit, the style didn’t do her justice.

In desperation, I made warm milk and hoped they would fall asleep. Twila eventually cooperated. But Nickel jumped in the doll’s chair and clamored for another story.

(The human brought out that little wicker chair the day Charlie came home. To his credit, he stalked past her and leapt up in the Breuer chair, which became his favorite. As a black cat, he appreciated sleek design and sophistication and would not be caught cat-napping in a doll’s chair.)

“All right, Nickel,” I sighed. “How about the story of Sleeping Beauty?”

No, she wanted a new story about Charlie and Gabby and Asia;

Google didnt disappoint. Internet dogs love tiny hats, it seems.
Google didn’t disappoint. Internet dogs love tiny hats, it seems.

and as I started to tell her all about our adventures, I realized I missed that little Peke-a-Poo more than I cared to admit. So, I e-mailed Palm Beach with an S.O.S.

Gabby has agreed to return promptly, if I make her a new tiny hat and research anything on Google about Tiny Hats for Dogs.

I found a ton of stuff. Wanna bet she writes a column about dog hats — after I’ve done all the work?

You read it here, first.

Have a tip or story idea? E-mail Margo Ann Sullivan at and  Follow The_Gabby_Dog on Twitter.

Margo Ann Sullivan

Allegra Boverman

Margo Ann Sullivan

Margo Ann Sullivan is a pet columnist who has written for ZooToo, and numerous publications in New York and in New England. She’s had pets all her life, starting with a rescue collie named Lollypop. The Gabby Dog column chases the news that helps pets and people. It also chronicles the adventures of Gabby, the peke-a-poo, and Asia, the tabby cat, and their many pals, hitting the high spots between Providence, RI, and Manchester, NH.

Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 12.21.06 PM
This *is* my happy face.

Asia, aka the culinary cat, is wise beyond her years, and has plenty of lives left yet ahead of her.  She has endured being the smartest cat in the room at all times, and has over her lifetime allowed a menagerie of rescue animals to join her in the home she generously shares with her human, Margo Sullivan. 


About this Author