Monday, September 16, 2019

Puddin' writes about books for Cat Lovers

It’s Mum’s job to write about books, but I demanded to be the one to write about the best cat books.  I’m sure you’re aware we kitties read by lying on reading material, preferably newspapers, but a book will do.

My Aunt Lisa gave us my all-time favorite cat book, “The Dalai Lama’s Cat.” It’s my favorite because the cat tells the story, and her beginnings are similar to mine. His Holiness’s Cat, HHC for short, was found with his siblings near a trash heap in New Dehli. As the runt of the litter, she seemed destined to return to the trash until the Dalai Lama rescued her in the nick of time.

Like a food wrapper or beer bottle, I too was thrown from a car window into a bush in Midtown Atlanta.  An angel, who was forever rescuing abandoned kitties and finding them homes, plucked me from the bush. My soon to be Mum was searching for a calico kitty and, luckily for both of us, found me online. So, HHC and I I have our near-death experiences in common.

HHC learns, not at the Dalai Lama's feet, as she says, but in his lap; and she shares her adventures and imparts her wisdom in her sweet book.  I must encourage Mum to get the next two books in the series: "The Dalai Lama's Cat and the Art of Purring" and "The Dalai Lamas' Cat and the Power of Meow."

“The Story of Fester Cat: How One Remarkable Cat Changed Two Men's Lives” is yet another book written by a cat. This “feisty feline,” as Fester’s new housemates describe him, wanders into a Manchester, England backyard and stays. Paul Magrs, one of Fester’s pet parents, is a writer, like my Mum. Strange coincidence, right?  It’s Paul who first encourages Fester to write, starting with reviews of cat books. I guess it was natural for Fester to go from book reviews to the story of his life.

Fester is a grown streetwise cat before he takes up residence with the men, but they take good care of him, and the story of his new life is another sweet read.  As I write about these two books, I realize that must have an affinity for books written by cats, not necessarily books about cats.

 Mum requested I mention another of her favorites.  You may remember Cleveland Amory who for many years was a television critic for TV Guide. He was also an animal rights activist, and his first cat book was “The Cat Who Came for Christmas.” It was #1 on the NY Times bestseller list for twelve weeks in 1987.  Polar Bear, a little white stray, was the star of that book, though Polar Bear didn’t write it. Amory wrote two more books about Polar Bear: “The Cat and the Curmudgeon” and “The Best Cat Ever.”  All three were bestsellers.  Mum says that even though the white kitty didn’t write the story, it too is a heartwarming tale.

It must be something about cats that our stories are always sweet. Mum says that even though we can be demanding little things, we can steal your heart in a flash. Dad agrees and says there’s nothing better than reading in bed with me snuggled against his shoulder with my head beneath his chin. I wonder whether there’s a book in my future, a book written by me, that is.  We shall see.

Princess Puddin’ Penn resides in Georgia with her dad, her mom Kathy Manos Penn, and her canine brother Lord Banjo. Please send comments, compliments, and questions to

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Lord Banjo's roller coaster summer

Harper and Banjo
No, don’t be silly.  I didn’t ride a roller coaster,  but my summer was jampacked with interesting activities—some fun and some not so much. We kicked off in late June with weekly appearances at Camp Flashback, hosted at a Dunwoody farmhouse. There the kids do old-timey things like making butter, sewing, and weaving. They also get to meet goats and—best of all—me.

Mum and I visited for an hour each week. She told them about me and my book, and the kids drew numbers to see who’d get to wear a costume and read a selection from my masterpiece.  Mum brought a royal robe, several crowns, and a pawprint scarf, and the kids loved dressing up.
It’s funny to me that they all wanted to read aloud, but those who weren’t reading never seemed to quiet down to listen.  Instead, they sat with me in their midst and chattered and hugged me. As far as I’m concerned, they can chatter to their hearts’ content as long as they give me belly rubs.

That enchanting routine was cut short when I needed minor surgery to remove a lump on my back leg.  It was no big deal, not life-threatening, but boy, what a pain.  I wore the cone of shame for close to four weeks. Yes, you read right, four weeks—one week prior to surgery because I just couldn’t quit chewing on my leg, and then three weeks after that.
That cone was so big, I couldn’t walk through doorways without hitting the doorframe. I was constantly bumping into furniture and people, and I was miserable.  Miserable, you hear?!? It was during this horrific experience that I exhibited a new behavior that Mum and Dad found quite disturbing.  I began wandering downstairs to the kitchen in the middle of the night.  I’d bark until Mum finally came to get me and take me back upstairs.  Then I’d do it again, sometimes four times in a night.

Mum thinks I have doggie dementia, but I prefer the term sundowner’s syndrome.  I’m on new pills in the hopes that I’ll get over it. Dad?  When he takes his hearing aids out at night, he can’t hear a thing, so it doesn’t bother him, except that Mum is a bit cranky.

Mum is now locking me in the bedroom at night, and that helps some.  I don’t bark quite so much, and when I do, she just hollers, “Shush, Banjo,” instead of having to go downstairs to get me.
Because of my nighttime barking, my pet parents didn’t take me on our annual trip to the North Carolina mountains over Labor Day.  That was a big disappointment, but I had a pleasant surprise at the Pet Resort.  

Normally, I keep to myself at these places while the commoners mill around and play with each other, but not this time. Harper, a Goldendoodle puppy, wanted to be my friend. I think the little fella was scared so he started snuggling with me.  Yup, he’d climb on my hindquarters and lay his cute little head on my back.  Sometimes, he’d lie in front of me against my tummy so I could put a protective arm over him. We made an adorable duo.

My Aunt says this means I need a puppy of my own. The Royal Parents?  They are hemming and hawing at the thought so I guess I’ll have to make do with Puddin’ as my only four-legged companion. I’m looking at the bright side, though. I now get to sleep in the bedroom with Mum and the cone of shame has been retired.  Things could be much worse.

Lord Banjo lives in Georgia with his Mum, Kathy Manos Penn. Find similar stories in his book, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” available  on Amazon. Contact him at

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Cats know their names

This comes as no surprise to me so why is this pronouncement all over the news? Are humans truly unaware of this simple fact? Of course, we cats know our names, but as the many articles note, we don’t always respond when called.  Duh!  Why should we come running just because you say our names? Tell me, do two-legged children always come when called?

It cracks me up that someone took time to research this topic and publish the findings in the journal “Nature.”  Was it necessary to study 78 cats to discover that we respond to people calling our names—when we want to, that is?  The researchers studied cats in homes with only one cat, multi-cat homes, and cat cafes, and they found we’re able to distinguish our names from those of other cats or dogs and from similar-sounding words.

As do I, the cats in this study responded to their names by  “moving their heads, wiggling their ears and meowing.” I, of course, do more than that.  On occasion, I come when called or I leap into a lap or onto the bed to snuggle with Mum or Dad,  but again, only if I feel so inclined.

For example, when my pet parents return home after a trip, I understand them when they call my name over and over, but I’m certainly not going to run to them.  My taking my time to appear delivers the unspoken message that I’m miffed.

My Dad often adds a “G” to the end of my name and places the accent on the second syllable—Pu-DING. No matter, I recognize my name. Other times, my pet parents use different intonations when they speak to me. When I’m eying the rotisserie chicken on the kitchen counter, I can tell by the way Mum says Puddin’ that she means, “Don’t you dare.” The result, of course, is that I wait until she walks out of the kitchen before I leap. I’m no dummy.

Rumor has it that there’s a move afoot to teach cats new words.  Seriously?  I think I can safely speak for all cats when I say we do not care to be trained. We’ll learn whatever words we choose.  As a writer, I know plenty of words, and I’m self-taught.

If you have a cat, you already know that we’re also alert to human moods—no words needed.  That’s why I spent lots of time in bed with Mum when she had surgery this year.  She needed me to help her feel better. Please note, all of these cat behaviors are voluntary.

I also have the amazing ability to note when Mum moves toward the stairs.  I watch from Dad’s lap to see whether she walks past the stairs or up them. If she passes by the stairs, I stay put. If she starts up the stairs, I leap down and dash ahead of her into her office—where kitty treats are dispensed. Again, no words required.

Sometimes, I wait at the foot of the stairs to see whether she turns toward her office or her bedroom.  I don’t follow her into the bedroom unless it’s bedtime when I watch her wash her face and get ready for bed. Then I choose a sleep spot for the evening. I may wander from chair to bed to desk during the night, but I stay close by. Enough said.  No research is required to establish that I know my name and my place.

Princess Puddin’ Penn resides in Georgia with her dad, her mom Kathy Manos Penn, and her canine brother Lord Banjo. Please send comments, compliments, and questions to She appears in “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” a book that can be found on Amazon, at Books Unlimited in Franklin, and at Highlands Mountain Paws.