Clea Simon is the author of seventeen mysteries in the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe pet noir series. The latter two are ongoing and include her most recent books. Learn more about Clea and her books at her website.
What a winter! Up here in Massachusetts, we’re all going stir-crazy with the cold and the record-breaking snow. I know I’m crazy to get out. But my kitty, Musetta, is not. While she may have a more luxurious coat than I do (mine’s pink down, so yes, I do look like a marshmallow), my tuxedo medium-hair beauty is definitely a house cat – and that’s the way we like it.
You see, I’m a big proponent of keeping kitties indoors. There are just too many dangers out there for domestic beasts: coyotes (even in the suburbs,) hawks, fisher cats (which aren’t cats at all, but nasty weasel-y things with huge jaws,) and aggressive dogs, not to mention cars and the occasional evil human. Besides, it’s only natural for your kitty to hunt, and wouldn’t you rather your pet “hunt” a toy than a songbird?
“But doesn’t your cat get bored?” I get that question all the time. The answer is no, partly because I don’t let her get bored. In fact, I think part of the deal we make when we take in a cat is to keep her or him entertained and exercised. That keeps her healthy and trim and out of trouble (for the most part.) The key is to keep in mind that cats are hunters – obligate carnivores – so they’re evolutionarily designed for short bursts of intense energy. Now, originally, those might have been for chasing gazelle on the veldt. But in the house, that means two or three play sessions a day. The rest of the time can be spent napping – and dreaming of that long-ago veldt!
So how to keep kitty amused? That’s simple! I’m a total sucker for every new toy that comes on the market – if it has catnip, so much the better. Our current favorites are the rattling fur mice made by Zanies. A friend brought one over and now we’re addicted! (We buy them in bulk, which is useful because Musetta tends to disembowel them pretty quickly.) But in truth, the best and longest lasting toys are the ones you can make yourself: a bunched-up ball of foil or a wine cork. As long as you can throw it, and she can bat it around, you’re all set up for hours of fun – and a healthy, happy indoor cat.
If only my own cabin fever were so easily resolved!
Kittens Can Kill
The dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. While the cause of death is pending, each sister has an axe to grind—with arguments that escalate when David’s partner reads out the will. Pru’s special sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee the cacophony of Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, adds further problems. The local vet is overwhelmed as the animal hospital's money runs out. There’s a needy Sheltie and some invasive squirrels, too. But the dead man’s kitten, his former partner, and his troublesome family keep drawing “wild-girl” animal psychic Pru back in. Despite the wry observations of her trusty tabby Wallis, now the wrongfully accused kitten’s guardian, and the grudging compliance of her cop lover, this may be one time when Pru can’t solve the mystery or save the kitten she wants to believe is innocent. A single witness knows the truth about that bright spring morning. How far can Pru investigate without risking her own hidden tale?