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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Deckheads!

Submitted by on June 3, 2009 – 8:05 AM76 Comments

joebranchI thought, at this late date, that I'd heard pretty much every meow the cats had to offer. Aggrieved "yes, there's kibble in my bowl, but you have to come watch me eat it" wail? Heard it. Burbly about-to-barf yowl? Know it well. Hair-raising "my tail MY TAIL FOOT TAIL OW HATE" shriek? Like an old friend.

Little did I realize that, having never lived in an apartment with an outdoor space, I had seen but the tip of a vast iceberg of meowing, an iceberg shaped like a summer vacation with young children — short, hairy, narcoleptic, omniphage children with no thumbs, no boundaries, and no respect for authority.

And it does not stop with asking to go out onto the patio, then sitting in the doorway, befuddled as to why I've opened the door, or clawing the screen and then getting stuck. In fact, each of those meows has several variations; the latter, for example, encompasses "oh, hi — can you please unstick me?", "I meant to do that, obviously," "STOP LOOKING AT ME WITH YOUR JUDGMENT OF…JUDGING (and please unstick me)," and "this is so embarrassing, I can only be comforted with treats, plural — no, not those, the good kind." And did I mention that failure to de-screen-door the paws in question with a lightning quickness is greeted with a high-frequency banshee death screech?

Sometimes, it's funny; more often, it's like the stupid-questions montage from Clerks.

"Mom, I'm hot. Mom, I'm hot. Mom, I'm hot. Mom, I'm hot. Mom, I'm hot.…What are you doing DON'T PICK ME UP biting you now."

"I want to go out now.…Later now, not now now."

"I can see that it's raining, now get out of my way OH NO I'M WET ACK."

"Mom, I'm cold.…WHY ARE YOU PICKING ME UP? Biting!"

"Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?…Look how cute I am.…Mom?"

"Why won't that bird fly in my mouth? Can you make it fly there?"

"Where does that tree go?"

"I want to come in. Well but I want you to carry me and now I don't want to come in anymore YES BITING."

"…Leaf!"

"I like to play with moths in-side."

"Mom, look! Look! [zzzz]"

twoonporch"I'm hot and cold — when are you going to move the table so it's in the shade but out of this breeze?…Uch, not that direction, over here.…That's great. Okay, I'm going inside, bye!"

"I ate a leaf and you said not to and I ate it and it tasted bad and now I'm angry."

"This dirt on my tail is YOUR FAULT."

"But I need to sit on your foot out here."

"LEAF!"

"Where does that pipe go? Can I go where that pipe goes? Can I?Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom?"

"…MOM?"

"Oh my god another leaf! Lots of leaves! Dog barking leaf CONFUSED YOUR FAULT and then some biting."

"I'm thirsty.…I'm OUT HERE thirsty."

"BIRD LEAF OTHER CAT IT'S LIKE CHRISTMAS OUT HERE!"

"I'm not chewing anything. I'm not! I'M NOT, MOM. [kak] My tongue feels like a foot. Mom?"

"I'm hot again I'M HOT RIGHT NOW stop touching me I SAID STOP."

"Leeeeeeeeeeeeeaf."

"Some puddle got on my paw. I SAID I DON'T KNOW can you please un-wet it please?"

"So, about that caterpillar? That you said not to eat it and you said, um, you said leave that caterpillar alone? So I did? So but then I didn't and I ate it? Um, and the thing is it's walking around in there all around in there with its fuzzy feet ack ack ack Mom I'm scared."

"Just saying hi. So, hi. But since you're out here, I'll just go ahead and throw up this terror confetti of dried leaves, diet kibble, and the back half of a caterpillar.…Aaaaand I'm going inside now. Enjoy."

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76 Comments »

  • Tessa says:

    And don't forget the classic, "Let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in …. DON'T WALK AWAY FROM ME, I'M STAYING IN THIS TIME! … let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in, let me out, let me in ….."

  • Diane says:

    I find myself wondering, Sars, whether you've ever been acquainted with Abbie The Cat. He has a posse (but no testickals …):

    http://abbie.blogspot.com/2001_03_01_archive.html

    (Thank you once again for the kitty grins. Thanks to a hater of a dog, it'll be a long time before I can have cats again, so I live vicariously through you and Abbie.)

  • Hellcat13 says:

    My personal favourite:

    Let me out let me out let me out I don't care that it's -35C let me out let me out let me out Ha! ESCAPE! I'm out I'm out I'm…Holy mary mother of god, what were you thinking mom? Cold cold cold cold cold cold why did you dooooooooo that to me? Why did you let me out? Don't you love me?

  • Krissa says:

    Aw, look at the little brave hunter with that branch! Get it! Good kitty.

    We have one indoor/outdoor and one indoor only cat. The in/out, she is quiet and patient, and will sit very still near the door, and then dart! And once she's outside, its Crazy Caaaaaat, to the rescue! And she chases leaves and climbs trees and rules the neighborhood of huge tom cats, and then she comes back in and sleeps for three days.
    The other one just thinks she's a badass. In reality, she is just chubby…and loud. Tortie, ya know?
    I miss my kitties.

  • Slices says:

    Hilarious. One question – how do you prevent them from jumping up on the wall/ledge thing? I would love to bring my cat out on the deck but he jumps and bolts after a couple minutes of taking it all in, so now he has to enjoy the splendor of summer from behind the safety of the screened door.

  • Hee, I have so missed TN cat posts!

    Do your cats do the weird, quiet "aw aw ow ow" sound when a bird is spotted? There's no way to really type it. My cats are inside, but my Big Orange beast has a stalker meow when he spies a bird in the birdfeeder outside.

  • Vicky Lee says:

    I would like to contribute from the suburban dialect:

    "I can totally take on that groundhog/raccoon/crow/squirrel. Gah! Don't let it get me! BITE."

    "Mom, there's a BUG! Kill it! Okay, now can I eat it? Ew, I don't like that, you can have it back."

    "Thanks for letting me out. Sucker. Can I go down the stairs, now? What about now? Now? Now? Now? Now? Later? Is now later?"

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Slices: They haven't shown any interest in jumping up there, actually. On the first day, I saw a few about-to-jump crouches and immediately ushered the presuming feline inside, so maybe they figured it out, but mostly it's just 1) dash outside, 2) crunch on leaf, 3) proceed to nearest sunbeam/under nearest chair for nap.

    @dancing: Yeah, I still haven't figured out how to render that stalky chittering they do with letters. I'm working on it.

  • Courtney says:

    My cats also did the whole "let me out..no wait…yes, now…no wait" as well as the scratching at the screen thing. So, I got this: http://tinyurl.com/p4hbh2

    It took them a little while to learn how to use it – in the beginning, I would let them out and they would come back in through the door on their own – and a few days later when they saw something outside they really wanted to taunt, they went out all on their own and have been doing so ever since.

    It comes with an insert so that you can block the door so the cats don't go out when you don't want them to…but since my cats have proven they won't try to take a 3 story dive off the patio, I don't use it anymore unless there's a storm raging.

  • RJ says:

    Oh wow… my cats would be so jealous. Two of them used to live with someone who had a little backyard patio area. One of them is blind and has been trying to figure out why I won't let him out there since he moved in with me (I have no backyard/patio, obviously).

  • La BellaDonna says:

    AHkk-ahkk-ahkk-ahkk-ahkk-ahkk is the sound my mighty hunters make; as far as I can tell, they're dreaming of machine guns mowing down God's little creatures. It's a very gutterall "Ah", with a very soft "kk", in the back of the throat. Sometimes, they'll mix it up with "Ehh-ehhh-ehhh-ehhh", but it always means something small and cute should die, and, preferably, get eaten. Mine stay in … although I would love to have a fenced-in porch, where they could lie in the sun and dream about adventures. But my one boy is not so young, and the other I think of fondly as Flying Death: he could pick off birds on the wing, and I think I'll leave the songbird population where it is.

    I don't think I'll tell them that your boys have a deck, because mine will be SO JEALOUS.

  • Catherine says:

    @dancing and Sars: I tend to visualize it as "eh-eh-eh-eh-eh", but obviously that's not very evocative for someone who has never experienced it. It's like breathy stuttering or an extremely gentle feline machine gun. I assume the meaning is akin to rapturously ordering from a dessert cart you didn't expect to see: "Oh! I'll take one of *those*, and one of those over there, and…wait, does the robin come with a sauce on the side? It does? One of those, too!"

  • Vicki says:

    I had no idea that cats and dogs are so alike! Although, in the latter case, you get less biting and more, "Yes, I did get soaked while sitting in in the rain for 20 minutes with my chew toy, but now I need to cuddle with YOU! No, now!"

  • Bria says:

    Of my three, only one ever tries to get outside (we can't make it a sanctioned event due to the coyotes in our neighborhood). He tries to sneak, I think, but somehow feels he needs to also add a soundtrack of "I'M SITTING BY THE PALM TREE THE PALM TREE THE PALM TREE MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM!" Not so stealthy, when you get down to it.

  • Tisha_ says:

    For the weird chittering sound, we just say, "She makes the Predator noise…" and usually people know exactly what you mean. LOL

    Thanks for the kitteh update, Sars. For the past 10 years, I've been catless (SO is allergic to my cat, who now resides with his uncles and grandparents, at my mom & dad's). BUT, then on March 22nd, we brought home Cami (SO doesn't seem to be allergic to her) and let me tell you what… I haven't been so happy in a long time. She's so awesome (I've also never had a female cat before, so I was a little worried, but she's great!)

    Just because I have to brag… please go and look at the pictures of my babeh kitteh! http://tinyurl.com/potohl

  • April says:

    The last statement is actually a good thing though, since it could have easily been, "Hey thanks for letting me in…ohhh…hang on….hang on….lemme barf this up on the rug. Ah, that was much better than throwing up outside. Enjoy." Or, like my cat a few weeks ago, waiting to throw up till he gets all cozy on your lap. Yeah, that was pleasant.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @April: Oh, they still hork inside. Let's just say rose petals on the bed is not always romantic, LITTLE JOE.

  • Vanessa says:

    Sars, thanks for the cat story. I first found TN years ago because of a cat story. I'm so glad the move reinspired cat sharing.

    A couple of years ago, we moved our cat from an apartment to a townhouse with a courtyard and two balconies. She had been found stuck in a tree at 5 weeks old and had lived inside for 17 years. The outside was a bad place, according to Sula. As an example, once someone broke in to our first floor apartment and left the window wide open. She was napping on the couch when I got home. She really did not like the outside. Your description of the whole new world of meows was exactly like Sula's reaction to moving into the new house.

    Eventually I bought a cheap wood-framed screen door and cut a cat flap in the bottom. Now she strolls outside and comes back in when she's thirsty. Of course, the courtyard has six foot walls so she may not really know she's outside. I learned through this process that I had not done a very good job teaching her how to be a cat for all those years. It has been a blast watching her learn that eating the grass means throwing up the grass and that sometimes she poops the grass without having digested the grass. She walked around for the longest 10 minutes with a long piece of it hanging out of her butt while we tried to get to her to pull it out. Now that was a meow I had not heard before. Don't look at me, nothing's wrong, what's sticking out down there, DON'T look at me, stay away, DON'T COME NEAR ME, Thanks Mom.

  • Erin says:

    I am amazed and jealous that your cats don't jump up onto the ledge. My cat thinks that she's in the Cirque du Soleil. When we lived in an (9th floor) apartment, we let her out on the balcony. 5 minutes later she was walking along the ledge outside our bedroom window (the balcony? Did not run under the window) and I had to yank the a/c unit out to get her back in. We moved to the 19th floor, put trellis all around the gap so she couldn't walk along the ledge on the exposed side of the balcony glass, let her out on a leash, look back and she's balanced on the railing. Moved to a house, let her out on the upstairs balcony, she makes a giant leap and lands on the NEIGHBOUR'S ROOF. Now she is only allowed out on the ground floor, on a leash. And she's not allowed back in until she has barfed twice because nobody likes stepping in wet regurgitated grass.

    The other one cries at the door until we put on his harness and leash him up, then he cries some more until we pick him up and deposit him on the lawn, then he flops over and eats grass until he's ready to be carried back inside.

  • kellyu says:

    The best part about rolling screen doors was when my sister moved the door back and forth while she was calling the cat to come inside. My sister didn't see the cat prowl up to the door and claw into the screen door, just before my sister moved the screen again, and called.

    The cat was hanging by her paws as she slid left, then right, then left. My mother and I were howling on the couch watching this. After about 5 slides the cat yowled to let my sister know that she was at the door. Well, on the door.

  • Kymster says:

    Sars, thanks for the very cute kitty stories. You will eventually learn that the bestest, most wonderful water there is, is puddle water. No mom, I don't want the cool, clean water in my dish, I want to lick up the dirty puddle water on the walkway.

    We live in a rural area, with no traffic, so all 5 of ours go out. And yes, they all play the "other" game. What side of the door do you want to be on? The other one. But we let them in and out, only through the front door, and everyone gets a mouth check before coming in. Having had a bat in the house on more than one occasion, we're careful that mouths are empty before entering.

  • FloridaErin says:

    We call the predator noise "chittering" in our house, and it is my very favorite cat noise of all time. In Florida, it is usually reserved for squirls and lizards that are taunting them from outside while they sit at the window. We don't have a fully fenced yard, so they're not allowed out. Also, gators.

  • robin says:

    I second what Kymster says about bat checks, I've had my share of bats being caught _inside_ the house by certain long-ago cats. Also, I assume your cats are up-to-date on all vaccinations, but do pay close attention to preventives for heartworm, fleas, ticks, and anything else that can hop on board. Flea infestations are miserable to deal with, once they establish themselves inside the home. Also, did you know that a cat's nose, ears, and any other exposed skin can get sunburned? White cats are more susceptible, but it can happen to darker cats too.
    All in all, I find it much easier to keep my Bad Barn Cats indoors, but obviously many cats thrive on fresh air and adventure. I hope your boys stay safe and happy.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    The late Dusty was an inveterate catch-and-releaser inside my parents' house. "I brought you this chipmunk! Which is still alive. And is now running through the dining room. Well, my work here is done. [nap!]"

    Joe does seem to have a very slight sunburn on his ears. Short of slapping some SPF 30 on him, I'm not sure what to do about that ("keep him inside" is a logical option, but he won't see it that way. Or "MEE!!!1!" it that way).

  • Amanda says:

    The "this is the wrong channel, please change the weather, Mom" game was always a favorite of mine. Opening the door, having the cat see that it was still snowing/rainging/whatever, getting a reproachful look for not doing better and having the cat stalk back inside. Five minutes later the cat wants to check and see if I've done my job and fixed it yet, I'm afraid I was always a disappointment. :)

  • My cat (one of a litter that I bottle fed and raised when their mom disappeared) has always though herself part dog. One example of this is that when she hears an unexpected noise or sees and animal outside that she would like to munch, she growls. Seriously, you'd think she was a dog when you hear it. She's had too many near misses to be allowed outside anymore, unfortunately.

  • Abby says:

    I am HOWLING right now!!!

    "Some puddle got on my paw."

    Beautiful!

  • cayenne says:

    My beastie is not allowed out on the balcony (5th floor, hello), but she sits & watches the birds fly around. I'm sure she's convinced she could take them, but the bulk of the birds are gulls (likely enhanced by French fries from the high school across the street) that could probably carry her off in one swoop. However, when the bitty birds land on the balcony planters, she runs away from the window, so her cred is questionable. Actually, it's non-existent: she runs away from spiders. Yeah, yeah, big hunter, you go.

  • Jen S says:

    My husband and I also call it chittering, and I think it sounds like the Martians in Mars Attacks!, if the martians were on helium.

    I wish our babies could go out on our little mini deck, but you just know these dummies would take a flying leap off the railing or try to mix it up with the local punk gang of urban raccoons who show up to criticize the garbage, so they just get to hang off the screen door and dream.

    And Sars, by the by, pretty sweet looking setup you got there! Where did you move to?

  • dr. e says:

    I used to house-sit for a cat who, when presented with unpleasant weather at the kitchen door, wanted to check what weather was available at the front door. At 2 a.m.

  • Cij says:

    I've also been a victim of the "catch-and-release gift" from a cat. Only for me it was 2am, and said Cat cheerfully dropped a live waterbug in the perfect place for the bug to skittle under the covers. I'm still recovering, but I think the cat was hurt that I didn't appreciate his gift.

    Sars, I sometimes think you think writing about your cats is too easy, but I swear, when I read your cat articles I laugh so hard my stomach muscles hurt for a week. The stories are like James Herriot/Gerald Durrell combined.

  • Amalthea says:

    This cheered up my entire day.

    "I want to go out now. …Later now, not now now." <–so. much. truth.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Princess Leia: I've found that growling isn't that unusual among cats. My late lamented Princess (not you!) would growl horrifically at the sound of the scariest predators she had encountered in her outdoor life. Yes: whenever she heard children, she would run to the window and growl horrifically. Other than that, she was extraordinarily laid-back; I don't like to think of what provoked the other reaction.

    Sars, as long as Hobey doesn't wash Little Joe's ears, and your vet okays it, I would suggest that you put some unscented waterproof sunblock of at least factor 30 on BOTH cats' ears, inside and out, and possibly their noses, for good measure (avoid products containing zinc or para-amino benzoic acid). Reapply regularly; your cats CAN get skin cancer from sunburn, just like their Mom. The first sign of problems is a pink colouration and scaliness, followed by crusting and scabbing of the affected area. That's a visit to the vet, right there. I figure it's easier to put sunblock on their ears than it is to have the vet trim their ears down … (but maybe not much).

    Also, Dusty wasn't bringing you a present, apparently; apparently, he was doing his duty as an adult cat by trying to teach you to hunt. I'll bet you still can't catch a chipmunk barehanded. Me neither.

    Kymster, I don't want to be a killjoy, but you might want to stay abreast of predators in your area. There are raptors (owls, as well as various hawks and eagles) which will eat cats, and coyotes apparently regard cats as coyote candy, and coyotes now range in most of the 48 states (yup, even New Jersey – heck, even Central Park!). Industrial, urban, suburban, rural – coyotes manage just fine in all these areas.

  • camelama says:

    Sunburns: my late cat, Cirrus, got horrible skin cancer in multiple places due to sun exposure – all-white cats are very susceptible to it! Sunblock is a must for them, on ears and noses. I experimented with many different kinds until I found the right one for him. They must be able to be ingested, of course, because the cat will rub the area to try to get it off.

    Otherwise, you can also limit their times in the worst sunlight hours, 11-3. That alone will help a lot. A friend made a sunbonnet for her cat but I didn't bother trying that as I knew Cirrus would kill me in my sleep as revenge…

  • Krissa says:

    @Cij, I just did a whole-body shudder. I HATE water bugs. That is a terrible story!! :)

  • BHL says:

    I've also learned the "my (neutered) brother is trying to hump (spayed) me" howl and the "I'm about to have a bowel-related issue on your bedspread" mew.

  • Kathryn says:

    I wish we had a balcony for our cats so they could go outside. I'm super-paranoid about cats getting hit by cars, and too many people around here ignore the leash laws and let LARGE dogs roam free.

    We do have a bird-feeder right outside the front window, and it's probably the best purchase we made. The cats will spend all their waking moments chittering at cats, and it's even better when the birds get close to the window. We had one bluebird that would attack its reflection in the window. Cat#2 would get so excited he would…attack the bird's shadow on the carpet. Cat#1 would sit back and watch with a disgusted expression that said plainly, "You're both out of your minds." Ah, memories…

  • Kathryn says:

    I meant to say "chittering at BIRDS", not cats. We only occasionally get other cats at the bird-feeder, and that usually results in yowling, not chittering.

  • Sara says:

    I too, love the cat stories. TWoP brought me to this site years ago, but it was the cat stories that hooked me.

    My cat growing up definitely had the "Muh mouwf ih fuhl wif a pehsent! I got ih jus fuh you!" meow that my mom and I knew instantly meant live rodents. We would crack the door open, and bestow praise while also encouraging her to just leave it there. Problem? Dad totally did NOT know that meow, which is how we ended up with some entertaining mouse chases through the house.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    "Do your cats do the weird, quiet "aw aw ow ow" sound when a bird is spotted?"

    This? Freaked me OUT!!! Cats have snake stuff in thier heads! http://tinyurl.com/rxx6wb
    That chittering noise is sort of the equivalent of a snake using his/her tongue to "taste" the air…they use the same Jacobson's organ a snake uses. You have it too (!) but you don't use it.

    "short, hairy, narcoleptic, omniphage children with no thumbs, no boundaries, and no respect for authority." So awesome. Truly wonderfully awesome. Heeeee!

  • Todd says:

    Interestingly, the only cat I've ever had who did the "stalky chittering" thing when he spotted a bird was my long-deceased orange one, Macaroon. That's one of the three things I remember most about him. The other two are his "worried look" and the unusually strong, almost unbearable smells that would come from the litter box whenever he had just used it — from anecdotal experience, that last seems weirdly common among red/orange cats.

  • Keckler says:

    Oh, my god, I love your cat voice. I'm laughing so hard, I have to cross my legs to maintain pregnant-chick bladder control.

    I can't wait until Hobes and Joe meet snow on the deck. Every winter, my childhood cats forgot what it was, insisted on going outside, stepped in it, and then tried to pull all four paws out of it at once.

    re: the chittering noise
    Our cats do it when they want to talk to bugs or birds. However, my husband has mastered the noise and when he does it, they coming running, looking wildly around for the bug and bird that needs to be spoken to.

    Cats are so awesome.

  • Cyntada says:

    I have new shop kitty and she's taught me a couple new meows. She sometimes spends time on a leash inside the warehouse, since we need the roll-up door open, and that led to:

    The meow of "I snuck in the litterbox before you could take my leash off, and you let me pee anyway, but by dint of turning around in there repeatedly I am now trussed up like a damn turkey, with my own leash, inside my own litterbox"

    This was followed closely by the meow of "And I AM going to bite you for reaching into this enclosed space to untie me. Bite, bite bite!"

    Then there's the Meow of Announcement of Entrance Into Old Cardboard Box, From Which I Am Huntress of the Serengeti, Bringer of Death, and Destructor of Worlds! All Within is Feline Power. All Without is Prey.

    Best of all? The meow of "i just jumped up on this thing, which is apparently my litter box that has loosely-closed cardboard flaps on the top, except it caved in, so now I am standing in my no-longer-covered litter box and I DON'T KNOW WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY….."

  • Leigh in CO says:

    @dancing et. al. My kitteh's BIRD IS THERE cry is more of an eep eep eep, like chirping. That may not have two Es, more like one and a half. The HEY MOTH INSIDE YAY chirp is similar, but more threatening.

    I, too, love the return of the cat essay because I got a cat mostly because of the Tomato Nationals and am now completely part of the cult of Guess What My Kitty Did Today.

  • M. says:

    Ah, the great outdoors. We tried to change out cat into an indoor only cat but he is very good at escaping. And almost breaking human's legs in his runs for the door. We gave in.

    There are smarter cats in the world who understand that if it is raining at the front door it is also raining at the back and side door but we do not have one of those.

    We used to have a cat who would at least try to throw up in the litterbox. Now we just wish the hairballs would be horked up on the tile floor instead of carpet or the wood floor that we have to dig the puke out of with a Q-tip.

    Serving a cat is never boring.

  • Nik says:

    We always called the predator noise "Chicka Chicka". I dont know…..it just sounds that way….

  • Todd says:

    @M: I'm glad to know it's not just me! My only current cat (Billie, a spry 16-year-old silver tabby who, as a kitten, was my mom's housewarming present when I moved out) actually *makes an effort* to move from a tile or linoleum floor to a carpeted area when she needs to throw up. She's clearly putting thought into it, which I appreciate, but she has it backwards. She also favors my bed or the couch if she's already there. When I hear the warning moans, I always try to move her to an easy-clean area (kitchen, bathroom, chair pad at my desk, etc.), but my success rate is below 50 percent. And of course, even when I think I've succeeded, she's as likely to finish in one effort as the killer in a slasher film is to be dead the first time.

  • Kate says:

    Just adding my voice to those loving the cat stories. And the comments on the cat stories are hilarious as well!

  • Kelly says:

    Not only does the Tobes make the chitter sound at birds, he will lie on the balcony in the shade for hours, but make a supercat effort to get in the house to barf on carpet. WHY?

  • Brian says:

    I've been Googling, Bingering and digging in the dark cluttered garage of my mind for half an hour now.

    Can anyone help me out with what "omniphage children" are?

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