Atticus Catches Up With Cat's Senate Campaign

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Early this year, Atticus learned of a Maine Coon named Hank who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.  Hank's campaign has been bolstered by both local and world-wide support and has raised thousands of dollars for animal causes, including spay and neuter programs, a big part of his campaign platform. This is Atticus' second interview with his East Coast Maine Coon counterpart. 

Atticus MC Cat: Hi Hank! Thanks for talking with me again! It’s been a couple of months since we last spoke, and I can see from your website and Facebook page that you haven’t slowed down a bit! Almost 24,000 FB fans and more than $10,000 dollars raised! What’s hot right now on your campaign trail?

Hank: Thanks so much for speaking with me again Atticus, always a pleasure!  I am simply humbled to know that my campaign, along with all my constituents, have raised so much for animal rescue groups – of course, this means I’m pushing even harder to keep the momentum going!  Besides the achievement, we’re very excited to finally be offering yard signs to show your support for my campaign.  They’re full color, double sided, and ship worldwide – and as always, all profits will be going to animal rescue – for the yard signs, we’re donating to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.  In other news, I also had a wonderful photo shoot with National Geographic Kids Magazine for their November Issue, we’ll be having another eBay auction very soon, and we’re getting the groundwork set for a MAJOR event soon!

Atticus: I’ve noticed that other cats are really starting to get into the political swing. First, Cats for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow and just recently My Cat Xavier for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow who has recently endorsed your campaign.  I’ve always thought cats were an under acknowledged political faction – and now look at us! What do you think of all these feline politicos?

Hank: I think it’s amazing!  I’ve been in contact with my Russian followers as well, and the Felines there are progressing as well – A small kitten in the Ukraine has been inspired by my run, and is running for office as well, his name is Bublik.  They also recently held the “opposition day” march in Moscow, which featured for the first time The #partyofcats, a new, feline political party!  Cats everywhere are finally waking up to the realization that we can change the world for the better – humans have had a good run at it, but everyone I talk to agrees that cats are far better to have a crack at running the world.

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Atticus: Okay, I admit that I haven’t been well-schooled in the arts, but I was kinda blown away by the painting depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Is that really you?

Hank: Indeed, it is!  A wonderful Russian artist, Svetlana Petrova, and her brilliant cat, Zarathustra (FatCatArt.ru) uncovered the original and shared it with our campaign.  As a thank you to both of them, any funds we raise with that image, along with the Novelty $2 Bill (order at HankForSenate.com/Store.aspx) will be sent to Rzevka (http://icat.spb.ru/), an animal shelter in St. Petersburg, Russia, that focuses on vaccinating, fixing, and finding great homes for the homeless cats and dogs in the area.

Atticus: How 'bout a recent favorite story?

Hank: A few weeks ago I took a trip to the US Capitol building for a photo shoot, and it was lots of fun.  At first, I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of car rides, so I was a little nervous, but it was great to be out at the Capitol.  It was my first trip there, and I’m really looking forward to going there every day to help make our country a better place.  I’ve also really enjoyed meeting so many children who are drawn to my campaign because of my looks, and being able to help teach them that politics doesn’t have to be a dirty word or something they should distrust or fear – we all have the power to change things!

Atticus: Swinging off topic just a bit, I have to admire your fashion sense. Where do you get all those fabulous bow ties?

Hank: Well, I’ve been very fortunate – the original ties were purchased off Amazon (even though they’re listed as “Dog wedding ties”), and I had 3 of them to start.  Once my campaign really took off, a number of my fans sent me a tie they found at a dollar store, or had that their kitty didn’t like!  Of course, I’m always on the prowl for a nice new tie!

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Atticus: Tell me a little bit about Hank’s Hitters – is this how you are blowing off steam in between campaign stops? 

Hank: The Congressional Softball League is where a good number of government officials and contractors get together and form teams to play against each other in the evenings after work.  We were approached by a team that didn’t really fit into a specific category – they didn’t all work for the same office, or for the same cause, and they really loved my campaign, and wanted to support it.  So, they asked for some help with the team name and jerseys, and it’s definitely a great way to relax when my schedule allows for it.  The team is doing great, the playoffs will start August 18th, and we’ll be planning a special event for that day.  Just like me, they know winning isn’t everything, it’s just playing a good game and giving it your all, and accepting the results!

Atticus: We just got your bumpersticker and are proudly sporting it on the car – what other Hank schwag is coming down the pike?

Hank: We’ve actually added quite a bit!  We now have a new bumper sticker, campaign buttons, and 8x10 signed photos available in our campaign store, plus t-shirts and mugs, and of course the Novelty $2 Bill and the new Yard Signs available in our Print Store.  You can check out all of our merchandise at HankForSenate.com.  We do have a few months to go before November, so I’m sure we’ll see some more goodies as well!  And, as always, all of the profits go directly to various animal rescue groups!

Atticus: Anything else you would like to let us know before we sign off?

Hank: The best way to keep up on our latest news and events is to follow me on Twitter (@Hank4Senate) or on Facebook, and keep an eye out in the next few weeks once again for a *BIG* announcement!!

Atticus: Thanks, Hank! It’s always a pleasure and we’ll be sure to check back in a few weeks!

Hank: I really enjoy our conversations, Atticus!  I look forward to updating you soon!

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Today's Cat Fact: A Manx mix named Stubbs has been the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska since 1997, having won a write-in campaign after locals became fed up with human prospects. Oh, and that's Mayor Stubbs to you. 

Then There Was One

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The last time we spoke, I told you about when Spike and Dinsmore got into quite a scrape.  Dinsmore got carted away by the humans but instead of disappearing forever, he came back and was ushered into the humans' home – leaving Spike and I wondering how he, of all cats, found such fortune.

After we watched Dinsmore go inside, Spike and I just looked at each other. “Well, that little son of a gun,” said Spike before slinking off to his usual sleeping spot. It was getting dark, cold and damp so I should’ve been finding a place to sleep too, but I just sat there, under the bushes, staring at the house and thinking about the day when I would find a human family to live with.

I had been out on the streets for some time, I don’t remember how long. One day, the humans I used to live with put me outside in the morning like they always did and I went about my day . . . napping here, rousting about there.  I noticed a lot of activity at the house when I would check back in and tried to get inside to see what was going on, but they kept shooing me away. 

At dinnertime, I went to the back door like I always did but something didn’t seem right. It was too quiet. I didn’t smell any food, or see any humans. I called out but no one came to the door. I sat there all night but no one moved inside the house or came into the driveway in their big car. It was like that for a few days. I got very hungry and kinda scared. I had never been on my own before and didn’t know what to do. I went to the house next door but they didn’t want anything to do with me. I went to the next house and they yelled at me. I kept going to other houses, to see if maybe my humans were in a different place, but no one ever seemed to want me. Before I knew it, I was lost.

Many days went by. Sometimes I found something to eat on the street, but mostly I was pretty hungry. Sometimes houses I went to had other cats that fought with me, chasing me even further away from the streets that I knew. One day I almost got hit by one of those cars and found a safe place to hide near some tires in a field. I stayed there for a couple of days not knowing what to do. One the third day, I decided to try again to find food and that was when I met Spike.

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He was foraging in a pile of trash. I was so hungry that I didn’t have any fear about going to see what was there.  This big, orange cat started making noise at me, but I remember telling him that I wasn’t interested in fighting, I needed help. Surprisingly, his tail started defluffing and simply started flagging a mildly irritated flick. After nearly an hour, he let me come closer and share his meal.  Spike probably saved my life.

I showed him my safe sleeping spot near the tires and invited him to stay with me, telling him that we were safer together than alone. He took me up on it and we stayed up very late, sharing stories about where we had come from.  I had found a friend.

I thought about those scary first days on the streets, and how grateful I was to meet Spike, and how much better things were now, what with finding regular food from these nice humans.  But I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for myself; I wanted so badly to find a home of my own, like Dinsmore just had. 

I didn’t sleep at all that night; instead I worked up a plan to get both me and Spike off the streets forever.

Next time: The Plan

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Today's Cat Fact: Cats use their tails like cats, not like dogs. A flicking or wagging tail is almost always a sign of irritability.

The Day the Fur Flew

Let me tell you a tale

Let me tell you a tale

So, I was telling you how me and my buddies, Spike and Dinsmore, happened on to a house where the food flowed freely. There always seemed to be enough, though that didn’t stop the occasional throwdown among us cats.

Partly it was because of all of these neighborhood hangers-on who would stroll out of their houses in the morning, fully fed, and then come down to our scene for seconds! I wasn’t having it, neither was Spike, and Dinsmore will always opt for a good pawslap when he can.

The tension among all the cats was starting to cause problems. Fights were becoming commonplace and I was afraid the food was going to stop. But one day, after Dinsmore had done a number on a little marauding tuxedo cat, he won dibs to get the food first. He started to head up to the porch when out of nowhere Spike went after him – completely blindsided him. I have never seen fur fly like that! In the end, Dinsmore was beaten and ended up with a good sized scrape on his leg.

The ruckus had caused the humans to come out of the house. Dinsmore was having a hard time moving with that leg (and a little shame I think), so he didn’t put up much of a fight when the humans got him into a crate and carted him away. I could hear him howling from inside the car as it pulled down the driveway and I felt kinda bad for the poor old guy. For all his blustering, he was a decent cat and now he was being taken away to who knows where. That's him there to the right, before all the hubbub.

Dinsmore before the battle

Dinsmore before the battle

It turns out, Spike had some fondness for the little tuxedo cat, Annabelle, and he didn’t like Dins pushing his paws on her. I had to tease Spike about that for most of the afternoon. 

Later that day, the car returned with Dinsmore, still in the crate but much quieter. We were surprised he had come back…I’ve seen cats get crated and taken, never to be seen again. But this time something amazing happened. The humans took him inside and closed the door. Spike and I just looked at each other. We couldn’t believe it. He had found a home! He was a total brat and a bully and he was getting to sleep inside!

I have to tell you, being outside without a home, we make it out to be a big adventure, but it can be lonely and scary. You never know where your next meal is coming from, you never know if a bigger cat . . . or worse . . . is going to show up to mess with you. So, we talk a lot about being free cats on the road, but when Spike and I saw Dinsmore go into that house, I think both of our hearts slept a little sad that night.

Next Time: Then there was One.

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Today's Cat Fact: Intervening in a cat fight is a good way to get yourself hurt. Try distraction to break up feisty felines. Use a water pistol or toss a light object, like a small pillow into the fray.

Atticus Interviews Virginia Cat running for Senate

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Hank is a Maine Coon from Virginia who continues to inspire thousands across the country as he makes a bid for a senate seat this November.  His bio indicates that Hank was “born to a single mother living on the streets,” and his entire family was taken to a shelter where they were almost put down.  Thanks to the rescue group Animal Allies, he, along with his mother and siblings were all adopted. Atticus was inspired by Hank’s success, as he too was rescued from the streets and adopted into a loving home. He got the opportunity to speak with Hank recently about his senate race.

Hi Hank, thank you for talking to me.  I’m a Maine Coon too – we may be cousins from way back! I just have a few questions for you; because I know how busy you must be, but I would just like to say that as a cat, and a Maine Coon, that I’m proud of the way you have been handling yourself. You are doing the whole cat community proud.

Atticus: Why did you decide to run for Senate?

Hank: Hi Atticus!  Thanks so much for talking with me about my campaign and this exciting race!  My main reason for running is to offer a real alternative to the people of Virginia without all of the rhetoric - I am solely focused on three main goals, which include job creation, spay & neuter programs and helping animal rescue groups, and bringing back civility and ownership to the political process.

Atticus: I appreciate the spay/neuter program agenda – how is that message being received by your constituents?

Hank: It’s quite clear that many people are supporting me for my spay/neuter agenda, and I find it’s a very important part of any community out there.  Most people aren’t aware of how fast feral cats can breed when left on their own, especially since many ferals like to steer clear of humans.  This year especially has seen an enormous population boom with the warm winter, and most importantly, without the local animal rescue groups, cats like me wouldn’t even be alive to talk about it today.

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Atticus: I hear you are not accepting any campaign contributions but instead donating all funds to local rescues and shelters? What do you see as being the biggest needs in your community?

Hank: Our biggest need right now is to get help with the spaying & neutering program for the feral cat community.  Many people, including vets, are wonderful enough to donate their time freely to help with this situation, but money is still a necessity to purchase the equipment and medicines for these procedures.

This leads directly into my third platform focus, which is to get politicians to be positive instead of always on the attack.  Instead of taking the money in to my campaign, 100% is donated directly to animal rescue groups and spay & neuter programs.  If each politician would donate just half of their funds towards causes near to their hearts, instead of towards negative attacks on their opponents, people in general would feel more positive about the candidates and what they stand for.

Atticus: All this campaigning must be cutting into your nap time. How are you going to stay fully rested all the way to November? And how do you deal with the stress of constantly being on the stump?

Hank: I won’t lie - it’s a long road to November, especially in cat years!  I find it important to keep to a regular schedule - I play for 20 minutes or so each day with my campaign manager, get lots of rest, and have my regular 3 meals a day.  I do get more treats when the reporters come by though, and I enjoy that!

It’s very important for us cats to keep to a regular schedule - having play time every day helps to keep the stress down, and also helps me keep fit, so I won’t become Washington’s newest fat cat come November.

Atticus: You’ve had your detractors such as the group, Canines for a Feline Free Tomorrow, who question your birth and vet records and whether a Maine Coon should be running in Virginia. Now, this to me seems like a typically canine response. What do you say to these dogs?

Hank: Actually, the canine response has been overwhelmingly in support of my campaign!  I refuse to respond to the attacks on my character, as I do not believe in negative campaigning - but, you know how dogs can be - they get excited easy, and I think just a few bad dogs aren’t going to spoil anything for anyone.

Atticus: What would you say to kittens who have political aspirations?

Hank: I say this a lot to many of my feline friends out there who have contacted me with their support - It’s important to remember, even the smallest cat can change the world!

Atticus: We here in the Portland area are pretty big foodies, with a tendency to explore all facets of nutrition, including eating raw. I myself like the occasional raw treat. What do you like to eat?

Hank: My regular diet includes Venison & Green Pea, but for treats I really love cheese.  Specifically, cheddar - the light flavored cheeses just don’t do it for me.  I also like the occasional raw venison treat as well!

Hank and Sammy

Hank and Sammy

Atticus: Now, on a more personal note.  I see that you came from the streets. So did I. It’s tough to be a Maine Coon out in the world, rough on the fur, hard to find enough food. What helped you survive those tough times, and how will that help you once in office?

Hank: It’s a very difficult life, and I’ll gladly admit it - I was scared.  My mom raised us alone for the first 4 weeks of our life, and it’s not easy to have to watch 5 kids while trying to get enough food for yourself and your babies!  We were picked up by an animal shelter, and were slated to be put down, but a local no-kill group rescued us at the last second, so we all found homes, including my mom. 

During this time, I was able to really see how harsh and terrible the world can be for so many of us cats, and it was just the luck of the draw that I was saved from it.  As far as how it’ll help me in office, I will not back down or shy away from my positions - after facing what we saw in that shelter, no politician or lobbyist will be able to silence or scare me into submission.

Atticus: How does your brother Sammy feel about all this attention? And how are the humans handling your success?

Hank: Sammy is the alpha of the family, so he can get a little jealous - but he also gets to sleep on a nice heated cat bed during the day while I’m working, so he doesn’t get too mad.  As for my humans, they’re working hard on keeping up with all of the press and constituents - they finally have the t-shirts on my site for sale now, with 100% of the profits going to Animal Allies. 

Atticus: Hey, I saw the "lion cut” photo. What gives?

Hank: I was a rebellious teen, what can I say? 

Atticus: Thanks so much for your time, Hank. I look forward to following your campaign this summer and wish you all the best come November.

Hank: Thanks so much Atticus, and thanks to all of your wonderful readers!

You can read more about Hank’s Senate run at HankForSenate.com or by following him on Facebook!

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Today's Cat Fact: Morris the Cat ran for president in 1988 and 1992. 

Snow Day!

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Last time I was telling you the story of Spike, Dinsmore and myself -- I'll make sure to get back to that very soon, but first I want to show you where I live, and how fun it is when it snows!

Where I came from, we didn't have all of this white, fluffy stuff and this is the first time I've gotten to sink my paws into it. I thought all those stories were just fairy tales, but, as you will see - it is very real.  I've also heard that the Maine in Maine Coon is a place that gets lots of snow, so we are specially designed with big paws and fur between our toes to make it easier for us to get around in it. I have built-in showshoes! You can see for yourself how well I did!

We'll talk again soon, and I promise to finish telling you my story!

Today's Cat Fact: Maine Coons have two types of fur, an inner coat for warmth and an outer, water-resistant coat to help stave off rain and snow. Their shaggy underbelly and thicker fur along their backside protects them from the cold of snow and ice.

Introducing Myself

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It’s been kind of a nutty year, what with moving and settling, moving and settling.  Now things have finally slowed down enough for me to do some reflecting . . . or at least get down to some serious napping.   Same things, right?

So I decided to write a few things down, maybe share a few pictures and movies of myself and tell you what it's like to be me, a Maine Coon Cat.  We are a very special club of cat . . . of course, being a cat is pretty special, but we Maine Coons are a pretty proud line of feline and I want to share some of our stories and folklore with you.  I’ll also try my best to recollect some of the stories about other cats I met or heard about while I was out on the road.

But first, as a way to let you know a little bit about me, my first few notes will give you a rundown about this last year and where I am now.

So, about this time last year, I was running with a couple of other cats; we weren’t like a gang or anything (although there was always some scrapping going on),  mostly we were just looking for food and a place to stay warm and dry.   There was one guy, Spike, a big fearless orange cat — he would strut around right out in the open, making all kinds of noise and never seeming to care what came his way.  One day Spike came and told us he had found this human house with a lady who was just giving out food.   Sunning on this fence, I was like, “Yeah, right.  I’ve heard that before.   Do I look like I was weaned yesterday?”

Spike was all, “Go ahead — don’t believe me, flea-line.  But I think we can all get something tomorrow too.  We have to be cool, though.  Remember what happened last time?  I’m looking at you Dinsmore.  So c’mon:  huddle up and I’ll give you the scoop.”   (Dinsmore was this nutty calico who could get a little pushy about food – once we found this awesome back porch scene and he got all shovey, stomped on Spike’s head,. and the whole thing turned into a melee.)

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So, despite the flea-line remark (not nice — he knew I had an allergy), I jumped down and listened up.  It seems there was a human who would put food out on her porch for anybody to come and get.  We decided to head over there, settle in and wait to see if she did it again.

We found a couple of good hiding spots under the bushes and were being cool, when a bunch of other cats started mooching in.  We were disgusted.  These guys all had homes and regular food and there they were, acting all, “I’m hungry. Nobody feeds me.”  We were not impressed.  Anyway, we kept our cool, even Dinsmore, and sure enough, the human put out some food.  She seemed a little surprised that there were so many of us – Spike was kind of upset about the other cats horning in — but it didn’t seem to stop the flow of food.  Every day, there she was, giving us something to eat.  We were very happy.  I even had to give Spike his due.  We’ve had our differences, but he was right about this one, and in the end, his yowling and making noise ended up changing all of our lives forever.

I’ll tell you more about that summer, and how me, Spike and Dinsmore ended up parting ways next time.   For now, I’m tuckered and it’s time to sleep.  

I’ll leave you with a picture of me from last year shortly after finding the really nice human house with all the food.  See how the plate is empty? But, look at my face . . . check my technique, no pleading, no begging, this is my "incredulous staredown." It works well!

Well, thanks again for stopping by!  We'll see you soon!

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Today’s Cat Fact: The term for a group of cats is called a “clowder.”