Life with Cousin Oliver

Hi, everyone. Pennycat, your host, here.

As you might have discerned from the movie, a new plot twist has taken place in my humble abode. Humans, I tell you, will never be something I understand. You have one perfectly great cat (myself), who provides all the entertainment, companionship and touch of class you could possibly want, and what do they do? Go off and acquire some himbo better at knocking things over and getting lost than performing even a percentage of the duties I do. And then, after a few years of this tsunami of incompetency, do they make the right choice and sell him to the highest bidder? No, no they do not.

Instead, they acquire some version 2.0 of him. An almost exact copy, down to the propensity to get confused and stare dumbly at you awaiting further instructions. Another Socks. A “sockelganger“, as fatty likes to call him.


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Boy, you can just feel the scientific theorems bubbling inside that little skull, can’t you?

Socks, of course, is a complete dupe – never mind he was “fixed” some years ago and doesn’t exactly cruise the alleyways, if you get what I mean – he’s convinced that this kid very well might be his long-lost son! And the kid’s bought into it! It’d be almost sweet if it didn’t translate to day-in day-out misery for yours truly.

Do you know what a refined lady like myself enjoys? Not this. Not two morons tackling each other for fun, randomly, and with no provocation. Check out these shots from the hourly ‘World Wide Wrestling” show:

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OK, my heart’s not made of stone – there’s a quiet charm of the last photo. But not the hundredth time the house has to echo with their insanity! I can barely find a combination of distant rooms and pillows to hide behind to avoid it. Madness!

His “official” name is “Tweetie” or “Tweets”, but I just call him “Cousin Oliver” – a perhaps too pop-cultural reference for my classy audience. I am pointing to the character “Cousin Oliver” on the old “Brady Bunch” television show – a late-era edition to the show to bring in needed “cuteness” when the main characters had grown perhaps a tad old to come off as anything but teenage actors. The ploy, I might add, did not work, although that hasn’t stopped any of a number of television shows from trying same in the decades hence.

So here we are, saddled with this little bundle of “joy”, who Socks has fallen in love with (partially because of aforementioned and misguided paternal duty) and me… well, I reach to all of you, please, for a communication line that does not prominently feature grunts and the sound of “say uncle”.

Oh, the life we lead.

Coming up: A Book.

One Million.

Yes, that’s right, he’s done it. Socks, née Sockington, a tiny grey cat found by a random stranger, is now the most popular non-human on Twitter, and leads an “army” of who-knows-who numbering over one million. Thousands join every day, and he has now appeared on TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, podcast, and maybe some sort of smoke signal. It was all distressing for me until I embraced the idea. Why? Because he needs a manager. And what else does a manager do but make sure their ward/”talent” doesn’t get his head stuck in a food bowl or fall off a counter because he thinks the sink “attacked” him, while taking anywhere up to 50% of the profit? I mean, this is a gig that was crafted for me; the amount of delicious seafood flown in from the fish farms that’ll end up on my plate.. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

To “celebrate” this great achievement, there’s a new Sockington One Million movie out. I won’t ruin the surprise within except to say that a song was made especially for this film. Can you believe that? Socks has his own troubador, some nerdy fellow named MC Frontalot.

Socks Army One Million Strong from Vimeo.

If you wish to download the 1 Million theme song and read the lyrics, they’re located on this page.

More on the repurcussions of the news in the video later, I promise.

On the Eve of One Million Followers

Here we go. The climbing throngs of followers have continued unabated throughout this glorious summer, and it is obvious the little grey stump is going to have an army of over one million followers, when I am languishing at around seven thousand. But this entry isn’t about injustice, my friends. It’s about this clamoring horde. And what a horde it is! Always wanting his autograph, asking him to jump onto the latest bandwagons, joining his facebook page… and everyone keeps sending in t-shirt photos, which are very cute and all but sometimes feature other cats. Other cats!

So with this onset of one million followers comes the inevitable press, checking up on Socks and myself and only half-getting the stories because they have a deadline and less than fifteen minutes to tell his life story, and worst of all, they hardly mention me!

So let’s quickly go over the basics, so you all know what’s going on.

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Sockington. Grey cat. Called Socks because of his white feet and that’s what his brain is full of. Runs around a lot. Watches Cat TV out the window. Loves Salmon and playing with Baron Von Shakymouse, a constantly rotating cast of toy mice that he thinks are all the same one, even though he eats half of them. Sleeps a lot. Bothers me. Drops literary references he overhead once, usually getting them wrong. Yowls. Spends more time in the litterbox than anyone I’ve ever met. Hogs the good pillows. Dumb. He was a stray found outside a subway stop when he was a few months old, and came here to live with some overly-nice people and myself.  Awesome punching bag.

Pennycat. Yours truly. Raised on a farm, met all sorts of nice mentor cats and animals. Refined. Copper-colored, a sultry-eyed beauty keen to discuss contemporary subjects but privately harboring a taste of the old life, when cats were worshipped and short-attention-span theater of the web would never have been tolerated. Loves long walks in the kitchen and appreciates the staff for their sometimes-bumbling attempts to feed me and treat me in the manner to which I am accustomed. Brilliant. Self-assured. Humble.

Fatty.  Plodding, obsessive technogeek who ruined any potential of the online world by introducing Socks to twitter. (I followed of my own volition.) Computer historian by trade, has made the occasional documentary. Totally unaware of how much Socks gets away with. Finds him adorable (another sign of mental illness). In a pinch, can be persuaded for treats and extra mealtimes. Good pants.

Food Lady. The creme de la creme of the staff. Provides regular meals, expertly prepared. Five-star lap. Prone to reading a lot, but can fit me in there under the book and give me space to follow along. Beautiful.

During the last round of media madness, a lot of inaccurate information was forwarded around. For example, very few sites included my picture. Again, I provide a quality headshot:

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So please, press and members of the blogosphere, please contact us here at sockington.org for the true information! As the most informative member of this cat-based endeavor,  I will make every effort to give you the most accurate knowledge. Also, be sure to get my good side in the shots.

Oh, fine, here’s one of Socks too.

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The Great Socks Scare, and Finding Your Cat

Hello, everyone. Penny back in the driver’s seat. Fatty can type faster than I can but wow, he sweats like a bottle of chilled Chablis in the noonday sun. Dignity please.

The announcement of Socks’ disappearance and later recovery earned the views of tens of thousands of people, a couple news outlets contacting the house, and hundreds of comments and letters wishing well in finding him again. Naturally some people thought this was a cynical public relations stunt, but excuse me; do you not think I’d have had t-shirts ready to go before this fiasco/misunderstanding occurred, so I’d finally get my dream of an automatic litterbox? This was an honest losing of the dope, and it took several days to really get back into the swing of being himself.

So out of the well-wishing, a handful of folks who were in the professional capacity of animal rescue wrote in with what I thought were excellent overviews of finding a missing cat both in your house and in the surrounding neighborhood, and so as a reference material, I’m putting them here. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lost someday, and it’d be nice to know people were using the very best techniques to find me.

Socks Army Member Becky wrote in with this set of suggestions:

Saw your tweet – a cat owner’s worst nghtmare! A couple suggestions:

  • did you pull out couch cushions & thoroughly look through there?
  • do you have a recliner? Open it up & inspect thoroughly
  • do you buy clumping kitty litter in those large plastic tubs? I was recently sent an email from a rescueperson whose cat fell in, the other cat jumped on top, closing the lid and the cat inside suffocated. Totally freak accident but worth sharing to help others avoid it.
  • did you check the dryer?
  • do you have a basement – check drop ceiling, walls, anywhere you can fit you hand is a possible hiding spot
  • does he have access to your garage? Check under hood of car, etc
  • open cans of tuna, sardines – something smelly – to lure him out in case he’s scared, hurt, sick (cats are notorious for hiding & suffering in silence)
  • have you checked all doors & windows for small openings or tears in the screens? Maybe he got out on his own (not abducted). If he did, I’ve heard that a good trick to help him find his way home is to sprinkle used (not new) litter from his box around your yard – he’ll recognize his own scent.

There are tons of lost/found pet sites online (petfinder is a good place to start, not to mention the classifieds of your local paper, as well as Craig’s List). Post lost ads on these sites and check found ads. Post flyers ALL OVER your neighborhood (he could be just a couple blocks away being cared for by a well-meaning neighbor!). Check with animal control, contact local rescue groups and visit every vet’s office and pet store within 15 miles… The most important thing is to start right away. The sooner you do the more likely you’ll find him!!

Susanna of MARK-9 Search and Rescue in Dallas suggested the use of a dog in finding a cat (or child):

I saw your tweet this morning and read your post on the website, and though I have no information about anyone possibly involved, I do recommend quickly getting the help of a handler with a search canine specifically trained to find pets.  I partner a search-and-rescue dog (we find missing people) and know there are dogs on the East Coast that are pet-specific search canines.  Because they work best when scent is very fresh, sooner is always better.  If Socks is somehow in the house, jammed in some impossible place, they can help. If he slipped out the door because someone opened it and he is in the area, a search canine can trail him — again if the scent is fresh.  Would Socks have run from a stranger in the house, or is he extremely social?  Where does he normally choose to sleep overnight?  Does he try to bolt for the open door, if opportunity presents itself?  Is there a chance he might be in a neighbor’s garage (relevant to the car backing out that you mentioned). These are the kinds of things a search handler would ask, attempting to establish the place last seen and any escape attempts or previous directions of travel, if Socks went out on his own during a break-in attempt.

Boy, I’d have loved to have seen Socks’ face when the dog found him. But excellent advice.

Many other pieces of advice were posted in the comments of the “Socks is Missing” announcement, some of which include:

  • “check your basement, one of our two indoor cats used to go missing for hours at a time and just this year we discovered a large hole in the wall behind the oil tank where even a large cat could fit…we’ve stuffed two 2-liter soda bottles full of water in the hole so nothing more can get out or in.”
  • “This happened to me with my cat once, it was like 4 hours and we were making posters and you couldnt hear her whatsoever. Turned out she was napping in a rainjacket pocket, a jacket hanging in the hall entrance closet. So check your jacket pockets, I know it’s weird that a cat would fit in there/choose to nap there but it happened to me.”
  • “Please check every cupboard and closet – particularly ones with doors that could easily close again if pulled open. It may be a long shot, but am fervently hoping he has fallen asleep somewhere odd rather than something sinister; cats do love a nice cosy cupboard to hide away in for a nap, & I had a cat that could open my closet doors. Hope he turns up soon, my thoughts are with you.”
  • “Have you checked your ductwork? We were babysitting a friend’s cat once and she managed to pry open the corner of one of our air return vents and got into our duct work. It took us one full day to realize what happened. Then when we realized where she was, we left food and water near the opening. She eventually came out, we grabbed her and blocked all the vents after that.”
  • “We had a cat disappear for a few days and could hear his meows. We searched the whole house and even went up on the roof to look. Then by sheer luck while on the roof, he meowed and we turned toward the sound. He was at a window at the church next door (all windows were up high and not visible from below). He must have gone in on Sunday during church and fell asleep and found he couldn’t get back out. He was sure hungry when we got him back home. I even heard of someone buying a couch at a yard sale and a kitty was found in it when they got it home. Cats can accidentally get themselves into something they can’t get out of.”
  • “I once found my cat INSIDE the box spring. He had clawed the “fabric” on the bottom open and crawled inside.”
  • “My 12-wk old kitten disappeared for 3 days. Later discovered she’d perched on a neighbor’s spare tire under the car. Had been riding around under that car for 3 days. Miraculously, she didn’t jump off in traffic…just clung to that tire. The car wash did her in. When she jumped out the neighbor recognized her from my fliers, caught her and brought her home. I still can’t believe she didn’t jump off on the other side of town. My little miracle.”
  • “Neighbors called me at work once because my fire alarm was going off. Arrived home to find firefighters already inside – no fire, but doors standing wide open. One cat, Moxie, was making friend w/them but Indy was NOWHERE to be found. I was terrified, bordering on hysteria, and like you, finally resorted to looking in places he couldn’t possibly fit, which is where I found him: Under the dresser which had only about a 3″ clearance from the floor, and he weighed 13 pounds. The alarm scared him so badly he got himself under there. So I know the fear and the relief and joy of finding him alright, just shaken up.”
  • “I once had a cat disappear in my room for two days after failing a jump from the back of my chair to a tall shelf (she did this while alone – normally she’d jump from the chair while i was in it, giving it weight, when she jumped while I was gone, the chair moved, she missed, fell straight down on her ass and injured her rear leg) it was pretty scary, eventually found her under the bed. She did have a habit of staying out for a day or two at a time, so I wasn’t too worried at first, then I heard pathetic mewling from under my bed finally, found her curled up inside a synth case.”
  • Something like this happened with my baby, who is now laying on my legs, using them for her personal bed. When it was the 4th of July, every neighbor on the block was popping fireworks. This scared her out of her mind. We couldn’t find her. Didn’t know where she went. Looked everywhere. Hours later, we found her. She was under a chair, but she had literally climbed up into the mechanism of the chair (it was a recliner). She was scared to death. For hours after, she walked hunched to the ground and nary made a peep. She’s perfect now. As curious and crazy as ever. Socks will get better. Once he realizes he’s safe once again and that everyone loves him.”

So there you have it. Words and wisdom from the Socks Army. If you ever misplace a cat, or hear of someone who does, send them this way and maybe they’ll get some good ideas, and the cats who aren’t lucky enough to have an army behind them will be found.

Sockington is Missing (Update: FOUND)

Hello, this is a post by Sockington’s owner, Jason, who you might know as “fatty”. This is not a joke. It is very serious.

This morning, we were woken by strange sounds downstairs in the house. After a little while, we came downstairs and could not find Socks. It has now been a couple hours and we can’t find him at all. We’ve torn apart every corner of the house, looked behind every item, shone flashlights in places a cat can’t possibly fit and looked through any place a cat might be hurt, unconscious, or hiding. He is not in the house.

The sounds were possibly like one of our doors being opened, and the shuffling of boxes and papers that were near the door.  At one point I was outside and saw a car pulling out of a neighbor’s driveway, which I have not yet checked to see if it was actually my neighbor’s car.

After a while, after exhausting what feels like every possibility, we’ve come to the conclusion that someone may have stolen Sockington out of the house.

Please, if you’re reading this and are the people who did this, or know who did it, please talk to us about his safe return. We don’t have any desire to get you in trouble, or cause reprisals, or anything. We just want Sockington back; we feel empty not seeing him walk around here, not hearing his meows.

We will continue to search the house. We hope this is a false alarm, that he’s just playing a trick. But he’s never been silent this long, never made some attempt to come out to get his 6am dinner. We’re scared and we’re sad.

Again, if anyone has any information, please write socks@sockington.org, or call (Phone Number Removed).

Please.

UPDATE: SOCKS HAS BEEN FOUND. He was underneath a shelf in my office, wrapped in a curtain, completely spooked and terrified.  For the first time in years, he spent hours completely silent, not even reacting to hands, flashlights and food being waved inches from where he was. We’ve got him resting in a bedroom and letting whatever freaked him out get out of his system.

The outpouring from the world has been tremendous. Thank you all so much for your offers of help, suggestions of things to try, and ideas. I know, looking at it now as some might do, that this might seem to be some sort of stunt or silliness to get attention to Socks, but if you’ve ever had a pet (or child) and lost sight of them in a way that makes no sense or which doesn’t easily resolve itself, your mind races and you will do anything, absolutely anything in your power to get them back. I checked in with his followers out of desperation, and while this has turned out to be a false alarm, I will never forget all you said and all you wrote.

Here is a photo of Socks just taken, showing both that he’s safe and that he’s acting very withdrawn.

Sockington will be twittering again soon. Thanks again, so much.

Introducing @SOCKSARMY

With nearly 700,000 followers (my word) keeping track of Sockington, it’s pretty natural that all the humans would be calling out (incessantly, I promise you) for Sockington to link to them. Pet rescue, products, eloquent scams… I’ve been watching from my chair and I think I’ve seen it all. Sometimes they even convince stump that he needs to “tweet” about it, and when he does, there’s a nice rush of visitors for what we can all hope is a worthy cause. Unfortunately, this means that even more people start clamoring for being mentioned.

Socks isn’t really engineered for that. In fact, he’s barely engineered to get to his litterbox predictably, if you know what I mean.  I don’t know how people tolerate the amount of tweeting he does now, to be honest, and if he was to start “retweeting” or taking up all the causes people are calling for, there’d be room for little else, like gazing upon my fine coat.

To that end, there is now a twitter account that will occasionally spread all the word of “news”, “causes” and whatever else strikes Fatty’s fancy. I know, I know, is there anything sillier? But honestly, as a cat who was rescued from some pretty cold nights and an impending winter, I figure I should support this… otherwise fatty might take all them in as well!

So, if you wish to be exposed to things of a notification, outreach, or charity nature, please go subscribe yourselves to @socksarmy on twitter.

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I can’t wait to see what happens with this.

This is Pennycat, signing out.

The Sockington Army Shirt Brigade

Photos are streaming in from all the people who ordered Socks’ t-shirt. I heartily approve, especially how this is going to lead to more food for myself. The life of a cat! More photos will be added as they come in.

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PuzzleCharleson

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Regansbox

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UnderstandBlue

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PhaeRae

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Boudu_Cat

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@eastlakecat

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Sockington T-Shirts Now Available

Fatty’s gone ahead and put the final touches on Sockington T-Shirts. They’re now available for sale here.

The design is by Megan Hopkins, who created the background of Socks’ twitter page, as well as mine. She’s a talented lady, even if she does give Socks a little too much attention.  The shirt design looks like this:

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The shirts currently come in just shades of gray, just like the cat in the design. They’re being sold in cooperation with Rich Stevens, who is the leader of Dumbrella. Rich is a cat kind of guy, which I appreciate, and he knows how to Get The Job Done, which is important to a cat who wants their food on time and the litterbox cleaned.

Fatty doesn’t know it yet, but I hacked into his bank account, so sales of these shirts go directly to my hiring several grocery delivery services to maintain a constant supply of treats and meats for myself when he’s at work. So go ahead and order as many as you like, even if it’s the grey stump on them.

There’s even been some loose talk of a Penny shirt in the future – the sky (or the shirt) is the limit.

My Well-Deserved Screen-Time

Fatty has some sort of obsession with numbers, if you ask me. After creating a series of films with Socks (and myself) over the last year to celebrate his various follower milestones, he finally noticed that I achieved one of my own.  Five thousand followers! Compared to Socks it may sound like a drop in the bucket, but bear in mind that my followers are the cream of the seething masses, the cream of the crop. One Penny follower might have graduated at the top of their class, while Socks followers could come from any old place. So with that in mind, 5,000 followers is an excellent number.

Naturally, I played an important part in the casting and directing of this film, and I thought that the afternoon light and the strains of Nessun Dorma would highlight my beautiful eyes as they were meant to be highlighted.

Without further adieu, here is my 5,000 follower movie:

Pennycat 5000 Followers from Jason Scott on Vimeo.

Now, granted, some mishaps did occur during filming but I think if you watch the first half or so and then close your window, you will receive the full Pennycat experience.

Again, thank you to all those wonderful followers.

The Sockington Army Clipping Service – And Shirts

Now, don’t let it be said you can’t surprise a cat. We think we have it all figured out, and then things surprise us. OK, people surprise us. Unpredictable apes, they are. What I thought would be a little blip has turned out to be a long catcall, and Socks’ story is showing up in all sorts of places. Tons of places. So many places that Fatty doesn’t have a grain’s chance in a litterbox of finding them all.

Therefore, I have brainstormed an idea – ask the very Socks army helping him to achieve bizarre celebrity to help acquire all the Socks-related stuff going on.

Apparently Socks is showing up in a whole bunch of newspapers today. He’s also appearing on television in the news broadcasts, a sign of the weakening grip of the journalistic standards, but still, press is press.

So, here’s what’s being asked:

If you see an article about Sockington in your local paper, please clip it out and either scan the article and e-mail it to socks@sockington.org, or mail a copy to:

Sockington Army, 738 Main Street #383, Waltham, MA 02451 (ATTN: FATTY)

This would help enormously for the clipbook. Include your twitter username and I will force the little grey stump to thank you. (He always forgets to be polite; I at least know when it’s in a cat’s interest to feign politeness.)

If you can record any audio/video or find links to same, consider mailing those in as well.

Thank you all.

Also, we are apparently yielding to the clamoring masses and will be producing a high quality Sockington T-shirt for you people to wear outside (clothes, there’s one thing I never got).

Update: The shirts are available, apparently. I’ll post more about that in a moment; but if you want the link, it’s http://www.tinyurl.com/socksshirts.

Whew. You know, enough about all this. I know what you all came to see: me.

So here’s a little cheesecake photo of moi for all you big fans:

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Until later, this is Pennycat signing out.