Guest Post: Brooks’ Cats

Why is it that when we tell stories about the cats we’ve loved, we so often talk about the accidents, the near-catastrophes and the horrendous messes? One of my very favorite cats, name of 149, was a friendly and affectionate little moggy. Every single morning he nuzzled into the crook of my armpit to knead me, purring while I writhed in happy agony because I’m ticklish. But in conversation I’m more likely to tell you about that time he got a huge abcess under his skin: The vet had to shave his whole side, make two incisions, and thread a plastic tube in one incision and out the other so the abcess could drain. 149 came home in that state. He could only walk sideways, tube side first, as if proudly showing it off.

Once I raised a kitten, Mekon, who indulged in every kittenish virtue: pouncing, chasing, snuggling, passing out in the middle of play. If we get to swapping cat stories, though, I’ll probably tell you about the time he licked my toast and then sneezed into my tea. My cat Quiktrip, a high-strung part-Burmese (with a voice to prove it), slept tucked in behind my knees every night for a year—all night. More often, I remember the day he was inside his cat carrier and got so worked up that he threw himself, carrier and all, off the table where I’d put him while I unlocked the front door.


I think we remember these moments of terror, exasperation and indignation best because those are the times when we most strongly relate to our cats. We aren’t simply cohabitating or engaging in some common owner/pet exchange, but connecting. Even if that connection is the cat saying, I am angry at you for going away, and now I’m going to piss in your suitcase.

We especially remember when those connections are about trust. During the reign of Mekon, I woke one night to find him tapping my head. But he didn’t want to play, he just sat still until I noticed an inch of dental floss dangling from his mouth. I gave it a tug and pulled out a good couple feet. He’d gotten himself into trouble, and even with only a quarter-teaspoon of brains he knew I would help him. We were communicating. Wet, gag-inducing (both of us) communication, but still.


And on the day 149 had that tube put in his side, I walked into the exam room at the vet’s, and the instant 149 saw me he stood up on the examination table and put his paws on my chest, meowing, looking me in the eyes, clearly recognizing me as a friend and ally; begging me to get him the hell out of there. Out of over ten years of living with that cat, that’s the moment I remember most.

The Unadoptables: Jasmine

unadoptables_character designs_jasminefinal.png

Jasmine (Yasmeen), age 19, has just started working as a barista at Calico Coffee. Hank hired her right away after she gushed for twenty minutes straight about how much she loves cats. She wishes she could take all the unadoptable cats home with her, but her dorm room is too small and it doesn’t allow pets.

Jasmine has a strong need for every cat to love her back, making her relationship with the cafe’s resident calico, Ripper (pictured above), a bit one sided. Despite a number of scratches, Jasmine keeps trying to affectionately nuzzle Ripper (just like Brooks!).

Jelly, the resident gross cat, usually has a hard time finding people to pet him, but now with Jasmine being a sure thing, he gets lots of cuddles. Jasmine is pretty good about keeping extra clean aprons around as well as plenty of hand sanitizer.

Jasmine is hiding something, though. You’ll find out exactly what she’s hiding in the first issue of The Unadoptables.


Mendel’s Inheritance Sketches

Bunnies WIP.jpg

The first illustration for Mendel’s Inheritance is done, and now Louise Kay Uy, the artist, is working on the second and third. Above is a sketch of the talking rabbit Lep. I chose A since she looks a bit more evolved from a regular rabbit than B. She will appear in the second illustration along with a new, fantastical creature.

I have about 16,000 words left to write for Mendel’s Inheritance, the second book of The Alchemist’s Theorem series. I’m aiming to get this first draft done by the end of May, but with the upcoming crowdfunding campaign for our webcomic The Unadoptables, it’s gonna be tight. But I am determined!

The Unadoptables: Vincent von Toast

unadoptables_character designs_marm-vincfinal2.png

Vincent von Toast is a bit on the elderly side. At age 13, not much surprises him, or gets him excited, or anxious. He is a little anal retentive, though, and gets grumpy when the cat toys are scattered about the cafe instead of collected neatly in the toy basket. Napping takes up most of his day and he manages to tolerate the other cats.

Until recently, Vincent had resigned himself to never getting adopted, but then something unexpected happened. He bonded with a feisty and determined kitten named Marmalade. Marmalade is hell-bent on getting herself–and Vincent–out of the pokey and into a comfortable home. She’s got endless plans for how they are going to either catch themselves an owner or break out and live free in the wild.

Vincent knows that Marmalade would have a much better chance of being adopted without him, but she won’t leave his side. Still, he encourages her dreams. But Marmalade’s optimism about the bonded-pair’s future forces Vincent to keep up appearances, and even get a little hopeful from time to time.

The Unadoptables: Hank

unadoptables_character designs_hankfinal.png

Hank, the cafe owner in our webcomic The Unadoptables, is a giant of a man who is deeply in touch with his inner cat lady. He loves all cats, but especially the lifers. He’s a bit cat-like himself: independent and indifferent to people in general, but he conceals a whole lot of personality. It’s hard to get much of a reaction out of Hank, but push the right button and you’ll get the equivalent of a tail flick.

A friend introduced us to Moshow recently. He’s a Northwest dude who isn’t shy about his love for cats. Everyone should watch his videos. I’m a sucker for dudes who love cats.

We just got the first layout sketch for a page of the comic from our artist, Beth Morrell! We are SO excited! This Thursday we’ll introduce you to our cat Jelly from The Unadoptables with a videoIf you haven’t seen our first teaser video yet watch it here.

Our crowdfunding campaign launches June 6th!

The Unadoptables: Nigel

unadoptables_character designs_nigelfinal2.png

Meet Nigel, another kitty from our upcoming webcomic, The Unadoptables. He’s a lovely, sleek Russian blue who has excellent manners. He doesn’t meow for food or scratch furniture or flesh. He keeps his claws sheathed during play and loves a warm lap to nap in.

Nigel has a secret.

People who come to Calico Coffee looking to adopt a new buddy love Nigel. What’s not to love? He’s perfect! They can’t believe their luck and they are so, so, so excited to take this little guy home.

Every time, though, they bring him back the next day. They never say why. They just drop him off and back out the door, never to return. No one knows why.

My Cat History



When I was a kid, we had an indoor/outdoor cat that my sisters named Jellicle because they were super into the Broadway show Cats at the time (and probably still are today). Our cat Jellicle was a badass huntress and very independent, yet still sociable and friendly to us kids. I remember that she’d often come running to my room whenever I sat and cried on my bed about kid things. She’d trot in, mewing with concern, jump into my lap and nuzzle my face. That’s exactly what a kid needs in those moments.

Jellicle lived a long time. When her time finally came, she had been lying down in the driveway and the road a lot. She eventually got hit by a car after more than a decade of avoiding such a thing. My brother sobbed as he picked her body up with a shovel. We buried her in the backyard.



When I was a teenager, I fell in love with a cat. My brother found him out in the yard at night. It was the dead of winter and the poor tabby was skin and bones. He didn’t approach us right away—though he was meowing for help—but once we tossed him a piece of lunch meat he lost all hesitation. I brought the tabby into the garage and went and got some dry cat food from the barn (we had a barn cat named Barn Cat). The tabby was so grateful for food that every few bites he would stop, hop into my lap and cover my face with kisses.

My father immediately said no, but after a good deal of my crying he said I could keep him, but that he wasn’t allowed in the house. The next day I let the cat into the house and my dad never said a word. I named the tabby Frodo (I was listening to The Lord of the Rings on cassette tapes at the time). Saving him created a strong bond between us. I eventually referred to him as “my boyfriend.”

After a couple of years in college, I noticed he was losing weight when I came home. I was in denial for a while, but eventually he had a seizure and we took him to the vet. Our vet wasn’t the most knowledgable or competent. He said Frodo’s kidney’s were shutting down and that he’d probably been poisoned by antifreeze. Since Frodo didn’t have access to antifreeze and the vet offered up no other explanation, there wasn’t much to do. We left Frodo at the vet for some testing.

After a phone call with the vet, my dad came into my room and said Frodo had gotten worse and needed to be put down. I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move or speak. I conveyed to my dad that I couldn’t go with him, so my dad went and took care of it for me. I wailed per the exact definition of the word. My sister Beth tried to console me, but I was inconsolable.

When my dad brought Frodo home, I went out to the back of his truck and sobbed over my cat’s limp body. Seriously, that was over ten years ago and my eyes are full of tears right now while writing this. I loved that cat so much.

I was deeply grieved for a few days. My brother bought me circus peanuts to cheer me up. I recovered enough after a couple of weeks, but for the next two years I would get teary eyed whenever I took a moment to think about Frodo. I eventually moved on, but as we can see now, his memory can still get me.



The night I moved into a little casita in Puerto Rico (after college), I heard a meow outside my door. I yelled, “Forget it!” because I was really poor and didn’t want to be responsible for another living being. Also, I didn’t want to have to go through what I went through with Frodo again. The cat let himself in through the screen door. He walked right up to me and said, “I am your cat. Feed me.”

He was less than a year old and was an orange, long-haired tabby with a puffy, cartoonish tail. So I said, “Fine.” I told myself he’d mainly be an outside cat because I didn’t want to deal with a litter box, but after the third time he shit in the shower (always next to the drain) I said “Fine!” and got a litter box.

Due to the raging heat and the casita’s lack of air conditioning, Hobbes (pronounced “Hoe-base” in Spanish) spent the daylight hours under the kitchen sink. When the sun went down, he’d come out and chill with me and my roommate for a short while, and then he’d paw at the screen door. There were lots of street cats that hung out in our yard because it was fenced in, which protected them from street dogs. So every time I opened the door to let him out he’d pump himself up for a fight by swatting at me and then hissed as he ran out the door.

After I left Puerto Rico, I brought Hobbes with me to South Carolina, but once I quit that job after six months I realized that I moved too much and Hobbes needed stability. I gave him to my sister Kathleen, whose cat Chance became his instant best bud. He still swatted at my nieces whenever they let him out. They had to use a broom handle to open the door.

He had several great years with them before getting hit by a car. I’ll never understand how a cat could survive the streets of Puerto Rico (filled with stray cats, dogs, and plenty of cars) and not the suburban streets of Western New York. My poor guy.



And now I’m doing it to myself all over again. Attaching myself to another cat. Ripley has been with us for over a year now. Despite her being a giant pain in our asses, Brooks and I are absolutely in love with her. She’s full of personality, loves to reward us randomly with soft snuggles, and is a lot of fun to hang around with. All of her pain-in-the-ass attributes are just part of the paradox that is having cat-kids.

She’s a strictly indoor cat and perfectly healthy and young, so I’m not worried about losing her any time soon. In fact, on days when she’s being an extra pain in the ass, I’m convinced she’ll spitefully out live me.

Cat-son TBD


Brooks and I vacillate a lot whenever we talk about getting another cat. When we adopted Ripley, she came with the sweetest cat, Newt. But he died a couple months later from a stupid virus.

But after a year of Ripley without a cat buddy, we are getting sick of all the scratches. She’s not being mean when she scratches us. She just loves to rough house. She needs a playmate, and we need to be able to sit on the couch with our feet on the floor (we have to tuck them up on the couch, otherwise she attacks them).

We worry about another cat changing the house dynamic in too many negative ways. I’m terrified either she or the new cat will start peeing outside the litter box. I just can’t live with that. We also worry Ripley won’t like the new cat and become miserable. She’s a super happy cat right now. And we also worry about space. We barely have a spot for one litter box.

I have specific criteria set when we do eventually go looking at cats. We want a cat like Newt. A young, laid-back male who doesn’t mind being a subordinate to an alpha female. Our future cat-son must also love to snuggle Brooks so I can stop chiding him for trying to snuggle the meat grinder. Ripley lets him her belly with his face about one out of every three times. Two out of three times Brooks gets a little more rugged.