They’re fun. They’re furry. They’re named Baby and Pretty Girl.

And they’re Mark LaFlamme’s cats. Oh, the things they’ve seen . . .

You know you want to read on.

Names: Baby and Pretty Girl

Ages: 11

Breeds: Maine coon or something.

So. You’re Mark LaFlamme’s cats. What’s he really like? Mark is an odd duck, even by human standards. He stays up until dawn and then sleeps ’til noon. Tries to, anyway. He talks to himself, plays baseball inside the house and, sometimes, he thinks we’re dogs. He throws balls and expects us to fetch. He tries to wrestle with us on the kitchen floor. It’s hilarious. Ten years together and he still hasn’t figured out that cats don’t come running when you call them.

I would have expected LaFlamme, crime reporter and horror writer extraordinaire, to name his cats Killer and The Beast or King and Poe or . . . something. What happened? Baby here. Mark is glad you asked this question. If he had his way, my sister and I would be named Rambo and Spike. Or perhaps Rocky and Bruno. You know, manly names. But we came with our monikers already in place and so now Mark has to lie about it when asked. He has taken to calling us Cat I and Cat II. We’re OK with that. He also wanted to name us Annabelle Lee and Lenore, but he already had a pair of cats by those names. We don’t want secondhand appellations. It was a nice try, though.

Do you ever help him write? Baby again. I help him write all the time, mainly by walking across his keyboard when he’s trying to sort out a complex plot point. Sometimes I just stand on the return key to give him a mile of white space between sentences. Makes me laugh like hell. But I do help. The chilling end to “The Pink Room” was all mine, for instance. Mark wanted to end it with “and then he woke up and it was all a dream” or something insipid like that. So I took a stroll across the keyboard and gave him a more suitable ending. He liked it, kept it and claims it was his own idea. I’m OK with that.

Have any story ideas you’d care to share? Pretty Girl here. I’ve always wanted to walk across the keyboard and create a story about a madman who kills his wife and buries her behind a wall in the basement. He might have gotten away with the deed if not for the fact that he unintentionally buried the family cat along with the corpse. The cat starts yowling, police are alerted and the murder is uncovered. Beautiful stuff. That Poe guy wrote something like that, but it wasn’t very good. Ima do it right.

I hear you’ve shared your home with mice, degus and various other small creatures over the years. Did you, you know, taste any? Baby here. I stuck my face into a cage occupied by an African spiny mouse once. The little thug poked me right on the nose, which caused me to run away and hide for the rest of the day. Since then, I like to stand near the rodent cages and act all menacing, but I don’t put my face near them anymore. That “Tom & Jerry” stuff is pure hooey. Why would I want to chase a mouse all over the house when I’ve got a human all trained to open cans for me?

Where’s the best place in the house to nap? Baby: On a shelf above Mark’s desk. He put a blanket up there and there’s a lamp that throws off good heat. I sleep up there for hours and pretend I’m on a beach in Cozumel. Pretty Girl: I nap on the bed and stretch out so that I take up a full two-thirds of it. That business about napping on window sills or old blankets on the floor? That’s bunk. I’m a cat, not an animal.

Just between us, ever get hooked on the nip? Baby: Badly hooked. I was so addicted to the junk, one time a package of it came in the mail and I tore it right open like a jungle beast. When Mark and What’s-Her-Name came home, they found shreds of paper strewn across the kitchen and a cat running from one end of the house to the other. Man, I was wrecked. For six hours, I thought I was a panther. Bad trip. I still use the stuff, but only in moderation. As far as you know.

LaFlamme is known for his outstanding Halloween decorations. (The scarier the better.) Ever destroy — or add to — any of them? Baby: Oh, sure. Trashing his stuff is kind of my job. He has a Strawberry Shortcake snow globe, for instance, that commemorates something out of “The Pink Room.” Along with it are bottles and cogs and other things that mark certain points in his other books. He’s very superstitious about these things, so naturally, I’ve crashed that entire shelf twice over the years. The snow globe broke the first time and soaked everything else on the shelf. I feel kind of bad about it, I guess, but it’s funny when Mark screams.

Cat collars: Yea or nay? Pretty Girl: Big nay. When we first came along, we each had a collar. Mark didn’t like them. He believes cats are wild things and no attempts should be made to restrain them. He removed the collars and I was so grateful, I didn’t pee on any of his stuff for a full day.

Would you ever walk on a leash? Baby: No. Would you? I know some people are into that sort of thing (I’m not saying Mark is, wink, wink) but not me and not my sister. Cats don’t belong on a leash. Now, please gather round and join me for a rousing rendition of “Born Free.” And break out the nip.


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