Wednesday, October 28, 2015

They (fill in the blank) like cats and dogs

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  (Breaking news: I am at Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont tonight! Come on down!)

Anyway, when I lived in Atlanta, we had my cat Lola, and a wacky enthusiastic beagle-type pooch named McGee. They were both terrific animals, but the oh-so-snarky Lola’s take on McGee was that he did not exist. I don’t think Lola every admitted there was another animal in the house, no matter what McGee did. McGee, happily, was a dog of very little brain, so he did not have enough space to include the concept of “cat” after Jim, and food,  and how to “arooooo” and well, that’s about all he could handle. So it worked out nicely.

As the brilliant Kathy Lynn Emerson so hilariously explains, it is not always easy.

The Scottie Barked at Midnight: Of Dogs and Cats

I hesitated for a long time to introduce a dog of any sort into the Liss MacCrimmon series for one simple reason—there were already two cats. Now, some cats like dogs, but I didn’t think a cat with the personality of Lumpkin, the big yellow Maine Coon Cat Liss inherited along with her house, was likely to be very accepting. He had trouble enough adjusting to Glenora, the little black kitten I added in A Wee Christmas Homicide.

By the time someone suggested I include a Scottish terrier in one of Liss’s stories, I’d already written a scene in Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones in which Lumpkin has a run in with Papelbon, the dog belonging to Dan’s niece, Samantha. Here’s what happened when they met:

            Lumpkin spat, hissed, and expanded to twice his normal size. Since he was a Maine Coon cat and weighed in at well over fifteen pounds on his slimmest day, he was a formidable sight. 
            The reason for his ill humor was a dog, Papelbon by name, a black and brown mutt of uncertain ancestry, although it probably included a splash of border collie. He belonged to Dan Ruskin’s brother Sam.
            In spite of the unfriendly reception, Papelbon wagged his plume of a tail and tried to touch noses with the outraged feline. Lumpkin took a swipe at Papelbon and missed. With a yip of surprise, the dog retreated behind Sam’s legs.
            “Come out from there you yellow-bellied chicken.”
            “Daddy!” Sam’s daughter Samantha, age nine, knelt beside Papelbon and flung her arms around his furry neck. “Don’t be so mean. That nasty old cat scared him.”
            Papelbon licked her face.
            Liss hid a grin as she scooped up the cat and slung him over her shoulder, thus clearing the way for Sam, Samantha, and Papelbon to enter the house “I’ll be right back,” she said as she started down the hall. “Make yourselves at home.”
            Lumpkin growled low in his throat all the way to the kitchen. Liss carried him into the connecting pantry/utility room. “Sorry, sport,” she told the cat. “You’re confined to quarters for the duration. Live with it.” She had to move fast once she put him down, but she managed to shut the door before he could get past her. The unmistakable sound of claws scoring wood made her wince but didn’t surprise her in the least.

By The Scottie Barked at Midnight, the ninth entry in the series, Lumpkin has mellowed somewhat, although he still has his share of bad habits. He has accepted the presence of a second cat and a move to a different house, but there are some things a cat just should not be expected to tolerate. Here’s a short excerpt, the scene where Lumpkin and his little buddy Glenora meet the Scottish Terrier Liss has rescued for the first time.   
            Liss unlocked her back door, scooped up the Scottie, and stepped into the kitchen. Both cats materialized out of nowhere. Lumpkin, the Maine Coon cat, caught sight of the dog first. His head shot up, as did his tail, which instantly puffed up to twice its normal size. Glenora, smaller and coal-black, went up on her hind feet, trying to get a better look at the newcomer.
            “Now, guys—play nice.”
            Moving slowly, Liss lowered the Scottish terrier to all fours. She was quivering with excitement, anxious to investigate these new and interesting creatures, one of whom was bigger than she was.
            “Lumpkin. Glenora. This is—” She broke off, momentarily stumped. She had to call the dog something. Sweetie was just too cutesy. Wee Jock was a cliché, aside from being the wrong gender. Pets belonging to past presidents had led to the overuse of Fala and Barney for Scottish terriers. Then it came to her—the perfect nickname for an animal that had narrowly escaped being run over by a car. “For now, we’re going to call this pooch Lucky,” she informed her feline housemates. “Be polite to her. She’s a guest.”      
            All high spirits and friendliness, Lucky danced up to the two cats. Glenora bristled and spat. Lumpkin’s ears went back. That was the only warning before he struck out, slashing at Lucky’s nose. The Scottie backpedaled so fast that she tumbled ass over teakettle.
            “That’s enough!” Liss grabbed for Lucky, meaning to lift her out of harm’s way, but the crisis had already passed.
            Lumpkin sat down and began to wash his nether regions. Glenora turned her back, flicked her tail, and stalked out of the room. Trailing her leash, Lucky discovered a dish containing leftover dry cat food and chowed down. Liss collapsed onto one of the kitchen chairs.
            “That went well,” she muttered.

I’d love to hear real-life stories of the 
first meetings between dogs and cats and how their owners coped while their pets adjusted to sharing. In this case, of 
course, the Scottie already has a home 
and returning her to it is what involves 

Liss in murder and mayhem.

HANK: So Reds? Do yours fight like cats and...well, you know. Do they?  Or can there be dog détente?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award in 2008 for best mystery nonfiction for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2014 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (The Scottie Barked at Midnight) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries as Kathy (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall). The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are and


  1. Loved the excerpts; thanks!
    When the children were little, we had three cats of undertermined ancestry and two golden retrievers. The dogs ignored the cats, the cats ignored the dogs, and the children smothered them all with unconditional love, so all things having to do with pets around our house were pretty much perfect . . . .

  2. The Kaitlyn Dunnett series is one of my favorites. I have been hooked since book one. I've long thought that Lumpkin needed a canine companion! Cats and dogs get along more often than not in my experience, but there are some bumps in the introduction. When I got my German Shorthaired Pointer (who shared his IQ with McGee I think) I already had a silver tabby who took matters into her own six-toed paws to rid the house of dog. I was sitting in my living room when the cat scooted up to the back of the wing chair and snuggled behind the lace curtains. She waited there until the dog walked past the chair. At that point she launched herself, all four paws splayed and claws out, from the back of the chair toward the dog. Unfortunately, she caught a fang in the lace of the curtain and ended up hanging by a tooth. Totally ruined her delivery. The cat never again acknowledged the presence of a canine in the house.

  3. We have a rescue cat, Murphy, and sometimes we 'babysit' 2 mini-dachs, Malcolm and Nemo. Nemo cannot get used to the foreigner--given the chance, he will spend every minute finding and staring at "The Cat." Or, scarfing up the cat food. Malcolm is more accepting--once Nemo was off in a bedroom with one of his boys and Malcolm was settled in his chair in the living room. I was working at the computer when Murphy sauntered in, jumped into my lap and settled himself. I began to stroke Murphy, telling him what a good boy he was, all the while keeping an eye on Malcolm. After a bit, Malcolm jumped down from his chair, wandered over to the piano with a look on his face that said, 'pay no nevermind to me." I swear, if a dog could tippy-toe, that's what he did, all the while coming closer and closer to where I sat with Murphy, who by now was curled up with his head tucked down. Malcolm was looking everywhere but at me--"pay no attention, I am merely strolling about." Eventually he made it to my chair, walked all around and sniffed the cat. What he wanted was to be in my lap, regardless of the cat. Alas, there wasn't room!

  4. Love the post Kathy/Kaitlyn, and Kait, love your story. I can totally imagine the cat hanging from the curtain!

    I have a cat and a dog, both adopted. When Tonka met Yoda (cat), Yoda glared at him with such hatred, that my visiting friends were afraid T's eyes would be slashed out. But five years later, they are total buddies, in their own funny way. Yoda will stretch out on the floor and slash at Tonka as he circles around the cat, looking for an opening. It's endlessly entertaining!

    Congrats on the new book!

  5. What wonderful stories to start the day! I can just see your dog tippy toeing , Flora!… I am off to the airport, to mystery. lovers bookstore tonight, hooray! More to come…is pitchdark outside, and still raining. Sigh. But these pets stories are giving me a laugh!

  6. Hi, Kathy SO HAPPY to see you here on Jungle Red! Congratulations on the new book... it sounds wonderful!

    I love dog stories, and though I've never had a dog somehow they end up in my books. There are 2 sweet Rottweilers in my last one. I'm more of a cat person and know from experience that it's a challenge to bring a new cat home to a cat who's been the one and only. It takes time. And sometimes it doesn't take, but usually it does.

  7. Thanks everyone for your kind words and especially Hank for that great intro. I'm loving these stories. We've only had one dog, Not-a-cat, in our 46 year marriage, but he really really wanted to be friends with the four cats we had at the time. Three were indifferent. The fourth, who was a third his size, used to go after him both front paws upraised, all claws out, every time she saw him. It was probably a good thing he was an outdoor dog and they were mostly indoor cats.

  8. Hi, Kathy! Loved the excerpt. Marco and I ran into a cat just yesterday on our walk and it arched its back and stood its ground, so we went another way. Marco would be amenable to hanging out with a cat, I think--he seems curious rather than hostile when we come across one--but they look at his 55 lbs and don't give him the benefit of the doubt.

  9. Hi Kathy and welcome to Jungle Reds! What a fun excerpt to read this morning... FChurch, that is the sweetest story -- love it! Traveling from Kansas City to D.C. today -- if you're in Washington, come on by the Spy Museum at 7 tonight -- should be fun!

  10. Hi, Kathy Lynn! So happy to hear there's a new Kaitlyn Dunnett book out - I'm always happy to take a trip to Moosetookalook, Maine.

    Scotties do tend the attract ethnic names, don't they? The Smithie's dog-friendly office at Sterling Rope Co. has two Scotties, Angus and MacDuff. If the latter were my dog, I'd be forever saying, "Lay on, MacDuff!"

    In the summer of '14, we got a 'replacement cat' at the shelter; a pet we hoped would take the place of Neko's deceased sister. They had played together since kittenhood, and Neko just didn't have her usual zest for life as a solo kitty. As it turns out, Neko and replacement cat Juno quickly came to a detente: each ignored the others existence. It turned out the critter Neko needed wasn't a cat, but our new Shih Tzu, Louis.

    For a while, Neko didn't seem to understand what exactly Louis was - a dog smaller than she? We're still not sure if she knows Louis's not a cat, but she's decided he's low man in the hierarchy and its her job to keep him there. She has a lovely time leaping out at Louis as he walks past, jumping off tables to land beside him, and swatting him at random moments. Her particular favorite is to stand between him and his food bowl at supper time. Just stand there. Eventually he whines and someone comes along and moves her out of the way.

    The really odd part? Louis seems to like her! He wags his tail when he sees her, and when she's in a forgiving mood, she'll let him sniff at her and lay close by. There's a lesson there somewhere...

  11. Friends of mine had a cat, a miniature Dachshund, and a Weimaraner (the youngest). The cat and the Dachsie had long entered detente. But then this giant gray newcomer showed up and both of them rolled their eyes. But they settled into their routine. Eventually. The cat and the Dachsie both boss the Weimaraner around (and he's at least four times their size).

    Hank, I hope you brought your umbrella to Pittsburgh.

  12. I'm so glad there's a new book out. I love that series! My 12 year old border terrier/? mix Boo pretty much ignores cats on our walks. They are just so ho hum.
    But when we visit my sister's place out in the country he is very curious about her house cats. Not mean curious, want to play curious. Unfortunately the cats don't want to play and my sister is suspicious of his motives. At this time in his life Boo is not interested in cats or squirrels. Borrring. But possums? Yep. They are definitely worth a sniff.

  13. Kaitlyn/Kathy Lynn, I'm so happy to hear about this series and this book. I have to tell you what I did at Bouchercon in Raleigh now. In scanning the items on the promotions tables with the wonderful bookmarks and such that I scoop up with much delight, I came across several book jackets of The Scottie Barked at Midnight I fell in love with the cover and immediately picked up the jacket, thinking it would look great framed. Although I haven't yet gotten around to framing it, I'm hoping to do so and put it in a room I just had painted and prepped for reading.

    Of course, as so often happens here on Jungle Reds, I now have the scoop on the series and you as an author, so I will be adding this book and series to my TBR list and wish list. Your writing record is most impressive, Kathy. I will also add you to my list of authors I want to meet at Bouchercon next year in NOLA.

    Cats and dogs can be such an interesting, funny mix. For the period of time that we had a cat and a dog, they really didn't pay any attention to each other, but then they rarely were in the same room. I think the cat felt superior and that the dog wasn't worth any effort, and the dog was smart enough to leave the cat alone.

    Julia, have you posted a picture of Neko and Louis? I've forgotten if you have, but I'd love to see one.

  14. Ooooooh, flight delays…AHHHH…and now I am behind.

    But it looks like all of you are having a very nice time! I'll come back to night and check in more carefully--thank you for putting up with me! xoxo

  15. Kathy Reel--love it! I've been very lucky with my covers.
    Speaking of which, this seems to be the week for Scotties on covers. Susan, I just finished Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante. Couldn't put it down.