Val-Kyttie, Quite Possibly the World’s Most Sarcastic Cat


We have a small problem at our bookstore. For those of you new to this blog, my husband and I own, operate, and live above a bookstore called Tales of the Lonesome Pine housing 38,000 books. That’s what my upcoming book is about–all the silly things we did six years ago to get this place going, and all the crazy, fun, bittersweet things happening since.

One of the things that is NOT in the book is that we foster animals at our store, offering them temporary shelter until they can find a loving forever family. Mostly we rescue cats, but we have taken in the occasional litter of puppies. With some 7,000 domestic animals euthanized in the States every DAY, we do our part to keep as many as we can out of the shelter.

Very noble, right? Except our two staff cats do not agree. Val-Kyttie, 16, and Beulah, 6, understand nothing about their brothers and sisters in the shelter needing our help. Or maybe, being cats, they understand but just don’t care. Whatever the reason, they have taken to spraying to announce their displeasure at the adorable fluffy kittens gamboling across our shop floor–to the coos and awws of customers who used to come and pet THEM.

We talked to our cats about the perils of jealousy, and explained they themselves had once been abandoned strays, so why should they begrudge poor orphan kitties a home? They remained unmoved. We threw out some fifty books before we realized this wasn’t going to stop.

Spraying is not something you want to happen in a shop where books are stacked and shelved floor to ceiling. Jack and I now know about six different ways to save a book from cat pee. (Instructional video coming soon to fine K-Marts everywhere….)

While we pride ourselves on being able to rescue just about any book–battered paperback, dust jacket, even leather embossed covers–our strategy really lies in prevention. Both staff cats now wear pretty purple collars that release calming pheromones. We buy special magic elixir ($25 a bottle, thank you) that thoroughly eradicates the smell and discourages cats from returning to mark the same spot.

And on the advice of the Internet (yes, I know) that cats dislike pine and citrus scents, I invested in air freshener stock and  loaded up on those little Renuzit cone things, smelling of oranges. I by far prefer the lavender ones, but anything was worth it to keep the cats from harming any of our inventory.

We set the cones strategically about the bookstore, and had several customers comment on how pleasant the place smelled. (I love the smell of old books: dust and ideas mingled together. Now ours had orange blossom wafting in as well.)

It was all going swimmingly until Heather, our ever-vigilant, miracle-working cleaning lady spotted one of the cats, er, spotting in the bathroom. Val-Kyttie took out a whole stack of Danielle Steels with one thrust.

What can we say; her aim was true.

Then she minced one delicate step to the left and sprayed the orange air freshener, knocking it over like a bowling pin, before turning to saunter past Heather out of the bathroom.

Heather swears that Val-Kyttie winked.

We’ve instigated a few changes in the ol’ home bookstore. We no longer keep books on the floor; they are above the “strike zone.” The cats still wear their pretty purple collars, and they seem to be adjusting to our status as a cat rescue station. Heather keeps an eye out for occasional lapses, but these are fewer and farther between as the weeks pass. Our bookstore now smells pleasantly of dust, ideas, old books, cleaning fluid–and lavender.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book repair, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

6 responses to “Val-Kyttie, Quite Possibly the World’s Most Sarcastic Cat

  1. Where do you get the magic elixer and does it really work?? I have a very old problem kitty who has taken to nice fluffy rugs for her pee spots! Some I can launder but others not so.

    • It’s called nature’s miracle, and yes, it really works. (It better, for the price charged!) It comes in a white bottle with a red lid and it is specific to dogs or cats, so be sure you get the right one. Any good pet store will carry it. A friend makes up her own using vinegar and Dawn citrus. The one thing we’ve had several friends tell us is don’t use bleach, as cats actually like the smell of it.

      Also, don’t use Nature’s Miracle on paper. The outside of a book is okay, but to cleanse a book of cat pee internally you need to bake it to get the enzymes out of the paper. Either in the sun in a black sack, or in the oven at a low enough heat not to ignite. (Farenheit 451 was poetic, not actual advice.)

  2. Eva

    Do you think the collars helped at all?

    • Yes – Beulah quit spraying. Sadly, Val-kyttie’s misbehavior is based on senility. She is 17, and she has gone potty. But she’s been with the firm since the beginning, so we’ve put down pee pads and installed extra, handicap-accessible litter boxes in her favorite spots. That’s eliminated her contribution. And Beulah’s collar lasts about 3 weeks; then we change it.

  3. This is a great website!!! I like your blog very much and I’ll subscripe to it if you post more articles like this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s