by Karen Nichols
Editor/Author, Mousebreath Magazine & Cat Scouts
Skeezix the Cat was the runt of his litter. With Dumbo-sized ears, crossed-eyes, and Barney Fife physique, he was never Cat Fancy centerfold material. But he had a laptop and a dream, and he accomplished more in his eight short years than most cats can hope to accomplish in eight lifetimes.
Skeezix shared his adventures with the cats of the interwebs. A “nacherly gud speller,” he competed in the National Spelling Bee with da grate Jeter Harris as his spellin coach. Eager for higher education, he waited with Barbie lunchpail and Pee Chee folders in paw to catch the short bus to school. He pawpularized the Chuck Erreca Rest Stop. He met Bruce Jenner when Bruce was a Bruce. Most notably, he was the original Feline Fashionista, encouraging mancats to think pink and sing with bling. At the peak of his fame, he appeared in a feature article in the Washington Post and newspapers across the country.
But Skeezix didn’t rest on his laurels. Nosirree, Bob! He was eager to empower cats everywhere to embrace the wild cats within themselves and be purrpared for adventure. He recognized the need to develop a framework that would help all kittens–even litter runts–develop into upstanding mancats who are recognized as pillars of their communities. From this, the Cat Scouts movement was born. As Skeezix writes in the Cat Scout Handbook:
“Have you ever seen with your mind’s eye the ships that mancats sailed on to the New World so many years ago, seeking a better life beyond a guttersnipe’s existence eating Black Death rats? Have you thought of the mancats and ladycats, who by their dogged determination and persistence, made it possible for you to live a comfortable life indoors?
“You are a descendant of those cats. You are the steward of their legacy. Your country thrives through the work of mancats who are citizens of fine moral character, physically strong and mentally awake.
“Cat Scouting helps you become that kind of mancat. But also, it offers fellowship and lots of fun!
“That fun includes hiking and camping with some swell fellows who are sure to become your best friends. You’ll learn to swim (yes, swim!), make s’mores, and master camping skills without the use of opposable thumbs! You learn to appreciate the heavens above, the simple joy of staring into the glowing embers of a campfire, and to dream of life’s pawsibilities.
“When you are a Cat Scout, fields and forests, ponds and streams are your playground. You are completely at home in the great out-of-doors. Like your ancestors, you learn to notice every sound, to observe every track. Birds and animals become your friends, right before lunch.
“You master the skills of padding noiselessly through the woods like the great Mountain Lion, of stalking close to grazing vishus deer without being noticed (or eaten), of bringing a bird to you by imitating its call. You learn to find your way cross country using nothing but your wits, a compass and the stars above. You can catch and make a meal when you are hungry and make yourself comfortable for the night in a cold drafty tent instead of your heated cat bed. You become a true outdoorscat.
“Are you ready to reclaim the mighty outdoor cat who lurks within your soul? Do you have what it takes?”
Dozens of cats answered the call and joined Cat Scouts (at CatScouts.com), eager to prove that they have the right stuff to be a scout. Scouts like Gracie, Sammy, Raz, and Mau lead their patrols through the rigorous rites of passage that challenged every cat to the limits of his abilities.
All cats are welcome to join Cat Scouts (catscouts.com), as long as they are not hooligans. Skeezix understood that every once in a while, young cats might engage in shenanigans because they don’t know any better. But if they learn the Cat Scout Way, they can steer clear of the road to degradation and make their families proud.
A few select scouts are chosen to join the Order of the Arrowhead, which requires surviving “The Ordeal,” a night spent alone in the wilderness clad only in a loincloth, armed with nothing more than a blanket, and match, and an egg. No iPhone, no Siri, no Fancy Feast. Those who survive The Ordeal without being eaten by wild animals are inducted into The OotA and given a key to its super-secret clubhouse.
Cat Scouts earn merit badges and ascend through the ranks, from Kit Scout to Tenderpaw, Bobcat, Cougar, Lion and Sabertooth. But the heart and soul of Cat Scouting are the service projects. Each month, Cat Scouts send birthday cards to human residents of two facilities for the handicapped in Ohio and New York. For some residents, the Cat Scout cards are the only birthday cards they receive. With these service projects, Cat Scouts make the world a little better place in which to live, no matter what species you are.
Skeezix did not live to see his Cat Scout Handbook published or the Cat Scout community thrive. But his spirit burns in the hearts of Cat Scouts around the world, and he has brought cats several steps closer to Feline World Domination.
[The Cat Scout Handbook will be published in August.]