Letters from Cleo and Tyrone: A Feline Perspective on Love, Life, and Litter

Letters from Cleo and Tyrone: A Feline Perspective on Love, Life, and Litter

by L. Virginia Browne, Linda Elin Hamner

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Tyrone: "Never - but never - come when your name is called. In fact, the moment you hear your name, compress your body into the size of an olive, become as still and invisible as a salesperson at Bloomingdale's, and go back to sleep."

Cleo: "...then my daddy got to the check-in desk and announced in a loud stentorian voice that his stupid cat was constipated. Hey, buddy, could you say it a little louder? I don't think the folks in Ames, Iowa, heard you."

From dreaming of catnip fields and tummy rubs to driving their mommies crazy, Cleo and Tyrone keep a busy schedule. But they take time out to correspond and share their thoughts - polemics really - about dogs, fashion, real estate, medical science, fine dining, cinema, poetry (haiku included), and the pitiful state of their owners' social lives.

More than treatises on the feline and human condition, this is also a love story. Cleo and Tyrone often dramatically - ok, melodramatically - compare themselves to Romeo and Juliet, blaming their evil owners for keeping them apart.

Cleo and Tyrone can each be vain, self-centered and manipulative, but somehow, in spite of all their scheming ways, they still manage to wrap their furry little paws around your heart and hold on for a lifetime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312276416
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 11/12/2000
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Cleo came from humble beginnings, but has since established her fiefdom chez Hamner. Her days consist of eating plastic bags, tossing Mommy's collection of stuffed hedgehogs into the toilet, and writing to her beloved Tyrone.

Tyrone enjoys corn muffins, tacos, and chocolate milk, which he drinks by dipping his paw into questionably abandoned glasses and licking the purloined treat off. He is also fond of boxes and grocery bags, and holds the record for both toilet paper and paper towel shredding.

L. Virginia Browne is the author of Letters from Cleo and Tyrone.

Cleo came from humble beginnings, but has since established her fiefdom chez Hamner. Her days consist of eating plastic bags, tossing Mommy's collection of stuffed hedgehogs into the toilet, and writing to her beloved Tyrone.

Read an Excerpt

Letters from Cleo and Tyrone

By L. Virginia Browne, Linda Hamner, Steve Feldman

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2000 L. Virginia Browne and Linda Hamner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-27641-6


Diskette I

To: TyroneTheGreat@aol.com

From: CleoTheDivine@att.net

Subject: Dangerous Liaisons

Dearest Tyrone,

I just wanted to thank you for allowing Honey, Stealth, and me to stay with you this Thanksgiving while our mommy and daddy were away God-knows-where on vacation. While they were off après-skiing in Gstaad or snorkeling off Arugula, they just dumped us in our lousy carriers on your doorstep without so much as an introduction. We are all so grateful that especially you, Tyrone, and LizzieBeth treated us with such kindness and generosity—always willing to share that patch of sun on top of the kitty condo, letting us play with your catnip toys (wheel ) and sharing your food with us. I hope you enjoy the catnip-filled chocolate fish and birds I sent. I know it appears that five of them are missing, but for some reason when I ordered them on-line, that's how they arrived. Go figure. Or the dog ate them. Yes, that's it. The Big Old Stupid Dog ate them.

Don't you think Honey, who they claim is my twin, is downright peculiar? She never wants to knead my mommy's stomach, and get this, she doesn't even want to sit in the middle of her crossword puzzle or book. And I've never once seen her sit on Mommy's dinner plate. Or her head. It just isn't normal.

And what can you say about Stealth? Well, the cat's a thug. What did my mommy expect when she adopted him? He had been living on the streets for years and had developed no social skills whatsoever. That cat wouldn't know Lalique from a lollipop. And his physique! That fireplug of a body on top of those short Lincoln Log legs. When he tries to swish his short, scrawny tail imperiously—as cats are supposed to do—he just looks ridiculous. I'm embarrassed for him. I really am.

Now, far be it from me to say anything negative about the other feline in your house, but I do worry that LizzieBeth might not always have your best interests at heart. Just be careful, dear Tyrone. That's all I'm suggesting. I wouldn't put it past her to be a tattletail. Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience. One morning I was trying to help your mommy by straightening the pet-snack drawer. LizzieBeth sauntered in, took one look at me, and she hightailed it out of there like her pathetic little tail was on fire. I peeked into the living room and saw she was whispering something into your mommy's ear. The next thing I knew I was in trouble.

That seems to be the story of my life—always being unjustly accused. Whenever anything goes wrong at my house, it's somehow my fault. Just because I happen to be on top of the refrigerator and the apples suddenly fall to the floor, it's automatically my fault. Has Mommy never heard of Newton? Of gravity? Wasn't that the whole theory of apples anyway?

And I couldn't help but notice, Tyrone, that LizzieBeth has quite a little crush on you. She follows you everywhere and looks at you with those insipid goo-goo eyes. It's very obvious how she feels. Although I noticed she wasn't sporting a solitaire on her left paw, I really don't know how you feel about her. Are you two an item? I'm blushing as I tell you I have more than a passing interest in the response to my question.

I must admit, dearest Tyrone, when I walked into your living room and saw you hanging there, seemingly suspended in midair, as you scaled that wall hanging, you took my breath away. Your beautiful, muscular sculpted body ... magnifique! I knew instantly you were my soulmate. It goes without saying, of course, you feel exactly the same way about me, n'est-ce pas?

Your dog, Lucy, is a lot easier to deal with than that lug I've got at my house. At least Lucy is a manageable size. My dog, Chester, is the size of a moose and has the IQ of a dessert of the same name. I must be fair, however; dogs can provide a diversion when one is truly bored. When the dog is really sound asleep, I like to rub up against his big old nose. Back and forth I go. Rub, rub, rub. Eventually, he awakens, sneezing his big old head off. I find that amusant. Also, as he walks by, I like to take a swat at him. For no particular reason. Just because it's fun.

Sacre bleu! There's Mommy bellowing at me. "Cle-o. Cle-o!!" Lordy, is that woman's voice annoying or what! She sounds exactly like a demented, beached humpback whale. Time for moi to make myself very tiny and disappear until she gets those pesky hormones under control.

And I had so much more to discuss with you. Dearest Tyrone, I have reason to believe your very life might be in danger. Ch God, thar she blows again! "Clee-o!!!" Watch your back. And front. I'll explain later.

Warmest regards,


To: CleoTheDivine@att.net

From: TyroneTheGreat@aol.com

Subject: Dismissing Danger and Dogs

Dear Cleo,

Now that Thanksgiving is gone and the Christmas holidays are upon us, I have decided to take a break from composing my gift list (what I want, of course, not what I intend to give) and respond to your plaintive missive of yesterday. I had no idea what a void would exist once you and your sister, Honey (and Stealth, of course) left to go back to your own home. I know you miss me. In fact, I'll bet anything you're pining for me right now. Perhaps even crying. Ah, you female felines are so emotional. My advice, ma petite amie? Focus instead on the upcoming holidays. Who knows? Maybe my mommy will go away and I'll be sent to spend the vacation with you and your siblings. It could happen.

But, that dealt with, Cleo, sweetie, my life might be in danger? My, but you do have a flair for the dramatic. My life might be in danger....

I scoff at danger. I entice danger. I laugh at danger. Ha-ha-ha. Imagine, if you will, my paws on my hips and a dagger in my mouth. Ha-ha-ha. Yes, much better.

Imagine, if you will,
my paws on my hips and a
dagger in my mouth

I am the mighty Tyrone, afraid of nothing. Except maybe an empty food dish. If I could only figure out a way to get those cans open ...

Anyway, on to the crisis du jour. Boy, oh, boy, have I had it. I tell you, meow almighty, I have had it.

You remember Lucy the Dog? Of course you do. She's that spoiled brat prima donna princess who absolutely insists on eating some of my leftover Thanksgiving turkey. So who's the turkey? Me. My mommy put out some turkey—though mostly dark meat when she knows I prefer white—such a bitch—but I digress....

Truth be told, I wasn't hungry at that exact moment. I know some might remark that I jumped up and down on Mommy as soon as the sun came up, insisting on having my dish filled, but once she was up, I guess I just wasn't hungry anymore. So call the police. Then Mommy let Lucy out into the backyard, cleaned up our dishes, cleaned out the water dishes and replaced the water with fresh water (filtered, thank you very much; the chlorine in the water around here is simply overwhelming to the point it absolutely overpowers the tantalizing aroma of a good, freshly killed mouse or lizard, but again I digress), changed the eating rug, dished dry food into the dry bowl, then opened the cans of food and dished them out. Then she took a turkey thigh out of the food cooler-keeper that we have to stay out of for fear of being trapped with lots to eat but not a lot of air to breathe, cut it up, put it on plates for us, set those plates on the eating rug, and then let the dog back in. I was just exhausted from watching her. And not hungry anymore. Can you blame me? I swear ...

Fatigued, I went onto Mommy's bed, upon which she had just put fresh sheets last night (will she never learn?) and nestled into a fresh pile of pillows on the left side to sleep. And Lucy ate my turkey. Now, you probably can't imagine it could get any worse, could you? Well, pay attention, please. When I awoke a few hours later, I decided I needed a change of scenery. The window seats were in place and the windows widely open, so I delicately leapt onto the cream-colored sheepskin seat, nestled down into the soft fur, the wind blowing gently onto me, the sun shining, and ... Wait a minute! Wind blowing what onto me? Oh, my God ...

You guessed it. The turkey didn't exactly agree with the doggy princess, and when taking a stroll in the great outdoors, she decided to attend to her distress—right under my window!! I sniffed the air: dégoûtante. I opened one eye and lifted my head carefully: it was right under my window. Wafting up through the window. I hate dogs.

Something had to be done, and I was just the Feisty Feline to do it. I am strong, I am big, I am Tyrone the Mighty!

But, first, about that danger thing. What, exactly, do you mean? Not that I'm scared, mind you. But one must remain informed if one is to be prepared. Just in case. Not that I'm worried. Or even too interested. Yawn ...

But could you be a little more specific, mon petit fleur? Ever yours in readiness and waiting,

Tyrone the Terrific

To: TyroneTheGreat@aol.com

From: CleoTheDivine@att.net

SUBJECT: Fractured Femurs and Fantasies

My Dearest Tyrone,

I know you are the bravest, strongest, most valiant feline on the planet. Nobody does feats of derring-do like you do derring-do, dear. Which reminds me—you also have the most adorable derrière. But I fear I'm getting off track. As hard as it is to accept, you must believe me when I tell you that you have put way too much trust in your mommy. Yes, I agree she gets high marks for providing superior chow. Additional bonus points for very clean litter and lots of comfy pillows and nifty hiding places. I know you see her as a combination of Mother Teresa, Jane Goodall, and Betty White. I, on the other hand, see her as a combo of Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter, and Cruella De Vil. Why, you ask, am I so harsh on your mommy? I haven't seen you since my terrible accident, but I've had a great deal of time to reflect on that horrible disaster. Alas, I'm afraid I can come to no other conclusion than it was your very own mommy who was responsible for my near demise.

Now as I remember the incident—and I am known for my excellent memory—I was just strolling from bookcase to bookcase when suddenly I found myself on the floor, my long, shapely leg smashed to smithereens. On top of my crushed body a stereo speaker came to rest. Your mommy shrieked in horror. To be honest, I think she was more upset with her busted speaker than she was with broken moi.

Your mommy claims I accidentally tripped. Or that my leg got tangled in the stereo cord or some such nonsense. Oh, puhleez. Remember, I'm a model. I make my living slinking up and down catwalks. Did you ever hear of me once going splat off the side of the runway? I think not. No, I fear it was far more sinister. I was deliberately pushed, pulled, or tripped. And your mommy was standing right there when the ugly incident occurred. Suddenly, there I was on the floor, writhing in indescribable pain, my leg broken. I think she had a guilty conscience or something because she sure was quick to whisk me up into her arms and hurl me into one of those dreadful carriers and transport me to that torture chamber laughingly called the "emergency animal hospital."

There they put my delicate little paw in a cast. It made it impossible to walk on four legs as God—and I—had intended. I had to hobble about on three legs, that right front leg held stiffly in front of me at a one-hundred-and-twenty-degree angle from the ground. I looked like the poster cat for Felines for Hitler, and I felt at any moment I might break into a chorus of "Tomorrow Belongs to Us" from Cataret. Oh, Tyrone, I'm just so relieved you didn't have to see me like that. I fear it would have broken your heart.

And if that weren't bad enough, they then put this contraption around my neck. I don't know what it's called, but its sole function is clearly feline abuse. Imagine, if you will, if someone had crammed a megaphone over my head, the skinny end around my neck, the big end extending way beyond my head. If you had called me, "Hey, Funnel Head," it would, alas, have been an accurate epithet.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you
three dogs, two eats, a pot-bellied pig,
and a ferret guffawed at me when
I hobbled through.

Finally my mommy—who I'm sure belongs to the same coven as your mommy—came to pick me up. Although I might add, she sure took her sweet time getting there. You know what she did when she saw me? When I think about it, I still choke up. She ... She ... laughed! Does she really think it's amusant that my modeling days are over? That I might never work again as a paw model? Oh, cruelty, thy name is Mommy.

Did they let me make a discreet exit through the back door? Mais non! Mommy marched me right through the waiting room. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you three dogs, two cats, a potbellied pig, and a ferret guffawed at me when I hobbled through. And do you have any idea how loud a group guffaw sounds when you're wearing a megaphone over your head?

Mommy finally took the megaphone off this morning. I don't think she did it out of compassion for me. I think maybe she got tired of picking up the papers my megaphone "accidentally" knocked off the table. The final coup de grâce might have been the Baccarat dog that went careening off the coffee table and crashing onto the floor. Ooops!

I sure hope the cast comes off soon. The holiday season is just around the corner, and I was planning on knitting sweaters for one and all. I designed a special one for you, my dearest Tyrone. Very GQ. But alas, I don't know if it's possible to knit with only one paw.

I would like to extend an invitation to you and LizzieBeth (and Lucy, if you must) to spend some time with us during the holidays. Perhaps your mommy is going on a long, long trip? Just think of the fun we could have: baking those yummy tuna Santa Claws cookies, playing Christmas ornament soccer, and stringing Christmas lights on the dog. I love that part.

Extend my good wishes to your little family. And be careful—be very careful—when you're strolling on the bookcases. Evil spirits (she knows who she is!) lurk there, just waiting to hurl you into the abyss.

Lighting a candle for your safety,


To: CleoTheDivine@att.net

From: TyroneTheGreat@aol.com

Subject: Feline Rule #6

Dear Cleo,

Your paw was really broken? Gosh, and here I thought all the screaming and meowing you did that fateful night was for dramatic effect. Go figure.

But in my mommy's defense, I really don't think she hurled you from the top of that ominous bookcase. Really, I don't. She has her faults, Lord knows, but let's face it: she just isn't tall enough to even REACH the top of the bookcase, much less hurl you down from it. No, I suspect you might consider the possibility that the stereo speaker wires themselves had it in for you. I've heard such grudges can be held, you know. Not against me, of course, since any and all such inanimate objects step from my path out of both fear and respect, but you, being a girl and all, might have some problems. Next time, just come to me and I'll handle it. Unless, of course, the source of your vexation is, well, too vexing.

Now, I know you didn't ask, but I feel compelled to continue my tale of Tyrone versus Lucy the Dog. When we last left our story, a malodorous scent was wafting up and through the window where I sat innocently upon my perch. And what did I do?

I quickly jumped onto the nightstand and from there onto the bed. Where is Mommy? I must tell her of this incredible breach of etiquette, of this unbearable transgression by that fuzzy creature. But she's not there. Wait, it's not dark. Mommy is only here on the bed when it's dark. Or when she eats too much and takes what she quaintly refers to as a "catnap" to sleep it off.


Excerpted from Letters from Cleo and Tyrone by L. Virginia Browne, Linda Hamner, Steve Feldman. Copyright © 2000 L. Virginia Browne and Linda Hamner. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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