#35: The Case of the
Anthropomorphic Drink Hog
Status: Solved

Although Peter and Jenny left the work force long ago, they have retained some of its customs. Their favorite is the coffee break, and after a trying morning of shooing away Sierra Club canvassers and crank-calling relatives, they will sometimes indulge in a cup or two. Most days, the cat joins them.

“I guess that cup is yours now, kitty,” Jenny grumbled one recent afternoon as he lapped at her mug. “Why,” she wondered aloud, “when he has three dishes of his own—not counting what he views as ‘the big, flushing dish’ in the bathroom—does he insist on drinking out of ours?”

The sleuths had another mystery on their hands. “Perhaps it’s because he’s a caffeine junkie,” Peter suggested.

Jenny countered that he seemed to prefer decaffeinated drinks and liked water best of all.

“Well, then, maybe it’s because our water tastes better.”

A regrettable taste test of the cat’s water dish disproved that theory.

Two cups of coffee later, Jenny had arrived at the solution. “He drinks out of cups because he thinks he’s people. That’s it. That’s totally it. That’s it that’s it that’s it. My hands are shaking. He’s people.”

Peter nodded. “He thinks he’s one person in particular: our jerky friend K—, who drinks out of other people’s cups, too. What a jerk.”

The mystery was solved. All that remained was to cure the cat of his bad habit, a goal achieved in short order, the same way it had been done with K—: by adding a plug of shower hair and a floater of liquid smoke to a murky chai he had no business drinking from in the first place.

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#36: The Case of the Offensive Odor; or, You Can’t Feed That to a Kitty
Status: Solved

Like many young people, Peter and Jenny enjoy mind games. Recently, they were enjoying a round of “What Were You Thinking?” when their fun was interrupted by a terrible smell. The cousins pretended not to notice it, each fearing that the other was the scent’s author, but, finally, they could stand it no more. After trading accusations and some words they both wish they could take back, it became clear that the cat was actually responsible. One mystery remained: what, exactly, had the feline eaten?

The Shut-Ins rifled through the pantry looking for suspect foodstuffs. “It couldn’t be the pasta, because the kitty doesn’t know how to use the stove,” Jenny reasoned.

“Not shortbread, because that’s easy on the stomach,” Peter added.

It wasn’t the canned mushrooms, the apple jelly, or the artichoke hearts. What, then, was the culprit?

“You know what it might have been?” Jenny suddenly interjected. “This morning, when I couldn’t find his food, I fed him some old corn chowder instead. Because it was chunky and smelled fishy, like everything else he eats.”

The feline deposited confirming clues in his box the next day. The corn chowder, and Jenny’s poor judgment, were, in fact, to blame. “What were you thinking, indeed,” Peter said. The evidence was overpowering, but the Shut-Ins agreed to pretend they didn’t notice it until their roommate Angela returned home from work and cleaned the box out herself.