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Remembering Punkin Limbaugh

Rush Cat Stories and Quotes about Punkin from Over the Years…

Something happened this morning that has never happened in all the years I’ve had Punkin.  I slept really well last night. I remember nothing about sleeping, so it must have been really good.  I woke up on my left side and the moment I opened my eyes — this has never happened before — Punkin was looking right at me. Her head was on the pillow, her eyes wide open, just looking right at me. I had no clue she was there. I don’t know how long she had been there.  She’d never done that.  She’d never put her head on the pillow, right level with my eyes.  My heart melted.

Normally she comes and starts, you know, climbing all over me and head butting me to wake up and feed her.  I wish somebody had been there to take a picture of this.  But the moment I made a move, bam, she was up and leading me into the area where her food bowls are.


When I get home after a trip the first thing I do is lavish attention on my little cat Punkin because I know Punkin doesn’t like it when I’m gone a long time.  I spend about 20 minutes just lavishing attention. I feed her and all that sort of stuff.

At 3:30 this morning she starts head butting me and biting my ear lobes.  Usually when that happens it’s about seven and she wants to be fed.  I said, “I’m not going to reward this behavior. I’m not going to get out of bed at 3:30 in the morning and feed the cat.”  Well, this went on for three hours from 3:30 to 6:30. I couldn’t get any sleep whatsoever.  The cat was all over me.  I mean, literally all over me, head butting me and all kinds of things.  Finally at 6:30 I got up and fed her.  She didn’t want to be fed.  She didn’t want to eat.

I’m telling Dawn the story this morning, and Dawn says, “She’s a female cat?”

I said, “Yeah.”

“Well, she’s mad at you.  She’s mad that you were gone all week, and this is how she’s letting you know.”

I said, “Women!”


No matter how much cats have been domesticated they still have this air of superiority over everybody.  Punkin looks at me like, “Screw you,” and leaves the room.  They’re so indifferent.


In South Florida we have little gecko lizards that run around out there, and sometimes my cat Punkin… well, hey, my cat is as nice as anybody else’s cat, but when she sees a lizard darting around, bam, instinct kicks in.


My cat Punky made the front page of the Palm Beach Daily News.  I was very proud.  Not only did my cat make the front page of the Palm Beach Daily News, she made the back page, pictures of her.  The Palm Beach Daily News is a local newspaper here. We on the island call it the Shiny Sheet because the front page used to be shiny but they’ve gone cheap and they just use regular paper now. It’s no longer shiny, but it’s still called the Shiny Sheet.  I mean, this is a real local newspaper.  You lose a cat, you can call the paper and they’ll put in a notice. It’s quaint.  It’s sort of like the way it was when I was growing up in the fifties.

Nevertheless, I ran into the woman who writes the animal stories every now and then at a party and she said, “I understand you have a cat?”

“Yes, I do. Punky.”

“Well, if you’ll send me a picture, I’ll put a story in there.”

So I e-mailed her a picture.  She said, “How would you describe Punkin?”

I said, “Well, she’s the greatest little cat.  She gets fed. She is loved. She is adored. She is worshiped. She gets constant attention. She gets brushed every day, and she doesn’t have to do anything for it.  This cat has taught me more about women than anything in my life.”

She printed the caption to the back page picture with that.  So much for humanizing me with the cat!  She also threw in a joke that the cat mostly sleeps on its right side, but that we don’t really argue politics too much.


We’re getting a new puppy today. A third sheepdog puppy. No, we’re not gonna start breeding them. Wellesley went through heat, that was enough.  Oh, Punkin’s ecstatic. I’ve never seen a happier cat than Punkin.


Punkin misses me when I’m gone for an extended period of time.  They tell me that she prowls every nook and cranny in the house looking for me. She’s been hanging around in the kitchen by the garage door the last three days or so just waiting, hoping I’ll walk in.  Thank God she can’t call me.


Punkin had never seen a dog before, except on TV, and she didn’t know that she was watching TV.

My cat is not a hater.  My cat, like every other cat, is a superior being, indifferent to most everything.  She’s very loyal to me, but couldn’t care less about anyone else.

So the first thing I did when we got the new puppy in the house was I got it close to where Punkin’s two rooms are.  We didn’t take the dog in there.  We just wanted Punkin to be able to whiff the scent.  This is what I’ve been told by all the experts to do, if it’s another cat or dog, let it get a whiff of the scent, but don’t let the cat see the intruder.  Get the curiosity up.  Do that a couple, three days, get them used to the scent, which is what happened.

And then quite by accident we’re in the library with the new puppy, and in strolls Punkin.  I said to Katie, “I know exactly what’s going to happen here.  When these two meet the little puppy is going to go absolutely bonkers that there’s an animal in the room, going to run around like an absolute teenager with all this boundless energy and go up and try sniff the cat.  And the cat, Punkin, is going to look at this new creature just as you would look at a rambunctious four-year-old, like, ‘Why have I gotta be bothered with this?'”  And that’s exactly what happened. Punkin looked at the new dog like, “Oh, gee, what the hell is this?” She just sat there and stared at it like, “You little idiot. When are you going to calm down and stop making all this racket here in my house?”

So then finally the dog got up the courage to get close to Punkin and start doing the sniff routine and I wish I had the camera to show you this. I was too busy standing guard to make sure nothing happened.  I was afraid if I left the scene to go get the camera the puppy would follow me.  So we haven’t got any pictures of this, but the puppy tiptoes up and starts sniffing around and Punkin just sits there and takes it and so forth.  Then Punkin gets up and the puppy starts sniffing her rear end and I said, “Uh-oh. This could be problematic.”  But it wasn’t.

I was stunned.  I was literally stunned.  But then all of a sudden out of nowhere Punkin turned around and hissed.  Bam, that dog made a beeline in the opposite direction. Then it tiptoed back, but Punkin finally got tired of it and left.

So later we took the dog up to Punkin’s two rooms and she was in her hammock. I have a little cat toy that’s a hammock and she’s sitting in it with one paw out.  The dog sniffs and Punkin does not leave the hammock, just looks at the dog like it’s the biggest idiot on the face of the earth.  The dog goes in and starts eating some of Punkin’s food. Punkin gets out of the hammock after the dog finishes and sniffs the food. I’m thinking, “Uh-oh, now the food’s corrupted. Punkin’s not going to eat this,” but she did.  So the bottom line is, they get along fine.  They get along famously well, which was surprising.  There were no swipes.  Just a little hissing.  She’s a good cat.  What can I tell you?


Punkin ignores everybody but me, and that’s just some of the time.


I am the biggest animal lover.  I have some pictures of Punkin head-butting me, and as she was doing it everybody in the room went, “Awww, how cute.”  I am a softy for these animals.


At four o’clock this morning my cat starts head-butting me. When I am asleep, I’m deaf.  I don’t wear my implant.  The cat is biting my nose and head-butting me, I mean hard, to the point that I wake up.  I open my eyes, it’s dark, and I look at the clock, “What the hell is this?” Normally I get head butted at the first sign of light and that’s the signal that the cat either thinks I ought to get up or wants to eat.

I’m looking at Punkin, she’s three inches away, “What are you doing?” I’m thinking there’s gotta be some emergency. Something’s happening that I can’t hear. So I panicked. I jump up, look at the phone, “Is something going on? Has the alarm been triggered? Are the dog’s barking?”

I put on my implant, walked all around trying to figure it out, listening for alarms, smelling if there was smoke. You know what it was?  Nothing.  Nothing was going on. The cat just woke me up.


We’re introducing Punkin to the new dogs in little tiptoe steps.  They’re already pretty peaceful in their coexistence.  I’m hoping that down the line they’ll be buds.  The thing is this dog is going to get up to 70 pounds and Punkin weighs about eight.  But that won’t faze Punkin.  She’s still in charge.


I got a birthday card from Punkin today, and the card basically asks me to bring home some caviar so that she can celebrate this special day and I can pause to think about how lucky I am to have her.  That’s the birthday card from Punkin.  I love that little cat.  Just the perfect pet for me.  Only wants me around when she wants me around.


On our Facebook page we’ve been posting a lot of pictures of me and the dogs, and the cat lovers in the audience are afraid somehow that Punkin’s left the house in protest or has been relegated to irrelevance.  I’m getting e-mails, “What about Punkin? What about Punkin?  Are her feelings hurt?  My gosh, you never even talk about her anymore.”

Okay.  All right.  So I went and got Punkin and took a couple pictures.  She demanded top billing, so no dogs in the picture.  Just two pictures of me and Punkin.  Then she demanded top billing alone, not even me, so I put her on top of the sofa and took a great picture of her. Punkin’s still ruling the roost.


My cat owned the house for years.  One day this miniature lion shows up and starts running around barking, trying to play, and upsets the whole cat’s world.  So this morning it’s just Abbey and me in the family room for breakfast and Punkin comes walking in and the dog looks at Punkin and she looks at the dog.  You know, Punkin thinks the dog’s stupid, crazy, you can just tell this.  So Punkin, for the first time, started eating the dog’s food and drinking the dog’s water.  The dog just sat there and looked at her. I said, “Abbey, you sit tight.”  Punkin went through the motions and it was a peaceful coexistence.  I mean, it was fascinating.


Everyone has these dog stories, and I don’t want to bore you with ours, but they chase each other all over the house. Punkin’s adjusted to it.  Punkin just looks at ’em running around like they’re a bunch of idiots, but she doesn’t leave the room when they come in.  She’s adjusted.  It’s kind of funny.  These two dogs remind me of the Road Runner with the coyote always chasing the Road Runner.  One of these dogs is always chasing the other.

Punkin just stands there like she’s watching a tennis match, head going back and forth watching the dogs and looking at them like they’re idiots.  It’s hilarious.  One of the dogs will spot Punkin on the footstool, come over and get in Punkin’s face, and Punkin just hisses.  The dog starts whimpering even though nothing’s happened, backs off.  Then it starts circling around to come in from the rear.  But you can’t fool Punkin. It’s just fun to watch all this stuff.
Every time I talk about my dogs, I get hate mail.  “What about Punkin? You never talk about Punkin anymore.” Punkin’s fine. Punkin’s cool. Punkin will not leave my side.  I got back from Hawaii, I was gone eight days, Punkin will not leave my side.  That’s one loyal cat.
Punkin hates the dog.  Punkin was in the house for 12 years before the dog showed up.  It’s never going to improve.  The dog still wants to play.  Punkin doesn’t see it that way.  Punkin sneaks in the room to see me.  If she sees the dog and the dog’s asleep, she literally stalks like she’s creeping through a jungle going the other way around the room to get to where I am.  It’s the funniest thing in the world.  I pick her up and say, “Punkin, the dog only wants to play with you.”  She just looks at me like, “What have you done to me?”  A plaintive look in her eyes.


As you people who have cats know, the older they get, the needier they get. Well, it’s true in my case. Punkin will not leave me alone. If I haven’t fed her by five in the afternoon she comes and gets me, makes me go feed her. If I haven’t made a move to the bedroom by midnight, here comes the cat meowing and growling and getting in my face.

She’ll climb on my shoulders as I’m sitting on the sofa and then jump down and start biting my ankles. I’m not kidding you. I push her away. “No, Punkin, leave me alone. You want to eat again, wait. We’ll go upstairs in just a second.” I keep putting it off and the cat literally gets mad at me. Three years ago she couldn’ta cared less, but now Punkin’s mad at me.


Punkin loves going outside. I don’t let her out much. She wanted to go out last night so I opened the slide and she stood there for awhile, sniffing, looking around. It was unseasonably cold and she looked at me like, “What is this?” and then, bam! She bolted right back inside.  I don’t know how long it will be before she wants to go out again.  It was really, really chilly in the midst of all this global warming.


Punkin has been doing strange things lately.  She’s been trying to poke her nose into closet doors that she never cared about before.  The past five or six days she jumped up on my sink when I’m in the process of going through the normal hygiene routine in the morning.  Today she woke me up for no reason whatsoever.

Other times I’ll walk upstairs and she’s sitting in her hammock looking depressed.  “Wait a minute,” I’ll say to myself, “Do you realize how silly you sound? You’re looking at an animal and you’re thinking the animal is depressed and sulking, because you are humanizing it.  You are projecting if you were laying in that hammock, you might be depressed.”  We don’t know this stuff.
Everybody’s asking me here, “What are you so edgy about today?”  I’m not edgy.  I just didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.  You know, we treat our little pets like kids, especially if you don’t have kids.  And Punkin had to go to the vet today for a standard checkup, a urinalysis and a teeth cleaning. And because you can’t make a cat pee on demand and you can’t get a cat to hold still while you brush its teeth, they have to anesthetize the cat at the vet’s office.  For those of you in Rio Linda, it means knocked out.  And that means just like human beings, you cannot feed the cat for a period of 12 hours prior to the cat’s appointment at the doctor.

So I could not feed Punkin after 8pm. I made sure she had something to eat at 7:30, and then I emptied all the bowls.  She has two places in the house where she eats.  And by rote, by pattern, she came down to the library around 11:30, where I was feverishly working, and she starts rubbing against my legs, jumping up on my lap, head-butting me, and I know what that means.  It means she wants to eat, and I looked at her and said, “I’m sorry, Punky, but I can’t feed you.”  And she doesn’t know what I’m saying.  She’s a cat.

I get upstairs, and as a habit, she leads me into her room, because I feed her right before I go to bed. It’s become our ritual.  She leads me in, and I have to go in there anyway to get something.  When I don’t feed her she just gets this perplexed look, and I’m saying, “Sweetie, I can’t feed you. You have to go to the doctor tomorrow.”  She’s got the biggest eyes, I mean, the captivating eyes of an owl, and she looked at me, her head just slightly cocked, with a look of confusion.  I mean, if an animal can be confused, she was.

So I go get in bed and in five minutes the cat jumps in.  She never sleeps with me. I mean, maybe once in a blue moon.  She got underneath the covers, she started biting my toes, licking, furrowing around under there like a ferret.  I ignore her.  Trying to go to sleep.  Big day tomorrow on the EIB Network, I’m saying to myself.  “Punky, I’m sorry, I can’t feed you.”

She finally moves out from underneath the covers and gets on the pillow and starts head-butting me, and I just ignore her. All I want to do is feed this little cat because she hasn’t eaten in a while, but I can’t do it because she has to go to the doctor.  Finally I fall asleep, and at 4:30 or five here come the head butts again.  She doesn’t understand why I’m not feeding her.  She’s conditioned to it.  We create little habits in our animals, and this was a big break in the routine.  This only happens twice a year for these checkups; the animal can’t get used to it.

Finally at 7:30 I got up, and this little cat bounded out of the bed and just ran happily and joyously to the room where I feed her. I just watched her go. She turned around and stopped, seeing I didn’t follow her, and she just had the saddest look.  And then she’d take a couple steps and turn around again and see if I was following.  She was clearly looking at me to fix what was wrong.  It just broke my heart, ’cause I couldn’t feed her.  We humanize our pets.  We assume they feel and think the same things we do.

So I assumed she was cursing me out.

I said, “Sweetie, I can’t feed you. It’s for your own good.” Then I said to myself, “I’m talking to a cat.”  So I went into my bathroom and shut the door.  She couldn’t get in and make me feel even guiltier.  And then when it came time to put her in the carrier you would think that she thinks she’s going off to prison and not coming back.  Squirming, wailing, legs splayed.  It’s tough.  I mean, I’m only doing things to help her.  If I mistreated her, that would be one thing.  I don’t.  She is more spoiled than Generation X and Generation Y kids. But she’ll forget about the vet six minutes after we get her home, forget that it ever happened.  That’s one of God’s greatest inventions in animals.


I got an e-mail here from a guy named Frank: “Rush, your damn cat is smarter than the American people.  Punkin fights for freedom even though she trusts you.  The American people seem willing to cede more freedoms to the government every day.”  It’s an excellent point.  Punkin trusts me implicitly, and yet at the first sign she’s going to be imprisoned in a travel carrier, she goes bonkers and says, “No way, pal.” and puts up a fight.  Whereas the American people willingly walk right into the cage and say, “Man, this feels good. I got a little security here.”  (Laughing.)  I like the point.


Koko, I don’t want you to post any pictures of Punkin’ on the website.  I don’t want to embarrass her.  It’s enough that the country knows she had to get an enema.


I don’t need an alarm clock. I can’t hear one anyway, but I don’t need one because Punkin is right there at the first sign of light climbing up over my head, pulling my hair, nibbling at my ear because she wants to eat.  I always think it’s because she loves me, but I know she wants to eat. As I always say, I learn a lot about women from observing Punkin.


My cat comes to me when she wants to be fed.  I have learned this.  I accept it for what it is.  Many people in my position would think my cat’s coming to me because she loves me.  Well, she likes me, and she is attached, but she comes to me when she wants to be fed.  And after I feed her, guess what?  She’s off to wherever she wants to be in the house until the next time she’s hungry.


I get attacked by Punkin all the time when she wants to be fed.  Well, not attacked.  I get head butted.  The other morning I was telling the staff here that I refuse to react to the head butts, because I’m not going to be run by a cat.  I love this little cat as you know.  I melt with this little cat.  She’ll come in, she’ll start head-butting me to wake me up before I want to get up, before I want to wake up, before I want to get out of bed.  You know, I’m not going to sit there and act like a slave to the cat.  That’s reinforcing this kind of behavior.  So she actually pulled the covers off of me and started biting my big toes.  Never done that before, never pulled the covers off.  And I still didn’t budge.  I just yanked my foot away and said, “I’m not doing it, Punkin. You’re just gonna have to wait ’til I’m ready.  There’s food in the bowl, just go there.”

I hear this meow that I just know is an obscenity directed at me.  I once brought another cat into the house and Punkin went berserk, at the cat, not me.  If you have one cat in the house for a while, the cat thinks it owns the house.  It’s the cat’s house.  You just have the privilege of living there.  You bring another cat in and the cat sees it, you’ve got problems.  What you have to do is introduce the second cat in a different room with the door closed.  The current cat will smell it but not be able to figure out where, go berserk in the process, might scratch up the door where the other cat is, but after awhile when they get adjusted to the scent, then everybody is hunky-dory.

I’ve learned to be a pretty good cat psychologist dealing with Punkin. I’ve learned more about dealing with women by having Punkin than any experience in my life prior. Wherever I say this it irritates the left. They just go batty out there.


We were away from home for about five days. What happens is when I get back, I can’t shake the cat. The cat is in my face, on the pillow, head-butting me, demanding to be paid attention to, petted, all night.  I’m having an awake dream because Punkin is sitting there not leaving me alone.

Finally at 4:30 I say, “Punkin, we’re gonna have to do something about this.”

So I got up and opened the shades to make sure I would wake up, ’cause when you’re deaf you don’t hear alarms. I get back in bed and Punkin is waiting for me on the pillow. (big sigh) Poor Kathryn.  I mean, can you imagine?  The cat is just all over me. Not wanting to be fed, just a combination of mad at me for abandoning her and wanting constant attention. It’s like I’ve always said, this cat’s been one of the greatest… uh, that will just get me in trouble if I say it again.


I’m running on fumes today.  I’m going to have to do something about this cat.  Punkin head butted me for an hour and a half today starting at 5 am.  This is a test of wills.  I was not going to get out of bed and feed the cat and so the cat just kept head-butting me.  I know it’s because I had all these people here for Thanksgiving and she stayed upstairs.  Last year she came down and mingled.  I think she’s jealous.  She thinks that she’s a person after all these years.

Anyway, I’m running on fumes here today.  I’ve gotta do something about this.  I am not going to cave to a cat.  I’m simply not going to do it.  If I get out of bed I guarantee you I’m not going to be able to go back to sleep. So I lay there with my eyes closed, but sometimes, right between the eyes, here comes the cat. No, you don’t kick a cat out of bed.  I’m not going to be mean to the cat. I’m just not going to let the cat dictate what I do.


I got some good sleep last night.  You know, I’m getting all kinds of advice on what to do about Punkin. Wednesday night she started head-butting me right between the eyes for like an hour and a half.  I mean, a combination of head butt and nuzzle.

People say, “Why don’t you feed her before you go to bed?”  I guess I need to give you people the routine here so you understand what’s so odd about this.  I do feed her, whether it’s midnight, two o’clock in the morning, 11 p.m., I feed her before I go to bed. I feed the cat three times a day, once when I get up, when I get home in the afternoon, and then when I go to bed.

A bad habit has evolved.  She will not eat out of the bowl.  Sometimes she will, if she’s really hungry, but she will not eat until she sees me pour something in the bowl, whether the bowl’s full or not.

Now, I put the food in these Ziploc bags because there’s two or three different kinds for urinary tract infections, make sure she doesn’t get them.  And some days she won’t eat one and wants the other.  But I don’t know that ’til I open each bag and let her figure it out.  It’s gotten to the point now where she won’t eat except out of the Ziploc bag, so I have to open a Ziploc bag, put it on the floor, and then stand there to make sure she doesn’t strangle or suffocate in the Ziploc bag while this is happening.

The cat is totally running my life.  I’ve got a bunch of women e-mailing: “I want to be Punkin.”  Not many, Dawn, but just a few.  So anyway, I fed the cat, went to bed last night about 1:30 am. And, by the way, she had not come to see me all day.  She generally comes down to the library and starts running around my feet and legs and so forth and demanding attention.  She didn’t come down.  I said, “Okay, she’s mad.”

I’m sitting in the library and Punkin is totally ignoring me.  So I went to bed and she’s sitting in her bathroom waiting.  She has her own bathroom and sitting room, folks.  And she is just sitting there waiting.  So I got the bag, she didn’t want that bag. I had to go get another bag, open it up, bam, dug in there like crazy.  Did not head butt me today, but when I got up to feed her, bam, right back in the same bag.

I know what you cat people are saying, that I’ve lost control here, the cat’s running me.  “Rush, don’t feed her all the time. Put the food in the bowl. When she gets hungry, she’ll eat it.”  Yeah, but you’re forgetting the head butts at 5:30 or six o’clock in the morning.


You ought to read the reports I get from the veterinarian. “Our patients are very happy with this new arthritis drug.”  They’re talking about my cat!  “Our patients.” (laughing)


Punkin makes my heart melt.  It’s as simple as that.


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