For the Love of Cats

Truthfully, every day is Cat Day at my house. However, this week is National Cat Week. I felt this created the perfect opportunity to do an update on my fur babies.

I currently have three felines, which officially removes my title of “crazy cat lady”. I believe you have to have at least five cats to qualify! My three are siblings, a brother and two sisters, litter mates brought to me four years ago by their momma. These babies were feral, born in the wild, or at least, in the neighborhood, and unused to human interaction.

It was a freezing cold November day when momma cat brought her litter to my front door. I had been feeding the little family for weeks, out on the porch. But on this frigid day, I opened the front door and one by one, momma cat brought her youngsters in. They’ve been here since. Momma cat, later named Momba, moved on a short time later, after I had her spayed. I think her offspring got on her nerves. And another little tomcat that she had, that I kept, has gone to live with another family.

Most of my life, I have been a dog person, and I still like canines. However, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for cats. They are more independent, making them easier to care for. If I have a long day away from home, I know they will be okay outside, hanging around the house and garden, as long as they have fresh water and a bowl of dry cat food available. They don’t have to be walked, and my cats have short fur, eliminating the need for brushing. All three are spayed or neutered, which means they don’t wander far or get into cat fights. They are basically self sufficient, and yet always glad to see me when I get home.

These are my cats:

Shy Boy, or Shy for short, is the male. My granddaughter Aubrey named the cats when they were kittens, and she chose apt names. The only name that would suit Shy better would be Fraidy Cat. Shy was the last of the litter to allow me to touch him. It was a long process, requiring gentleness and patience, before he would let me pet him. He is a cuddler now and has the most ingrained habits.

Giving the term “leg warmer” a new meaning.

Shy often sleeps in the prayer pose. Who knows? Maybe that is what he’s doing.

He is still very shy about strangers and afraid of many things including the trash truck that comes by on Thursdays, ceiling fans in motion, thunder and loud appliances such as the vacuum cleaner. Shy adores Greg and wants to be held on Greg’s lap at least once a day. With his sisters, he is not so timid. Shy is almost twice their size and at times he can be a bit of a bully with them, chasing them away from his napping spot or nudging them away from the food dish. But overall, this boy is a sweetheart, affectionate now, and wide eyed like he was as a kitten.

Sleeping in his favorite chair, on his favorite blanket.

Angel is the different one in the litter. Her sister and brother are both black and white. Angel has short, thick silvery gray fur that is beautiful. This girl is unusual in many ways. She is very vocal, communicating with a variety of meows, chirps and mews. She responds to words, plays the most, likes to watch television, and although she is now the best hunter, her first catch as a young cat was a piece of styrofoam, which she proudly brought to Greg and me while we were working in the garden. Yes, we praised her!

Angel is the cat who most enjoys being on someone’s lap. She will curl up, or stretch out on her back, and sleep for hours on a lap. She is also the most social, visiting the neighbors regularly. One of my neighbors grew concerned when she didn’t see Angel for several days around the 4th of July. The cats don’t like fireworks and hide out in the house or under the porch. Judy missed Angel’s visits and was relieved that she was ok. This beauty also has a dog-like trait. She begs for table food and will eat almost anything. Angel is the easiest of the cats to care for, in that she doesn’t do the “I want to go outside/I want to come back in” routine as much as the other two.

I was unboxing Christmas decorations. Angel was watching football. I’m not sure which team is her favorite.

Greg created this hilarious pic of a napping Angel.

Rilynn is the smallest of the three cats, the runt of the litter. And although she be small, she is fierce. The day the kittens first appeared at the house, at about six weeks of age, she was the tiny tigress who bounded out from beneath the front porch, to say “hello”. Her sister and brother stayed in the safety of the shadows. I laughed then, and still smile today, at her cute face. It looks like she dipped her nose into an ink pot. Although she is brave and very curious, she is the least likely to curl up on my lap and she does not like to be picked up or cuddled.

Flower girl.

Of the three, Rilynn seems to enjoy the gardens the most. She loves to hide in the ornamental grasses. And most days, she stretches out atop the picnic table in the backyard to catch the rays of the setting sun. When I am working in the garden, Rilynn is the cat who follows me around and checks out every new planting. She has some unique habits. If she wants to go outside and no one notices she’s at the door, she does something bad or annoying to get attention. In the winter she lays directly on the heater vents. And sometimes, if she wants to go outside, she rings a bell in my bedroom, by tugging on a long needlepoint pull. What is funny about that habit is that my granddaughter, who gave this cat her own middle name, also rings that same bell when she is headed to the bathroom! Rilynn is my funny girl, adorable and sleepy eyed, who seems to enjoy getting into mischief.

She rarely sits on my lap, but plop a doll into a chair and Rilynn is there.

I can’t end a post about National Cat Week without including these foster “cats” who think they are pets too. And why would they think otherwise? They get fed and have even come into the house several times, which is why the cat doors have to be closed and locked at night.

These guys behave in very feline like ways, having been around cats all their lives. I often come home to find possums waiting on the porch. One likes to sit on the pillows on the porch swing. Another has the (bad) habit of climbing up onto the table near the front door, the better, I guess, to survey the world.

Yep, this one is in the house, eating cat food like he belongs there.

I have to admit, I have a fondness for the possums. The cats accept them or at least, tolerate them. I can look out most evenings and see two or three cats and at least two possums, all sharing the front porch companionably. And because they have grown up eating cat food, these possums have the most gorgeous fur! It is long, thick and luxurious, nothing like the stringy rough looking fur I’ve seen on their wilder cousins.

Andre Norton wrote, “Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into prescribed behavior, that they are so united to creative people.” Maybe that’s why I am drawn to cats, or cats are drawn to me.

Or perhaps it is something more basic and simple. The well known veterinarian, James Herriot, said there is no greater gift than the love of a cat. They choose you, and then they love you, on their terms, in their own unique ways, but there is no denying that they bond with their humans and love them, and accept love in return. I do love these cats and I am the recipient of their love and affection. I guess that makes me a cat lady, after all.

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