International Cat Day

Today is one of those unique holidays that I could not pass up. I don’t quite qualify as a crazy cat lady, since I only have three felines, however these sweet fur babies bring amusement and joy into my life. Rilynn, Angel and Shy Boy have no idea that today celebrations them. They behave as if every day is Cat Day!

International Cat Day

International Cat Day was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It is always celebrated on August 8.

In case you don’t already know how amazing cats are, here are 10 interesting facts about felines:

1. Cats can drink sea water. Their kidneys can filter out the salt and use the water to hydrate their bodies. However, cats do not have a sweet tooth and cannot taste anything sweet. That doesn’t mean they won’t eat something sweet. I had a cat who loved powdered sugar donuts.

2. There are 88 million pet cats in the US, making them the most popular pet in the country. There are around 500 million domestic cats in the world.

3. A female cat is called a “molly” and they are mostly right handed. Male cats are called “toms” and favor the left paw.

4. Cats’ entire natural vocal range is not audible to human beings, and they tend to evolve their voice to communicate their feelings to us within our hearing range. They can make over 100 different sounds, which is 10 times more than dogs. My cat Angel is the most vocal of my three cats and has a wide range of sounds that she makes.

International Cat DayAngel is the most social cat of my three. She visits all the neighbors.

International Cat Day

5. A cat named Stubbs was the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, for 15 years. Another cat also ran for the position in a Mexico city in 2013.

6. Cats can jump up to five times their own height in a single bound and run at speeds of over 30 miles an hour.

7. A cat rubs against people to mark out its territory with scent glands around its face and it also licks itself to get a person’s scent off.

8. The world’s oldest cat was found  in a 9,500-year-old grave on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus . It is said that when a pet cat died in Egypt, family members would mourn by shaving off their eyebrows. Also, smuggling a cat out of ancient Egypt was punishable by death.

International Cat DayShy Boy often sleeps in a praying pose. He is a worrier.

International Cat Day

9. A posh kitty named Blackie became the wealthiest cat ever in May 1988 when its owner, Ben Rea, a millionaire antiques dealer in the UK, left the feline $12.5 million. That’s pretty good luck for a black cat.

10. Kittens tend to sleep a lot because their bodies release growth hormones only when they are asleep. By the time an average cat is 9 years old, it would have been awake for about three years of its life.

My rescue cats, siblings from the same litter who were born in the wild, have very distinctive personalities.

The black and white male, Shy Boy, is the largest of the trio and also the most timid. He is afraid of loud noises, strangers, ceiling fans in motion and the trash truck that goes by every Thursday. He has very specific habits and routines that he follows and he can be very needy. Shy Boy enjoys sitting on my lap and being cuddled.

Angel is the female with the gorgeous gray coat. She is extremely vocal and communicates by answering questions with a trilling sound. She asks questions too. The neighbors enjoy Angel’s visits and inquire about her if they don’t see her for a couple of days. She enjoys curling up on a lap as well and loves soft blankets.

International Cat DayRilynn loves to be outside and in the garden.

Rilynn is the smallest of the siblings, and the bravest and most fierce. This black and white kitty, who looks like she dipped her chin and nose into an ink pot, loves the garden and enjoys exploring. She is curious and stubborn and while she likes attention, she is the least likely to curl up on a lap. Rilynn takes it upon herself to patrol the borders of the yard and woe to any strange cat who tries to enter.

These cats came into my life five years ago as a wild litter who had not had human contact. I brought them into my house with the intention of taming them and then finding them good homes. They had other intentions and here with me they have stayed. This is their home, and I’m okay with that. I love these cats.

Happy International Cat Day Rilynn, Angel and Shy Boy. I’m glad you chose me to be your human.

International Cat Day

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.

Loving Shy Boy

My artistic plans for the evening changed as soon as I walked through my front door. One of my cats, Shy Boy, wasn’t his usual self this morning. Although I couldn’t find an injury, he seems to have a tender hip. He has rested most of the day, following his own innate wisdom for healing. 

Loving on Shy Boy
He seemed better when I got home. However, he has craved attention and closeness. This big male cat followed me into the bedroom and wanted to be held. I let him stretch out on my lap as I sat on the bed, checking texts and emails, and then gently transferred him to rest atop the quilt. 

But that’s not what he wanted. As I reclined in my chair in the living room, he crawled back onto my lap, relaxing with a deep sigh. 

Loving on Shy Boy
Shy Boy is one of my original rescue cats. Seeking refuge from the cold, his momma brought him and his two sisters to me when they were kittens. Marco came along a year later. Shy Boy is aptly named. He is the most timid of the cats, fearful of people he doesn’t know, the garbage truck that drives by every Thursday, and ceiling fans in motion. 

He isn’t typically a lap cat. Tonight, he is. And that’s okay. We are both going with the flow. My creative project can wait. Everything else can wait for a bit. Shy Boy needs cuddling and loving right now and this is the perfect time for such tenderness. I’ll hold him until he decides otherwise. 

“Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.”   Joseph Wood


Loving on Shy Boy

Journey 302: National Cat Day

I shared about my dog Payton, now deceased, back a couple of months ago on National Dog Day. At that time I promised to celebrate National Cat Day when it rolled around. Today is that day! I love dogs and cats. After my old dog and even older cat passed away a few years ago, I refrained from adopting more pets. I’m busy, I told myself and they require a lot of care.  I hate losing them. It seemed better not to have a pet. But life intervened, bringing me a little family of cats that needed me. I’m a cat owner, or as my family likes to tease, a crazy cat lady. Although I don’t think owning four cats qualifies me for that title!

  
  
This one is Shy Boy, one of the litter of three that I adopted when their mother brought them to me. (Momba has since moved on, after being spayed. Having her offspring around didn’t appeal to her.) Shy and his sisters will be three years old next June. He is affectionate, and loves to curl up on an empty lap. He’s very vocal, “talking” back when spoken to. 

Shy Boy’s tail is so long and heavy that it curls over his back. He can’t hold it upright. I joke that he has lemur DNA, as his tail is almost prehensile. Shy is still timid around strangers, but he allows the neighbor to pet him and doesn’t run and hide as much when family visits. Shy continues to have a wide eyed look that is very endearing. If I’m sitting in the garden, he’s most likely to be on my lap. 

 

 
Angel is a beautiful gray cat with very dense fur. She has a thick undercoat that causes her to be sensitive to hot weather. Although she loves being outside, and prefers to lounge on the front porch during the day, I bring her indoors during the hottest summer days. Angel is the quietest of the cats, very rarely making any sound at all. If she meows it’s because she wants something or her feeling are hurt. 

She’s a cuddler too and she’s snoozing on my lap now as I work on my blog. She is also the most social of the cats and just wants everyone to get along. She and Marco will snuggle together for a nap. While Shy seems to be part lemur, Angel acts like she has dog DNA. She’s the only cat among my four that begs for people food. She will eat anything. And like a dog, she will lick my hand. When she sleeps, she tends to lay on her back or end up in strange contortions. 

  

 

Rilynn is very petite, and very much her own girl. Although the smallest, she’s the scrappiest and the most likely to go off on her own for the day. She doesn’t like to snuggle with the other cats although occasionally I’ll find her lying near big brother Shy. She very rarely sits on my lap but she will follow me around, mewing for attention, and enjoys having her ears scratched. 

This little girl has the dreamiest eyes, that always seem to be slightly unfocused. I wonder sometimes if she sees well. As I approach her, her head bobbles about as if she’s trying to get a visual fix. Or she’s just odd. Either way, I adore her. Rilynn likes to find strange places to sleep…on a shelf, beneath a blanket or in a box. Her current fave napping spot is curled within the wreath I just removed from the front door. I’ve postponed packing it away because of her!

  

 

Last is the youngest cat, Marco, born to Momba in a second litter. He will be two years old in March. Although the baby of the family, he’s the heaviest, because he never hesitates to eat again with a brother or sister, even if he just ate. His life motto seems to be, “Never do anything alone.” He likes to be with the other cats or with people. Marco prefers to be touching someone, anyone else. He is the cat most likely to sleep with me at night, with one paw resting on my hand, or touching my side. 

As big as he is, he still thinks he’s the baby brother. His meows sound like the cries of a six week old kitten. He’s fooled me more than once into thinking there was a kitten under the porch, crying. Then out he jumps. Marco is very bright. When he was younger, I most often said his name LOUDLY, followed by…”stop that” as he teased his siblings. If I snapped my fingers and pointed to the ottoman in the living room, he would jump up and sit there, in time out. I don’t have to scold him any more, as he’s settled down considerably. But he still puts himself in time out occasionally. 

 

These are my fur babies. I didn’t want pets but that didn’t matter. Into my life they have come and I love and appreciate each of them. They bring me joy and make me laugh, keep me company as I work in the garden and love me unconditionally. 

Kristin Cast observed, “Cats choose us; we don’t own them.” I have to agree. Cats are too independent to be owned, and I like that about them. I’m grateful that Shy Boy, Angel, Rilynn and Marco have chosen me. And that their mama chose me initially, to care for them. I am honored.