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.

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. 

  
  

Day 155: Hug Your Cat Day

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A year ago, I didn’t have any pets. My 22 year old cat, AJ, passed away about five years ago, preceded the year before by my beloved dog, Payton, who also died at home of old age. Today, I have FIVE cats. So how appropriate to celebrate Hug Your Cat Day today, as my first.

I wonder about the person who created this unique holiday, because as anyone knows who has cats, they just looove to be picked up and squeezed tightly….not! They do enjoy a cuddle or snoozing on their human’s lap, when it is their idea. So today, I made sure each of the fur babies received some extra lovin’ and cuddling and had their pic taken to share on the blog.

So here are the recipients of today’s hugs:

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This is Momba, formerly known simply as Mama Cat. She started the transition from pet free to multiple cat owner. I’ve shared in previous posts the story of this cat who was abandoned in my neighborhood. I fed her and she eventually brought her three kittens to me to feed as well. When the weather turned very cold last winter, I welcomed the little family into my home. When Momba was satisfied her babies were okay, she left again. Although she showed up frequently to eat, she would not stay around or come inside, until late one night when she desperately wanted in. She disappeared into a closet and by morning had two tiny black kittens. Except I didn’t discover the second kitten until late the next evening, when mama cat’s strange behavior led me to him, nearly dead on the floor, lost behind a curtain. I saved that little guy and he now has a home with a new family. Momba was supposed to be adopted, but her almost owner decided that her work schedule was not the best for adopting a cat at this time, and changed her mind. I respect that decision. I’ve decided to keep her. She will be spayed shortly, so since this was her last litter, she needed a name other than mama cat. Momba is what came to me, so Momba she is. A sweet cat who is adjusting to being cared for and loved, she has a forever home here.

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This is Shy Boy, one of the three kittens from last year. He and his sisters had been born outside in the neighborhood, and were not used to human contact. This tom was the shiest of the three. It took weeks before he would timidly allow me to touch him right before he ate on my front porch. He would tip his little head back and watch me with wide eyes, knowing I was going to pet him before he could enjoy his meal. He still has that wide-eyed look, but he has become such a cuddler. He is the sweetest male cat, gentle and even tempered. When his mama had two more little toms, Shy Boy, who has been neutered, was the teenager who stepped up to baby sit when his mom needed a break from the kittens. He carefully watched the babies and patiently allowed them to crawl all over him and tug on his ears and tail. Shy Boy is a creature of habit. He goes outside for a morning stroll and playtime in the back garden and then returns to the house between 10 and 11 in the morning for his nap on my bed.

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Rilynn, named by Aubrey, who gave this kitten her own middle name, is the smallest of the three teen cats. With her spotted face, she looks like she fell nose first into a pot of black ink. Although she is the smallest of the three siblings, Rilynn is the most brave. From my first glimpse of her under my front porch, she was unafraid and bounced up to greet me, purring when I petted her. She has dreamy eyes and always looks sleepy. She will cuddle briefly and then she’s on to the next adventure.  My office is her preferred napping spot. Her curiosity and lack of fear have made her the explorer. Her brother and sister used to hang back to see what Rilynn did and if she was safe before they would explore with her. She is often a loner, content to go her own way, although she’s always up for some playful interaction on her own terms.

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Angel is the different one in the group. She has beautiful gray fur and her eyes and nose are the same smoky color. I feel bad because for quite a while, I thought Angel was a boy! Her angular face and no nonsense attitude, plus the fact that she and Shy Boy always hung out together made me think they were brothers. I saved myself embarrassment BEFORE I took the three to be spayed and neutered by figuring it out before hand. Angel is very vocal and was the slowest to accept her new baby brothers. She has become my girl. She is the one most often curled up on my lap. She dislikes my laptop computer and doesn’t care that it is already on my lap. She finds a way to curl up with me anyway. Angel has a fascination with rocks and likes to find one and bat it around. While both her brother and sister have caught a baby rabbit (that was released after being captured), Angel proudly brought a piece of Styrofoam to Greg and me one night while we were working in the backyard. She was making her “Look what I did” meow, obviously happy with her “capture”.

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And this is the baby in the family, little Marco, formerly called Grabfoot by me. He likes to use his left front paw to swat at everything and grab at passing feet or legs. His brother left to go to another home, but no one opted to adopt this little guy, so I decided to keep him as well.  Aubrey gave him a proper name. He is 10 weeks old, playful, adventurous and easy going. He adores his older brother, Shy Boy. They play together and often sleep curled up together. Although Angel was slow to accept him, Marco prefers her next after Shy Boy.

Each of these cats has brought joy into my life. I am happy to hug on them today, and every day. And if one does not have a cat to hug on this special day, then June is also National Adopt a Cat Month. There are many, many kittens and cats available at pet shelters, waiting for a forever home and someone to love them. Please consider one of them, and have your furry babies spayed or neutered! And, share a picture or story of your huggable cat with me!