29 April 2008

To Love a Cat

"You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats." - Colonial proverb

"Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o' fur?" - Irish Saying

I have 4 cats. I'd probably have 24, but my husband would divorce me and my children would probably go with him. I have always had cats. My mom was a dog person, but she married a cat person. Plus, we lived in New York, and it is much easier to have a cat in the city than a dog. My first memory of our cats was a little black cat called Tabby. I remember going with my mom to have her put to sleep. I think I was about 4. My mom cried. Someone had left some kittens at the vets office, that were probably going to be euthanized, so the vet gave one to my mom. We named her Tabby 2 (but we just called her Tabby). Creative weren't we? She was a mutt, but looked mostly Calico. She ended up being a pretty mean cat, I wonder if my brother, sister and I tortured her when we were young?

We moved to Illinois when I was 8 and while we occasionally fed a wandering stray, we didn't get another cat until my sister found a tiny little boy while out partying with some friends. We named him Harley. ( I think my brother named him actually). He was pretty small and sick, and the vet thought we should put him to sleep. But we all took turns nursing him back to health, and I think he appreciated that because he became a pretty good cat.

When I moved out on my own, I inherited my first "on my own" cat from my brother. He was moving, so I took his cat in. He had named it 'Dude" (are you beginning to learn a few things about my brother?) I really couldn't stand calling him Dude, so I added a "y" and he became "Dudey". He was a great cat. But he was really a one person cat. Luckily for me he transferred his affections from my brother to me. Unfortunatley he didn't care too much for my DH nor he for Dudey. But they got along well enough for my sake.

A few years later my DH and Ibought a house. In the first few months of living here, I had a stray to feed. It took a few months, but I was finally able to coax him into the house. It took a few years for him to really feel like a member of the household and be accepted by Dudey. They never became great friends, but they tolerated each other. I called him "Other Kitty". Another lame name, I know. He got the name because I used to let Dudey outside, and when I would call to him I would also call to that "other kitty" that I was feeding (the stray). The name just stuck. So now we were a 2 cat household.
It seems I am some sort of magnet for strays. I alwyas have one I am feeding. After Other Kitty several others came and went. One I called Frozen Orange Kitty, because he was orange and was out in the cold. I managed to get him into a shelter. There was "Stern Face Orange Kitty", because, well, he had a stern face and he was orange. We still see him occasionally, I think he has a home. There was Willy, who we knew had a home, but they never let him in and I don't think they fed him well. He used to come over to eat and sleep in our basement for the day and then come upstairs to be let out at night. My cats didn't really like him, but they tolerated him.

Sometime during all that, Dudey got diabetes. It was at the same time I found out my dad had just been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. I just couldn't cope with a sick cat and a sick dad. (More on sick dad another time). My vet suggested Dudey go to that great cat sanctuary in the sky. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. But probably best for poor Dudey. He was 10. So we were a one cat household again. That was a fact that pleased my DH because while he is fond of cats, he is slightly allergic. Plus he is not as fond of them as I.

In the summer of 2004, a friend of mine who bred Selkirk's was trying to pare down her cattery. She wanted me to take a cat. DH was very much against it, but Other Kitty was not well, I knew his end was near. My mother had just died. (Another story for another time). I think he felt bad, I kind of guilted him into it. So we acquired Jersey, my first pure-bred cat.
So then we had Other Kitty and Jersey. Another year went by, Other Kitty held his own. My friend had just bred her last litter of Selkirk's and had one kitten left. She was a little black cutie pie, only 8 weeks old. She was going to be sent to Colorado to live with some guy. But it was easier on my friend if I just wanted her. Of course I wanted her. That would then bring us up to 3 cats. I knew DH would have none of it. So we just brought her home. She was teeny weeny little kitten. Who could resist! My daughters named her Kiki, after Kiki in the movie Kiki's Delivery Service, and here she stayed.

Not long after acquiring Kiki, Other Kitty went to join Dudey at the great cat sanctuary in the sky. So we were back to being a 2 cat family. It didn't take long before I had another stray to feed. It was a little white cat, we called it Princess. It looked like a girl. After a few months I finally caught it. I took it to a local rescue group I volunteer with. It ended up belonging to someone. I had finally caught a cat that was lost and had a home! It ended up being a fixed male called Cloud. Poor boy, I think we gave him a complex!

Not two months after relinquishing Cloud, we started seeing another cat. It was kind of off white, and chocolate, so we called it Cream Puff (it looked like a cream puff) which eventually got shortend to Puffy. I fed Puffy through an entire winter. We didn't see him all the time, but if I saw him I fed him. During the time I was feeding Puffy, we found a tabby cat, all skinny and sickly. He came right up to us, he was fixed and declawed, so I knew he must've been somebody's cat. We took him to Animal Control. I called after the first week to see if anyone had claimed him yet. Nope. I finally decided to try to ignore him and prayed for the best for him. My eldest daughter finally guilted me into checking on him about a month later. He was still there. She felt bad for him that no one had claimed him. We ended up going back to get him. So the stray tabby became Cal, named after Calcifer the Fire Demon from Howl's Moving Castle (hey we're getting more creative!)

Not long after taking in Cal, at which point my DH had told me "enough with the cats", Puffy got a bit more friendly. He started sleeping on our deck and our front porch ( I guess depending on his mood). He let us pet him and pick him up. He was a great cat, very cuddly and friendly. Even DH liked him. One night, after a few too many beers, DH opened the door and let Puffy in. That was it, he became ours. So that is how we came to have 4 cats that live with us.

I am currently feeding a black stray that I affectionatley call "Shiny Black Kitty". (Lost my creativity again). He's been hanging around since last fall. I can't catch him. He is letting me get closer. He isn't fixed, so I am guessing he was never owned. I expect to catch him sometime this summer. Not sure what to do with him when I do. I'll at least need to get him fixed. I hope I can find him a home. Even if or when I do, there is another cat out there somewhere, waiting to take his place in my yard and my heart.

I could go on and on about my cats. They are each unique and fun and quirky in their own way. If you have never been owned by a cat, I highly recommend it. The pure breds are different from the strays. Have much more of an air of superiority about them. Like they know they were born of royalty. The strays seem so much more appreciative, like they know they were saved. I know at least one of my purpose's on this earth is to care for those beings that others dispose of. Someone has to, it might as well be me.

"One cat just leads to another." - Ernest Hemingway

"My husband said it was him or the cat...I miss him sometimes." - Unknown

1 comment:

Deanna said...

Ya gotta work on those names. (grin) Although I probably shouldn't talk. Our elderly housecat is named Malory. And it's a male. It was a stray that showed up back when we lived in town. It had a sagging belly so we thought it was a pregnant female at first. When we figured out otherwise it was too late to change his name because he would actually come when called.

The wild kitty who just had kittens is named Kelly. That's because her mama, also all black, is named Sharon -- for Sharon Osbourne. When it first started hanging around David wanted to call it Ozzy. I pointed out that I had seen it with a kitten so it was a female and suggested Sharon instead. I then named the kitten Kelly (Kelly Osbourne).

When I discovered the six baby kittens last week, I told David we now had the whole Osbourne band.