Come meet my cats! There are four of these rascals, each of whom was a “rescue” in some form or other.
My original cat, Smokey, was born in my backyard – the mother, Patches, actually belonged to the neighbors but somehow when it was time for the kittens to be born, Patches wisely removed herself from the household with three rambunctious children and chose a corner of my yard under the large oleander bush which made it pretty much inaccessible to anyone but her. Once the kittens were old enough, I found homes for each one and with every kitten gave the admonition: “If for any reason this doesn’t work out, you bring the kitten back to me. Do not take it to a shelter or just give it away.” And wouldn’t you know, three months later, when she was no longer a cute kitten but now a gangly teen-age cat, they returned her to me, claiming that they had discovered their mother was allergic. The kids, age 8 and 10, had a cute kitten to play with all summer long, but when school started in the fall, they somehow realized that they had no use for a little cat. “Her name is Smokey,” they told me as they trotted back down the driveway, leaving me with a squirming, scared little cat. It took her a long time to get over the trauma and every time someone came to the door, she would run and squeeze behind the bookcase where she was safe from reaching arms and grasping hands. Now, many years later, she still gets nervous around company – I’m wondering if I should have called in a cat psychiatrist from the very beginning, but she’s making progress.
As for Patches, once the neighbors moved away and, uh, forgot to take their cat (who was pregnant again)I found homes for her and for those kitties, too. I had her spayed first. And each time I gave away a kitten and when I took Patches to her new home, I cried. People thought I was nuts, but if I could. I would have kept every single one.
Black Jack came to join us about a year after Smokey moved back home. I thought – hoped – having a cat friend would be good for her. I called the local SPCA and they put me in touch with a household that had cats for adoption. I knew I didn’t want a kitten, but a young cat that was a bit younger than Smokey. Blackjack filled the bill. He and Smokey hit it off right away and she was soon mothering him and showing him the ropes.
Blackjack turned out to be a very sweet cat, but – how can I say this – maybe not too bright? One tuna short of a casserole. However, he and Smokey are a team who care about and support each other which is good because …
Three years ago another cat started showing up on my patio. He was a regular visitor and came in through the cat door when I wasn’t looking. One day I tied a ribbon around his neck with my phone number. The next day the people across the street called. His name was Money, they told me, (because apparently he had cost a lot of it) and he was a Ragdoll. Their house contained nine other cats, two pit bulls and an assortment of children. He was not a happy cat. He’s a smart guy and set out on his own to find a better situation. When he discovered my house which had grass, trees, and a bowl of fresh water on the patio, he started camping out.
He lived on my patio for many months until my friend Jean asked why he couldn’t come in the house. I explained, “I have two house cats. This is my patio cat.” She promptly re-named him Paddy O’Cat and convinced me that he should be a house cat. The people across the street were fine with that. I doubt they even missed him.
And finally we come to The Bowling Ball with Feet. Or The Fur Bowling Ball. He was the neighborhood stray who, like Paddy before him, took to hanging out in my backyard where there was always fresh water and cool shade in the summer and soft patio furniture to sleep on. And after no consideration whatsoever, I named him Lop Ear after his one ear which had evidently been chewed off. It gives him a rakish appearance. And the bowling ball part? Well, he weighs about 20 pounds although there is no fat – he’s one of those big, muscular tabbies. My cat sitter calls him The New Sheriff In Town. He sort of rolls when he walks like a sailor on shore leave and he sees his job as keeping the other cats in line – although I think his real preference would be to get rid of them altogether.
The one characteristic that all my cats share is affection. Each one of them loves to sit on my lap and be petted. This obviously causes some conflict and tension. No way can they all do that, so they have more or less each staked their claim to a place. Paddy lies on my desk whenever I’m at the computer. Lop Ear drapes himself across the back of the easy chair when I’m reading. Smokey chooses bed time to snuggle and Blackjack will track me down and cry when he’s ready to be petted. When Blackjack wants to be petted, I have to go sit on the bed – no other place will do – and spend anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes petting him. (He tells me it’s in his contract, but I swear I don’t remember signing one.)
One other thing all my cats do is talk to me. They love to talk – well, Paddy chirps more than meows. Blackjack has an extensive vocabulary and often tells me all about his adventures. I just wish I spoke Cat!
So come join the household and share the adventures of the Crazy Cat Lady of Harmony Avenue and her fur friends.