Cats.  What fascinating, frustrating, mysterious, enchanting animals.  Personalities as unique as their owners, if not more so.  Fiercely independent & stubborn.  Graceful.  Proud.  Poised.  But sometimes as silly as adults as they were as kittens.  And, often, demanding of attention.

I’ve owned, or been owned by, plenty of cats in my life.  Most of the time, it’s been more than one, too.  What’s that called- a herd?  Pride?  Doesn’t sound right.  Clowder!  That’s it.  A clowder?  What kind of word is ‘clowder’?

Mischief was an old barn cat, grey/black tabby that was probably 8-9 years old when I was born.  She liked attention, but only for a little while.  When she’d had enough, you’d get swiped at.  I remember crying when I came home from school & she’d been put to sleep.

We got Toby when he was just a tiny handful of kitten, eyes just opened, and still needing a bottle feeding.  We got him from a neighbor’s daughter, who brought him home from a vet’s office that had been broken into one weekend & 4 kittens dropped off.  He was pure black & very affectionate.  Our little West Highland White Terrier, Heather, played ‘mother’ to him, and would even go out in the mornings & track him down!

Tygh was a shelter kitten.  A little orange guy that wanted to be adopted so much he was clawing at the glass of the cage he was in- something he kept doing his whole life.  Tygh was a very laid back cat.  Nothing phased him, not a curious puppy bounding over to see him, or even a mouse running across the floor (in his later years).  I had him for an amazing 18 years, and died almost to the day I got him.

Sally was running around the apartments I was living in.  She was my little funny faced girl.  She was a calico, with half her face gray, the other half orange, right down the middle of her head, until the end of her nose when it broke off to the orange side.  It took a while for her to trust us, but she ended up being a very sweet girl.  I lost her very suddenly one day- vet said she’d basically had a stroke.

Paul came along from a former co-worker named ‘Mary’ and her ex b/f ‘Peter’.  He was orange & white, with an off center orange mustache.  After a couple of weeks of growling & hissing at Tygh, they decided to tolerate each other, and eventually became good buddies.  He was another laid back, affectionate cat who also loved belly rubs.  He developed cancer, and when I could tell he was hurting, I took him up to the vet’s office.  Very tough to be there when he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Lucky for me, a friend’s mother in law needed to give her cat, Samantha, up because of allergies.  Sammy was black & white with stubby little legs, and very shy around men.  She spent the first 2 weeks here hiding in the basement.  Every time I’d find her, she’d find another spot to hide.  I found her on a shelf under the stairs once, and the next time she was in the same place, but facing away from the steps, apparently under the theory that if she couldn’t see me, I couldn’t see her!  Once she warmed up, she was another very sweet girl, and she & Tygh would curl up together.  Sadly, she developed cancer, too.

Another kitten came along in the form of a fluffy orange, long tailed, gold eyed guy named Ferguson, after the jazz trumpet legend.  His mom was a feral who lived on my future mother in law’s porch.  ‘Oddboy’, as we sometimes call him, is one of a kind.  He can reach the kitchen counter from the floor, and hauls things from the basement while ‘serenading’ us.  Usually he’ll bring socks or dog toys, but he’s also brought golf & t-shirts, and once managed a sweater!  He’ll pull stuff out of a laundry basket, or even pull things through the slats on the side of a closed laundry hamper if he has to.  Weird cat.

The Humane Society brought us George, a one eyed, declawed, partly toothless, beige Persian.  He’s not the brightest bulb in the box, but is very sweet.  Give him attention, and he’ll be perfectly happy.  Ignore him, and he’ll start pawing at you (declawed, so it’s like getting patted) and giving his stopped up sounding meow.  The only real problems he brings is he sometimes needs… cleanup.  Ew.

Gracie was rescued from a neglectful neighbor.  A black and white, medium hair cat, she looks quite a bit like Sammie did.  Gracie, who’s almost as big as Ferguson, is as far from an ‘Alpha’ as you can get.  She’s very timid, and completely ‘my girl’.  Her favorite spot to nap is on my computer desk.

Marriage brought more felines in, starting with Clawdia, a silver Persian with the ‘doll face’.  Another toothless kitty, Clawdia wants attention.  She’s got the Persian attitude, and will wizz or cr@p on things while looking you square in the eye.  She can be a real pain.

And what can you say about Binky?  This orange, formerly near-feral cat, missing part of her left rear foot, nearly toothless (notice a pattern here?) who used to hide from people has decided to spend her remaining years making up for all the time she didn’t get attention.   When she wants to get some loving, she’ll even jam her head between your arm & torso if you’ve got your arm on the couch’s armrest.

Binky’s granddaughter, & Ferguson’s cousin (?), Angel is, like Fergs, orange with gold eyes.  White mittens all around, too.  And Angel’s meow is more like a Guinea Pig’s squeak.  Never heard a cat who purrs louder than she meows!  She’s a lucky girl, too.  The runt of her little, abandoned by her mom, & littermates dead.  My better half took her in and had a fried of hers, a nurse, watching her for a few days.  Thank God the nurse saw she wasn’t very energetic, caught that there was an abscess on her foot, and had it taken care of.  Once that was cleared up, she was a healthy, active kitten with a 70 pound Shepherd/Chow/Rottie mix as her guardian.

Emily was going to be shipped off to be a barn cat.  She wouldn’t have lasted a week.  She never got fully socialized with other animals or people.  She’s small, but fierce.  Part of the problem, I think, is that she’s scared.  But instead of hiding, she bites, claws, and gnaws.  Very few people would put up with her I’m afraid.

Hope was Binky’s daughter & Angel’s mom, and another feral.  We rescued her after the M.I.L. passed away in Dec 2010.  We started off keeping her in the garage, but moved her to the basement.  Unfortunately, she escaped when she got back in the garage & I didn’t notice it.  She was a beautiful tortie.  We tried finding her for a couple months, trips to the shelter several times a week, but no luck.  😦

We’d seen Joy,  gray & white cat, in our yard for a few months.  Any time you’d go to put food out, she’d run, so we figured she was another feral.  One afternoon last fall, we were on the patio & she came up & looked at us.  I knelt down & held my hand out for her to sniff.  Next thing I knew, she’d launched herself at my hand, wanting someone to pet & love her.  Very sweet girl who’s put on more than enough weight.  She doesn’t do as well as she might with the other cats, though.

Rescuing Nala was pure luck.  We’d turned on to our street & gone about 3 houses down when I heard my wife say ‘Look at the kitten!‘  I stopped and backed up a bit.  She got out & found this tiny 6 week old kitten who’d decided to take refuge behind my tire.  We checked a couple houses nearby, but nobody knew anything about the little one.  Since there haven’t been any kittens around our place for a while, we went up to PetsMart for supplies.  Just as we pulled into the lot, she collapsed.  We thought she was just tired, but she wouldn’t react at all, so we headed to the emergency clinic (7:30p on a Saturday).  Poor little girl was a) anemic  b)  dehydrated and had c) fleas d) worms & e) ear mites.  She’s still only about half the size she should be for her age, but is coming along.

And finally there’s Little Mister.  He’s a feral cat that I’ve been feeding for years.  He’s a very sweet looking little orange kitty, with pale gold eyes.  He knows us enough to be here mornings for breakfast, and evenings for dinner.  He almost always sits with 1 paw up.  At first, I thought he’d hurt his foot, but it’s just his thing.  It took me over 4 years, but I can pretty well guarantee I was the first person he’d ever let touch him.  We tried to tame him, but it just didn’t work out.  He’s back on the streets again, neutered now, but still coming around for meals.

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