Monday, August 6, 2007

It's a Cat's World

Yesterday was just one of those days. You know the kind - you do a little of this and a little of that, but you never quite feel like you've accomplished much of anything. It seemed like the day was made up of a bunch of little moments stacked on top of each other, with none of them having anything in common with any of them.

Maybe it was the low barometric pressure and the resulting rain. I awoke to hear it falling gently and was smiling before I even opened my eyes. Though we got 3¼ inches over two weeks ago, we'd gotten none since and the grass had started turning a crispy gold again. So the rain was certainly welcome, but weather like this makes me hurt more and my brain doesn't function as well.

It was a day that I could have just spent curled up in a ball, sleeping - like the stray cat that's been helping himself to our bowls of cat food for the past couple of months and generally just making himself at home . . .

This kitty doesn't have a name yet, because he won't let us touch him. Romie says he doesn't get a name until he decides to trust us. I have no doubt we will accomplish this, as he slowly is letting us get closer to him, but it will take some time yet. I haven't decided on a name for him that seems appropriate anyway, so for now he's just "that cat."

The other cats all seem to accept him just fine. We haven't noticed any territorial fights yet. This makes me wonder if he's really a she. Because of the long hair and us not being able to get close enough, we haven't yet determined what he/she is. So the taming continues.

I don't know why we're even trying, because we certainly don't need another cat. We've got six outside cats and two inside ones and have I mentioned that Romie is allergic to cats? He loves them as much as I do (maybe more), so he manages to sniffle his way through life with the aid of weekly allergy injections and Allegra. He's allergic to everything else anyway, so cats don't make a whole lot of difference.

We never intended to own and care for this many cats. It just happened. I mean, we've always owned at least one cat since we first got married 32 years ago, but EIGHT??
I'll give the short version of how and why we ended up with all those cats: Three of them were rescues as very young kittens that were dumped out down by the cemetery, two were born last year in our pool house to a mother that was pregnant when she showed up here, one just showed up to the party, another was actually chosen by us on purpose, and one was rescued by Kara and Adam and they couldn't keep him so they asked if we would. Kara begged.

Our cat family, in order of their appearance:

  • Simon (2003) - The Chosen One. And he knows it. Simon is a Maine Coon mix and he lets us live in the house with him. He makes it clear that if it weren't for us providing him with food and a place to shed his long hair, he could just as well do without us. He's definitely got catitude.

    We got Simon as a kitten from my cousin shortly after we had to have our 16-year-old cat Mimi put to sleep. I didn't think I wanted another inside cat and we had Jinx outside, but I missed having a fluffy furball wandering around in the house with us more than I thought. Thus, Simon.

  • Baby (2004) - One of a litter of five kittens that we found in a field across from the cemetery that's near our house. Obviously, someone had dumped a whole barnful of cats there, because there were three different sizes that we saw all together. We took the kittens home and gave them baths and fed them. We tried to find homes for them, but only managed to find one person who took one of the two females. Baby was the other one.

    She was the runt of the litter and so tiny. Her littermates acted like she didn't exist and she was definitely the most feisty of the bunch. She'd hiss at us and hide, but after daily loving-up of all the kittens, she decided she wanted some of that. We moved her inside due to her tiny stature and the fact that she was female. We didn't want her to be subjected to the whims of the many tom cats out there. Surprisingly, Simon didn't mind sharing his domain with her.

    Today, Baby has grown to be one of the largest cats of that litter. She's a hypercat, but when bedtime comes, she joins us on our bed, sleeping at the foot for most of the night. She's got one of the loudest purrs I've ever heard.

  • Luna (2004) - Luna is a brother to Baby and is also black and white, but with long hair. Luna is the never-has-a-care, all fun all the time, 'whatevah' cat. He sleeps a great deal of the time and couldn't care less about catching mice, although he does it once in a blue moon.

    We like it when he gets caught out in the rain because then he'll lick himself dry and get clean in the process. While most cats are known for being meticulous groomers, Luna apparently was sleeping when that gene got handed out.

    He's a very affectionate cat who will take his nap on your lap if possible, and preferably inside the house. All of the cats in this litter have abnormal cat voices, but probably none more than Luna. He is affectionately known as "Squeaky." When you hear him speak, you instantly know why.

  • Boo (2004) - Boo is a brother to Baby and Luna and is all black with long hair. We should have called him Dapper Dan, because he's the polar opposite of Luna. Though he's a big old furball, Boo keeps himself immaculate. He's a great hunter, too, and regularly catches mice and birds.

    Boo has issues with Luna sometimes and Max all the time, and is definitely the alpha cat since Jinx died last November. However, with people, he's very affectionate and laid back. He isn't vocal at all, but when he does meow, it's a bit of a squeak, too.

  • Max (2004) - One day there was Max. We don't know where he came from, but once he arrived, he stayed. It took him a little bit to warm up to us, but once he did, oh boy, did he. This cat would lay on your lap and let you pet him all day long. He's the cat I can hang around my neck and he'll let me walk around the yard wearing him like a fur collar until I take him off. And he drools. Really. When you scratch his head or pet him, he loves it to the point of drooling.

    I didn't like Max at first. He was orange and I've never liked orange cats. I don't know why; it's just one of those things. But soon after Max got here and had me wrapped around his paw, I learned from others that orange tabbies are the most affectionate cats there are. Even our vet's assistants tell me that. And if Max is typical, I'd say it's true, and I now love him to pieces and he loves me right back.

  • Jack (2006) - Silly kitty with Pikachu cheeks who likes everyone. He's not afraid of the vacuum cleaner and he loves water. He also climbs screens. We've tried various methods of breaking him of this habit, but so far nothing has worked. He doesn't do it on a daily basis, but once is more than enough because he no longer is a kitten and by virtue of his weight, he does some damage to the screens.

    Jack is one of the kittens that was born in the attic of the pool house to a wonderful little gray cat that showed up here in the family way last April. We named her Sweetie Pie because she was one, and she passed her personality on to her babies. We decided to keep Jack and attempted to give Sweetie Pie and her other kittens away. My friend Shelley said she'd take them all because they wanted some barn cats.

    We took them over to Shelley's when the kittens were weaned, but in the first two weeks one of the kittens was killed under a car and Sweetie Pie and one of the other kittens disappeared. That left one female kitten all by herself and she cried constantly. We decided to take her back so that she could at least be with Jack. And that's why we now have . . .

  • Jilly (2006) - Well, this is little Miss Personality Plus. She's very petite like her mother was, but don't let her size fool you. She's got a big voice and she uses it. All the time. If you aren't paying enough attention to her, she'll let you know quite loudly and persistently. Last week, we were in the kitchen and we could hear her out in the garage meowing like crazy. Obviously something was going on, so Romie walked out there to see what she wanted. She had caught a mouse and she wanted us to see it, because once Romie made a big deal over it, she laid down beside it and was quiet.

    Jilly is a beautiful silver gray color and she keeps herself very clean. She's got a lean line to her body and her face has an exotic look to it, unlike any of our other cats, including her brother Jack's. She looks very much like her mama, including the teeny bit of white on the tip of her tail. We suspect that there is some sort of exotic breed in her lineage, but we'll never know for sure.

  • Sunny (2007) - Earlier this year, Kara called to tell me about this yellow cat that had been hanging around their house. She started feeding him and well, you know what happens when you do that. She fell in love with the long-haired fluff ball and asked Adam if they could keep him. While Adam likes the two cats they already have (Cali and Oreo), he didn't want another one, so Kara called the cat rescue in Defiance to see if they would take him. They were full.

    She called us and pleaded with us to take this cat. "He was such a nice cat," she couldn't bear to take him to the shelter where he would likely be euthanized. I left it up to Romie completely and he simply said, "What's one more?"

    So Sunny now lives outside with the rest of our ecumenical feline family, and Kara was right. He is a wonderful cat, very affectionate and friendly with everyone. He's also very playful and it's fun to watch him chase butterflies or cicadas. He's the only one of our cats that comes when you call, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty!" and announces his arrival on the scene with a small meow.

That's the current family of cats, but it's always subject to change. In fact, you might be wondering what happened to Abby. If you recall, we adopted Abby, a Bengal, back in March of this year. Abby lived in the house with Simon and Baby and things were going pretty well until sometime in May. At that time, Simon decided to start giving Abby some grief and Abby retreated to the top of the refrigerator. After twice being bitten in the back by Simon, we started talking about how we were going to deal with this.

Poor Abby had had a rough life up to this point, having escaped from a breeder in Tennessee, living outside on her own for awhile during which time she suffered a broken tail, was eventually caught and lived in a shelter until she was adopted by one of the shelter employees. The employee and her husband moved to Roanoke, Indiana, and Abby seemed to be doing okay until a couple of other male Bengals in the home started terrorizing her. She spent most of the time on the very top of the kitchen cabinets and that's no way for a cat to live, so they began to search for a home for her. We got word of this, and she came to live with us.

My grandma's cat Elvis passed away suddenly on Easter Sunday and Grandma was devastated. it was a very special relationship that Grandma and Elvis had and when he died, she didn't think she wanted to let herself fall in love with another cat. But in a few weeks, she realized she missed having the company and love that a cat can give you and she decided she wanted another one. Since we have no shortage of cats at our house, we offered her any of ours that she wanted. We explained the situation with Abby and we thought it might be best for both of them if Abby was the one that came to live with her and she agreed.

It has worked out beautifully. There was an adjustment period, to be sure, but once Abby realized she wasn't going to be chased and tormented by any other cats, she took Grandma into her confidence.

Abby is definitely a one-person cat and there's another feline/person love affair going on there now. Abby never leaves Grandma's side at night, sleeping tight against her. When we or anyone else visits during the day, Abby goes into hiding, but when we leave, she comes out and spends her time with Grandma.
Abby is a special cat and Grandma understands her. Abby knows this and has give her her trust and love. I hope they'll enjoy each other's company for a long time.

Just today, someone dumped another litter of kittens out near us. One of them, a butterscotch male with a white moustache and white feet, has discovered that there's food here. While it's a cute kitten and extremely tame and friendly, WE DON'T NEED ANY MORE CATS. Those that we have are costing us plenty, as we have had them all spayed or neutered, they get their shots and flea treatments regularly, and then there's the ongoing matter of food and litter.

I don't know why people do this dumping out of animals. There are shelters that will take them. Yes, they may eventually be euthanized, but do they think it's a good thing to just put them out there to fend for themselves if they don't surreptitiously find someone who'll take them in? This is a rant that I could on and on about, but I won't, because you've heard it all before and you know what I'm likely to say anyway.

So what do you think we should name "that cat?"


Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

WOW !, Kylee,

That's quite a collection of cats you have there, all beautiful. It appears that Jilly is a Russian Blue. My Russian Blue, Orphan Annie, used to let out a piercing sound when she caught a mouse and she didn't care if it was 1 a.m. We all had to see what she had accomplished.

Russian Blues are one of the best breeds of cats you can have -disease free, sweet personality,long-lived, etc. Annie lived to be 21 years old and I still miss her.

How about a gender-unspecific name like "Tigger ? "

Muum said...

I am impressed by your cat collection, too. We have two, one that belongs to our 11 yr old, a male she named 'cutie pie' when she was little, and a needy grey longhaired stray that dropped by and never left. They are good buddies, though, and I think they keep the rabbits away from my flowers.

kate said...

Great post! You have an amazing cat collection - they all are cute. I don't understand either why people would dump cats and think they'll fend for themselves.

I hope you write more about your cats and show more photos!

greenlegs80 said...

What about Bindi?

Unknown said...

I grinned at Simon's catitude, marvelled at Jack's cute little cheeks... but Abby's story broke my heart and I got a little teary (in a happy way) for both her and Grandma. I'm glad that Grandma opened herself back up to some cat-love after Elvis, for both of their sakes.

As far as your rant goes, you and I could both go on and on about the callousness of people who dump their pets. I know you're supposed to be forgiving, but I really hope that there is some sort of life after, so "those people" can be dumped out on the side of the road in a dangerous foreign area with no food or shelter and they can see how it feels. GRR.

As far as the names go, though... I think you might need both a male and a female one. ;)

Anonymous said...

A beautiful kitty family. Don't let my wife see, she wants another one. Two is enough for me.

Unknown said...

Ah,, my kindred spirit of cat families (Yolanda Elizabet will doubtless join in the festivities later when her time zone comes around.) What beautiful cat-children you have (and I'm glad Abby and Gramma are doing well together). Like Kim, I hope there's an afterlife for people who are cruel to animals (especially cats and horses), and I'm grateful that there are 'crazy cat people' like you and me who are able to take on at least a few cats...

OldRoses said...

Now I don't feel as ashamed of my crew. I had one, adopted a rescue to keep him company, fell in love with a third at an Adoption Day at Petsmart and then there's the stray in the backyard that I'm feeding. And each and every one of them is a Personality Puss!

Kylee Baumle said...

Carolyn, I've wondered if Jilly isn't part Russian Blue. She's definitely 'something.' Her personality is very different, as is Jack's, but especially Jilly. She's quite smart, too. We watched her very methodically take a toy in her mouth, jump up on a kitchen chair, drop it, knock it off, jump down to get it, then do the same thing at the next chair, then the next, etc. until she'd made two complete rounds. She also will play fetch like a dog with one of her toys.

muum, cats definitely help keep predators out of the garden!

kate, you can be sure I'll write more about the cats, now that they've been properly introduced to you all! :-) They're like kids - I love to talk about them!

greenlegs80 (Kara), Bindi is cute, but it makes me think of Steve Irwin's excessively cheerful daughter of that name. Can't do it!

Kim, I think you're right. We need both a male and female name, unless we go with a unisex name like Tigger.

drew, we though two was plenty, too. NOW look at us ...

jodi, there are worse things to be called than a crazy cat lady! LOL. Doesn't bother me a bit either, because we get so much enjoyment from our cats. I know you know! ;-)

oldroses, you're right, every single one has such a unique personality. I love each one for different reasons, just like our kids! When we decided to let one of ours go to my grandma, it was so hard to decide on one. I know Abby's very happy with Grandma, but I miss her, too.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

What beautiful kitty cats!

Unknown said...

Kylee, you're misunderstanding me... I meant one for "that cat" and one for the cute little kitten at the end of the post!!! (*grins and ducks to avoid the swinging backhand that is sure to come...*)

Kylee Baumle said...

Oh,'d BETTER duck and RUN! LOL! I've not seen the kitten since Sunday. I actually didn't see "that cat" yesterday or today either. But I'm sure that one will be back.

I really wouldn't mind owning that one. It's really a very pretty cat, and looks much like a ragdoll with those raccoon eyes. Not the same, but similar.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Kylee, I enjoyed reading about your cat tales. I've never been a "cat person" until I found my little Libby that someone dumped. She has been the best pet and has won me over to the cat side.

Tee said...

Your "cat in waiting" looks like an Itza. Or Eetza. You know...when one sees him or her, one thinks, "Oh, look, Itza cat." Loved the post, Kylee. :)

Striving for a Simple Life said...

I like the name "Lucky" because s/he was very lucky to have found such a loving cat friendly family. :-)

I loved your post and seeing all the pictures of your cats. I even made my son listen while I read your post out loud and showed him the pictures. (He thinks we have enough cats and we only have one. But she is a diva. lol)


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