Life With Cats

a.k.a. "Big Kitty"

Tiger Jack, a.k.a. Big Kitty

Five cats are currently sharing the house with me. I never intended to have five cats. They just . . . happened.

Fifteen years ago, I talked my husband (now ex-) into a kitten for our 5-year-old triplet daughters. A stray cat had delivered kittens under the shed in his sister’s yard, so I told him we were actually doing HER a favor by taking a kitten. Uh-huh, purely altruistic of me. “Tiger Lily” joined us at six weeks of age. We wanted a little girl kitty to join our predominantly female household. When she arrived, we oohed and awww’ed over her and I flipped her over — only to find that “Tiger Lily” was really a “Tiger Jack.”  The name stuck and hence, he is, Tiger Jack. But mostly he’s “Big Kitty.” 

There was a dog, for a while, who disturbed the feline environment. A white German Shepherd who only lived for eight years but was the sweetest thing. Big Kitty spent a year hiding in the basement before he learned to tolerate the dog. They often would lay in the livingroom, not quite together but within a reasonable proximity, in mirror postures. The cat was bereft when the dog died.

So eventually, I was able to persuade the household male into acquiring another cat, for the big cat’s benefit of course. That altruistic streak in me again. We acquired “Cupcake” from a local shelter. Teresa and Reno had discovered her and her brother and took me to see them. By that time, the brother had been adopted and this tiny gray calico cat was alone in her cage. Cute and cuddly, she buried her nose in Teresa’s hair and that was that. She came home with us.  Once again, Big Kitty was not happy with the addition of another animal but soon adjusted and BK and Cupcake became friends.

About a year after Cupcake joined the house, I left. Well, I took the cats with me and formed a new household. It was Teresa and I, Big Kitty and Cupcake, initially. Teresa left for the summer to join Reno in Oklahoma. There, she found a two-week-old abandoned kitten in the field, his siblings and mother apparently carried off by raptors or coyotes. She scooped him up, took him in and nurtured him, with two-hour feedings and lots and lots of love. Cowboy thrived in her care and returned to Pennsylvania with her at the end of the summer. She regaled us with photos of Cowboy through FaceBook and cellphone photos. He was a little “squirrel-kitty” with a unique feel to his fur and special way of rolling himself into a ball, just like a squirrel in a nest.

Cupcake

The photos of that tiny Cowboy, with his cuteness and appeal was just too much for me. He was too far away, in Oklahoma, for me to fully appreciate him. So one day when I was at the pet store, a little black kitty spoke to me. In a manner of speaking (pun intended).

StellaLuna

StellaLuna was up for adoption from a rescue home. All black, with a slash of white across her chest, she was irresistible. She clamored up my arms and nestled on my shoulder, quite content to never move again. I called Rebecca and she arrived at the pet store and gave the nod. StellaLuna found her way home with me.  Big Kitty, by this time, was grudgingly accepting. Not happy but not angry, either. Cupcake adopted StellaLuna and mothered her.  Cowboy came home about a month later.

Four cats. Enough for anyone! Four cats! Good grief! I had a two bedroom townhouse that I was renting and we had more cats than people at this point.  I was becoming an expert in litter management (is there a degree in that?).

Fast forward to spring 2010, about nine months after the arrival of Cowboy. I’m pulling out of the driveway just before five o’clock in the morning, in the rain, and my headlights illuminate a small fuzzy animal that dashed from beneath my wheels. “Whew,” I thought, “I almost ran over that bunny!” As I inched my way forward, the “bunny” turned to face me. You know it … it was a kitten. In the rain. And the cold. That ran out from under my car. I threw the car in park, dashed out and scooped the little thing up. It did not protest. An adult cat lingered in the background but would not come forward. My car in the middle of the road, I ran into the house and into Teresa’s room, she and Reno sound asleep. “Tee! Tee!! I found this!!” And little kitty let out a pitiful meeeoooww just as I said so. Teresa sat straight up, from a sound sleep, arms outstretched, “I’ll take care of it!!”  We questioned the neighbors but no one would own up to the kitty. A gray tabby cat with orange undertones, we initially named her “Peaches.” The comical reaction of the four other cats, however, caused us to rename her “Frankie,” short for Frankenstein. They would shriek (cat shrieks, that is) and flee the room whenever this little gray ball of fluff would come in, as if they had seen a monster. The seven-toes on her front feet certainly do indicate a “monstrous” tendency, n’est-ce pas? 🙂

That’s the minimalist (truly) story of how I acquired five cats. Big Kitty, at 15, is showing signs of his age. Cupcake is showing signs of her appetite. Cowboy and Frankie are fast friends, kindred wild spirits. StellaLuna is a prissy little thing who prances about and scorns most of the playful come-ons of the Cowboy and Frankie. She cuddles with me, however, most particularly when I’m on my laptop. So please excuse any typos you may find. Stella is across my wrists.

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