So I decided to see how an orange cat looked in all that mint green and white in the bathroom in addition to all those black cats.
Actually, he was staging a safe place under the spruce in front of my house, but was running back and forth across the street as my neighbor’s young children left for the bus stop.
I thought I saw movement under my spruce, not unusual, but I thought it was the squirrel. Then I realized the color was a cat, but there is at least one orange cat who visits regularly. Then I got a good look at the little guy and realized he was a senseless little kitten.
Then the parents decided to drive their kids and the kitten ran back and forth as the kids got in the car, my neighbor came out and the kitten ran across again and danced all over the porch and acted all kinds of friendly, then ran back, their car left and I ran out on my porch and called him in from under the spruce.
He ran over, ran back, hesitated a bit, but he was only playing. After all these years I’m pretty good at grabbing cats without warning and before they realize it, but I didn’t have to put on any special moves. He was nuzzling and purring in short order.
I’d guess he’s 10 to 12 weeks old, and he looks to be recently neutered, so he may also be a recent adoption. He still has his baby teeth and his tail has that slender pointed shape typical of kitten tails. He diligently used the litterbox first thing and has been eating up a storm, but kittens always do. It’s been wet and messy outdoors but he doesn’t look too dirty.
Does it look as if he’s made himself at home already? He is an absolute love, very affectionate and already loving a lap. I would guess he came from a home with young children judging by the way he ran after the neighbor kids.
I put signs up on the telephone poles, let the local police know, and posted him on the shelter websites. In a bit we will go to the vet to scan him for a chip. I’ll talk to the neighbor kids too. They always know all the animals.
In the meantime, he’s fun to visit in the bathroom. But, no, I don’t need an orange cat.
Follow his progress through my household:
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She certainly lo0ks mysterious in all that dappled sunlight as she peers around the corner at me.
Kelly used to be very shy and frightened of strangers, but she’s taken up this spot very near the entrance door where she can greet people. She’s very talkative, and while guests are admiring all those congenial black cats and Mistress Cookie, Kelly lets them know she is waiting. She stretches one sweet little paw way out in greeting and purrs so nicely, then does her graceful little dance routine ending with lots of face rubs on the visitor, who would be interested in any common black cats with such a precious tortoiseshell kitty right there?
It’s a joy to see Kelly, in her senior years, finally comfortable in life with humans and enjoying guests instead of always being cautious and hiding from strangers. She wasn’t feral but a stray cat trapped with a feral colony, and was so fearful in her cage at the shelter that she was to be euthanized because no one would adopt her and the shelter needed the space, though she was adopted at the last minute. I can’t imagine the details of her early life living in an abandoned building, though I’m sure it was traumatic for such a sensitive soul. When she came here it was weeks before I saw anything but big fearful eyes under the table in the spare kitty room. Step by step over the years she has become more relaxed and trusting. Kelly is 17. Never give up on a kitty.
Giuseppe and Mewsette enjoy the warm sunny landing by bathing each other, taking turns, then bathing together.
Often enough, these mutual bathing sessions turn into little scuffles as one suddenly decides they’ve had enough, or perhaps words are exchanged that I don’t understand, but they certainly do. The silent staring contests are full of drama. In any case, I know that as much conversation happens between cats during one of these little sessions as between any two people sitting down for coffee.
Three of the girls organize an impromptu catnip party on the sunny landing. Cookie, Mimi and Mewsette take turns biting, licking and rubbing their faces on the upstairs catnip candy cane.
It remained peaceful and amiable until Cookie, who started the party, decided to end it by pulling the toy away from Mimi and giving Mewsette a little shove and a glare. Trust a tortie to take on a cat who is more than twice her size and 16 years her junior. I thought it was magnanimous of her to allow them to party with her in the first place.
I wondered why I was alone at my desk all afternoon yesterday. Upstairs I found all four having undone my neatly made bed to their own specifications.
You may only see three black cats, but that lump on the far left next to Mewsette is Giuseppe—under the covers. He has to be different.
It’s not any special day, just a nice sunny morning on a day I get to stay home all day to get my work done.
Mimi follows me all around the first floor of my house, up and down the steps a few times, then settles into the bathroom as I take my shower and get ready for the day, talking to me in her little “eep!” and “meee…” noises. Mimi is petite and beautiful, but her voice is kind of an afterthought.
Sometimes you just love a kitty at first sight, but sometimes it sneaks up on you later. That would be Mimi and me.
At every opportunity, I reach out to pet her, pull playfully on the end of her tail, answer her comments and invite her to come along with me in what I’m doing. She hardly needs the invitation as she stops to wrap herself around my legs, jumps up on a counter and reaches out to touch me, give me head butts me wherever she can and rubs her face on me. Later she settles on my keyboard shelf nestling her little bottom against my wrist.
Prior to her coming to my house she and I had actually had a few conflicts as she constantly hunted in my back yard to take live kill to her endless kittens, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Mimi came to me with her babies, and I admit I gave nearly all my attention to them—and who wouldn’t, seeing four perfect little black kittens…especially after having recently lost one of her other perfect black kittens? But though I interacted with them more often than Mimi, I didn’t insist that she stay with her babies and let her wander the house at will. She quietly and carefully explored, having no conflict with my other four cats, settling on the floor by the front door where it was cooler that August to rest her belly after nursing. Then she’d gracefully jump onto the end of my desk and tiptoe to the center where I was, carefully walking among Namir, Cookie, Peaches and Kelly, and finding a tiny spot for herself, rolling herself into a compact black ball, not to sleep, but to spend time with us as I worked.
What a nice kitty, I remember thinking, though she rarely interacted with me directly. Her former owner had told me she had been kind of distant, and this is what I saw of her. A friend was interested in adopting her when the kittens were weaned so I kept note of her personality to tell her future person, and not to be concerned if she wasn’t a lap cat.
As time has passed, I guess Mimi had the same realization as Cookie years ago, that she wasn’t going to be tossed back out, that she actually belonged here, and she began spending more time with me, and I continued to admire her petite figure and natural grace and encourage her to join me. Then she began to seriously play and also assist me in daily tasks, following me, talking to me, and now and then sitting on my lap, though with three senior kitties those opportunities were few and far between.
When Peaches was still here, she joined the senior girls to eat and hang out, though she’s hardly a senior, but she let me know she was “special”. Now she’s one of my ladies in waiting along with Cookie and Kelly, and sleeps next to me on the bed every night. She’s had time and space to develop her personality, learn to be a fun kitty, and trust a human, and though she’s still petite and quiet, she’s hardly the kitty who came in the box with her babies.
I have found homes for dozens of kittens and cats over the years. After a certain period of time, over a year perhaps, foster kitties stop being foster kitties for me and end up being permanent kitties unless I am keeping them for someone, as I did in keeping Dickie for my niece last year. love and care for them before that, but end up falling in love with all my kitties at some point, fosters or not.
So she and I decided this is a serious thing, and that we really like each other. I know that kitty look that says, “thank you,” and the one that says, “I love you.” Does it balance out the losses suffered from living with so many cats? Perhaps, but it also adds another unique gem on the strand of the feline loves in my life.
When Kelly sleeps, sometimes she just looks like a pile of legs.
The Cat Library was the place to be for a while there, then everyone got tired of it. It was always one of Kelly’s favorite places, though, and even though the slightly uneven heights of books may not seem to be comfortable, Kelly conforms her slender body to fit into each nook and cranny.
I had no idea setting up my cat book library in this way would make such a photogenic setting.
It was truly a trick to not get myself in this photograph as well, considering there’s a large mirror behind Kelly. Or perhaps I just don’t show up in mirrors. Ask my kitties about that.
No room for mom anymore! Here are Jelly Bean, Mewsette, Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe lined up to observe the back yard. Compare to the photo below taken in September 2009 when they were just past two years old with Jelly Bean, Mr. Sunshine, Giuseppe, Mewsette and little Mimi, who is actually standing so she looks a little bigger than her regular size. I thought they were pretty big at two, but they are actually taller and more muscled at three-and-a-half. Their birthday is July 26.
I received the sad news that I’ve lost another member of my animal community. Karen Litzinger, author of Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet, called to tell me that her sweet Tika ended her journey just yesterday, March 19.
Tika was an amazing senior dog who Karen adopted after the loss of her two dogs, losses which inspired Heal Your Heart. As she says, she went to the shelter looking for an adult dog but not a senior, especially after the losses of two dogs so close together. But Tika wouldn’t take no for an answer and made herself at home her very first day.
Even as a senior dog, Tika began a new career. Along with her outgoing and playful personality, Tika also had a special talent for drawing people out, especially children, and it wasn’t long before she and Karen were enrolled in the Pet Therapy Program at Animal Friends.
Tika as a model
Tika is also, to date, the only dog in my series of animal sympathy cards. I take very seriously the use of an image for my work bearing my message, especially in my series of sympathy cards. I know my cats and I feel comfortable having their images convey a message. I’ve been photographing dogs and other cats as well, but I don’t feel I know other animals well enough even though I love their images.
I took this photo of Tika when I visited Karen as we were working on the design of her CD. Even though I had just met Tika her personality conveyed a comfort with me, and I felt she saw herself as an ambassador to anyone who would come to her. I can truly say that I saw a loving depth in her warm brown eyes that I didn’t soon forget.
The animal sympathy cards
I met Karen and designed the art for her CD in 2009. In April of 2009 my Namir had an incident in his five-year battle with congestive heart failure that told him and me that his time was limited. I met Karen in May and in listening to her CD and designing the cover, with Namir on my lap, I went on a little journey back to my beginnings as an animal lover and to my earliest losses. I finished her CD in mid-June and lost Namir on July 1. During the following month, as part of my process of grief, I decided that I’d finally design the animal sympathy cards I had long planned. I’ve no doubt I would have wanted to design the cards after losing Namir for reasons I’ve explained, but it was my work on the CD that took me on a special journey and truly gave me the long view of that project, beyond the scope of my most recent loss and grief, and working on the CD art helped me to work out some ideas I’d been carrying for years.
Karen agreed that I could use Tika’s image, and I was so happy to have Tika for people to share. People who own dogs will often ask me if I have a card with a certain breed of dog, but dog owners in general are drawn to Tika’s card because her face is so welcoming and her eyes so kind even if she doesn’t look like their dog.
A donation in Tika’s memory
So when Karen called me to tell me of Tika’s passing and an idea she had for a donation in Tika’s name from purchases of my sympathy card, I had no doubt I’d help her with her memorial to Tika. We decided we’d not only use the card featuring Tika but also the card inspired by the art for Karen’s CD.
Purchase six of either of these two cards for $10.00, $1.00 of your purchase will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and $1.00 to the Animal Friends Pet Therapy Program with which Tika was associated. This donation will be made for every set of six cards purchased.
And to make an extra donation, each purchase of one dozen of any of my animal sympathy cards made in addition to a Tika Memorial purchase will donate another $1.00 to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society and $1.00 to the Animal Friends Pet Therapy Program.
I am so glad that I decided to use Tika’s image on a card because now Karen knows that Tika will still be out there helping people as she did through life.
Please read Karen’s e-newsletter about Tika which includes lots of wonderful photos of Tika in action as well as more of her story.